To be honest, at first, I had a very bad impression with the Chinese cities. I was quite overwhelmed with many bad stories and rumours related to the behaviours, cleanliness, environmental pollution (remember the famous fresh air in a can?), etc. However, it turned out wrong! Shanghai is not that bad. In overall, this trip breaks all the stereotypes, impressions, and worries that I had before. We have to think more positive about China now.
Shanghai is a modern city after all. It is rich in histories and cultures and it is also one of the economic capitals in China. Education system is excellent (despite the fact that the education in urban is leaving the rural area far behind). In the other words, most of the people in the city are well educated. Together with economic, education makes Shanghai as the innovation capital of the nation.
As a modern city, Shanghai is supported with sophisticated infrastructure system. This includes, for instance, the train system, ICT, high-rise buildings, and urban planning.
Shanghai’s urban planning is the key role of shaping Shanghai today. The city is developed by preserving the old and constructing the newness. We easily find abundant old structures stand alongside with the modern one. Moreover, the old structures are not just the decorations for the city. They are still operating, functioning and even generating economic activities for the city. In Japan, maybe we can see this concept in Kyoto.
Xintiandi district might be one good example of urban renewal or urban regeneration projects. The Shanghai municipality, together with a private company, convert the old district into a vibrant and lively place for shopping, eating, and entertainment. It might be the first lifestyle center in China. This success story of place making is, then, replicated to many other locations in the city.
If we take a look briefly to the urban planning in Shanghai, we can see that the city is divided into the ‘traditional part’ and ‘the modern part’ which distributed into the west and east of the Huangpu River, respectively. The eastern part is where the modernity is being built. This is also the location where all the skycrapers are located.
One of the newly built skyscrapers is Shanghai Tower. It is completed in 2015. It also has an observation point and opens for public. FYI, the ticket costs about 150 yuan. It is a bit expensive. But, in my opinion, the price is worth the view from the highest structure in Asia and also the experience of getting on board on the world’s fastest elevator.^^
The urban mobility in Shanghai is supported with various public transportation modes, such as taxi, subway, and bus. I mostly used subway during my visit. It is very convenient and the lines/routes cover most of the areas in the city. The time intervals between trains vary from 1 to 5 minutes. The ticket is also very cheap if compared to Japan. One trip would cost at minimum 3 yuan.
Shanghai also has the Maglev train which is connecting Pudong International Airport to the city center (Longyang Rd. Sta.).
I didn’t try any Chinese food in particular. My lunch is provided by the conference. However, I tried one Chinese food in a fast food restaurant nearby by the hotel. About the price, on average, one meal in Shanghai costs about 14-35 Yuan.
Last, my trip will not be completed without visiting the local bread shop. I visited two bakeries in Shanghai. According to Trip Advisor, both of them are the No.1 and No.2 bakers in town. They are Lilian Bakery and Farine.
I admit that Lilian Bakery is one of the best bakers in baker although it is not originally from Shanghai. What I like the most is its good taste matches perfectly with reasonable prices of the bread.
I also had a visit to Boulangerie Farine. I like the atmosphere of the shop. The prices of the bread (or pastries) and cakes are quite expensive. Moreover, I bought about five bread but none of them satisfied me. A bit dissappointed. What about you?
Will I give a second visit?
OK. Firstly, let me categorize the city first. Shanghai has abundant entertainment places like Disneyland, Shanghai Aquarium, Observation Tower, Shanghai Zoo, etc. In the same time, The Bund, French concession, and Xintiandi, are some of the best places in Shanghai to relax, enjoying a cup of coffee and appreciating history. Those make Shanghai a one-stop urban entertainment service.
For me, the main reason to come back to Shanghai is to enjoy the historical sites. Why? The culture of one city cannot be replicated in other cities. This makes those traditional/historical sites unique. The food that I tried not so impressive enough to make me return for the second visit as well.
The important point here (maybe): for the sake of competitiveness of tourism, something that grows locally should be maintained local. There are so many international brands/stores in Shanghai that I can find in many places in this world. Nothing so special in particular. However, enjoying a cup of coffee in a side street cafe while watching people passes by would be a reason to return to this city.