When I decided to visit Shanghai I was attracted by its modernity: it is among the biggest metropolis in the world and maybe the most innovative city in China. Moreover, having lived in the monotonous city of Changchun for almost 7 months I was attracted by multiculturality, places to go and things to do, because “you can find anything in Shanghai!” (actually the only thing I hoped to find was a K-pop store involving T.O.P. hugging fans. Anything, right?).
I found what I was looking for as soon as I took the subway at Pudong airport: 14 lines, and some of them take more than an hour to reach their last stop. And it wasn’t done yet: the first thing I saw exiting the metro were two skyscrapers, which top part was hidden by clouds. I was astonished: it was the biggest city I had ever been to, and it made me understand what “metropolis” means.
It didn’t take long time to discover the other soul of Shanghai, though. The monument I loved the most, Yùyuán 豫园 garden, takes you back to ancient China, and so do, somehow, Tiánzifāng 田子坊 and some popular areas where I was so lucky to get lost in, and probably lots of places I missed. I expected to find this ambience only in monuments and tourists attractions, and I found out it is much more common throughout the city.
Think about the worldwide famous Bund wàitān 外滩: you take some pictures of the modern district on the other side of Huangpu river and stare at those colourful lights, then you turn and a multitude of 20th century european style buildings stands in front of you. It takes only 5 minutes to reach Nanjing Road Nánjīng lù 南京路, a fancy shopping street surrounded by alleys that reminded me of the messy and dirty commercial lanes in Changchun. Even the alley where our hostel and its hutong-like hall is winds right below modern skyscrapers.
This double ambience comes over Shanghai: you are never too far from modernity, and modernity is never too far from traditional China. This is only one of the features of this lively, many-sided, fascinating city.
Feautured image: Thanks to Wikimedia Commons.