Spectaculular Shanghai, by Ted Cookson

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SPECTACULAR SHANGHAI, SUZHOU AND ZHUJIAJIAO
by Ted Cookson
Published in Setpember 2012
Shanghai skyline and the Huangpu River by day, 67-second video clip
Shanghai skyline and the Huangpu River by night, 51-second video clip
Shanghai skyline and the Huangpu River by night, finally focusing on the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, 56-second video clip

Boat turning in canal in Suzhou, near Shanghai #1, 45-second video clip
Hand-propelled boat moving through a small canal in Suzhou, near Shanhai #2 46-second video clip
Riding a motorized boat in a canal in the ancient-but-well-preserved town of Zhujiajiao, near Shanghai, 31-second video clip
 

Shanghai is China’s commercial and financial center, and it possesses the world’s busiest container port.  Situated on a tributary near the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is about midway between Beijing and Hong Kong.  While by the early 1930s Shanghai had already grown into the fifth-largest city in the world, with a current population in excess of 23 million it now constitutes the world’s largest city.

Shanghai is one of my favorite cities in China.  I love the contrast between the early twentieth-century buildings on the Bund and the world-class modern architecture across the river in Pudong where the sky is the limit and virtually anything goes.  On recent trips I have enjoyed riding in the super-fast Shanghai Maglev Train and wandering through the Shanghai Museum.  Even after a number of visits, this institution remains a source of fascination.  There are also some great day trips one can take from Shanghai.  Suzhou, with its gardens and canals, is often termed the “Venice of the East.”  However, the much less-known but closer city of Zhujiajiao is also worth a visit.

The Bund, or embankment, stretches for 1.6 km (one mile) along the western side of the Huangpu River.  Due to a building boom in the 1920s and 1930s, this strip contains a wide range of Western architectural styles, from Neoclassical to Art Deco.  On the other hand, the fantastic city skyline just across the Huangpu in Pudong includes such grand skyscrapers as the 492-meter-high (1,614-foot-high) Shanghai World Financial Center.  Commonly referred to as “the bottle opener,” this is the tallest building in mainland China.  The nearby Oriental Pearl Tower with its midriff bubble stands 468 meters (1,535 feet) high.  Thanks to the cluster of skyscrapers in Pudong, Shanghai boasts more free-standing buildings over 400 meters (1,312 feet) than any other city.  The 127-storey-Shanghai Tower, which is expected to be completed in 2014, is slated to be 632 meters (2,073 feet) high.   

Riding the Shanghai  Maglev Train can be both fun and practical.  This train uses magnetic levitation technology in order to cover the 30.4 km (18.8 miles) between Pudong International Airport and downtown Pudong in as little as seven minutes.  The train can operate at a maximum speed of 431 km (267 mph).

The Shanghai Museum, located in People’s Square and emphasizing both history and art, contains one of the very best collections of Chinese historical artefacts to be found anywhere in the world.  While I love the Chinese minority peoples’ tribal costumes on display there, perhaps my favorite object is a delicate Qing porcelain woven fruit basket.

Historic Suzhou, famed for its waterside architecture and beautiful gardens and temples, is only half an hour from Shanghai by bullet train.  Suzhou’s Classical Gardens were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.  The most famous of these is the Humble Administrator’s Garden which is said to have taken 16 years to construct.

Charming but touristy, Zhujiajiao, which means “Zhu Family settlement,” is a town of 60,000 established over 1,700 years ago.  This is the best-preserved river town near Shanghai, noted for its many canals and streams and its 36 stone bridges.  While the town owes its prosperity to trade in rice and cloth, nowadays both Chinese and foreign tourists provide a major source of income.

Round trip restricted economy class airfare from Cairo to Shanghai begins at EGP 7,525 on Emirates.
 


ABOUT TED COOKSON:  Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been to every country in the world!  He has also visited 316 of the 321 destinations on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club).  A travel agent in Cairo since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4 Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi.  Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open Saturday through Thursday 9 AM-5 PM) at:  Tels. 2359-0200, 2358-5880, 2359-1301.  Fax 2359-1199.  E-mail:  ept@link.net.  Web site:  www.eptours.com
 

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