I was a little nervous about going to China for the first time, but I found that Shanghai made the transition into chinese culture a bit easier. Its a huge city; I would walk for six hours and hardly put a dent in the map. There are high rise apartments everywhere and never before has overpopulation been more obvious The sky is always grey and a smog sits over the skyline. That being said, it is one of the most interesting cities I have ever been to. Its a cross between New York meets Paris meets China. The city has a really lively feel to it with tons of sidewalk activity. There are a lot of pedestrian streets, street food and trees that line that wide avenues. I took Nanjing Road over to the bund. Walking along the river on the bund, you can see the famous Shanghai skyline, buildings that are diverse in architecture. They are global, financial, yet culturally unique and innovative, exactly like the city. There are over a dozen beautiful gardens in the city, I only made it to a couple. They look like someone encased the jungle into a couple city blocks. They are filled with bamboo, gazebos, ponds and temples. The gardens, like Yuyuan Garden, offers a spiritual and peaceful solstice from the city. There are older women doing Tai Chi and men playing cards. Two men let me fly their kites for awhile, while others fished gold fish out of the pond with a stick and string.
Most guidebooks will say that Shanghai doesn't have a list of must see monuments; the real sites are on the sidewalks. So I wandered, walking along as all the Chinese spit on the sidewalk and fish flopped on the pavements. Most chinese women use umbrellas to stay pale, the paler you are, the more beautiful you're considered. I stumbled upon (literally fell twice) the gem of Dangjie Street. It was a winding village of what looked like covered shantytown shacks. Each alleyway was filled with a different appliance. There were rows and rows of old refrigerators and a man hunkering around with an enormous pile of refrigerator parts lying behind him. There were bicycles, fans, sewing machines, anything that could ever need repairing was there with the mounds of parts lying behind them. A mini repair village in Shanghai. I was pleasantly surprised by Shanghai, a city that introduces Chinese culture with a European feel. Now off to Beijing!