Suitcase and World: The Bund.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Bund.

Ironically, I've only walked along the Bund at night. Today was my first time seeing it in daylight.

The Bund refers to a stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai that runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The Bund usually refers to the European style buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas.

I don't think Bro knew enough about the Bund to plan it but walking here from Yu Garden, we actually ended up at one end of the Bund which is anchored by the recently built Fosun Foundation, an arts and culture center that is housed inside a most unusual looking building - it reminded me of a curtain of organ pipes.

Inspired by traditional Chinese theatres, the three-storey building features a curtain-like facade of bronze tubes. These tubes hang in three layers, creating semi-transparent screens in front of windows and balconies.  What makes the building, which was designed by Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, is that that the facade of tubes moves.  You can watch it in the video below.   We didn't see anything part of the building moving as we walked by it today.

From here, we continued our walk along the Bund, heading back in the direction towards our apartment.   The first building you see, across the river, is the tall skyscraper that is the Shanghai Tower.  To its right is a most iconic building because everyone thinks its shaped like a bottle opener.  You can't see the square shaped opening from this angle but this building is actually home to the Shanghai World Financial Center.  The spiky looking building on the left of the Shanghai Tower is the Jin Mao Tower.  I think all three skyscrapers have public observation decks but considering that the Shanghai Tower is the tallest of the three, that would be the one to go to.

The area around the Bund is really pretty and very well maintained.  From the street level, look for the steps that take you up to the promenade.

The promenade is nicely landscaped and well manicured.  It's a lovely place for a stroll and we're lucky because today's a weekday afternoon and most people are busy working.  I can bet though that this place is crowded after work hours and on the weekends.

This is new Shanghai.  Behind me are the buildings of old Shanghai.

There quite a few large boats docked at the piers.  Most appeared to either be river cruise boats or permanently anchored restaurants.

I have to admit, if there was one thing I would request be here it would be trees.  There's literally no shade as you walk along the promenade.  Perhaps that is by design to keep the walk way clear of debris as trees do drop leaves and also serve roosts for birds that will poop all over the place. You do notice just how spotlessly clean this place is.  Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten to bring along my hat today so I was beginning to wilt under the heat of the sun.

Every now and again, I would see a boat cruising on the water that reminded me that this is a working river - it's not just about cruises for tourists and locals.

There were only a handful of vendors hawking goods and it was obvious their set ups were temporary.  This photographer though seemed to have a permanent stall.  Given that pretty much everybody has a smartphone with a built in camera, I was surprised he could do any business but obviously he was able to convince one person to pose for a paid photo.

I'm quickly finding out that SK is incredibly observant.  She remembered the buildings on the corner of where Fu Zhou intersected with Zhongshang South Road which is the section of road that runs alongside the Bund that we are walking parallel to.   Once we neared the intersection with Fu Zhou Road, we looked for a set of steps that would take us back down to street level.  We ended up in front of this wall of live flowers.  I had spotted it last night so it confirmed we were indeed near Fu Zhou Road as SK had pointed out to us.  She's good.  Better navigator than Bro so it will be good to have them work side by side.

I had to pose for a photo here.  When did my eyes get so slitty? 

Shanghai also has its bull as the one in the NYC Financial District.  Like the one in NYC, this one was designed by the same artist - Arturo Di Modica.  According to Di Modica, the Shanghai Bull or Bund Bull is the exact same size and weight as the 5,000-pound (2,300 kg) New York City Charging Bull but there are some differences.  The Shanghai Bull is slightly reddish in color as a tribute to China (Chinese love the color red).  Also, it leans to right instead of the left like Charging Bull and has a more menacing tail.  Okay.  Still looks like a bit of a copy to me.  Given all the creatures in the animal kingdom, I'm surprised the Chinese did not pick another animal to represent the city so they would not be viewed as copy cats.

At this junction, we're just about two blocks from our apartment.  We made a quick pit stop there before continuing to our next destination. 

No one i.e., neither of the other two, was interested in crossing the river and going up one of the towers to an observation deck so we are moving on to the French Concession to check out the area and end our day with dinner at a restaurant there.