Our recent overseas visitors wondered which view/area best defined “typical Shanghai”. We proceeded to show them some of the many “faces” of Shanghai in an attempt to prove that there is no single aspect of Shanghai that stands out as “typical” – she is a city of diversity and contrasts.
Shanghai used to be known as “Paris of the East” and also by the less-than-complimentary title of “Whore of the Orient”. How would one describe her today?
From the backstreets and alleyways with the hole-in-the-wall eateries, to the high-end boutiques on Nanjing Lu; from the skyscrapers of Pudong’s financial district, to the tree-lined streets of the once-was French Concession.
From the colonial elegance of the architecture along the Bund, to the crowds thronging through People’s Square on a holiday or weekend; from the tranquility and timeless setting of the Yuyuan Gardens (filled with loud noisy tourist groups!), to the sidewalk hawkers as they eke out a day-to-day existence selling anything from pirated DVD’s to hair accessories.
From the sights and smells of the wet market, to the public gardens scattered with bridal parties queuing up for photographs; from the chaotic traffic jams and blare of hooters, to the “chink-chink” sound of the shuffling of mahjong tiles in rooms across the city.
From the kaleidoscope of lights rippling across the Huangpu River as it divides east from west; to the bars and nightclubs and karaoke venures that swagger through the downtown city streets; from the elderly folks on their exercise equipment in the parks, to the delicious aroma of street food cooked and served on street corners and out of downstairs windows….
Shanghai is all of these….and so much more.