Day 150 – Our velocity

One striking example of the growth of China is the development of the skyline of modern Shanghai. A visit to SWFC, the Shanghai World Financial Centre (and not Sheffield Wednesday Football Club), provides a great insight to this.

A video showing the skylines of New York, Tokyo and Shanghai over time illustrates that Shanghai had no skyline to speak off until the late 1980s, and then in an almost audible whoosh tall buildings shot up across all the city as it became the financial heart of the Chinese economy.

From the top of the building you can see the rest of the city below you, literally as the viewing floor has a glass floor, and if you look to the horizon two things become apparent. The first is the sheer size of the city, whose tower blocks disappear into the distance unlike most cities whose area of tall buildings is relatively compact. The second is that you can see the curvature of the earth, which is pretty cool.

The return back to ground level is via the elevator that travels at 8 metres per second and gets you back down in less than a minute – or it would do if you were not forced to get out on floor 94 and walk through the inevitable gift shop!

Our need for speed was piqued by the super fast lift and we do one of the oddest activities of the trip to date in order to get some more rapid transport.  That is, we get a train to the airport and back. This might seem ridiculous (and to be honest it probably is), but it allowed us to ride the new Shanghai MagLev system, a magnetically elevated railway that travels at speeds up to 430 km/h or nearly 270 mph. I think we might have been the only tourists that had chosen to just ride the train here and back, but it was slightly reassuring to see the local Chinese people giddily getting up to take photos on their phones of the speedo displayed in the carriage as it hit the top speed.

Whilst our MagLev journey was a fantastic experience, life is all about balance, and on this occasion the balance is provided by The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Simply the worst tourist attraction we have seen on the whole trip, in fact in our entire lives (and we have been to Morecambe). £5 for a 2 minute slow train ride through a tunnel under the river which has some light bulbs in it. Avoid, avoid, avoid is our advice.

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