Shanghai, China - Day 3 - The Bund, Pudong, Old Town
Posted by Erik W on Sep 13, 2010 11:48 PM
This day involved a LOT of walking, but I got to see three neighborhoods: The Bund, Pudong, and Old Town.
Nanjing Road West
We started on Nanjing Road and headed east. Nanjing Road West was a relatively nice part of China. There were a lot of businesses and large homes, as well as plenty of (legitimate) high-end shopping such as Rolex, Gucci, and Prada, as well as some expensive restaurants.
We ended up finding an inexpensive place, "Always Cafe", to eat lunch. They had a good selection of American and Asian food and a cool atmosphere.
One of the popular nearby tourist attractions is Jing'an Temple. It was built in 247 AD, but relocated and renovated a bunch of times since so it looked fairly new. It only cost $4 USD to get in, so we decided to take a look around. It felt out of place next to high rises and Calvin Klein ads. My guide book ("Shanghai Encounter" by "Lonely Planet"... an incredibly well written, easy to navigate, and well organized book by the way) complained about their endless construction, and it was right. There was a lot of scaffolding and half-done renovations on the north side. Regardless, it was fun to look around and try to get money inside the sculpture in the courtyard for good luck.
Nanjing Road East
This was a pedestrian mall, just like State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, except 100 times more annoying. As white tourists we were consistently approached (every 15 seconds or so) by people shouting "Do you like bags?! Rolex? Watch, do you need a watch? iPhone?! We have the iPhone! Polos! We have polos!". They would follow us for a block or so shouting, and immediately a new group of people would come and pester us where the last group left off. We did end up going into the "Underground Marketplace", a series of little shops setup in the basement of a building. As soon as we entered everybody started to shout at us to buy their products. When we said "No thanks" and gave a similar hand gesture indicating that, they would shout the product even louder, like we didn't understand. "iPhone?" "No thanks" "But it is iPhone" "No Thanks" "IPHONE! IPHONE!". I think they meant to use some adjectives such as "cheap!", "quality!", or something of the sorts, but that idea never came across any of the shop owners' minds. It was a lot of fun when we entered a shop and they swung a secret shelf outward revealing counterfeit bags, movies, and electronics. I think I bought some postcards then headed out of there pretty quickly.
Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
There was no easy way to get across the Huangpu River to Pudong (there were no subway stops nearby) so we elected to use the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. It's a little expensive at $8 USD, but we got it for half price by getting it bundled with the Shanghai World Financial Center. This weird 5-minute ride featured a bunch of "scenes" (like 'Ocean' or 'Hell') and various sound and lighting effects as we crossed the river in an automated underground tram.
Pudong is the financial area of Shanghai. There isn't really much to do here except the observation decks at the various buildings. Otherwise this area is very business oriented with skyscraper after skyscraper. The surprisingly large amount of green space made the walking around somewhat bearable.
I had to check out the brand new Apple Store they built a few months ago. It's pretty much exactly the same as the one in New York except the glass is cylindrical instead of a cube. Prices aren't really cheaper than US prices, and everything was a generation behind.
Shanghai World Financial Center
The SWFC is home to the world's highest observation desk at 1,555 feet. You had a choice of going to the 94th, 97th, or 100th floor and we chose the highest. It cost around $25 USD, but the views and ability to say you were in the tallest observation deck in the world was worth it. The 100th floor observation desk featured a glass floor that allowed you to look directly downward. It's a bit scary but we were assured that three people could safely be on a single piece of glass at the time.
We took a stroll down The Bund, home to some more historical financial buildings. There was a riverfront walkway you could walk along for great views of both sides of the river.
Our last stop was Old Street in Old Town, a group of a hundred or so souvenir stores dressed up to look like more traditional China. It was a bit tiring to shop at since you had to negotiate prices at every store, for everything! The process was simple, and involved a calculator. They would start with a ridiculously high price into the calculator. You would say 'no' and the price was quickly dropped in half. You'd say 'no' again and they'd knock a couple kuai off and show you the calculator again. Any further refusal in accepting the price would usually result in them handing the calculator to you and having you enter a price. This would go back and forth some time until you were either happy or left the shop. It was fun at first but quickly became old and tiring.
Everything closed up around 10pm, but they street didn't completely die down. All the store owners lived above or behind their shops, so after all the stores shut down everybody came and setup tables on the sidewalks and streets and had dinner, played cards, or just socialized.
We were pretty hungry at this point and wandered around until we could find an open restaurant. We finally came across "Da Niang Dumpling", an amazing fast food dumpling restaurant. I was lucky my friend spoke Chinese because the menus are all in Chinese and there were no pictures to point at. This will quickly become our favorite restaurant stop for the remainder of the trip.
listed in: bund, china, life, old town, pudong, shanghai, shopping