HAPPY 12/12/12 !!!
The name of this recently opened park now eludes me (and my googling has turned up nothing)… either way, it is located on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River, opposite the old World Expo site.
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.
Well, I just returned from Thailand and I am currently busy to get those photos up… what a beautiful place south-east Asia is! But as Chinese New Year approaches (this weekend) I’ll have to first upload some things from my trips to the beautiful old Chinese watertowns of Hangzhou and Suzhou. Stay tuned (just wanted to keep you in-the-know)!
Also, as a side note, although I left Vietnam back in October, I only just finished polishing those images last week, so once again, good night Vietnam, it was epic. I have traveled my fair share… seeing more than half the modern world wonders, hitting up every continent (except Antarctica), but I can now add something else to my list: I’ve seen one of the worlds top 10 ugliest buildings… according to CNN at least. Check out some of the other hideously ugly buildings on their list here.
HAPPY [CHINESE] NEW YEAR!
We flew from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Da Nang, and then a short 30min drive to the town of Hoi An…… a slightly touristy, but extrememly beauitful town. The center of the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and thus historically preserved… the first night we took some bicycles into the town center, which is where I captured these.
Afterwards, we had some beers at Treat’s Bar for 10,000 VND a bottle… and if that isn’t a reason to come back, I don’t know what is.
EXPOdition Pt. II
August 8, 2010 – 390,700 visitors
Thanks to the Israeli Pavilion, we got VIP tickets to the pavilions of Israel, Japan, France, and Spain. I also dropped by Finland and Belgium, and take it from me, you can skip the French one, unless you really need to see more pictures of Paris and have never seen a Citroën. Japan was interesting, you certainly don’t see a robot playing a violin every day. The Spain pavilion is a definite success, the wicker building, great cave-like entrance and then the infamous gigantic moving baby, something I will not forget any time soon.
Also pictured are the pavilions of Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and of course China. In my Danish Pavilion image, if you squint, you can see the Little Mermaid statue which was taken outside of Denmark for the very first time (unless you count all the times it has been stolen and vandalized; of which including 4 decapitations, an amputated arm, numerous paintings, and the addition of a dildo).
Those final images are from inside the Smurftastic Belgium Pavilion, another one worth visiting (without my bias). The Expo Axis (the massive tent construction in the images before the Smurf invasion) is the largest membrane construction in the world, whatever that means.
You will also notice all the water being sprayed in the air… temperatures hit 40C that day.
So I finally got my first taste of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, which opened back on May 1, and runs until the end of October. Took a weekday night ticket, in the rain, and there were still massive crowds (June 24th: 447,100 visitors)… I can only imagine what it’s like on a sunny weekend.
“Better City, Better Life” is the motto, and the site itself is MASSIVE (interactive map). This first trip was only through [part of] Zone C which houses most of the European Pavilions as well as Canada, US, and Africa. And to say the Expo has transformed Shanghai city life is quite the understatement:
- 41 billion US dollars were spent on preparations (more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics);
- 18,000 families & 270 factories were relocated;
- 190+ nations and 50+ world organizations taking part (largest ever);
- Expo site covers 5.28 km², also the largest in Expo history (which equals about 987 football fields including endzones);
- 10,000+ new Shanghai taxis;
- 6 new metro lines;
- 1.7 million volunteers were trained specifically for Expo help;
- 70-100 million visitors are expected to pass through the gates;
- metal detectors (nuisance!) in every subway station throughout Shanghai;
The image above (UK Pavilion) is just a taste of the CRAZYNESS that is to come, I took 397 images and am still working through them, so check back soon as I will be updating them below!
*UPDATE* Check out this amazing photography of Earth Hour in action around the globe (click the image to dim the lights)!
In 10 days, on March 27 @ 8:30pm (local time, wherever you are) the World Wildlife Fund will organize Earth Hour, asking you to turn off your lights for one hour.
Just do it.