Shanghai, european city in Asia

City center, Shanghai, China

Shanghai and Beijing are bitter enemies. It is a bit like Paris and Marseilles in France. We tried both, and we won’t take side!
Because or thanks to the slowness of the Russian bureaucracy, we spent 2 weeks in Shanghai.

You may think that in so many days we would know the city inside out, but no! You cannot travel for one year as you would travel for short vacations : impossible to be at 100% every day and to go from visit to museums half running all the time. It is expensive, and very tiring (you may have experienced an after-vacation time when you are more tired than before taking vacations!). Every day wake up early, walk all day long, ask the way (more difficult in some countries), and absorb all the information … Not a good idea, as go slow make you soak local culture, discover of-the-beaten path hidden gems, try gastronomic specialities and spend some time to recover from it, wander around, observe people in the street … Some days are just spent doing administrative stuff, like getting the Russian visa, writing articles, waiting in hospital for small stuff, or do-nothing-and-read days.

And so after 2 weeks we hadn’t visited all the museums, but we experienced a bit of the Shanghai life and enjoyed the modernity of the city (coming from India, we were surprised to see bins and pavement).

We were lucky enough to be hosted by Diana and Olga, two very nice and dynamic Chinese and Russian girls. Diana Mum cooked for us and we discovered delicious Chinese specialities. We tried to return the favour by cooking French pancakes … with a wok, not a big success.

Pancakes Party with Diana and her Mum, Shanghai, China

And this lovely girls showed us the night life of Shanghai. We met a lot of expatriates (mainly Occidental males looking for Chinese women ). We can now testify that open bar (free drinks) party are as devastating here as in France, most people found difficult to walk straight after 11 pm, people were vomiting in the toilets, and the mood was a bit gloomy.

Olga explained us that when Chinese girls arrived at Shanghai university, they are suddenly freed from the familial pressure. So most of the time the consequences are mini-mini-skirt and a very flirty attitude. As for the expatriates I met a good specimen: In his 28, in Shanghai since 4 years, living here alone with his cats, pissed by the French. He doesn’t speak Chinese and parties every week end with his expatriates buddies to chase after beautiful Chinese girls. The question is : is it possible to live many years in your bubble in a foreign country, ignoring all of it?

City centre, Shanghai, China

North of the Bund, Shanghai, China

Now we have finished with this small ethno-socio-logic considerations, let’s talk about the city!

Shanghai is an extremely young city with an urbanism perfectly adapted to the modern life. Sometimes arteries are so large you have to take footbridge or underground passage to cross it. Streets are lined with stylish buildings, and it is really easy to move in the city with the nice and comfy metro. Strangely enough the centre of the city is invaded by classy pastry shop, and big shopping malls full of French luxury brands.

On the Bund, Shanghai, China

Business centre in the fog, Shanghai, China

But Shanghai is not oppressive as it has a lo of parks and walkways. The Yangtze river cut Shanghai in two,. One is a promenade of old foreign buildings from the 30’s, legacy of the foreign concession : The Bund. The bank has been converted in a nice walkway perfect to admire all this old architecture, and also the business centre across the river, full of modern buildings with surprising shapes. The Russian embassy is also in the Bund, a nice old building we are well accustomed to now.

Russian embassy, Shanghai, China

The key to understand Shanghai is to know the great influence the foreign concessions had until the communist took power. They were ruled and protected by Occidental powers, and it is no surprise that the city still feels very European. It is also why the city may lack a bit of exoticness, giving sometime the impression than we have exited China.

Lonely heart ads at People

People’s square is at the very hearth of Shanghai and is the perfect palce to find peace and tranquillity. Benches in the shadows, small lakes with water lilies and lotus flowers, the perfect place to rink a strange cold-beverage and cool down. But don’t come here on Saturday! The square is full of people carrying lonely heart ads with pictures. These are parents worried for their still single child who meet other parents to arrange dates. The Chinese one-child policy was severely implemented, and so all the future of the family rely on one precious offspring!

Shanghai museum, China

We strongly recommend the excellent Shanghai museum. It is not because it is free, but because it has the most beautiful ceramic/porcelain collection of China, and nice collection about antique Bronze. All is well explained with an emphasize on scientific precision (demonstration of the lost-wax casting method for instance).

Chinese propaganda posters, Shanghai, China

More original and underground (literally) , the museum of propaganda poster was hidden in the basement of a residential building by the passionate collector. Of course the posters give a very biased view of Chinese history as it is their determination. But the exhibition is well organised and gives an interesting look on Communist-China history. Until not so long ago posters were the only cheap and effective way to mass-communicate. Some posters were hand-printed on old newspapers by students, some are artistic pieces. Different currents and styles took place from generation to generation : Soviet influence, red and black two-coloured, realist style …

Enough of small talks, the essential piece : Chinese gastronomy, will be discussed in a dedicated article, with mouth-watering pictures!

Whatever say people from Beijing, Shanghai “w’ve got you under our skin” !

2 comments for “Shanghai, european city in Asia”

  1. Shangai ou Pékin, faut-il choisir ? Finalement c’est un peu comme Metz et Nancy ou… Arcueil et Gentilly 😉
    Extraordinaire cette affiche de propagande le l’Armée Populaire de Libération ! Le putti-aviateur pointant sa sarbacane-mitrailleuse sur le vilain yankee (et ses lunettes de soleil), c’est sans doute pour lui décocher quelques traits d’Amour !…

  2. Il y avait vraiment de très belles affiches. Peut être auras tu bientôt la chance d’en voir une de plus prés!

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