The Oriental Pearl Tower: More Fun Than a Barrel Full of Babies (The title will make sense to you later. I think.)
At 468 meters high, it towers over Shanghai’s city skyline. When it was completed in 1994, it was the highest structure in mainland China. Today, it’s the fifth tallest tower in the world.
It also happens to look exactly like what I thought all the buildings of the future would look like when I was a kid. I was also pretty sure we’d all be riding around in flying cars and hanging out with robots and eating Dippin’ Dots at every meal by now. (It’s the Ice Cream of the Future, people. The future!) So it’s possible I was a bit off on my predictions about what life would be like in the Twenty-First Century. I blame The Jetsons, really. (But, hey, they got the whole video-phone thing right. And I never thought that would happen. So, why don’t we have robots already, huh?)So, yeah, if you go to Shanghai, it’s kind of impossible to not see the Tower.
Even if you’re like me, and you spend most of your time in Shanghai doing this:
Anytime someone comes to visit me and we go to Shanghai, we always go to the Bund to check out the Tower from across the Huangpu River. It’s just kind of what you do when you’re in Shanghai. Besides, you know, drink cocktails.
But I never once thought to go inside of it.
Probably because when I’m in Shanghai, I’m usually too busy thinking about other things. Like, well, cocktails.This week I had plans to meet up with one of my loveliest blog readers, Selly, who was visiting Shanghai. (Of course, you are all lovely. But Selly is particularly lovely. Probably because she always leaves me lots of flattering blog comments. And, really, I can’t think of anything more lovely than flattery. Except, maybe, cake.)
To be honest, I was a bit nervous to meet her.
I worried that she might actually expect me to know a thing or two about Shanghai. And really the only thing I know about Shanghai is where to get sloshed on girlie drinks. And while this knowledge impresses me, I sincerely doubted it would impress any out-of-town visitors.
As luck may have it, she brought along her wonderful Chinese friend, who was more than happy to act as our tour guide and lead us around Shanghai.
This way I could do what I do best – follow behind and get easily distracted by shiny stuff.Before I knew it, we ended up on the side of the Huangpu River I’d never been before. We were standing directly below the Tower. And that’s when I realized we were actually going to go into that thing.
Now, I don’t mind being in tall buildings, really. I’m not particularly fond of heights, but as long as I’m surrounded by walls, I’m usually okay.
But being in a tall building that looked like it had been made out of Tinkertoys?
This just seemed like a really bad idea to me.After buying our tickets and standing in line, we ended up in an elevator that hurtled us 350 meters into the air to something called the “Space Module.”
The “Space Module” turned out to be the Tower’s highest observation deck. And, not, say, where they kept all the robots.
I know. I was pretty disappointed there weren’t any robots.
Also kind of disappointing?
Luckily, the views from the lower levels turned out to be much better. Or at least a little less murky.Then there was the view from the “Sightseeing Floor,” where you could, in fact, see through the floor. And straight on down to your pending death below.
At first, the only way I could walk on the glass floor was by tip-toeing across it. Because everyone knows that you weigh a lot less when you’re on tip-toe. That’s why ballerinas are so skinny.
While I was carefully tip-toeing around waiting for the floor to burst open beneath me, everyone else was splaying themselves across the glass in their best glamorous photo poses.
The kind people at the Tower had even provided a helpful sign with some “sample photos” so we could get an idea as to how we might want to pose. Should we, you know, have thought to pack our white tuxes with us for the occasion.
I finally got up enough courage to sit down on the floor and bust out my own photo pose. Luckily the floor didn’t open up beneath me. And because I was sitting under some kind of air duct, I got the added bonus of windswept hair.Aside from the smoggy views and the Glass Floor of Death, the Tower was packed with a number of other attractions I never would have guessed were in there.
None of these attractions had to do with robots, but they were all pretty awesome.
There was an arcade.
And a roller coaster.And then on the ground floor, there was a history museum with a number of riveting exhibits.
Including this one on wheelbarrows:
While I’ve seen a number of museums in China, I have to say this may have been my favoritest museum yet. It was possibly even better than the beer museum in Qingdao. And, lest you all forget, the beer museum served beer.
First of all, there were wax statues everywhere. And I just love me some wax statues.
Plus, the English signage was both informative and hilarious.Probably my favorite exhibit in the museum was the cheerily titled “Farmer’s Fun.” According to the sign, the exhibit had been designed to show the “fun life of farmers in the Ming Dynasty.”
I don’t think the wax statues in the exhibit knew they were supposed to be having fun, though. Because, seriously, those were some depressed looking statues.
Even the exhibit’s one and only wax baby statue looked pretty bummed out. Probably because she was stuck in a barrel.We finally stumbled out of the Tower hours after we’d arrived — and that was after skipping over all the gift shops. And there were a lot of gift shops.
I was kind of shocked it took us so long. Okay, so maybe I had spent an inordinate amount of time taking photos of wax statues. But, seriously, that tower was a good 468 meters of entertainment.
It was possibly even more fun than a Ming Dynasty farm.
But, I’m not sure.
You’re going to have to ask this guy here: