Shanghai is a great place to end this trip because it really rounds out my view of China. Beijing is the massive, ancient capital, Xi’an is the cradle of all Chinese civilization, and Shanghai is the modern metropolis, the New York of China. I’ve seen the ancient, and now I see the present, and all of the extreme modernity of the country.
And so far, Shanghai is an accessible, easy to navigate place. In fact, it is really the only city that I have been able to completely walk, without at all relying on taxis. This is nice, and I think the best way to get around. What I am also enjoying about Shanghai is that it really feels like you are in Europe, or at least London and England.
I say this because Shanghai was once a true colonial city, and the British basically rebuilt England along the stretch of the Huangpu River that cuts right through Shanghai. If you were jut suddenly dropped here, I think you could easily believe that you were in London, not Asia. The buildings look English, the streets are cobble-stone, and inside the buildings you’d even feel like you were in a London hotel. A true nice change of pace from all of the ancient architecture I’ve been exposed to for these last 2 weeks.
But, Shanghai is also one of those “one off” cities, meaning that you can pretty much see what there is to see in a day or so. There isn’t any huge, massive sight, except perhaps walking up the Bund, or the promenade by the river, seeing the colonial architecture, and going into the excellent Shanghai Museum, which is one of the easiest, most accessible museums I have ever been in. Besides that, Shanghai is more of a sight in-itself, just seeing the modernity and consumerism, and endless shopping that goes on. Sitting and watching the city for a couple of hours is maybe the best way to take it in.
Overall, it is a nice ending, a big, comfortable city, fun to just walk, and so far keeping up with the excellent food I have had this entire time. Tomorrow is my last full day, and I am off to see the French part of town.