Ok, I have to admit that I had some serious pre-conceived notions about China: stoic, staid, old fashioned, closed, communist, cut-off. Boy, was I wrong. Plain and simple, Shanghai rocks!
Growing up outside New York City, I always compare new cities to Manhattan: skyline, culture, pace, freedom, energy. For the most part, very few cities have ever lived up to my NY expectations. Berlin is pretty cool, London has super energy, Paris is full of culture, and I will always love Rome. I haven’t been there yet, but I have a feeling Hong Kong and Tokyo are both pretty exciting. But, in all my traveling, I had really only been to four cities that even come close to the feeling I get when I walk around New York.
Now I get to make that five, because truly, Shanghai blew my mind.
First of all, the skyline is just fabulous:
And the city is just pulsing with energy:
Every area of the city has it’s own unique culture, from the refined French Concession, to the grand feeling on the Bund, to the cosmopolitan glamor of Pudong, to the traditional Chinese neighborhoods that I imagined before I arrived:
The mix of old and new, Western and Eastern was just amazing for me. I never expected Shanghai to be so modern and traditional at once and I certainly never expected to feel so at home there…
Unfortunately I only had a brief three days to explore and most of that time I was busy, busy, busy at the best educational conference I’ve been to in a looooong time. Thankfully, my Chinese visa allows me a second entry before Febuary 2008, so if I can force myself to brave the cold, I just might have to go back again…