Last Friday I took my Modern Chinese History students on their first field trip in Shanghai. Originally I meant to start at the Astor House Hotel just north of the Garden Bridge. Yet when we reached the Bund, I made a sudden change in plans and took them to the new Waldorf Astoria instead. We ended up going on an unplanned tour of the Waldorf Astoria, Shanghai's newest elite hotel. Guided by a young 20-year old Chinese hotel clerk, we toured the hotel, taking in the ballroom, library, several fancy restaurants, and the famous Long Bar. Sometimes the best part of these field trips is what happens outside your plans.
Following our tour of the Waldorf Astoria, we moved next door to no. 5 on the Bund where we visited M on the Bund, the restaurant that started the Bund phenomenon, turning these derelict old buildings into some of the city's most dynamic and alluring commercial properties. We caught the view from M's balcony, took a quick look at the Glamour Bar downstairs (home to the annual Shanghai Literary Festival) and then moved on up the road to take in the mosaic that decorates the interior of the domed Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Building (now home to the Pudong Development Bank).
We then walked to the tunnel that takes passengers on an otherworldly journey to the Pudong side, where we headed to the Oriental Pearl Tower. I gave them an hour to roam through Shanghai's history in the Shanghai History Museum. But at the end of the tour, the students unanimously declared that the buildings of the Bund were far more interesting. Maybe next time I'll stick to Bundside and let them discover the museum on their own.