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Shanghai Journal, Day 1

Thanks to guest blogger Renee Toll-DuBois of Earth Our Only Home, local ecologist is pleased to offer several essays about Shanghai, the Shanghai World Green Roof Conference, and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.  All text and photographs courtesy of Renee Toll-DuBois, except where noted.

Introduction: I am visiting Shanghai as the guest of Dr. Karen Weber, president of Earth Our Only Home, and we are here for the World Green Roof Conference and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. I have been volunteering with Karen for the past several months as she works to advance her idea for combining other technologies with green roof (and wall) technology specifically to address the real and present crisis of drinking water in W. China and India. I am a lay person and newcomer to the world of green roofs so this is an exciting adventure and learning experience I hope to share with you, as I also share the sights and innovations I see in Shanghai itself as a major urban area.

Day one: We are up early, given the time difference (12 hours and across the international date line) and excited to be here in the PRC, for the World Green Roof Conference and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Karen and I head over to the park she discovered last night, just across the street from our hotel. Although it is only about 6 am, there are already some people out, bicycling in the separate lane provided, tending the plants of the park, and doing tai-chi! I am pleased to see that public trash receptacles provide the option to separate recyclables from other trash! Boston can take a tip. The park turns out to be not even a real park, simply another of the planted areas that one finds all over Shanghai and is lovely with its trees, hedges, and rose bushes. It leads to a well-manicured planted pedestrian boulevard that houses the enormous and modern science and technology museum (the name of the subway stop) as well as an underground shopping mall.

With another conference delegate, Michael, we head for the Bund and Nanjing Road, to be tourists for the day. According to Wikipedia, I learn the Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaisaance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beaux Arts, and Art Deco (Shanghai has one of the richest collections of Art Deco architectures in the world). The Shanghai Bund, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai, has dozens of these historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, FRance, the US, and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai which was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement.

The metro operates very similarly to BART and Boston's T: one buys a ticket from a machine that one then feeds into the turnstyle machine which opens as it returns your ticket to you you'll need to exit. The metro is clean and modern and well-used. Karen discovers one can get the equivalent of a Charlie card, a reusable card for which you pay a deposit of 20 US$, then load with whatever value you want and when you are done, say at the end of a week, you return it and get your deposit back. We take the metro to what we determine as the nearest subway stop to the Bund and surface to find ourselves deep within the heart of tourists, taking photos of the Oriental Pearl Tower.

We walk around, asking for the Bund and end up taking an underground "unmanned" transport beneath the river that was once simply transportation now converted to a tourist attraction complete with eight light shows!. Finally we make it to our destination: the Bund and walk the promenade along the river.

There we meet two Chinese women, Jasmine and Mari, who invite us to join them for a tea ceremony which invitation we accept and proceed to learn about and sample five different kinds of tea, each with their own cup, technique and purpose/benefit. Truly an experience we, as non-Chinese speakers, would have missed!

Nanjing Road, courtesy of Wiki user Héctor Tabaré
We stroll Nanjing Road, which, according to Wikipedia is the main shopping street of Shanghai and one of the world's busiest shopping streets.Today's Nanjing Road comprises two sections, Nanjing Road East and Nanjing Road West. We were on what was pre-1945 Nanjing Road, today's Nanjing Road East, which is largely pedestrians only and is filled with shoppers, neon, digital video screens, bicycles, and people! I also enjoy my first steamed dumplings however as a vegetarian not the dumplings for which Shanghai is known.

Later in the day, we also meet another pair of Chinese women who are art students from the Yellow Mountain district of China in town to have a show and visit the World Expo. We see their artwork and then enjoy the abundantly delightful colors and festive atmosphere provided by the night-time neon lights along Nanjing Road as we return to the Bund, and grab the metro. We enjoy a hot bowl of noodles and vegetables in broth for under $3 at the underground food court style shopping mall in the metro station area and return to our hotel for the night.


Wow Renee! Looks amazing. I can't wait to hear all about it

- Jen Lawrence
Karen B said…
Sounds and looks like a wonderful adventure! I look forward to reading more.