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Monday, October 20, 2014

Carpe diem

We hadn’t planned on going out on Saturday. My daughter had a swimming meet at her school in the morning and then she was supposed to go to her Go class in the afternoon. In addition, there was a work-related picnic that same afternoon that I was trying to figure a way to pencil in to an already busy schedule. But the weather that day turned out to be so beautiful that I couldn’t bear not to take advantage of it (clear blue skies aren’t a regular occurrence in Shànghăi 上海, particularly at this time of year). So at the end of Amber’s swim meet (she finished first, second and third, respectively, in the three heats in which she competed), and after having already concluded that she would be too tired to go to her class, I decided at the spur of the moment that this would be a good time to head over to the Pŭdōng 浦东 district to get a different perspective on the city. Specifically, I figured we owed the Jīnmào Tower 金茂大厦 a visit.

The 88-story Jinmao Tower is an Art Deco-like beauty in Pudong's Lùjiāzuĭ 陆家嘴 area. 420.5 meters (1380 feet) high, it houses a Grand Hyatt hotel between its 53rd and 87th floors. Emerging from the Lujiazui Metro station, the tower can be seen standing between the bottle opener-looking World Financial Center and the twisting Shanghai Tower:

Having previously been to the observation deck of the nearby Oriental Pearl TV Tower 东方明珠广播电视塔 for daytime views of the megalopolis, the family and I figured we would wait until later in the afternoon to see Shanghai from above as the sun went down and the lights started to come on. So we walked in the opposite direction to the Pearl Dock 明珠码头 to board a sightseeing boat on the Huángpŭ River 黄浦江. Once on board for the 45-minute trip, the girls found the sun a little too bright for their liking and spent most of the time inside:

The Huangpu is a busy waterway lined with cranes and docks along its embankments as it flows toward the sea:

We first passed the highrises of Pudong...:

...before the boat swung around and headed back toward the Pŭxī 浦西 district:

The beautiful buildings of the Bund  外滩 were difficult to make out in the late afternoon glare but were still magnificent sights as we cruised slowly past:

With the girls indoors, I had no choice but to go the selfie route:

Swinging around once more, the boat made its way back to the Pearl Dock:

Back on dry land, and with the sun getting low in the sky, we deemed it the right time to start heading toward the Jinmao Tower:

Approaching the tower:

Looming over my daughter is the Shanghai Tower. The tallest building in China and the second highest in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, this 632-meter (2073 feet), 121-story edifice is scheduled to be completed next year:

After being able to jump ahead in the queue by virtue of not being part of any tour groups, we rode the elevator to the 88th-floor observation deck, arriving at just the right time as the sky grew dimmer and the city lights became brighter. I've always been afraid of heights, yet fascinated by views from mountaintops and highrise buildings:

Almost as impressive as the show going on outside, the view looking down the galleried atrium left me feeling uneasy. Yet I couldn't stop myself from looking down into the abyss:

After an hour or so at the top, we headed back down to ground level:

Time for one last Lujiahui photo op, then it was off to the J-Life shopping mall, where we had dinner at a branch of the Japanese Italian restaurant chain Italian Tomato イタリアントマト before going back home via the Metro:

To paraphrase an old Mudhoney album title, every good boy (and girl) deserves a cream-filled taiyaki たい焼き:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recovering from Huangshan

The day after making the descent from the summit of Huángshān 黄山, my wife and I were both paying the price, physically speaking (Pamela more so than me). Our daughter, of course, wasn't feeling any ill effects from the five-hour, 15-kilometer (9.3 miles) walk and was her usual 元気 self. We'd spent the night in Túnxī 屯溪, an old trading town that's now part of the city called Huangshan 黄山市. While Tunxi District itself is as bland as any other urban Chinese area, Old Street 老街, with its wooden shops and Ming dynasty-style Huīzhōu 惠州 buildings proved to be an interesting spot to decompress after the hike and before the long drive back to Shànghăi 上海.

We arrived in Tunxi on Monday night (Columbus Day), and after parking the car, checking in to our hotel and having dinner, took a walk (or in my wife's case, limped) along Lăo Jiē:

A number of shops were selling inkstones and brushes:

Although it was an ordinary Monday evening (for the Chinese), the bars and restaurants were active:

Several visitors stopped to photograph this shop selling medicinal herbs:

Before turning in for the night, we wandered over to the Xīn'ān River for a look:

We stayed at the Tunxi Lodge 屯溪客栈, located near the western end of Old Street. The traditionally styled room was comfortable:

Looking down onto Old Street from our window:

Tunxi Lodge from the street:

Following breakfast and checkout, it was back onto Old Street for another stroll:

Over at the river, laundry was getting done: 

Pamela did some shopping, picking up an old picture book:

A couple of tourists watch a quartet of locals playing mahjong on a side street:

My daughter poses in front of one of the restored buildings:

My wife shops for some spices. Pamela loves food that's spicy (but only if it's Chinese):

This interesting-looking building is a private museum displaying traditional Huizhou furniture. Unfortunately, we didn't take the time to go inside for a look:

Continuing our walk along Old Street:

Lunch, and another local beer. All the brews we sampled on this trip were OK, but pretty weak, with an alcohol content averaging just around 2.5%:

Amber at the end of (actually, the official entrance to) Old Street:

Pamela does some last minute shopping (this time for tea) before going back to our car and making the five-hour drive back to Shanghai (with your humble scribe behind the wheel the entire time):