On floor twenty four of the Jin Jiang hotel tower in Puxu, the west bank and original centre of the world’s most populous city (twenty million plus), the view of China’s financial centre and showcase city is pretty spectacular.
We arrived here after a twelve-hour flight on Chinese Eastern airlines followed by an excellent meal in downtown Shanghai. As we drove down the bund, the old colonial concession quarter, I was able to spot some wonderful examples of art deco buildings several built by that great Hungarian-slovak architect, Laszlo Hudec.
These contrasted radically with what was on the opposite side of the wide river, the Liujiazu quarter with its amazing night skyline and Shanghai’s fastest developing area which includes the world’s second tallest building at over 2000 feet in height and the iconic pearl communication tower so fabulously lit up at night. It’s amazing to think that in 1990 Pudong was an area of paddy fields and villages.
The move to cities has been of exodic proportion in China and over half of the city’s population have migrated here from the countryside.
This is our first time to this country. There is so much to learn but there is hope that at the end of our mystery journey we shall return a little wiser.
Already I have discovered that my old school, Dulwich College, has a branch here, complete with red brick buildings and campanile! But with our limited and tight schedule I doubt I shall visit it.
One other connection I have with the city is through my bank: my old Midland bank became the HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai banking corporation.)
What will the Shanghai morning bring? No doubt many more astounding insights into a city which has just been a visionary name until now.