Asia 2008:
Day 13 - Shanghai


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Asia 2008: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Kyoto] [Day 3 - Kobe] [Day 4 - At Sea] [Day 5 - Nagasaki] [Day 6 - Busan] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Dalian] [Day 9 - Beijing] [Day 10 - Beijing] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Shanghai] [Day 14 - Shanghai] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Hong Kong]

Saturday, April 5: It was a heavily overcast morning in Shanghai when we woke up, but with views like this at breakfast, who cares? The Oriental Pearl Tower was part of the view on the port side of the ship -- one of the rare times where the view on the port side was better than our cabin on the starboard side.
Our view wasn't so bad, though. There was a bunch of construction going on outside our window, including building this egg-shaped glass building on stilts, ...
... and this adjacent garden area, featuring gardens on bridges and glass insets in the ground that hint at walkways and rooms below street level.
The mighty Cosco company had an impressive skyscraper a block away. We often see Cosco containers around the world in our search for Maersk.
Our shore excursion this morning was a half day tour featuring a maglev train ride. Our adventure started at the Shanghai Maglev Train station in Pudong.
Check out this beauty.
We piled into the train and found seats.
On the train, the overhead display shows the time and the current speed. Just before leaving at 9:30, we were at 0 km/h.
Just over three minutes later, we were at the train's top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph). Cameras were pointed at the display constantly as the train moved faster and faster. The train ride was fairly smooth, but the acceleration was pretty strong and the entire ride was a lot of fun.
Even though we were going very quickly, at least one of us was able to spot some Maersk containers on the road adjacent to the train's route.
In just seven minutes, we had travelled the 19 miles to Pudong International Airport.
Our stay at the airport was about 10 minutes long, as some people got off and others got on. The train is so popular as a tourist destination that it seems that more people stayed on than got off.
Wondering what a magnetic levitation train track looks like? Here's a shot for you, taken as we were making our approach back into the station where we started, just 25 minutes after the beginning of our trip.
Leaving the station, we passed this wall of billboards featuring yet another adorable Asian mascot. This one is Haibao, who represents the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Our tour took us through Pudong New Area, which has grown rapidly since 1990. The buildings in this area are very modern, with high rises everywhere. These are residential buildings -- block after block of them.
Here's a cool grouping of four identical buildings with their own base ship.
The detail on the building on the left looked like it had its own roller coaster. We couldn't tell for sure.
Here's a giant sundial sculpture. It wasn't working today.
This is an entrace to a subway station.
This is the Shanghai General Motors building.
And this is the Jin Mao building, which is the next stop on our tour. See those clouds at the top? This is not a good sign, since our final destination is above those.
The observation tower's elevator lobby has a nice display of the tallest buildings in the world, listing their date of completion and height. Jin Mao is on the right in this photo, with three taller buildings to its left, including the Sears Tower.
The mirrored elevator features an outline of the building on the back wall, with a red light indicating where the elevator was relative to the building. You can see that we're nearing the top of the 88 floors.
At the top, our fears were confirmed when the only view we got was a sea of white clouds. However, there are lots of other attractions on this level and it was cool to see the exterior detail of this building, designed to resemble the angles of a pagoda.
Since we couldn't actually see the view, this long photographic mural gave us a taste of what we could have been seeing.
The Chinese are crazy for Yao Ming, and this display shows it.
This tree was located in one of the brightly lit areas of the observation floor.
The most amazing sight on the observation level is this vertigo-inducing window into the 31-story atrium of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt. A clear observation window allows visitors on all sides to peer down at the Grand Hyatt's lobby. It's an amazing sight, and alone was worth the visit to the top.
After our visit to the observation deck, we had some free time, so we looked around the base of the building. There are escalators to the second floor that features several upscale shops.
The second floor has its own impressive atrium.
This escalator was transparent underneath so we could see the inner workings, including the escalator steps cycling back to the bottom.
Prior to our trip, we had received a Where's George bill that we brought with us to set free in China. Ordinarily, we tip tour guides in their native currency, but this time we followed the tendency of many of our fellow travellers to tip in American currency so that our $5 bill would have a nice little adventure in China.
After our morning tour, we hopped on the free shuttle bus provided by the ship that took us to an arts and crafts center about 4 - 5 blocks from the People's Square. We drove past Nanjing Road, a large pedestrian shopping area that looked like an interesting place to visit.
Phone booths in Shanghai are fascinating. They are red, like the famous British phone booths, but they have a back panel consisting of a video screen that plays commercials all day.
Once at our destination, we got off the shuttle bus to find ourselves accosted by vendors and by the people who were hosting the shuttle bus service. We got grabbed at and yelled at a few too many times, so we headed right back to the shuttle bus, where vendors stalked us for the entire 45 minutes we waited for the bus to leave. While we sat on the bus, we sustained ourselves with bottled water and Gummi Bears, one of which pulled a chunk of Debbie's back molar out of her mouth. Our shuttle bus experience was not a good one.
Back onboard the ship, the billboard visible from our cabin was starting to make the transition to a nighttime neon display.
We had a casual dinner in the Lido Restaurant onboard because we had an evening tour that departed during our regular dinner seating. Our tour passed by some of the old buildings along the Bund. This was one of just a few that were lit up at night, due to the power restrictions caused by the snowstorm that had taken out much of the region's power earlier in the year.
Despite the power restrictions, Shanghai is still a beautiful city by night.
The cloudy skies only added to the cool atmosphere on the beautifully-lit boulevard outside our destination, ...
... the Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai hotel, ...
... where the Shanghai Centre Theater is located.
The many tour guides herded the many tour groups into their seats and we settled in for the Chinese acrobat performance. Although the signs said that no flash photography was allowed, an announcement made right before the performance told us that no photography at all was allowed, so use your imagination here. The 90-minute performance was fascinating and fun, and just a little bit stressful as the acrobats did things that shouldn't be physically possible.
Our drive back to the ship took us past lots of pretty lights.
Enjoy them with us, won't you?
Ewww -- the Shanghai Disinfection Association.
It was raining on our drive back to the ship, but we had some neon signs to photograph. We took these photos from the dock next to the ship.
The Abbott building was just a few blocks away, and we could just barely see the sign at the top through two other buildings from the dock. Here's the English version of the sign, ...
... and here's the Chinese version. The versions alternate every minute or so.
We got back on board to get photos of the Bund lit up at night. Only one or two buildings were lit up, but there were lights along the walkway fronting the Bund.
Now, it's time for the real attraction: the Oriental Pearl Tower at night. Look at this beauty. Although the clouds obscured the very top, we think they only enhance the overall look, don't you?
The buildings on the Bund and in Pudong New District are only fully lit up on Friday and Saturday nights these days, due to the power usage restrictions mentioned earlier. We were lucky to be here on a Saturday night and equally lucky to get these photos when we did, because a few minutes later, the lights went out.

Click.

Day 14 >


Asia 2008: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Kyoto] [Day 3 - Kobe] [Day 4 - At Sea] [Day 5 - Nagasaki] [Day 6 - Busan] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Dalian] [Day 9 - Beijing] [Day 10 - Beijing] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Shanghai] [Day 14 - Shanghai] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Hong Kong]

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