My first introduction to Shanghai was similar to that of Beijing, another taxi driver that sees a foreigner as dollar signs. As I walked out of the Shanghai Station I walked straight up to the cab rank and was fortunate to find a couple of drivers who spoke English. I told them the hotel I was staying at and one said no problem, so I started to throw my stuff in his boot. It’s on the meter right? I asked, no meter, 100 RMB he replied.
I knew the hotel is only about 5 minutes from the train station and even in the worst traffic conditions it could not be any more than a 30RMB trip, I asked for the meter again and got the same reply, no meter 100RMB is cheapest. I grabbed my bag back out of the boot and started walking. Lucky for me there was another taxi driving past that I managed to hail. I asked for the meter and he happily obliged. My new taxi got me to the hotel for under 30RMB.
The weather in Shanghai was pretty ordinary which is normal apparently for this time of year. The sky was clouded, or smogged, out and lovely silky gray color. A haze persisted for the time that I was there making it almost impossible to see anything that was further than 200 meters in front of me. On the other days, it rained.
Shanghai feels very different to other parts of China, if you came only to Shanghai, you would the real China experience. But if you didn’t come to Shanghai, you would miss a unique part of the country and a city that tells a grand tale of Chinas relationship with the rest of the world.
Shanghai is a part of China that has been heavily influenced by the west, due to events in history (such as the Opium Wars and Sino-Japanese War) that saw heavy foreign settlement. A visual demonstration of this can be seen at the area known as the Bund, which lies alongside the Huangpu River. The beautiful grand buildings alongside the river here are all early 19th century, European-style architecture, and at the time of British settlement, they housed banks and trading firms.
What makes the area even more amazing is the area directly across the river called the Pudong. The Pudong area is packed with modern skyscrapers displaying the feats of modern architecture. The contrast between the two areas either side of the river makes somewhat of an amazing statement, the new China on one side and the China of old on the other. The Bund on one side reflects an era of weakness in China when it was subjected to heavy foreign influence, look to the other side and you can see a powerful strong country that is moving forward under its own banner.
Being located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai became an important seaport as far back as the Qing Dynasty in 1600’s. In later years it became an important trade port with the west, and also established itself as a financial center for East Asia which it remains as today.
For detailed info on tourist attractions and things to see in the city check out the attractions category at GoShopShanghai and also the Shanghai section at TravelChinaGuide. For local news check out Shanghai Daily. For detailed info on shopping malls, markets and must visit stores see Go Shop Shanghai website.
Map of Shanghai