During our three week sojourn in China, our little group spent the better part of a week in Shanghai. It's an intriguing place, heaving with about 30 million people. The juxtaposition between modern and old, traditional and contemporary is fascinating. Much has been said and bemoaned about China willy-nilly bulldozing it's history to make way for the modern era, but I got the sense that, in Shanghai at least, there are the beginnings of an attempt to preserve the more important things of the past. The area in Shanghai called "French Concession" is such a place. It definitely has a European feel to it and it is one of the major tourist attractions in Shanghai.
Another area which fortunately escaped the wrecking ball is Xintiandi. An eclectic collection of small, former residential dwellings, it has been turned into a large collection of cafés, restaurants and bars.
Food is everywhere. Sometimes it's presented a bit less appetizing. Nevertheless the quantity and the freshness of the food stuffs is astounding.
But I digress. Talking about food will do that to me! That will be a topic for another blog entry.
Of course one can not talk about Shanghai without mentioning the Bund. It's Shanghai's tourism epicenter. This is a mile long collection of colonial buildings on the west bank of the Huangpo river. For a more exhaustive discription of the Bund, click here.
On the other side of the river, across from the Bund, is Pudong. It's the face of modern China. Gleaming steel and glass office towers dominate the scene, the most famous of those being the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Shanghai is the largest city in China, indeed in the world. This of course presents challenges in terms of housing and other infrastructure. It is difficult to keep up with the ever growing influx of people. Blocks and blocks of apartment high rises abound.
And all those residents want electricity and communication. Take a look at the next picture. I don't think there is any way they can keep track of which wire goes where.
Shanghai does have a nice metro/subway/underground system. It is the longest metro system in the world, just shy of 335 miles. About eight million passengers use the systems 14 lines daily. The system uses standard 1435 mm rail gauge. Electrification is at 1500 volts overhead, unusual for a metro system. Headways of 90 seconds are possible. Tickets are RFID enabled credit card size plastic cards.
The Metro trains always seemded crowded. But here is a little chap who found his own little space, happily playing with a plastic bag. A bag filled with...condoms!
Here is a short video from the Shanghai Metro:
All photos by Brad Wing and/or Ralf Meier