The Bund, Nanjing Road, and Radisson Blu

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The Bund is Shanghai’s famous old row of mostly neoclassical buildings on the river. It’s where various western powers set up banks, newspapers, telegraph services, and the like in the early 20th century to have a commercial foothold in the east. This is also where some of China’s oldest modern companies were headquartered. Many of those buildings remain and are now banks, hotels (Waldorf Astoria), and/or fine dining restaurants (M on the Bund). If you’re picturing the old Shanghai it’s this. Directly across the river are the brand new high rises of Pudong. The old/new dichotomy is obviously striking.

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Nanjing Road is a pedestrian zone lined with shops that starts at the Bund and heads west towards People’s Square (not far from our first hotel, the Yangtze). There were of course lots of western brands, seemingly real but probably fake western bands, and them loads of eastern brands we didn’t recognize. All in excess. If you have ever been to Century 21 in New York it’s a little like that. There was a store with nothing but puffy coats. On three floors.

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We ended the walking tour with drinks at the Radisson Blu’s circular rooftop bar. At merely the 47th floor it was actually on the lower side in terms of our rooftop bar experiences on this trip. It was completely empty at 530pm on a Saturday. That building in the distance with the two spires and white linear lights is the Royal Meridien, where Layla and I rang in Christmas a week prior. It was funny to think how we were on opposite sides of a small park at two rooftop bars, but we had gone to Thailand in between them. Shanghai is both enormous and local.

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