One of the options on the schedule for Shanghai was to travel on the Maglev train. Always game for anything unusual, anything which is specific to the place that we find ourselves, of course, this was our first choice for today’s activity.
Before that, however, we needed to change some money. We stepped inside the Everbright Bank, declining the “you wanna change money?” approach from a lady who met us as we emerged from the port entrance and turning sharp right out of the gates. The little branch was well staffed with a charming young woman on reception, a security man and three people behind the glass. As my hero conducted the lengthy process that changing $100 to Yuan requires, I explored the facilities. Most impressive was the “Form Filling counter” above, which was equipped with everything imaginable, including the little “accessories cupboard” with the shiny door. In here was contained everything one might need during a visit to the bank, including elastic bands, tiger balm, spare eyeglasses, post it notes, pens, ink pads (sadly no stamps or else I’d have been stamping away merrily in my journal!) and a sewing kit. As you can see from the photograph, everything was polished to perfection and the little paper cup was from the small boy who was accompanying his grandparents, ahead of us in the queue. As soon as they left, the security man summoned a cleaner, who polished and disinfected the chair in which the small boy had sat, before whisking away the used paper cup and any other traces they had left behind. I completed a “compliments form” for the suggestion box, remarking on the immaculate condition of the branch and the politeness and diligence of the staff.
So, we were free to explore the city! What a contrast of old and new there was, though this afternoon we were going to focus on the new. The very new. The future, even.
Because Shanghai is it – beyond doubt.
We began at the Jin Mao Tower. Observation floor number 88 – a fortuitous number in Chinese terms. Situated in the new Pudong area of the city, this tower hadn’t even been conceived the last time we were here.
The sign “no climbing” seemed unnecessary – I mean, who would? Well, apparently some feel tempted. Not us. We will stick with the lift.
Yes, another one of those super-fast Asian lifts which whisk you to the top of some very high building in no time at all and with no sense of going anywhere either. In less that a minute we were at the 88th floor, high above the city and looking forward to great views.
I know, it’s daft, but where does one look first? For home of course…and there was our dear Voyager, berthed over there next to Nautica, a close cousin, shall we say? It was still a little hazy but we could see enough to keep us entertained.
There was a New Year’s wish tree there.
Many people had written their wishes on cards which hung from the tree in fine style.
Needless to say, I wasn’t too bothered about the wishes they’d made but, oh how interesting the knots and tassels were!
I gave myself a strict talking to and reminded myself to look out not in. The next building over was still under construction and will be one of the tallest buildings of the world when it’s finished (unless another building is a bit taller – you know how it is?) Sure enough over the way there, there was scaffolding. And you might wonder, what was it made from?! I bet you can guess!
Rather them than me is all I can say.
Looking past the building which was the tallest in the world for just a couple of days – or was it weeks? – we could see the endless suburbs of Shanghai. Rows of houses, possibly the homes of those who had been displaced by earlier building projects, or maybe of the vast number of expats who populate this city and keep the whole financial business turning. The shiny skyscraper to the right of the picture is the “beer bottle opener” – designed with a hole and resembling exactly the item after which it gets it’s nickname.
Don’t you agree?
Looking down the centre of the Jin Mao tower, we could see into the atrium of the Hyatt hotel, which occupies many floors of this structure. Way, way down there, someone is setting out a buffet on a couple of tables and on each floor there can be seen the corridors and rooms of the hotel.
We left the building and as we did so, spotted a piece of rubbish on the floor. Even though we hadn’t a word of Chinese between us, we were still able to recognise the product. The power of branding, eh?
So, we’d been high, now it was time to go fast.
We were headed for the Maglev station, to ride to the airport and back.
No tracks as such, but a large concrete slab on which the train would “float”.
At 430 kph. Yes, as we reached the magic speed, the cameras clicked! We’d all have clicked during the millisecond when the two trains passed one another had we been fast enough, but as far as I know, no-one quite managed that.
I made a little video of what it was like to travel and that speed and maybe, once we are home and internet speeds are more reliable, I’ll upload it here. For now, you’ll have to take my word for it. It was Fast. Very Fast indeed.
Back to the ship then and a few minutes to reflect on what a great afternoon we’d had. Not only that, but just outside our window, across the river from our balcony, we could see that clutch of buildings which had been the focus of our afternoon here. We’d been to the top of the middle one, with the stepped shape. We’d seen the construction of the round, spiral one at close quarters and seen the window cleaners working on the bottle opener. The others, well, they are mere babies, aren’t they?