It didn’t take long to get lost in Shanghai. We had arrived just after noon, and decided to locate our hostel, drop our stuff off, and attempt to take the bus to the Gensler office for our internship which started the following day. Not knowing a lot about the geography of Shanghai, we had booked a room at the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel in Luwan for one week to determine whether the location was convenient for the commute to the office. Once at the hostel, we mapped out our route, which showed that we had a few different public transportation options to choose from, either the 146 bus or 109 bus, both of which picked you up from the same stop. Our experiment began with a ten minute walk through our new neighborhood.
Our hostel was on Quxi Lu (Lu means Road), near the intersection with Luban Lu. When in Shanghai, you always give directions based on street intersections as opposed to Beijing which was always landmarks. After a short walk to Mengzi Lu, we waited for a few minutes for the bus to arrive, and even though we had planned on taking the 109, we knew both buses went approximately to the same area so we took the 146 when it arrived first. All of us were worn out from the long night of travel, especially because we did not sleep well on the “hard seats.” So much in fact, that we all fell asleep briefly, and ended up passing our stop. Once we realized what had happened we got off the bus and tried to figure out where we were. We ended up right across the street from the Shanghai Cultural Center, so we thought this wasn’t exactly a bad thing as we knew we were relatively close to our destination, and some exploring around the office area would proof useful to find some good places to eat, shop, etc.
It was pretty apparent when walking around Shanghai, that it was quite different from Beijing. Immediately in Shanghai, you get a feeling that the city has much more of a human scale to it. Sure there are buildings of all different shapes and sizes, but no matter where you look, the ground level of all the buildings were engaging the street and human activity. After an hour or so of walking we came across one of the central spots in downtown Shanghai called Tomorrow Square. Adjacent to the square are many prominent buildings including the Shanghai Grand Theater, the JW Marriot Hotel, Shanghai Porsche Center, the Shanghai Museum, and People’s Park.
Once we reached Tomorrow Square, we were all a little frustrated, so we stopped and asked some locals for directions. They were nice enough to stop a cab for us and give instructions on where we were trying to go. As we thought, we weren’t too far off (less than ten minute cab ride) until we arrived at our office building. The building was located right across the street from Xintiandi, this great renovated restaurants and shopping area (http://www.xintiandi.com/english/index_e.asp), taken off of traditional Shanghainese housing styles. On the other side of the office was a small man-made lake and park. When standing in the park and looking back at the office, you can see the Shanghai skyline in the PuDong district, highlighted by the Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower (still under construction). All in all, it turned out to be a great area that we all got to know and love by the end of the trip.