Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting Shanghai(ed)

Well, not really Shanghaied as I went there without being abducted. Shanghai is the third "country" I visited in a one-country tour. First, there were the "Chinese" cities like Beijing, Xi'an, and Chengdu. Then there was Tibet, which is pretty much a different country. Shanghai is basically every other large financial center in the world, which I guess is good for China. At times, I couldn't tell, for example, if I was in some neighborhoods in San Francisco (clean, nice, and lots of Chinese people).

Shanghai, with its almost 20 million people, is the largest city in China and probably its most "western". Ever since its brief British occupation after the Opium War (in 1842), Shanghai has been on a path to be the world-class financial and shipping center of China. Is this your mental view of China?

The above photo was taken in the French Concession area of the city. Like I said, a lot like San Francisco...or even Pasadena? Upon arriving into Shanghai airport, you have a few choices to get into the city; buses, Metro, taxi, etc. are all available. Boring! How about taking the MagLev (magnetic levitation) train that goes 300km/h (186mph)? It's a bit pricey but worth it for the experience.

There were several cool areas to visit. One was the French Concession (above), which was very posh. Along the Huangpu River, which winds through the center of the city, I visited the Bund area. The Bund has a bunch of early 1900s-style buildings and the views are amazing. This is the view from the Bund towards the newer financial center and Oriental Pearl Tower (with the spheres on the left) during the day:

...and from almost the same spot during the evening (better, huh?):

You can go up to the top of the Pearl Tower, which I recommend. The city was a little foggy while I was there but the views were still good. This shot is towards the Bund:

Inside the tower, there's one part where they've made platforms out of glass. You're standing on glass a few hundred feet above the ground. If you get vertigo (like me) then it's probably not for you. :-)

If you're thinking of visiting China but are apprehensive, I'd recommend Shanghai as your first stop since it's the easiest to navigate (in my opinion), the people are accustomed to foreigners, and everything is in both Chinese and English. Can you say "ni hao"?


  1. I had pretty much the same exact experience in Shanghai - even stayed in the same French Concession area. Very cool city, but not an "authentic" experience, I agree. Too bad you missed the World Expo.

  2. Thanks for reading my blog Chris! I'm guessing that what we saw in Shanghai is the future of China; Starbucks, iPhones, and all. It's probably not what most expect to see but, if the Chinese are smart (which I believe they are), then they'll at least try to repeat the success of what they have there.


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