Friday, April 12, 2013

China 2013 Part II: Playing in Pudong

Some twenty years ago, the eastern side of the Huangpu River (this body of yellow-brown water that cuts right through the heart of Shanghai) used to be an undeveloped agricultural and manufacturing area. Now, Pudong - literally, East of the Huangpu - is home to three of China's tallest buildings and an ever-changing, ever-growing skyline concentrated in the Lujiazui financial zone. Here we find the city's four most famous emblems: Oriental Pearl Tower, Jinmao Mansion, Shanghai World Financial Center, and the soon-to-be-finished Shanghai Tower.

The Oriental Pearl Tower looks like a rocket on its launch pad. It's most famous for the three spheres streaked pink-violet that define its height. Until 2007, it was the tallest structure in China.

How many balls do you count?

Jinmao (literally, Golden Prosperity) Mansion is a play on the number eight. Wikipedia says it all, but for starters, it has 88 storeys. The Shanghai Grand Hyatt is its most famous occupant, but our adventures there shall be discussed in another post. Until 2007, this was the tallest building in China.

Thank you to Thea Katrina Pascasio for selfie lessons during first year.

The Shanghai World Financial Center was topped out on September 2007, becoming China's tallest structure and the second tallest building in the world after that ambitious ugliness in Dubai. The Shanghai Park Hyatt is its most famous occupant, but again, a separate post for that. What one should know about this building is that it has a trapezoidal aperture at the top, earning it the annoying moniker "bottle opener."

As you can see, I'm getting good at taking selfies.

The Shanghai Tower will become China's tallest building upon completion. It has a double-layer glass facade, which means it's more energy-efficient in lowering heat absorption.

The first day, we took a 20-yuan Pudong sightseer bus that drove us around hyper-modernized Lujiazui, and that was a complete waste of money. Air pollution was unbelievably abominable, that the tops of skyscrapers were no longer visible from the ground. In contrast, our last day in Shanghai (right photo) was warm enough for just one thin shirt.   

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is supposed to be the largest oceanarium in Asia (but nowadays, a lot of aquariums claim to be the largest in this region or wherever, that it only confuses the people who care about them, which includes me). 

According to the internet, there are eight major exhibition zones and four underwater tunnels, but what's important to remember is that this place is not for those who suffer from dizziness or eye problems. I don't exactly know what it was with the glass that they used for the exhibits, but the refraction sure as hell ain't nice. If you are an old person, might as well skip this. I had lots of fun looking at the animals, but at some point, I wanted to get a metal rod and just smash the glass. 

Some of the jolly inhabitants of the Aquarium: the Chinese alligator, Japanese spider crab, sand tiger shark, and penguins.

This frog reminds me of someone whose three-letter name starts with J.

A few minutes' southerly drive from bustling Lujiazui is the site of the World Expo 2010 - or what remains of it. Three years ago, more than eighty pavilions from the nearly 200 participating countries and 50 international organizations populated the area, each one styled and designed to create the architecture geek's ultimate dreamscape. Today, only the China and Saudi Arabia pavilions exist for visitors to gawk at; the former is now the China Art Museum, while the latter is called the Moon Boat, which does not sound appealing to me. Just... sad. 

 Facade of the China Art Museum, formerly the China Pavilion of Expo 2010.

Spot the Terence!

The Mercedes-Benz Arena, with a capacity of 18,000.

Conclusion: Pudong is an overrated wasteland of buildings. Don't bother going there a second time.

PREVIOUS: China 2013 Part I: By the Numbers
NEXT: China 2013 Part III: Age Matters

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