Friday, May 1: After disembarking from the Huangpu River tour, I am now in search of food and rest before I fight the crowds back to the metro. It’s now about 3:00, and as I walk the long trek back to Nanjing Dong Lu, I see that Pudong is now glowing in the afternoon sunlight. The sky is blue and clear and the buildings are stunning against that blue backdrop.
Since I entered the waiting area for the boat launch slightly after 1:00, the crowds on the Bund have swelled. I thought it was packed before, but that was nothing compared to what it is now.
I have quite a long walk back, so I make a number of stops along the way to capture the skyline in the waning light. I haven’t eaten all day, since the breakfast buffet at the hotel, and my plan is to take the metro to Pudong to go to Cloud 9, a bar on the 87th floor of Jinmao Tower. However, I realize that will take a long time and I don’t know if I can wait that long to rest and eat. Besides I want to be there at sunset, and that’s still quite a long time from now.
I haven’t been able to take many pictures of the actual Bund, as the sun is to the west and the photos are not good in that direction. I determine that I will need to come back one of the next two mornings at an earlier hour so I can catch the Bund from the Pudong side with the sun in the east.
I come across a bride and groom posing for wedding photos. Every time I’m about to capture the bride and groom alone, someone else from the wedding party walks across my photo! I kind of like these non-staged photos.
I sure wish I were cruising down the river on a sailboat. I’ve always been a water person, and I especially love being on a sailboat, despite the fact that I know nothing about how to actually sail. I’d need a good captain aboard.
I finally decide to turn inland from the Bund back to Nanjing Dong Lu. However, there are policemen, and possibly the National Guard, in force, trying hard to contain the crowds. They are doing their best to keep people going in one direction on one side of the walkways, and those going in the other direction on the other side. The police are redirecting those of us coming off of the Bund further south and aren’t allowing us onto Nanjing Dong Lu because there are so many people. Most of the crowds seem to be going toward the Bund. Those of coming from the Bund have to walk down a street south of that busy street. I need to make my way back to Nanjing Dong Lu in order to catch the metro.
When I finally get to Nanjing Dong Lu, I see a two-story high Starbucks and decide I’ll stop there to sit for a while to have a drink. I stand in a long line and order a Chicken Caesar Wrap and a berry yogurt drink and take a seat on the second floor overlooking Nanjing Dong Lu. Looking down on the street, I see the police force or National Guard (I’m not sure of their official capacity), standing at intervals along the sidewalks, making sure that people stay out of the street. They’re facing the crowds and looking very stoic and official. Chinese people are taking pictures of the guards like crazy, but I don’t dare, in case, as a foreigner, I might get my camera confiscated. I don’t know if that would happen, but I would imagine I’m not supposed to take pictures of official-looking places or people.
I can’t help but be a little mesmerized by the tall video screen on the high-end shopping mall across the street, with its models sashaying rhythmically down a runway.
After I finish eating and drinking, I look for a restroom in Starbucks, and I’m surprised to find they don’t have one! I’ve never encountered a Starbucks without a bathroom before. They direct me across the street to a shopping mall. The mall is quite extravagant.
Finally, I make my way down the street to the metro. However, as I get closer, the crowds are so thick we can’t even move. The guards are making sure people stay on the sidewalk and we are packed in tightly, unable to move at all. I start to feel very claustrophobic and I think, oh my gosh, these are the conditions that can result in stampedes. As I go into the metro, it’s even worse, as people are packed in and surrounded by walls and gates and there really is nowhere to go. All we need is a loud noise and there could be mass panic. During this time, I feel horribly trapped myself and cannot wait to be released from this crowd.
(I find out from my colleagues after I return home from Shanghai that there was a “Bund Stampede on New Year’s Eve which left 36 people dead and 49 others injured,” according to China.org.cn: Shanghai’s cancellations of events raise controversy. Thank goodness I didn’t know about this when I was stuck in these crowds; if so, I would have been in more of a panic than I already was).
Finally, we make it through the gates and I get on the metro to go one stop across the river to the Lujiazui stop in Pudong. The metro is packed as well, but at least the crowds are limited in each metro car. Finally, I am released into the sunshine in Pudong. Before me I can see Jinmao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center soaring above me.
Lonely Planet China advises that people should enter through the front door in the east to get to the Hyatt hotel lobby on the 54th floor. I find there that no drinks are served, and I want a glass of wine for my viewing pleasure. I head up another set of elevators to the hotel bar, Cloud 9, on the 87th floor.
To get into Cloud 9, I have to pay 100 yuan (about $16), which gives me the pleasure of sitting in the bar with one glass of wine. Sadly, all the window seats are taken, so I’m on a platform overlooking those lucky people with window seats.
I order an appetizer of vegetable fried spring rolls with sweet sauce for 69 yuan ($11) and I try to enjoy my views from afar. It’s pretty hazy now as the sun sets, so my views are a little disappointing.
I leave and pass through another bar that’s pretty deserted on the same floor as Cloud 9.
Then I head back down to the 54th floor to check out the free views from the Hyatt lobby.
Finally, I’m back on the streets of Pudong and, though I’d like to walk around a while, I’m too exhausted and my stomach is still cramped, as it has been all day. I do get a few night shots on my way to the metro.
I finally get on metro and take the #2 line all the way back to Zhongshan Park. Outside the station, I walk up and down the street near my hotel trying to find a market that sells bottled drinks; I find a Family Mart tucked into a little alley and buy some orange juice and water.
Finally, I collapse in my hotel room after a very long day! I’ve seen the forecast for tomorrow is rain all day, so at least I feel good that I saw most of the views I wanted to see today.