Last week I locked my trusty bicycle in a storage unit already looking forward to when I would ride it next. I didn’t imagine that just a week later Joyce and I would be touring the streets of downtown Shanghai by bike.
Early Tuesday morning Joyce and I took the subway downtown and met her friend Stacey who had kindly procured bicycles for us. We parked the bikes and picked up cong you dan bing (scallion egg pancakes) and coffee for breakfast. Joyce had spotted her favorite bubble tea shop and was disappointed to find that it didn’t open for another hour. The three of us stood, ate, and took turns spinning out stories and getting to know one another. By the time any of us checked the time, the entirety of that hour had elapsed and bubble tea was enjoyed by all before we set out on our ride.
Stacey has been living in Shanghai for the past 2 years. A former public health worker, Stacey now does freelance design work in Shanghai and has a number of ongoing personal projects that seek to paint a picture of life in China. Owing to her genial nature and endless curiosity Stacey has become somewhat of an expert on everyday life in Shanghai, and incidentally a fantastic tour guide.
We started our tour with Comrade Wei on Shanxi Rd. by the IAPM mall and made our way to the French Concession. Plane trees arched over the street from both sides, creating an incredible canopy of broad leafs which brilliantly filtered the sunlight. A Ferrari and scores of Audis and BMWs joined the scooters that maneuvered around us as we made our way to Suzhou Creek.
Making our way along the creek we saw small groups chatting along the banks, and began to catch glimpses of Pudong as its massive towers appears in the space between buildings. Passing an art district we saw examples of modern gallery spaces built to resemble Shikumen buildings.
We made it to Waibaidu bridge and arrived at our first panoramic view of Pudong. Looking across the river we were able to see iconic towers like the Jin Mao Tower, the Bottle Cap and the new Century Tower. We continued across the bridge to the Bund, a famous district along the Huangpu river that was formed by the union of the British and American Concessions. I listened to Joyce and Stacey recall memories of previous visits to bund, while I marveled at the gleaming skyline before me and the incredible relics of Concession era Shanghai behind me. This first visit to the Bund was just a short teaser, because we had a date with one of Joyce’s closest friends, to film an English lesson.