If and when you are visiting Shanghai, I am pretty sure the name of this one place would be definitely comes up top. Nobody and no tour agency would give this place a miss and that place is the famous BUND!
I had to make two separate trips to the Bund when I was in Shanghai. The first night I was there, we went too late and all the glittering lights that made the Bund what she is was already switched off around 9:30 p.m. There were literally nothing to see, only dark buildings and even darker side opposite the Huangpu River where the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the sky scrappers were.
Hence, on the day that we returned from Hangzhou, we made it a point to visit the Bund immediately before even going back to the hotel, to grab a cruise down the Huangpu River and savor the beauty and charm of this magnificent landscape at night, basking in all her glittering lights.
Also known as Zhongshan Dong Li Lu (East Zhongshan First Road), she has been an iconic street in Shanghai for hundred of years. Stretching approximately 1500 meters, there are 26 buildings of different and unique design and architecture that defines the Bund. This stretch fronting the Huangpu River, looking across the Pudong Financial District was once the most romantic corner in Shanghai. It still would be if NOT for the hundreds if not thousands of tourists there every night, talking or shouting on top of the voice and having their pictures taken.
Taking a river cruise down the Huangpu River is a rather interesting experience. As you cruise down this very important river in Shanghai, you would clearly see the difference between the west and the east side of the river. On the west side is the Bund, with her 26 signature buildings of different design, architectural, bearing resemblance from different eras such as Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance, a time of the glorious past. If you close you eyes, and if your imagination allows you, you can even bring yourself, traveling back in time to the golden era of Shanghai yesteryear and imagine how romantic that scene would be.
On the east side, however, is the complete opposite. Instead of old colonial style buildings, are the tall sky scrappers with colourful neon lights and advertisements displays, constantly changing hue and colour. Here lie the three tallest buildings in Shanghai and among the tallest in China and the world. The first to catch your attention will of course be the colourful and unique iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Then, there is the Jin Mao Tower, an 88 floors tiered pagoda shape building which until recently was the 5th tallest building in the world. She is now of course dwarfed by the even taller building and currently the tallest building (soon to be surpassed), the Shanghai World Financial Centre, standing at 492 meters with 101 floors, making her the third tallest building in the world.
The landscape here is going to change even further with the soon to be completed Shanghai Tower with a height of 632 meters, taking over as the tallest building in Shanghai and China and the second in the world.
We were told an interesting story surrounding the constructions of the Shanghai World Financial Centre and the Shanghai Tower. I am uncertain as to how true the story was but it is still interesting nevertheless and holds true to the pride of the mighty Chinese.
Story has it that the Shanghai World Financial Centre was designed and built by the Japanese. The current square opening right at the top of the building, which made this building’s design unique, was initially a circle but the idea was strongly objected upon by the Chinese because it represents a symbol of the Japan’s rising sun. Hence, it was changed to her present state.
But having the tallest building built by the Japanese is not exactly something that the Chinese are proud of and some even said that the very sharp angles and edges of the building from far looks similar to a samurai sword. Hence, the Chinese then designed and commenced building an even taller structure next to her, namely the current Shanghai Tower, cylinder in design, looking more like a sword sheath to hold her `within’.
Regardless whether the story is true or otherwise, the Bund and the Pudong Financial District are still a must visit places when you do drop by Shanghai. In fact, if you have the time, I might even suggest that you see her once during the day and then again in all her splendour at night.
And if you are photographer, don’t forget to bring your tripod and you will be rewarded with shots that you would be happy to go home with.