Shanghai: China’s international mega city

Shanghai feels more ‘Western’ than any other ‘Western’ city I’ve been to. Seriously. Nearly everyone wears dark colours. Err… whatever happened to Chinese people love red and gold? Hmm… People here are fashion and status conscious. Even the foreigners fit in like locals. No one stares and no one gives exaggerated comments when you speak Mandarin. They’ve got better things to do… THANK GOD. 

Luxury cars are everywhere. Everyone is kind of oblivious to everyone around them and yet everyone is secretly watching what everyone is doing. The international franchises from everywhere are everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of Japanese I heard spoken on the streets. Japanese convenience stores and food chains are ubiquitous in Shanghai.

Hooray for me! Unfortunately, I wasn’t craving Japanese food; only dodgy fast food. Sigh…

Shanghai’s skyline has modern buildings. Colonial-era buildings. European-style buildings. Chinese-style buildings. And just generally lots of buildings… Menus and services in English are readily available. Unlike all the other places I’ve been to since coming here; Shanghai just doesn’t feel like China. It’s got a spectacular normal-city vibe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great magnificent mega city. But at the end of the day, it is just another modern city – deeply familiar to a city girl like me.

It’s only approximately an hour away by bullet train from Hangzhou, but it’s a whole different world. Hangzhou is a great city for Chinese people; but Shanghai is truly an international city. An incredible one at that. I was pleasantly surprised. I think I’ll definitely drop by again soon…

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Mandatory tourist cityscape shot at the Bund… Yes, I actually took this photograph… 

Oh and people actually follow road rules and no one jaywalks… Am I seriously still in China? There’s a certain order in Shanghai that I still haven’t seen anywhere else.

For my last day in Shanghai, I decided to go to Jing’an Temple. It’s easily assessable by subway and I’d heard good things about it from others. It is 50 yuan (US$7.25) to get in – which isn’t expensive, but I thought it was kind of unfair to have to pay to enter a temple that seems to be largely frequented by worshippers. 

There were a bunch of old ladies in the back making some offerings for prayers. Vegetarian food (gasp!) is available if you’d like to eat before leaving. For a long time now, I’ve thought of the Chinese as largely atheist, but I guess things on the ground are a bit more complicated than I initially thought… I’ll have to talk to a few more locals to get a real ‘feel’ of things… 

Jing’an Temple is a Buddhist Temple with more than 780 years of history. It was built and rebuilt and burned and once it was converted briefly into a factory… It was really something to see those tall sky scrappers towering over and imposing their stature over the temple. 

I’m glad I came here. Last week I was feeling kind of confused about my purpose for being in China, but I found the answers I was looking for… 

Oh and there’s a small park across the temple where you can just sit, listen to buskers, and look at the red red leaves. 

Till next time, try to enjoy the work week 🙂