Friday, May 1: After a long walk along the Bund, I find the ticket office for the Huangpu River tour and buy the ticket (120 yuan for a 50-minute ride). It’s a long walk, and a little confusing, from the ticket office to building #481, the boarding gate for the tour, but I finally find it. Since I just missed the 1:00 boat, I have quite a long wait until the next boat leaves at 2:00, but I’m happy to rest my aching feet for a while. I made the mistake of wearing sandals that I usually think are comfortable, but not for the amount of walking I’m doing today. Finally we board the boat and push off into the Huangpu River.
We see a lot of interesting seafaring vessels both at the dock and in the river.
The sky is clearing up and we have great views of the Pudong skyscrapers, most notably the spiraling Shanghai World Financial Center.
And then there are the bookends of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong.
It’s always interesting me that on boat rides such as these, the Western tourists climb immediately to the top outdoor deck and stand at the railings for the views, while most of the Chinese people sit at the big banquet tables below deck, where they pull out snacks and drinks. For them, it’s all about food and socializing.
Meanwhile, on the top deck, I’m surrounded by tourists from all over the world. There are only a few Chinese on the upper deck, including a Chinese couple and their son, who I later come to know as Hubert, a very outgoing and talkative 12-year-old Chinese boy who speaks impeccable English. He pushes his way to the railing between me and a couple from Atlanta, and he talks away about the heights of all the famous skyscrapers and the length of the Huangpu River compared to the Mississippi River, and all other kinds of factual knowledge that I’m not prone to store in my head. He’s a non-stop talker, and it’s obvious the Atlanta couple is quite annoyed by him, but I’m impressed not only by his English-speaking ability but also by his confidence, spunk and all the knowledge in that 12-year-old head of his.
We have some amazing views along the river, and luckily the haze in the sky has dissipated on this lovely afternoon.
I also have a chat with a French woman who’s on a whirlwind tour of Beijing, Guilin, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It’s a beautiful day with a cool breeze and I enjoy commiserating with her and other travelers along the way.
Facing the river near the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is the white wing-shaped Shanghai International Convention Center.
We go a little further northeast along the river and then turn around and head back. Sadly, the sun is still not at the best angle to see the Bund clearly.
Hubert sticks by my side for the whole trip, talking away the entire time. He asks me for my phone number and adds me on WeChat. I fear his mother is going to ask me to tutor him online, but luckily she never does. However, his father does take a photo of the two of us together.
After the boat ride, I walk back along the Bund, where I slowly, and with some trepidation, make my way back to the metro.