Posts Tagged ‘Pudong’

Remembering China # 5: Shanghai

June 27, 2013


Shanghai. Wonderful, amazing Shanghai. I truly love this city, and when I think about China, it’s here that I miss the most. I would give anything to go back there, to live and work.

Shanghai is a city that’s rapidly changing – and not necessarily for the better. This formerly European concession was unlike any other place that I experienced in China. Of the 10 or so cities that I visited, Shanghai had the most distinctive personality.

The thing that makes Shanghai so special, is the old vs new. Beyond the amazing skyline, full of some of the most amazing buildings you’ll ever see, lies a facade of 18th century style European buildings that are truly beautiful. As I walked along a street that ran behind the tourist infested Bund, when I squinted my eyes and the people became just people, and not Chinese, I could have easily been in Melbourne. At night, when the Bund is lit up to the nines, and the old style buildings are glowing yellow with the snapping Chinese flags above each of them, it truly is an amazing sight. Across the river, the Pudong is also aglow, with the famous Pearl tower with its distinctive shape taking centre stage.

But what I loved most about shanghai was its feel. When you really get in there among the twisting roads and lane ways, it’s an amazing place. From the French concession, with its twisted trees stumps before old colonial style buildings, to the older streets lined with alleyways that could easily have been movie sets. There’s power lines and washing hanging above dusty bicycles and old Chinese characters painted on the walls. It’s simply intoxicating.

But unfortunately much of the old Chinese charm is also disappearing. Great blocks of old Chinese houses are being torn down in favour of skyrises. It was among these districts where you would find those amazing laneways, and snapshots of what the older city would have been like. The reality unfortunately is that while these places are visually amazing, the living conditions inside them are the opposite. Many old Shanghai citizens have been relocated out of the central city district into the suburbs, and relocated into high rise apartments.

But i have found that among people who have been to Shanghai, it is a polarising place. Some people love it, others, not so much. I think that it can come down to how you view the city, and what efforts you make to really get in among it. I had the luxury or visiting it on a quite regular basis. Compared to Wuxi, Shanghai was the closest ‘big’ city (they’re all big in China, really), and had the highest prospect of finding foreign goods such as English language novels and various other products. But beyond that, I also had a chance to walk around it like a local – with no agenda, and i think that made the difference. From simple tasks to just going in search of good coffee (which rocked in the French district incidentally) to finding a decent hairdressor, to enjoying watching all the locals do their tai chi and folk dancing in one of the many parks.
I hope to return to China in 2014, and it’s Shanghai that I am most excited to return to, and this time photograph with a proper SLR.


Shanghai to Disney up it’s Pudong

April 12, 2011

In what has to be the world capital for humans (both male and female) wearing articles of clothing featuring Disney characters, China has finally announced that work on its very first Disneyland has commenced. While there is an existing Disneyland in Hong Kong – which I guess is China, exorbitant travel and document costs for actually leaving the country prevent most Mainland Chinese from actually visiting it.

The new 24.4 billion Yuan ($3.7 billion) Disney will be situated in Shanghai’s Pudong district, with over five thousand residents being forcibly relocated elsewhere to make room. This makes me wonder exactly where in Pudong it’s being placed, as Pudong in itself is largely a newly developed area (well within years as opposed to decades etc). Many of the buildings here are high rise business offices and many new communities – including expat oasis’s. It makes me wonder whether these relocated people are existing residents, or those who felt largely secure being established in a new area, and have been given the marching orders again!

While the Hong Kong Disney has been criticized for underwhelming attendance figures, its own interest-building expansion also currently underway, you can basically guarantee that once the doors open to this new Shanghai Disney….well I think we might be seeing some record breaking queues on the horizon. This place is going to get _swamped_ by Chinese tourists. If you’re of western descent and really wish to visit a Disneyland…I think you’ll be better off going to effectively any other Disney J

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