We headed to Shanghai to catch the last few days of the World Expo. For anyone that has lived, visited or even read about China you might have said to us: “Perhaps heading to the most populous city in the world, during the last week of their largest event when they’re trying to break the world record for attendance, is not the very best of ideas.”
You would be right.
Shanghai is clearly a city for business people. I’m pretty sure the more money you have to throw at it, the more you would get out of Shanghai. For foreigners this is a serious MBA crowd.
In the fancy area of Shanghai we were surrounded by hundreds of off duty middle-aged white finance guys in belted khaki pants and button downs. Titty bars. Mercedes that run you over at the crosswalk. $10 beer. Whaaaaa this is China?
Shanghai has the culture of mid-town Manhattan and the skyline of Vegas.
The fun thing for people who don’t have expense reports (aka: chinese people) is to take a walk along the Bund, head to the river or check out the Yuyuan Garden (formerly private garden, now an incredibly commercial shopping area). Unfortunately there were a million people visiting Shanghai without expense accounts, so all of this required a Jesus-like ability to walk through crowds.
But in some respects Shanghai also gave us the best insight into modern day China – 5 blocks from the birthplace of the Communist Party is Jaguar dealership.
We were lucky – super lucky – to have a local friend, Jialin, show us around. Without him we would never have experienced the world famous Yang fried dumplings. We wouldn’t have ordered the best food we’ve had in China – sweet bean soup, crispy fried rice with seaweed, and a delicious rice and fruit desert. They don’t offer this food on the English menu (that’s a joke, there is no English menu).
Don’t head to Shanghai expecting 1,000 year old cultural relics or even a mad crazy fun nightlife (unless you’re really willing to shell out some dough). Shanghai all about sky scrapers, lame business chatter and hordes of chinese tourists.