F1 2024 Insider's Guide No. 05 – China

19 Apr 24


F1-2024-Insider-s-Guide-No.-05-China - GLOBE-TROTTER

China waited a long time for a Formula One Grand Prix to showcase itself to the world, and to supercharge its fast-growing domestic auto manufacturing industry too. In 2004 their wishes were granted and the Hermann Tilke-designed track in Shanghai hosted its first Grand Prix. Drama was never far away and due to COVID-19, the race was off in 2020, 21, 22 and even last year. This year it is back and the excitement is palpable in China. Fans of the Aston Martin Aramco Formula One® Team will be cheering on Fernando and Lance as they aim to keep up with their encouraging start to the season.

China: The country of the future

China’s recent economic boom has made it look so futuristic. Shanghai’s forest of skyscrapers lit up at night is a jaw-dropping sight. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower stands at the centre of this new development replicating a space rocket rather than a building. MAD have made a name for themselves creating expressive cultural institutions like Harbin’s Octopus Opera House. Their new Beijing Philharmonic Hall is due to open very soon. New airports like those at Beijing and Shenzhen are huge in scope and architecturally ambitious. High-speed train lines criss-cross the country with enormous new stations like Guangzhou. And don’t miss Shanghai’s sci-fi Maglev, a super high-speed monorail powered by magnets that whisks you from the airport to Downtown.

How to find joy in the journey?

Once highly distinct and separate, Hong Kong and Macau were very much independent of each other, for centuries the only link was by boat across the Pearl River Delta. That all changed six years ago when the eye-wateringly ambitious Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge opened connecting the two regions. Now you can drive a car from the front door of the HSBC World Headquarters in Hong Kong straight into the former Portuguese colony of Macau with its Lusophone vibe and Lisbon-esque church architecture. The monumental Bridge gives unparalleled views of the Chinese coast and even dips into a tunnel in the middle of the sea by The Oresund crossing between Sweden and Denmark. A truly unforgettable drive.

What’s new in China?

Shanghai’s Bund waterfront was once the teeming, steaming centre of an incredibly productive industrial revolution. Now China’s biggest metropolis is reinventing its river with fascinating ideas dreamt up by global architects. The West Bund Art Centre was carved out of a former aerospace factory by architect Liu Yichun and today is home to all sorts of art. Modern Dutch masters MVRDV are currently at work creating something similar nearby. Their Gate M West Bund Dream Center in a former cement plan will soon bring another cultural institution to the area. And several new green spaces have claimed back the riverside from its industrial past. The Sanlin Valley Ecopark from TLS Landscape Architects has created an attractive and environmentally sustainable parkland for people and animals by the Bund.

Where should I go next?

A short hop from Shanghai is the beautiful island of Taiwan - once known as Formosa. Today’s Taiwan is a wonderful, safe and democratic haven where you can enjoy culture, ancient temples, the high tech modernism of Taipei with its huge Taipei 101 skyscraper and great night market food. For relaxing times head to Sun Moon Lake or Taroko Gorge where hiking and swimming in beautiful nature will reinvigorate the soul. And to finish, shoot down to Kenting National Park where you can ride locally-built Giant bikes along the shore and sit under dreamy, swaying palm trees on tropical beaches enjoying barbecued fish and cold beers.

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