Shanghai – The City of Lights

By Young Journalist_A.J. Camacho, June 26, 2019

The Oriental Pearl Tower never really gets old. From that first time I stood on the observation deck, overwhelmed by the mass of high-rises that was Shanghai, its grandeur has only slightly eroded––like a few peddles descending the Cliffs of Dover. From there you can see it all, or at least a building within a leisurely walk from anything.

Oriental Pearl Tower

Oriental Pearl Tower


To the west somewhere our day’s journey began, exchanging the Regal International Hotel for a place much older and of greater national importance. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s former residence was not squalid, yet it wasn’t too wealthy either. Dr. Yat-Sen and his wife, as it turns out, only spent 2-6 Yuan daily on food. Surely that was a lot more in the 1930s than it is now, but that is still less than 1 US Dollar. To this day, Sun Yat-Sen is essentially the only thing the CCP and KMT in Taipei can agree to hold in good light, and both sides enshrine his three principles of Nationalism, Peoples’ Rights, and Peoples’ Livelihood as sacred to their culture.

We then followed in the footsteps of Presidents Clinton, Deng, and Xi as we visited the Jade Buddha Temple. The namesake is two Buddha statues made from Jade, brought to China from Burma by a monk in the Qing Dynasty. There, we were briefed on various stories and customs of Mahayana Buddhism, one of the three guiding theologies in modern China (alongside Taoism and Confucianism).

We then had some Hangzhou food at Grandma’s Kitchen ––my Chinese teacher’s favorite restaurant, coincidentally. Stomachs full with xiao long bao (soup dumplings), we proceeded to where this article began: the Oriental Pearl. Little about it is normal––thousands of feet high, a clear glass floor, and so crowded as to give each person a 6-inch bubble of personal space on average.

We proceeded to explore Nanjing Road, buying very little due to the expensive prices (by Chinese standards), and eating more Hangzhou cuisine for dinner.

The night was capped off in what I believe to be perhaps the only must do of Shanghai––a visit to the Bund at night. They call Paris “The City of Lights.” I think that is a misnomer in modern times. For I have seen the night of Paris and the yellow-tinted glow of incandescent bulbs layered over the Eiffel Tower and I have seen the green street lamps nesting a smoldering cigarette bud, but the orchestra of color and light conducts no better than the symphony of technology and opulence that can be visibly heard from every angle of the Bund’s dark shore; even water music is seen sauntering between time as one side marvels to the present and another reflects upon the past.

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