In Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street is a big wooden door that opens into a corridor which leads into a church. Few shoppers notice the door, let alone pass it. But the transition is wonderful: you go from a crowded street, a cacophony, into the silence of a church, and leave the shopping street behind, if only for a moment.
To me the Northbund in Shanghai is similar, in that it lets you escape the city for a while. Behind the running path is a park from which you descend the stairs to the dock. There’s the mumbling of people as they take selfies of the Pudong skyscrapers, and the whistle of a police officer when somebody steps onto the grass. But most audible are the diesel engines of the cargo and cruise ships on the Huangpu river, which produce a soft droning sound that drowns out all the rest.