Shanghai is the most populated city in the world with 24 million in 2014
The city of the oriental pearl .The city of towering skyscrapers
The show city of Chinas boom .
global financial centre and transport hub .
It was one of the treaty ports opened to foreign trade after the first Opium war victory by the British over China .Treaty of Nanking and later treaty of Whampoa made the Shanghai International settlement and the French concession ,and many other foreign settlements
In the first part of the century it was the premium Global financial hub
The communists took over in 1949 and trade declined as it had trade only with the communist satellite nations, but later after Deng xioping s presidency and Chinas acceptance of capitalistic mores it surged ahead with construction and infrastructure and its trade boomed .
Shanghai was our last stop in our dizzy ten day itinerary of China the El Dorado of the decade .
We had travelled from Xian the city of pomegranates with terracotta warriors lined up under its bowels
Its city walls and vastness and urban spread of skyscrapers downtown exuberance has shown us a China spread and grown far beyond the one trick pony of Shanghai .
If it was the bullet train that whizzed us into Xian from Beijing it was an ordinary overnight train in a soft sleeper berth that brought us from Xian to Shangai .
We were dropped into the voluminious central Xian Railway station but our guide walked us through the initial phase of entry which if alone would have been tougher as none knew English in China .
Getting into railway stations was a bit like getting into an airport in China .in the first step one scanned all luggage through security after mandatory check of ticket and passport .
In Xian the line of passengers pulling heavy luggages were huge and in China joining ques in middle or forming new ones were met by tame acceptance .
So we kept being bewildered at our non progress of a frustrating long que but still managed to get in without much damage . only passengers with valid tickets were allowed to get in
Later we found our train number its platform number displayed and went to a huge waiting room one for soft seats bigger neater with a couple of shops toilets etc
The waiting room for hard seats appeared more crowded from outside
We waited till it half hour before time for our train to depart and were allowed to get in.
We still had to find our platform which was a big walk and in Xian the worst part came in the steps with no escalator to get down lugging our luggage
In bullet train stations it was more user friendly with escalators lifts etc platform too was taller and not like in xian where getting into the train required some effort .
Shangai station was more modern and friendly with ramps etc .
We got a berth like a first class coupe in india with four passengers .
The other two youngsters were stuck to thier mobile a trifle rude and non communicative clearly different from other passengers and Chinese people who were friendly specially the older gen .In the morning we heard faint strains of fine high pitched Chinese singing from a nearby berth and found it was being sung by a grandfather and his granddaughter occasionaly joined by the childs grandmother
They invited us into thier coupe and we could record the session .
The child talked good English and told us she was going to her grandparents home for the long holiday in october .
We reached Shanghai at 8am sharp as mentioned in the time table and found our guide Lily waiting for us outside .
Getting down at Shanghai modern railway station we walked up the convinient ramp
Shangai was having a good drizzle and we walked to nearby KFC for a drab brealfast of a tiny burger and tepid coffee nonsatiating and unappetising as expected .
We then got into our nice Innova like van to go around till late afternoon check in time of hotel .At first we went to the famous Jade buddha temple in the centre of the city
A huge buliding was being moved a few meters to one side for a new building to be constructed within the temple .
The whole building had been lifted on rails from foundation to be moved ,a real feat the whole work was still on progress and was enclosed off .
We walked through the rest of the temple with serene Buddhas gazing at us in benign peace
There were two jade Buddhas itself and one in lying posture .
There were several gaurd statues named by directions artistically created .
Monks walked around some involved in morning rituals the air was full of incence and divine incantations with tingling bells
Trainee monks walked in somber uniformity and great humility .
After this solace to the soul we left the temple with peace in our hearts offered from the heaven of spiritual bliss .We attempted to go the national museum but since the crowds were so huge as it was the famous golden week holidays in China with respect to october first national day we skipped it wisely .
We were off to the Bund lined with colonial buildings .The Bund is the promenade of the river Huang Pu river .
On the other side was Pudong which once was a swamp but today is a skyscraper paradise .
Once the communist Government gave the nod for developing Shanghai to develop in this area it saw a huge flood of construction and today its a Manhattan of the east with towering high rises strutting proudly in the horizon giving Shangai its famous skyline .
We would later climb the tallest of the lot the Shangai Radio TV tower or oriental pearl tower upto the 263 meters high observation tower and a floor above to gaze below in its glass bottomed exuberance .Though we had climbed up the worlds tallest Burj Dubai and several more towers in Vienna Sydney .KL .etc the view here was really different with green parks , rivers snaking through,highways ,midget traffic admidst the skyscrapers ,a view not to be missed .
Shanghai also has the famous Shanghai Disneyland
We gave it the miss as it needed a day and I had been to Hong Kong Disneyland .
We walked into the famous Nanjing road Shanghais shopping arcade with upmarket branded showrooms ,shiny restaurants and theatres .
The road would be lit like Times sqaure at night a neon lighted forest .
After the long walk we would go to the antique bargain area of temple street filled with narrow alleys clogged with antique shops people by the thousands and police keeping a quite watch even from top of buildings to prevent any crime .
China was safe from pickpocketing or thefts as they were dealt with severly by a police department unbiased , duty conscious and polite relatively obscure but doing thier job with great efficiency We checked into Ramadha Shanghai in the 19th floor going into a tired deep sleep after a sumptous lunch cum dinner at Delhi Durbar an Indian restaurant .
In the drizzly evening we went for a walk nearby
Next day in the morning after breakfast we were off to the French concessione where the French stayed from 1849 to 1923
The place has fine tree lined avenues French colonial houses , art deco buildings,hip boutiques ,cafes and bars .
After this we were taken to the famous water and lake town an hours drive away a placewith neat walkways shops eating places row boats to ride in water and with acres of commercial activity .
the next day we had a lot of time after check out at 2pm as our flight was in midnight and our pick up to airport was to come at 8pm only so we walked to the nearby Wanda mall about 3 km away to spend time ,it was raining mildly and we entered the humungous mall with so many floors of elite shopping fod places etc and spent around three hours ,later we had some food and came back to the lobby to wait for our pick up car to take us to the airport for our midnight Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur thus ending a ten day saga of China which was totally unexpected .
The surprise were the people who even without knowing English communicated their politeness and hospitality ,their industry ,hard work ,the vision of its leaders and how they carry it without force or undue repression ,people were happy to live in a secure environment with all facilities and are willing to work hard for that life