Is any city a more extreme example of ultra-new (cutting edge, bold) paired with old (historic, outdated)? From our arrival we plunged into the newness. We took the MagLev train traveling at up to 430 km/hr. The taxi driver, who took us at night from the MagLev station to our Airbnb, delighted in pointing out the amazing light show from the too-many-to-count skyscrapers as we sped through the city. When on another day, we walked the nearby shopping mall, it offered all the best brand name stores. We traveled around the city with ease on the well-signed and fairly easy to use modern metro system.
When we ticked off features of the city, would you have guessed Shanghai? Joe first visited Shanghai in 1984, and the city has transformed itself since then. Shanghai’s rapid pace of growth astounded us. New construction continues everywhere you look. Treasures of older buildings do remain here and there in Shanghai, but we could see from using decade-old guidebooks that some of those areas have already disappeared.
Not all has caught up yet in the cutting-edge new city, for better or worse. Old China is evident down allies; street sweepers with their homemade brooms (Joe thinks these are much better and more civil than leave blowers); trash overflowing with nowhere to go. If China “stood up” in 1948, then it has “built up” since 2000 at a remarkable pace.
We found the city fascinating and fast-paced, perfect for a 9-day visit.