Shanghia: Face of the Future

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

There is a saying that says “If you want to see the China of the past, go to Xian. If you want to see the China of today, go to Beijing and if you want to see the China of the future, go see Shanghai.”

I think this is true.
Beijing is an impressive cohesion of ancient buildings, the Forbidden City, the mesmerizing hutongs.
Xian is amazing in its immenseness and how the terracotta warriors were ever made, let alone how they are being discovered and excavated.

But Shanghai. It’s not my favorite place. 
24 million people in one city…
It you like modern architecture, or if you like to shop, see haute couture, it will be a great place to visit. Skinny women in tiny mini-skirts, towering high-heels and dangling gold. Men in suits with smart-phones pressed to the ear. Children wearing the latest brand names, being pushed in the fanciest strollers you have ever seen. Bullet trains, elevated walkways. This is China, too.

I did not see any slums. Which is good. I’m told everything old has been bulldozed and people have been given apartments. This may be good now but wasn’t at the time.
But it’s hard to look across the street because of air pollution.
Everything is constantly grey – as if it is very foggy. The top half of skyscrapers is erased in grey. I did not see blue sky or clouds. Just grey.
There is an air pollution index which people receive on their smart-phones Something like ‘under 50’ is OK. If it is more than 85, the kids have to have indoor recess. While I was there, this index hit 300. And that was not an exception.  There is often ‘square’ dancing in the street at night.
And I did notice that every square inch is planted with trees or shrubbery. That should help. My hotel was across from Central Park and people jogged or walked there all day long. Even the sidewalk was half pavement, half running track. I enjoyed walking to school and observing people.

The food was great. Very kind teachers took me out for traditional Chinese food: homemade noodles, fresh tofu, soups, meats. I even ate a whole bowl of peanuts with chopsticks at one point!

The other best thing was massages: about 7 dollars for a one hour massage. Not as good as in Thailand but still… I love it.
Crazy traffic, wild taxi drivers. I loved shopping in local stores and brought back all sorts of packages of which I had no idea what was in it: crackers, cookies, fruit? Most turned out to be good 🙂

The rice isle in the supermarket!
The egg isle in the supermarket!
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