The Bund, Shanghai – A Blast from the Past

My first trip to China was in 1998 for business and it was also my first time to Shanghai. I arrived from Beijing on a domestic flight to Hongqiao Airport. This airport served both international and domestic flights back then. Pudong International Airport was just a long term plan then, and Pudong was still mainly a backwater but with a lot of new construction projects coming up. The in-place to be was Puxi, and The Bund (外滩) was where most people hung out. The Bund is synonymous with Shanghai and is very much a part of the history of the city.After that first visit, I’ve made many trips to Shanghai on business or leisure. The city has changed completely from the first time I came. During each visit to Shanghai, I would invariably end up at The Bund for the night view because that’s what attracts people there in the first place. And I would take a photo of Pudong’s skyline like what everyone does, and now, after looking through my old photos, I’ve realized that these photos tell a story of how Pudong has changed over the years.

This is how Pudong looked from The Bund in 1998. Just the Oriental Pearl Tower and some commercial blocks. Puxi was still the place to be partying at.
This is how Pudong looked from The Bund in 1998. Just the Oriental Pearl Tower which is the tallest structure around (470m) and some commercial blocks. Puxi was still the place to be partying at.
My next visit was 10 years later. By then Shanghai had grown much larger and Pudong was beginning to grow into a new financial district.
My next photo of Pudong was 10 years later. By then Shanghai had grown much larger and Pudong was beginning to grow into a new financial district. Jin Mao Tower is the tallest building here (421m) and the Shanghai World Financial Centre is still under construction.
Another 2 more years and Shanghai is holding the World Expo. Even more skyscrapers have been completed for the event.
Another 2 more years and Shanghai is holding the World Expo. Shanghai World Financial Center is now completed and the tallest building in the city (492m). Under construction is Shanghai Tower which will be the tallest building when completed.
This photo taken just last year show even more sky scrapers in the background.
This photo taken just last year shows even more sky scrapers in the background. Shanghai Tower is almost completed and stands at 632m high becoming the tallest building in China.

In contrast, Puxi’s waterfront and The Bund still looks pretty much the same ,although the roads in front of the colonial buildings have been realigned and new carriageways constructed.

Puxi waterfront still looks the same.
Puxi waterfront still looks the same in 2013.
The colonial buildings still stand to remind everyone of Shanghai's past.
The colonial buildings still stand to remind everyone of Shanghai’s past.
At least some things never change.
At least some things never change.

There are many places to chill out after a hard day’s work in one of the world’s busiest cities. I chose to visit the Peace Hotel’s (和平饭店) jazz bar after the hotel had been closed for several years to undergo a major renovation, and had recently re-opened for business.

The lobby of the Peace Hotel. Opulence rules here.
The lobby of the Peace Hotel. Opulence rules here.

I had visited the hotel before and watched the Old Jazz Band, and wanted to see them again. Instead, I found some modern jazz band playing there now. The Jazz Bar had also changed. It was no more the dark, crowded and smoky basement room that so reminded me of a Humphrey Bogart movie scene. Now it is a modern bar and so out of character. Well, I guess some things do change.

The modern jazz bar with younger jazz musicians.
The modern jazz bar with younger jazz musicians. Even then you still have to make a reservation or wait to get a seat.
Here I was squatting in front of the saxophonist and trying to get that dramatic concert shot.
Here I was squatting in front of the saxophonist and trying to get that dramatic concert shot.
Jazz lives on!
Jazz lives on!

The Old Jazz Band still plays at the Peace Hotel, but they start at 7pm and end by 9pm (They are octogenarians after all and need their beauty rest). So far, I have not been able to catch them playing whenever I’m in Shanghai.

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