Shanghai - Pudong Future World
Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
92Trip End Aug 10, 2007
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Pudong, though, is not only the downtown business district of incredible skyscrapers directly across the river from the Bund
While it sometimes seems like half of China is under construction, nothing prepares you for the airplane window like view over Shanghai from the observation floor of the Jin Mao Building. The spectacular new skyscrapers in Pudong and elsewhere in Shanghai are almost all crowned with unique tops resembling turrets, spires, crowns, sails, grills, fans, and other forms of ornamentation, in contrast to American skylines dominated mostly by the mid-twentieth century rectangular glass boxes of the International style. Unlike the so-called post-modernist style that has caught on in the U.S. since the 1980s, Chinese skyscrapers borrow nothing from historical styles either. Perhaps the type of otherwordly futurism that has overtaken Chinese cities will one day be looked upon as something characteristically Chinese.
Pudong is an urban planner's dream and an opportunity for them to exercise creativity on a monumental scale, and as someone who likes to draw up designs for fantasy cities a dream of mine as well. As far as I can tell, though, Pudong's designers were influenced by existing cities, most notably Paris and London
I was tempted to pay the modest admission fee at the enormous Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology, as much to see more of the building as to view the exhibits it houses. However, the 5,000 screaming children I encountered around the T-Rex and Brontosaurus fossils in the lobby were about all my nerves could take, so I limited visit to the fantastic Pan-Asian food court on the first floor.
Just for kicks, though, I decided to take the MagLev train to the airport. Shanghai's maglev is the only functioning train of its type in the world, hovering over its track through a system of magnets, and also the world's fastest at a top speed of 431 km/hour. Traveling at an almost jet plane like speed at ground level had all the thrill of a roller coaster ride. I had no real business at Pudong Airport but thought I'd take a look around what is destined to become the world's busiest airport by 2025 (if you are inclined to believe what the exhibits in the Urban Planning Museum say) while I was there.