We're a few days late in getting this posted -- primarily because we've succumbed to total relaxation here in Bali. We just got back from hour-long massages (US$15 each) and are lounging in our beautifully-decorated hotel room overlooking a rice paddy field, listening to crickets and the running water of the canals. But more on that in the next post...
Although it was far from relaxing, Jake and I had a great time in Shanghai. The city is very modern and international - it reminded us of Hong Kong and Singapore more so than Beijing - and with the massive construction projects underway in preparation for the 2010 World Expo (which is to be held in Shanghai), even more amazing architecture and innovative city planning schemes are yet to come.
We got a great overview of the city and its continued development at the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, a museum we visited on our first day in the city. The museum had several impressive scale models of Shanghai, but the one shown below really blew us away.
The photo is looking down on the model from the floor above. The model's square footage was larger than than our apartment in San Francisco!
The museum also had some great photos of notable buildings and developments around the city. My favorite was Thames Town, a residential complex modeled after an English manor, complete with a huge grounds decorated with numerous life-size statues of notable Englishmen (Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Harry Potter...).
We didn't get a chance to visit Thames Town, but we did make it over to Yu Gardens, a picturesque Ming dynasty garden in the Old Town area of Shanghai:
The area surrounding the gardens was also fun to wander around, although it was almost as crowded as the Summer Palace (see our Beijing post)!
Apart from cultural attractions, we spent a considerable amount of time (window) shopping, including at the world's FIRST Barbie flagship store! Jake was kind enough to listen to me reminisce about my own Barbie collection, and even said we could consider allowing our future daughter have a Barbie birthday party like this one:
Although he said no to the idea of building a staircase like this one in our future home:
A stairwell of Barbies...what a sight!
We also made a quick stop at Taikang Road, a complex of little alleyways with boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
And we made several trips to XinTianDi, an upscale shopping complex that looks like it's straight out of Southern California. It even had a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. (Sorry, we didn't take any photos.)
The most impressive part of Shanghai is the skyline of Pudong, the business district of the city. We had a great view of it from our hotel room, and on our last day we ventured across the river for a closer look. Unfortunately, it started raining as soon as we arrived, but we managed to get a little bit of a tour in the taxi ride back.
View of two of the tallest buildings in Pudong, taken from our taxi.
View of Pudong at night, from our hotel room.
We ended our time in Shanghai with a quick visit with some of Jake's former co-workers (from Gap San Francisco) who are now living in Shanghai. Mike and Sandy have been ex-pats in Shanghai for a few years now, and it was great to hear their stories about living and working in China, especially since it's something we'd like to do someday. We also got a chance to visit the clothing store they just opened. It was amazing to hear that they had gone from concept to completion in about six weeks!
That's about it for Shanghai...stay tuned for Jake's post on our sublime time in Bali!
- The title of this post was inspired by the motto for the 2010 World Expo, "Better city, better life". The World Expo is a big deal for Shanghai. There are posters everywhere, and even a few statues of the Expo's mascot:
This Gumby-like little guy is in the shape of the Chinese character for "people" (pronounced "ren" in Chinese).