48 Hours in Amazing Shanghai
Shanghai overwhelmed me. The vastness, the sheer scale of the place. Wide river, glowing Bund, colonial buildings facing the skyscrapers was a sight to behold. The history of Shanghai and the future of Shanghai together.
And there were people, tides of people like back home in Delhi. Roads were wide, mind numbing traffic, and people pushing the horn on their vehicles as if it were a ‘fastest finger first’ competition.
If you call yourself a traveler, Shanghai gives you no choice but to think. Think about how worlds can be vastly different for two different people.
Why people from different parts of the world, when together have strong opinions on various subjects.
Why no amount of reading about a city or country can substitute the realness and rawness you feel when you’re actually there.
You’re looking at a Prada store with western models and huge billboards and across the streets, chic looking lady getting out of the store and getting in her red Porsche, a woman with tattered clothes begging to feed her child. The divide.
I stood there on the street thinking until I was forced to move as a man blew the horn furiously at me, yet again.
Everything, every place was overloaded. Everyone was in a rush to get somewhere. Get ahead. I could now see why the chinese kids are so competitive and hard working. They have no choice. They are used to competing against billions.
In a short while, I knew better than to compare Shanghai with Hong Kong. Shanghai was mainland China. It wasn’t really the Paris-Of-The-Orient to me as it has been referred to in various books.
Expats I met came to Shanghai to “experience China” and “change the world” “Make a difference” but ended up just partying and talking about the political statements that some art exhibitions make. Spent their weekends getting cheap massages, manicures and sight-seeing.
I couldn’t really see Shanghai in a day or two. I needed more time so for once, I admit, I was guilty of being a tourist and not a traveler. I got myself a Tsingtao and watched the sun go down. . Below are my top 5 recommendations based on whatever little I got to experience
1) The Bund or the waterfront is one of the important architectural symbols of the city. It is surrounded by various buildings of a variety of architectural styles so if you’re into that kind of stuff, you would love it.
2) Check out the commercial life or just people watch at Nanjing Road. It is a bustling city, great to take street shots if you like street photography or just chill at a cafe and people watch. It is the number one place to go to shop and even stay if you get a good deal on the hotels. It is one of the most central parts of the city, so makes it easy to get around.
3) People’s square is beautiful at night when it is well lit and a great place for a run during the mornings. I went there both during day and night and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
4) If you’re looking for an Artsy area, Tianzifang is the place for you. Situated in the former french concession area of Shanghai, this area has narrow lanes and alleys that open doors to unique craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios.
5) Zhujiajiao came highly recommended but I did not have enough time to fit it in. It is known as Shanghai’s Venice. It resembles the “Old Towns” that many places in Europe has and is filled with old buildings and water canals and mainly represents ancient Shanghai. This place has a lot of history attached to it (going back to the Song Dynasty). I’d definitely recommend a boat trip down the river and a walk over the amazing bridges. This is one of the most picturesque areas of Shanghai.
I’ll definitely be going back again since I need to redeem myself from behaving like a freaking tourist and also because there is so much more that I haven’t seen yet that makes Shanghai so attractive.
If you’ve already been and have some recommendations, leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to note that down! Until then, travel far and wide.
Love & Laughter!