Saturday, March 2, 2013

A stroll through People's Park and Nanjing Dong Lu

Warning: long and picture-heavy post follows.

To celebrate the beginning of March, we went out on our first sightseeing trip today. It was a day of firsts. I took my first subway trip in Shanghai. The subways are clean and well-marked with signs in English and Chinese. The announcements are in both languages also.  They announce the name of the station coming up as well as what lines you can connect to (assuming it is a junction). No, the announcements do not sound like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons.

Another interesting feature of the subway system is that there are barriers at the edge of the platform. In some stations, there are gates where the doors of the train open. The gates open when the train is stationary. In other stations, there is just a gap where the door will be. This prevents people from getting pushed onto the tracks accidentally when the subway is crowded at rush hour.

Each subway station has multiple numbered exits, which is nice because you can remember which exit you came in at and therefore need to use to exit. Also, the exits indicate where you are going to exit so you can pick the right place to exit based on where you want to go.

All bags go through a metal detector. Then there is the usual entry gate that is controlled by your ticket. The subways also have the same strips that are in the sidewalk, for the blind.
I took this photo on the sidewalk on the way to work. You can see the intersection where another strip takes off. They end in dotted squares, which are also used to mark some intersections.

We went to People's Square and Park first. It used to be a racecourse but is now a lovely park with tree lined walks and manicured lawns. The lawns and flower beds are maintained by old-fashioned elbow grease. I saw teams of gardeners weeding the lawn by hand.
Exterior of People's Park Metro station. This is one of the exits/entrances. The first thing I saw as we walked out was...

There are a number of museums and modern buildings surrounding and in the Park. There is the Shanghai Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Shanghai Theater.
I have no idea what building this is, but I liked the looks of it.

 I think this is the Shanghai Art Museum.

The park has signposts all over, with directions to the various interesting spots

 We headed for the waterside promenade.

We walked across the crooked bridge and ended up in a crowd. We couldn't figure out what it was all about. Lots of people looking at signs in Chinese. So we left and headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art or MOCA. The entrance is flanked by two identical sculptures. This is one of them.

MOCA is a very modern building. We decided not to go in today.

As we continued our walk, we were asked by two girls to take their picture. After taking the photo, we chatted with them for a bit. They were music students from Harbin in north-eastern China, visiting Shanghai on a holiday.

The next building was the Shanghai Urban Planning Center, I think.

This took us to a park entrance diagonally opposite from where we entered. The first thing I saw was another US export.

As we left the park, I looked back and saw this view. Pretty, isn't it?

What looked like a classic British phone booth is actually a wi-fi hotspot. I saw a few more of these as we walked along.

Crossing the street took us to Nanjing Dong Lu (Nanjing Road East). It is a pedestrian mall lined with stores. There is a trolley system that goes up and down the mall, if you don't want to walk.
Nanjing Dong Lu is a bit kitschy and quaint. It has modern stores and buildings juxtaposed with what look like older buildings. I liked some of the architecture that maybe dates back to Shanghai's pre-modern days. There are stores with quaint names.

We only went inside the Shanghai First Food Hall.
 The Food Hall consists of 4 stories of food related boutiques. The first floor is International Foods and included bakeries with macarons, chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc. The second floor was Traditional Foods and had dried fungi, dried seafood and cured meats, dried fruit, children's foods, snack foods, and... a McCafe! We bought some dried mango at one of the stalls. It is not clear if this is all one big store with boutique type stalls or each one of the stalls is a different vendor. The third floor and fourth floors were cafes and restaurants.

I loved the lights that hung between the escalators.

Some of the other buildings that caught my eye follow.

 We walked along Nanjing Dong Lu to the next Metro stop which was about 5-6 blocks along with our meanderings into and out of the stores. Then we caught a Metro train back home.

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