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Day Five: Shanghai Urban Speed

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Dave!Putting aside the question of my reality, I backtracked to People's Square so I could visit the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. It came highly recommended by a friend who had been to the city, so I decided to give it a try.

Turns out I was mighty glad I did, because the contents within are fascinating in a way that Judicial Confirmation Hearings are supposed to be, but aren't.

If nothing else, it certainly is a cool building to look at...

Shanghai Urban

The highlight of the entire complex is a massively huge 1/500th scale model of Shanghai that boggles the mind. Even with my wide-angle lens, there was just no fitting it into the frame, because it goes on forever...

Shanghai Urban

With something this size, you'd think that they would skimp on the details. You would be wrong. Everything is faithfully reproduced, right down to the smallest detail. In addition, there are lighting cues to explain the layout of the city, all while a cute guide (with the most pleasant speaking voice I have ever heard) runs you through the model...

Shanghai Urban

Interestingly enough, the model not only reflects the current state of the city, but includes future plans as well. The building I went up on Sunday, Jin Mao Tower, is the tallest building in China. But the model reveals that two taller buildings will eventually flank it on either side...

Shanghai Urban

As noon approached, I needed to get back to the hotel so I could get some work done, but I decided to take a little detour first.

When I landed in Shanghai on Saturday night, I was looking forward to taking the MagLev Train into the city. Unfortunately, we arrived so late that the train had long-since shut down for the day. Not one to pass up a ride on the fastest train in the known universe, I figured today was the day. What's cool about the train, other than the fact that you'll be traveling at 430km per hour (267mph), is that you seem to defy gravity while doing it. Magnetic repulsion means that the train never touches the tracks, providing a frictionless run. It's pretty sweet-looking too...


I expected the ride to be smooth to the point of being unnoticeable but, unlike the elevator in Jin Mao Tower (where you cannot sense motion), you do get buffeted around a bit. Still, it's kind of a cool thing to have done. I bought a same-day-return fare in the comfy "VIP" section, which was completely empty...


The entire 30km journey takes just under 8 minutes. Apparently the same journey takes about 40 minutes by taxi...


The Shinkansen "Bullet Train" in Japan was my previous fasten train ride... at 210km per hour, making this one twice as fast. Kind of makes me wonder what the theoretical limit for mass-transit actually is.

And on that note... this ends my last day in Shanghai.

Categories: Travel 2005Click To It: Permalink


  1. ssp says:

    Uh, maglev trains… fantastic! Their test track wasn’t too far from where I grew up and we went to take a ride there with our physics class at some stage. Ever since I’ve been really upset that they went for conventional high-speed trains in Germany (which admittedly are easier to integrate into an existing railway infrastructure).

    On the test track they had different kinds of track materials of different qualities and prices. The cheaper ones made the ride a bit rougher and louder.

    I’m not sure you should go much faster with trains as the energy used up by air resistance just increases too quickly. Even the maglev trains are much more amazing when they go 250km/h in a way. It’s still really fast but they’re more energy efficient and relatively quiet then.

  2. Rob says:

    That model city is absolutly amazing. I could spend hours just studying it. Although I have to admit they would need a personal gaurd for me, as I would want to play Godzilla and stomp thru it.

  3. apryl says:

    completely amazed at the Maglev train! sounds like a fun ride…

  4. ssp says:

    Apparently people start to investigate building maglev trains in the U.S. as well. So you may be able to get the experience closer to home in the future.


  5. Anonymous says:

    some peopele say that the maglev will be with this technology go to 1609 km/h but thay must it than make a good track

  6. Lonnie says:

    Sounds better than Space Mountain…

    Found you via the CLB…

    Greetings from Guangzhou…


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