Wednesday 10 October 2018
We spent the last two nights in Guangzhou where the smog was so bad that it was impractical to take photos. I sent an email to our friend Louise, who is an environmental engineer in NZ, showing a PM2.5 (atmospheric particulate matter or PM diameter less than 2.5 micrometers) and an air quality level of over 160. I got a reply saying the WHO recommendation was 25. “If you go outside don’t breathe!” On the drive in from the airport we could taste a metallic taste in our mouths and our eyes were stinging. I ended up spending most of the day in the hotel catching up on some work. Clear visibility from the hotel room on the 75th floor was only a couple of hundred meters. Interestingly one of Sylvia’s Chinese colleagues said they only get worried when the reading is over 300.
We arrived at the Park Hyatt hotel around 6pm. The hotel occupies the 79th to 93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. This seems to be common practice in China and some other parts of the world nowadays. It’s a little complicated as the concierge is on the ground floor, a lift takes us to the reception on the 87th floor, then another lift takes us down to level 80 where our room is. Then for breakfast its up to 87, change lifts to get to 91. I think the complexity is well represented in the faces of the sculptures in the lift lobby on the ground floor.
Sylvia headed off to a dinner meeting, I headed to the bar on the 87th Floor. The night view from here, overlooking the Bund and surrounding buildings, is out of this world. Many of the tall buildings in the area are lit up and the lighting coordinated amongst the many buildings. What looks like a shadow moves across the old stone buildings by the Bund then the lights change and thy look like they are dancing. “No I didn’t have that much to drink!!”
Thursday 11 October 2018
Sylvia headed off to a meeting so I headed up to floor 91 for breakfast situated 3 floors under the oblong hole in the top of the building, which tops out at 492m. Sitting looking northwest across Shanghai on an almost clear day one realises just how packed in the buildings are on the west side of the Huangpu River. But in spite of that there are areas where the old low buildings have survived, looking almost squashed in amongst the skyscrapers. It is also interesting to look down on the building next door and see the mobile cranes that run around the top of the building to lower both window cleaners and maintenance people over the side.
To my left, while eating breakfast, I noticed an even taller building, towering more than thirty storeys above where I was sitting so I had to get out and investigate. Heading down to the street and across the road – there it was, the Shanghai Tower, complete with observatory on top. As I walked up the street to find the entrance it was quite hard to get a picture of the building we were staying in as it is so tall.
Eventually I found a ticket office away from the tower itself, grabbed a ticket and headed down an escalator to the basement. Fortunately there weren’t a lot of people about so the wait was minimal to get into the lift, which shot us up to the 119th floor (552M) very quickly as the fastest super lift in the world, reaching speeds of 18m per second. Yes, an observatory – but across the city, not up to the stars as the name would have one suspect.
I wandered around the 119th floor then took a stairway up to the 120th. Completed in 2015 and standing at 632m meters this is the second tallest building in the world, only outdone by the Dubai tower at 828m. Although it is not a perfect day the views out across the city can only be described in the pictures below. One gets a bit of an appreciation of how you can cram 24 plus million into a city.
I found a corridor with a counter in it and on inquiring was told that this is where one goes up to visit the damper. “It’s only explained in Chinese” the lady made sure I understood before buying the ticket. I went around the floor again while waiting for the next viewing then bang on 11am a chap guided 3 of us to the lift and up we went to floor 125. Exiting the lift we were greeted by a robot-like device that jabbered away in, I presume, Mandarin as the Chinese guys seemed to understand what it was saying. In spite of not understanding what was being said I got the gist of how this massive counterweight called a damper helps steady the building in a typhoon or earthquake. We looked through windows into the damper room. A large weight sat on a platform surrounded by rams to steady and control the movement if an event takes place. Best of all was an example of how it worked on two simple structures, one with a weight and one without. Viewing over, I took the lift back to the basement – interestingly only reaching 10 metres per second on the way down.
I headed east along a wide avenue towards Pudong. This is quite a nice part of town with a wide avenue with trees on each side and relatively short, more spread out buildings. Thinking how short the buildings looked I counted the floors on one – there were over 20!
At one stage I was walking alongside this nice hedge with patterns of plants growing in it, then I spotted some white things sticking out. On heading over and taking a closer look the whole thing was made of plastic!!
Several kms down the road I came across a a park garden area with wide stone and concrete walkways. This lead to Century Park. Heading for the gate a guard in a suit got a bit serious and pointed me to a kiosk. Oops its a pay park. Ten locals and I had a ticket and headed in. A concrete path takes one around a small lake with some gardens and trees surrounding it. After the circuit I headed down the nearby road to the canal that ran out to the main river. Along the way some people fished, others walked and others picked tiny yellow flowers from shrubs. This is apparently an older part of town and still has houses among the not-very-tall old appartments until one gets closer to the river. Later along the edge of the river I came across a van full of parcels being sorted on the riverside road.
Reaching the river with its wide boardwalk running alongside, I stopped at Bunny Drop, a nice little cafe with outside seating. Heading into the cafe I ordered a tuna sandwich and a small bottle of wine. Handing over my “World Master Card” it wouldn’t go through. Next the “visa”. No luck!! I was about to get Google translate out to type out an apology when a chap standing at the counter next to me explained that lots of small places in China these days don’t take international credit cards. They use We Chat and some other forms of mobile payment. As I only had 60 locals in cash I asked him to apologise for me for causing the staff inconvenience. He did better than that and paid my bill for me. Eddie was his name. He explained he had just chucked in his job in the financial world and was heading to Vancoover. Good luck Eddie! Wherever you end up you’re a bloody good bloke. As I headed out to sit down I got chatting to a lady with a poodle the cafe staff had been patting. Kate, originally from Taiwan, moved here with her husband Alan a few years ago. Alan is one of the senior managers with Qantas here in Shanghai. We had a good chat over lunch and soon it was time for me to head back to the hotel.
In the evening Sylvia had a night off from dinners and meetings so we enjoyed an evening in the bar watching the lights of Shanghai.