The Oriental Pearl Tower is undoubtedly Shanghai’s most iconic landmark. Completed in 1994, it was also one of the first structures to be built on the Pudong side of Shanghai (ie- all the famous skyline images you see).
It has a love/hate relationship with most Shanghainese, and I certainly don’t know why exactly that certain color was picked, but at night it is spectacular. At 468m tall, it is currently the 5th largest tower in the world, with which you get some insane views of Lujiazui (downtown Pudong) and across the river of the Bund and the Puxi side of Shanghai…
I can’t recommend visiting the Pearl Tower enough, if for one simple reason: the view straight down through the glass floors at almost 300m up!
There is also an unusual exhibition located on the ground floor, as seen in the last few images… make sure to look through them all, there are some real gems in there!
I will keep the commentary short this time around, said most of what I needed to about Brunei in my last post. Pictured above the official seal as seen on the gates to the Sultan’s Palace, while below you see the magnificent Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque.
We had rented a car and drove around… from the Sultan’s palace (couldn’t really get a good view), legislative buildings, beautiful mosques, beaches and parks. Brunei spares no expense!
Just a quick note about the image of the house on stilts… it is a very rare site, as Brunei is pristine!
Night photos comin’ in the next post…………
Kuala Lumpur was the first stop on a multi-leg tour through some strange corners of South East Asia. Arriving late one night then leaving roughly 30 hours later, gave a nice 24 hour window to explore the amazing city of KL.
I must say I was a little surprised with Kuala Lumpur, as I had imagined something entirely different… a crazy busy bustling metropolis. I was further surprised to find out the population doesn’t even hit 2 million! Although bewildered by my lack of knowledge of this place, it was an incredibly beautiful city… clean, colorful, efficient, and super friendly. It still had that “small town” feeling in my opinion (although I live in Shanghai, so my premises might be a little screwy).
The food was simply amazing (and cheap!), what a amazingly tasty melting-pot of South East Asia cuisine… given the large Chinese and Indian communities… and yet, the best that culinary Malaysia had to offer was still to come (in the form of battered butter prawns that I was going to eat for 3 days straight in Kota Kinabalu in the upcoming days, but more on that later).
Anyway, back to my 24 hours in KL. Arriving late at night, checked in to the hotel, unpacked only my tripod and set out straight for the Petronas Towers (as you can see in the first few night shots). The next day was spent on a tour through various spots throughout the city, including KLCC, Bukit Bintang, KL Railway Station, Keretapi Tanah Melayu, etc… then finally back to the Petronas Towers for vespertine time!
The Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC), designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, was the second tallest building in the world (492m) at its completion back in 2007. It remains the tallest structure in mainland China, although not for long as you can see the construction of the funky Shanghai Tower taking place right next to it, which will reach a height of around 632m, making it the second tallest building in the world.
I know this story may be old news to some and I have told it many times over the years, but the aperture at the top of the SWFC (which makes it look like a bottle opener) was originally designed to be a circle (in Chinese mythology, earth is represented as a square and the sky as a circle), but since the the building developers (Mori Building Company) is Japanese, many Chinese (including the Mayor of Shanghai) took this as a slap in the face and protested that the design be changed. It seems that the love the Chinese feel for the Japanese is so strong that everywhere a Chinese person sees a circle they think of the flag of Land of the Rising Sun.
The walkway that makes up the top part of the aperture is home to the worlds highest observation deck, with some glass panes in the floor to really make your legs turn to rubber. I am certainly not afraid of heights or walking on this glass but it was quite the spectacle observing the Chinese jump away in terror as soon as they realized they were walking on see-through glass almost half a kilometer up in the sky.
You get amazing views of downtown Lujiazui as well as the Bund on the Puxi side of Shanghai across the river. Breathtaking stuff.
Rumors still swirl that a spire will be added on top of the SWFC (which cost: $1.2b) to make it architecturally taller than Taipei 101 (cost: $1.8b) and One World Trade Center in New York (cost: $3.8b), but I do not believe these to be true (rather thankfully, because I think that is cheating!). Although “taller,” One World Trade Center’s top floor is almost 20% (100m) lower than that of the SWFC.
Visiting the observatory (plus 2 other floors) costs something like 120RMB, more information on their snazzy official site.
This was my first trip back to the World Expo site after its closure back in October 2010. For quite some time I had been meaning to go check it out at night, and also properly see the Shanghai Arena up close for the very first time. Of course I waited until the thick of winter to venture out to Pudong and take a look.
That evening hovered around 1°C, so I packed on a couple jackets, a hat, gloves, and thick scarf… setting up shop in Yaohua Line 8 metro station before venturing out into the cold for 2½ hours.
I did my best to capture these impressive structures, but did feel something was lacking in the lighting department… especially when you consider how other things are lit in Shanghai. Or even when you look across Shang Nan Road (map) where both the China Pavilion and Shanghai Arena (aka Mercedes Benz Arena) are located, to see how impressively the Expo Axis is lit. However, all three of these structures are immense and still very much breathtaking.
Another, somewhat coldish night… hit up Lujiazhui, Pudong [again] with the dope wide angled lens. Booyakasha.
During the Chinese New Year holiday we hit up Gao Qiao, located on the northern tip of Pudong, just over an hour north via subway from downtown Shanghai. Our mission was “Holland Village,” a residential complex built by Dutch architects to reflect living in Holland which is part of the “1 City – 9 Towns” initiative. On the 20min walk from the metro station to this new town, we were fortunate to follow along a picturesque, and relatively traditional Chinese street.