After arriving at Pudong International Airport in a hot sweat I couldn't wait to get out into the open to see the skyline of Pudong. I had been told by a couple of friends that it wasn't the most beautiful area of Shanghai and to ignore it and move on to the cultural sights of Pǔxī. My first impression of the landscape was a favourable one. I thought the sea of concrete skyscrapers was interesting if not colourful. A lot of the high rise buildings were a sandy, grey colour with the odd flashing Chinese icon illuminating the horizon. I was fascinated to see green areas interspersed amongst the buildings. How on earth trees and shrubs survived amongst all that concrete was a mystery to me.
After travelling fifteen minutes or so, more futuristic buildings started to brighten up the sky; I was able to focus on the Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai's World Financial Centre. These two buildings formed part of a contemporary city art scene that set my heart racing and gave me an adrenalin buzz. Obviously, my friends and I don't share the same feelings about cityscapes and ginormous skyscrapers.
Pudong hasn't always been a building development area. Before the 90s the area was somewhere that traders could set up businesses, like a giant industrial estate housing many warehouses. Later on when the warehouses closed down the land was taken over by vegetable growers. It was here where all the vegetables were grown to supply the markets of downtown Shanghai.Now, new apartment blocks are going up and being bought by non-Chinese. I was told by a colleague in Shanghai that property prices are very expensive in Pudong. You are looking at 50,000 CNY (6, 178 Euros) per square metre. In Warsaw you can buy A class office space in the centre of the city for the same price so yes, it is expensive.
Pudong doesn't have the charisma and old world charm of Pǔxī. It is very rare you will see cyclists carrying a hundred and one flattened cardboard boxes on their backs or old ladies sat at the roadside washing clothes in brightly coloured bowls but it does have one hell of a spectacular skyline and this is what makes it fascinating to me. I like the madness of the multi-lane highways and the way the Maglev swerves smoothly through the concrete landscape. Where is the history, I hear you ask? Well, there isn't a lot and what you can see is in the distance as you view it from the side of the Huangpu River. The magnificent buildings of the Bund can be seen on a clear day but then geographically they aren't really in Pudong.
I enjoyed visiting Pudong and I think every visitor to Shanghai should get involved with the architecture here. Okay, it's not as swanky and rich in culture as Pǔxī but there are interesting attractions to see, like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Century Avenue and Park, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Oriental Art Centre, Shanghai History Museum and not forgetting my two favourite buildings which I have already mentioned, Jin Mao Tower and the World Financial Centre. Don't leave Pudong off your Shanghai itinerary; if you do you will regret not seeing this outrageous skyline.