This was our last morning waking up in Xi’an and also our last morning enjoying the hotel’s magnificent breakfast display. Like the hotel in Beijing, the “continental” breakfast was nothing like you would find in the US. Since our hotel in Shanghai is apparently the nicest hotel of the three, according to Dr. Li who made the entire journey last year, I am excitedly anticipating the breakfast of our next hotel.
As for this morning, it was another early one but I am happy we are getting the bulk of our travel done in the mornings to allow for more time for activity in the day. Despite having a poor night sleep, I could not seem to sleep all that well on this train ride. I had five or six spots of 30 minute sleeps, better than nothing I guess. As with the last ride, I fortunately got a window seat which had great views of China’s countryside and also provided space for me to rest my head. All in all, I can’t complain much about the ride.
Once we arrived in Shanghai, instead of going straight to our hotel, we went straight to the Shanghai History Museum. This museum was a Madame Tussauds’ style wax museum that detailed the history of Shanghai. It included descriptions of all the different styles of architecture seen throughout the city, such as the French and Russian areas. However, what was mind blowing to me is that the majority of this city was built after the 1990s! They are countless skyscrapers that decorate the skyline and almost all of them are less than 30 years old. A city with a population of around 24M being so new and beautiful is difficult to comprehend! To me, the most interesting aspect is that as where we driving through Shanghai’s financial district, the museum taught us that that area was rice fields 30 years ago. The fact that the entire city was built up in roughly 30 years was crazy, but learning it was rice fields before only shocked me more.
After finishing up for museum visit, we were off to the Huangpu River Cruise tour. This cruise tour is something that I had been very excited for because from talking with our Asia Institute correspondents it really seemed like something that would provide us with breathtaking views. For some background context, this river divides through the city, similar to Chicago’s River. However, the division the Huangpu River creates is nothing like Chicago River’s division. The separation the Huangpu River creates is day and night, one side is full of skyscrapers and the other side is smaller, wider buildings. As per the Chicago River simply flows right through the city creating no distinctive differences.
Now onto actually Huangpu River details! This was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever been on. From the unique perspective of a boat tour only made it more impressive. Also, being a city-lover at heart, this only made me more excited for whichever city I will end up living in post graduation. Imagine a boat tour of the Chicago River but the river is four times as wide and the skyline houses triple the skyscrapers at double the heights. Picture that! That alone would be beautiful now add all the beautiful lights being displayed on nearly every building. Seriously, it was almost like their was an unspoken competition on whose building could paint the prettiest picture on itself. It was more of an art show than your typical skyline. Keeping in mind the recency of all the buildings, the architecture on each was so unique and breathtaking. Days like this make me wish I was still on track to being an architect. My favorite personal favorites were the Shanghai Tower and the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, both were prime examples of revolutionary architecture and had exceptional displays. While Mt. Washington’s view of Pittsburgh’s skyline will always mean home and be permanently imprinted in my mind, I can’t lie, nothing will compare to these views.
As for tomorrow, we will be headed to the East China University of Science and Technology. From the name of the university, it sounds like it will be an exciting and engaging day. Hope it goes as well as our Central University of Finance and Economics visit!