Sunday, June 24, 2012

1st Day in Shanghai

This morning we visited the Pearl Tower, which is one of the tallest buildings in the world. From the top of the tower we were able to get an incredible view of the city and, in some ways, see illustrations of its evolution. On the west side one can see European style buildings that are the result of the European occupation of China that went one for a hundred years. One can also see the new buildings on the east side surrounding the tower, most of which were built during the past twenty years. The growth in Shanghai over the past twenty or thirty years is staggering. A couple of decades ago there were few buildings between the downtown area and the airport, which is about forty-five minutes away. Now it is packed with buildings. The area where the Pearl Tower is was a fishing village twenty-five years ago. Locals say that the city map changes weekly! As with the other cities we've visited, cranes dot the skyline. I wonder how this extraordinary growth has affected the people of Shanghai as well as the entire country.

After descending the tower we went to the Shanghai City Museum at its base. It is a wonderful museum that documents the long, rich, and often contentious history of this financial capital city of 25 million people.

In the afternoon we visited the Yu Garden in the old part of the city. It was created by the Yu family in the 1550's, which sold it a century later when it fell upon financial difficulties. It consists of a series of beautiful wooden structures, fish filled ponds, trees, rock gardens, and statues. It was interesting to learn what the city looked like hundreds of years ago. This evening we went on a dinner cruise on the river and got a wonderful night view of much of what we saw earlier that day.

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