Getting a Grip on Shanghai

As all the guide books tell you Shanghai is very different from the other cities in China. Yet it there are some common dominators; the panic on the metro, the designer shops and the awe of ginger.

We took in the Shanghai Museum and the Bund. The former was as you would expect, a homage to China with the built in challenge of finding the oldest artefact. The hands down winner was a 20,000 yr old pot, almost as old as our national treasure Bruce Forsyth.

The highlight was the propaganda poster museum which is situated in the basement of a block of flats in the French concession. The curator being a zealous man very keen to show you the anti truman/churchill posters. He clearly forgot the power of Wham in the 80s and their Foreign Skies tour, Andrew Ridgely’s guitar playing was enough to bring about a coup d’etat.

The bund is the riverfront with a few streets behind. You get the picture postcard view of the city and along the front are many historic buildings, behind are a number of old Shanghai streets. Tourists also took our photo, or I should say KT’s. We think it was the hat she was wearing but some Chinese family have a lovely holiday photo of KT and their son. I think they made a great couple.

Shanghai is pretty special, its huge at 20+ million people for a start, over half of which are classed as migrants. Never ending blocks of apartments fill the sky lines and countless skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes help fuel the Chinese miracle. Having visited Bangkok, Singapore and Kl it all felt a bit familar. More Asian than Singapore, not as hectic as Bangkok, but in many places you felt you could be anywhere in the world. Thats not to say we didn’t like it. The french quarter is tree lined and very pretty and the whole city is architectually full on.

In the end we wondered if all the posters in the museum, talking about beating the USA and Europe and how good the Chinese way is, were really ultimately a failure. Would Mao really have wanted shopping malls full of American and European brands, or god help us all Starbucks.

We retreated to our hotel URBN for free drinks. Shanghai’s first carbon neutral hotel. Every hour 4000 Toyota Prius drivers hold their breath for a minute to offset it. It is a very good boutique hotel and we would definately recommend it. However carbon neutral, maybe for a minute when it was built. Around the corner there is a reasonable and free for guests gym which we visited a couple of times. This too was carbon neutral supposedly. However that was so hot via air con that unless Wales is covered in new trees every other week its not going to offset anything ever.

Vietnam tomorrow, we can’t wait for the real heat.

2 responses to “Getting a Grip on Shanghai

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