Sunday, November 2, 2008

Shanghai trip Day 7C - Shanghai Urban Planning Center

After I came out of the Shanghai Museum, it was already 3 pm and I knew that the Urban Planning Center is open till 5 pm only on weekdays and till 6 pm on weekends. So I had another three hours to check out this place. But, the problem in finding out the place was that I didn't know how the building looked like. It wasn't supposed to be shaped like any ding or something like that. So I started walking in one direction till I found the D-mall. Looked at the map and figure out that I was moving in the opposite direction. Cam back all the way to the Museum, tried crossing the road, but was stopped by a traffic policewoman. Pedestrians are supposed to use the underground tunnel.

Well, in the pedestrian tunnel, I came across a very busy market. It had all those girl stuff like ear-rings and purses and all, stuffed in small shops. It was much like those fashion street markets in Pune or the Sarojini Nagar market in Delhi. It is called the Hongkong Market. I moved on to find a sign showing the exit to the Urban Planning Center. When I came out of that way, I noticed a rather inetersting feature. There were cutouts of people and a train upon whoch hung a board that read.....
I was quite impressed by the cutouts. They looked quite real.
I moved on to find out the exit that takes me to the Urban Planning Center. I, in turn, went to another street market calld "1930" supposedly designed in the form Shanghai was in 1930. It had street cafes and food joints and also hair salons and clothes shop. I finally came out of the tunnel outside a white building which read 1930 again and so I thought, this must be the entrance to that market. I took left and started finding another building which should be the urban planning center. The bad things about maps is that they can tell you directions, but they can't tell you how would the place looked like. So, while I according to the map, I should have been standing right next to my destination, I couldn't spot it. Nevertheless, I started walking and went past the People's Square which is like a garden. I didn't go inside but it seemed it was beautiful. I turned left again and I was on another road till I saw the Park Hotel. I knew that I had walked a little too much. Saw the map again and realized that the center must have been close to that 1930 building. I started walking back.

While walking, though, one of the most strangest things happened to me. Complete strangers said me hello and asked me from which country did I come. It first happened at the museum, when two girls and a boy wanted me to click them from their camera. They soon started the enquiry and started asking me what was my plan for the day. I was a little surprised to see why they were inetersted. I, however, got myself clicked by them said a rushing bye and headed to the museum. While walking now, I was first interupted by a couple near the People Square who again wanted to know where I come from. After hearing India, they were surprised. They siad I looked like Chinese. I didn'ty know how to react. Was it a compliment? I don't know. They kept asking me questions like how many days I am here, where do i intend to go next and so on in their english that showed that it was taking them a lot of effor in speaking. They mentioned a tea party that was going on and asked if I was interested. I denied and moved on and kept moving my hands over my face, thinking if my nose is too small or my eyes too squinted.

While coming back on my way, another couple said me a hello. Now, I was getting irked. Why does everyone stop me?? This time the lady did all the talking. She went on praising India and how see had read about New Delhi and the Taj Mahal there. I wanted to tell her that Taj Mahal is not in Delhi but in Agra, but I saved my tutorial lessons for later. It was already four and I had been walking here and there chit-chatting with these Chinese (but not Shanghainese) people trying to find out the Urban Planning Center. This last couple knew the building and they said it would be closed now as it was 4 pm. I anywasy decided to give it a try.

It turned out that it was the same building that read 1930. Only that it was not the front side but a side entrance - and the only one. I felt like slapping myself for wasting an hour. Anyways, I bought the entry ticket worth 20 rmb (about $3 or Rs.140/-). I entered the building, totally tired of the walk and felt more tired to know that this place also has 4 floors. i anyways started clicking.
This the first thing you notice when you enter from the side entrance. It is called the ..umm...Design of the Bund's Waterfront. At this point, I must mention the importance of the Bund. It is like the best place in Shanghai when looked at from an architectural pint of view. This is close to the port and boasts of one of the most finest buildings of China. The name Bund, however comes from a Hindi word "Bandh" (used for ports). The British gave this name to the place. So when one talks about the urban planning and the sky-rise buildings of Shanghai, one is definitely talking of the Bund. There are a few famous buildings like the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Financial Center, two of China's tallest buildings.

The lobby of the Center has a model of all these famous buildings put together in a beautiful manner. It is named the "Shanghai Morning". Check it out.
The Urban Planning Center also takes you through the history of Shanghai architecture in a chronological order. The first floor called the Mezzanine floor takes you through the history of Shanghai. With its maps and beautifully clicked photos of 1920's and 1930's of the famous places of Shanghai.
This one shows the Bund of the 19th Century. And the next one shows the Bund in 1920's.
The floor also has a very beautiful model of the Wai Bai Du Bridge. It looks very real.
When you move to the other side of the floor, you see the famous Yu Yuan Garden which is like some 600 or 700 years old and has been constructed and re-constructed several times. It looks beautiful from a distance.
But you can't get yourself lost on this floor. This is still history. The real fun is upstairs.
On the next floor you find the masterplan for the Expo 2010. It has exquisite models of the buildings of shanghai, some already made and some under construction. If you have even the slightest knack for engineering or architecture, your jaw will drop when you look at these models.
The slogan of Shanghai Expo 2010 speaks all about its plans... Better City, Better Life.
As I move around, I see another of the models for Shanghai,
And then I see more models of fabulous buildings, the theme pavillion for Expo'10
and the Expo center
and the performance center.
There are other such models too.. But then, I just thought to move up the next floor before it's time for closing down. And what I see on the next floor is mind-blowing.
The whole shanghai, every little building is in front of me.
This is most awesome site of all. You can walk all around it and look at every corner of shanghai. I tried to figure out where was my apartment. I guessed one building, but then I wasn't sure. The famous towers of Shanghai looked really tall in front of all other buildings.
Then I just saw a virtual room and I thought I should check it out. It was quite a good time pass but only turn-down was the chinese commentary. I came out of the urban planning center after that, quite exhausted exhilarated too. Came back to the Metro station. Took the tickets and came back to Shanxi Nan Lu. It was raining a bit, so I missed an umbrella. But, then I walked down.

Earlier I had thought to check out the Fuxing park while coming back, but I realised it was already quarter to six and the park closes down at six. So I just walked back to my apartment.

Made myself some chinese noodles which tasted very different from the maggi that i am used to. Ate half and kept the rest in the fridge. By the way, this was the only meal of the day. Kept watching TV and writing this blog for quite some time and then slept late. Don't know if I have the energy left to go out anywhere tomorrow. Let's see.

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