March 29, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 195 days
Continuing on from Thursday’s Blog featuring Queen Victoria’s overnight visit to Hong Kong, it was just two days later when the ship visited China’s largest city, with over 20 million inhabitants, Shanghai. Not only is it a huge city, it’s also very busy as we found out on one of the main shopping streets.
Located on China’s central eastern coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai was originally a fishing and textiles town. It grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favourable port location and as one of the cities that opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. As a result of economic reforms in 1990, intense development and financing in the city has made it one of the world’s busiest cargo ports. The city is one of huge contrasts with many historical landmarks such as the Bund and other traditional buildings which are invariably surrounded by modern skyscrapers.
Then there are some really interesting buildings with a variety of architectural styles, such as this beautiful Art Deco Hotel in People’s Square.
Shanghai is roughly equidistant from Beijing and Hong Kong and is the largest centre of commerce and finance in mainland China. It has been described as the “showpiece” of the world’s fastest growing economy, and the city is clearly keen to show that off in newly developed areas such as People’s Square, which even in the fog is an impressive centre with the old and new living side by side.
The stunning modern building is the Shanghai Grand Theatre, which was designed by French architect Jean-Marie Chapentier and was opened in 1998. Just looking around there are so many modern exciting buildings, and with the trees starting to blossom, they made great photos.
The city is bisected by the Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze. The historic centre of the city, the Puxi area, is located on the western side of the Huangpu, while a new financial district, Pudong, has developed on the eastern bank and this is where some of the most impressive buildings are being built. I came here a few years ago and the difference is staggering with new buildings going up all the time.
If you love modern architecture this is definitely the city for you, although you may get a sore neck looking up so much, as city competes for the most unusual designs!
I mentioned in Thursday’s Blog that Shanghai is very much in the competition for the world’s tallest buildings. It held the accolade of having the second tallest for two years (from 2007 to 2009) with The Shanghai World Financial Centre or SWFC. On 14 September 2007 the skyscraper was topped out at 492metres (1,614.2 ft) and consists of offices, hotels, conference rooms, and shopping malls on the ground floors. On 28 August 2008, the SWFC officially opened for business, and two days later, the Observation Deck opened with a view from 3 levels, with the highest at 474 m (1,555 ft) above ground level, which makes it the tallest observation deck in the world, surpassing even the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Strangely the building next door was the tallest in Shanghai until the SWFC opened. That building is the 88 story Jin Mao Tower, which literally means “Golden Prosperity Building”.
For such a busy city it’s incredibly clean; I mean where else in the world do you see a team going around cleaning street signs?
But in addition to the architecture and culture of this city, shopping also attracts people from all over the world. They do have many of the familiar names and chic boutiques, but they also have massive shopping centres which have – what would be fair to say – labels that may not be entirely genuine! That believe me is an understatement as I actually saw one vendor offering to put a designer label of the customer’s choice on a pair of jeans. It was tempting but I managed to resist! The selection was huge; everything from designer watches, belts, luggage, shirts, ties, underwear and yes even golf clubs. Here are some of our happy crew showing off their purchases:
From left to right are Tim, Musical Director, Pascale, Chief Printer and Venjo, Food and Beverage Controller. Apparently they have already used the clubs and they are fine – well so far anyway. Of course haggling is all part of the sport at such places, and even as we got on the bus to go back to the ship, our crew were being offered genuine fake Mont Blanc pens!
I’ll have some more pictures from our ports of call soon but in the meantime I’ll be back on Wednesday with an interview with Queen Elizabeth’s Staff Captain, Hamish Sunter, and hopefully some new pictures of Queen Elizabeth in Italy soon. Cheers for now Alastair.