Cities on Sunday – Shanghai

Happy Sunday to you all. Is that a thing? ‘Happy Sunday’? Well, it can be now! Shanghai… staying in North Asia for this week’s city of choice, is a mega-tropolis of which you can find quite of a few of these days in China. However, you may not find one quite as ‘modern’ and shiny as Shanghai.

Shanghai old and new.

When large cities in communist China were built for purpose and not for looks, when the general theme of cities was ‘dark and foreboding’, Shanghai bucked the trend with stylised, more modern designs and colour. Shanghai was the only town for a long time to do business in when China had locked itself away from the world.

And today, in a far more open and business-orientated China, Shanghai still shows you what it used to be like back in the day. The buildings are an interesting mix of today and the 1970s – 1980s, in some strange way reminding me of Togo’s capital Lome which was built on the back of a short-lived oil boom in the 1970s. The buildings in Shanghai that I reference are far bigger and more numerous, but they have that same strangely dated look about them.

And then there is boom that occurred after China opened up, and these buildings and parts to the city are far more like what you’d expect to see in a huge city today. It’s a brilliant place for shopping, for malls, and yet you can still find stalls selling pirated DVDs and the like. Fashion, electronics, pedestrian only malls, shopping centres with everything, Shanghai has it all.

And it has the French Quarter. Yes, Shanghai is a colonial city at its heart, which means that some sections are European-like with boulevards and tall tress offering plenty of shade. And perhaps most interestingly, you’ll find the Propaganda Museum in the French Quarter – where you’ll see communist relics and plenty of old posters from a different era in China’s history – one that still lives on in many ways today.

Golden Jing An Temple

The Golden Jing An Temple is not the only temple in Shanghai, but is perhaps the most beautiful and impressive. It’s worth a visit nestled in between skyscrapers and busy four-lane highways. In fact it feels rather anachronistic.

The Shanghai Museum is worth a few hours of your time, with relics stretching back thousands of years, it’s really very impressive. I particularly liked the ancient Chinese Art Work. Beware in the area though – young people trying on the ‘tea ceremony’ scam prey on visitors.

Walking the Bund.

The Bund is an area by the Waterfront not to be missed. You’ll see along the water the mix of colonial-era and modern buildings, and across the way you’ll see the buildings I was talking about – the one that sticks out in my memory is a sort of tower-building with a large ball three quarters of the way up.

You’ll also find the Bund Tourist Tunnel… a sort of underground ‘ride’ to get you to the other side of the water. It features a lightshow for the duration of the short journey and it’s really something. It’s a little puzzling, and leaves you wondering just what you experienced and why they made it in the first place.

Finally, after all the rushing about, propaganda, temples, museums and strange tourist tunnels, relax in the beautiful old city, the part of town that truly feels ‘Chinese’. The colours, the streets, the eateries. Shanghai is a big city, a city of some 25 million people. But you can still find refuge and charm!

Thanks for reading today! Take care – And May the Journey Never End!

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