All that glitters…
… is certainly not gold here, but hey – who cares, as long as it looks glamorous?
Welcome to China’s city of the posh and cool, where business joins East and West in peaceful coexistence, where communist monuments stay alongside futuristic vitreous skyscrapers and luxury brand shopping malls, where McDonalds, Starbucks and French bakery stores are an as common part of the street picture as noodle soup snack bars and where concerns for fashion and brands seem to wipe away any political issue.
For us, Shànghǎi was both, entrance and exit of our 40-day trip through China. In this city we got a first idea of what it would be like to travel through a huge country which hosts about 20% of the world population without any common basis of written or spoken communication. This city we returned to after crossing by land more than 5000 km that separate China’s East coast from its far Western edge, Kashgar. In one out of thousand tiny eateries on Shànghǎi’s streets we had our first authentic pulled noodle soup, merely some hours after we had passed migration at Pǔdōng airport with a fast beating heart, anxious about what kind of deep digging questions the Chinese border authorities might ask about the purpose of our visit. And in one of those restaurants we had our last portion of bamboo steamed dumplings, some hours before boarding the Maglev train back to Pǔdōng to leave for the Philippines, our heads dizzy with impressions and experiences from this giant melting pot of diversity that is the Middle Kingdom.
For a Western traveller on his/her first visit to China, Shànghǎi is both, a foretaste and an easily digestible first approach.