For three weeks now, I have had the pictures ready for the fourth installment of our home exchange in Shanghai but I don’t seem to find the time to focus on past travel while the present keeps us fully occupied. I will try harder to catch up!
My thoughts about this post circle around the juxtaposition of opposites that are Shanghai. East and West, naturally, since Shanghai was one of the trading centers opening the Qing Empire toward the West. The Opium Wars brought great hardship from the West, while the brutal Japanese occupation created the last external period of suffering for the Shanghainese before violent civil warfare and re-education during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution pitched sons against fathers. Shanghai emerged from its struggles against colonialism, foreign occupation, and internal strife with a single-minded focus on trade and economic development. Wandering through the streets of contemporary Shanghai, observing small sections of the daily lives of residents and visitors alike resulted in many contrasting impressions to take home.
Giving in to curiosity, we snuck into one of the many residential courtyard communities we passed in Waitan district.
If I only knew what “High Altitude Not Parabolic” means?
Looking a little more closely into the well-guarded courtyard above, it appeared to be a dangerous work zone rather than a residential community.
These pictures seem to provide ample material for a novel about the residents of a lively neighborhood, their family dramas, work doldrums and carefully guarded secrets.
Immediately adjacent to crowded markets and housing units we found the other Shanghai. The Shanghai of urban development, of gentrification, of brand identification and style for style’s sake nonsense. Just around the corner from working families and traditional courtyard communities, we experienced the glittering world of global banking and mass tourism. There was no shortage of luxury goods, sumptuous hotels, and restaurants with celebrity chefs supported by the carefree scions of wealthy local tycoons and travelers alike.
On both sides of the glass … attitude counts.
Did I mention attitude?
As always when you see such an over-the-top bouquet, we’ve landed in an international hotel. After all, people our age can’t walk mile after mile through the cacophony of a mega-metropolis without rehydrating and recuperating in the sanctuary of a quiet bar.
A couple of days later, walking along The Bund, the embankment boulevard that has always been Shanghai’s “Prachtstraße”, its poshest quarter since colonial times, we stopped for lunch at the Indigo Hotel when we spotted yet another bridal photoshoot through the windows.
Walking along the river afterward, we saw a rental yacht being prepared for a wedding. Weddings are serious business in China!
The crowds populating the elevated boardwalk of The Bund can be overwhelming,
and they increase in density as night falls over the city.
Taking pictures and selfies against the ever-changing colorscape of the illuminated highrises across the river is a popular sport in Shanghai.
There are many gorgeous professional images of the Pudong skyline, it’s worth googling!