Sorry I have net been keeping up with the blog, but it rare that I have time at my computer. The few times I am in my room, I’m way too tired to blog. But here it is….
Shanghai is a great city, however, I feel as if I am not getting the full Chinese experience. To put it in different words, Shanghai is the Chinese Government’s baby. The city is (and was built/continues to be built) as what China aspires to be in the future. Shanghai is the business/financial center for China, which is arguably (or not..) the business/financial center of the world. And you can tell! As I mentioned in my previous posts, don’t expect to see Chinese architecture in Shanghai, but rather some of the most modern buildings in the world. Shanghai already has the two tallest (and most modern looking) buildings in all of Asia, and is building the tallest building in the world. Next summer, the World Expo is coming here. This means Shanghai is expecting some 70 million visitors from abroad. Because of this, people are working day and night to build as many unbelievable buildings anyone has ever seen. I recently went to the urban planning museum (yes – they actually charge you money to show you how amazing Shanghai is going to be) and they are expecting another 30-40 magnificent buildings (some not so tall – but still unreal in architecture) to be completed before the Expo. Why? It seems to me that China is way too preoccupied with what others think of her. The Chinese government is spending an absurd amount of money on the “vision of China” (which is shanghai). Simply put, they want Shanghai to be the most powerful city in the world.
Because of this, the planners/government officials recently (1980′s ?) knocked down many of the old houses and buildings in order to build these ultra-modern mega-structures. Don’t get me wrong, these buildings are incredible, but I came to see different things. So, last weekend I decided to take a train to Hangzhou, a small city (5 million people – nothing in China) known for its traditional Chinese architecture. It was a very nice change. The old city is still in tact around the West lake, which has a beautiful view of the mountains with random, sometimes hidden temples. The train ride there was great, airconditioned, seats were comfortable. The way back however was a different story. The train must have been from the late 1960′s, and they overbooked the train and packed the people without seats (me included) into a large storage-looking portion of the train. Good thing it was only a 2 hour ride (standing up). There was a thick layer of trash on the floor, which grew as I was onboard. Now this is what I came to China for! I don’t want to be the foreigner in the airconditioned seats, I want to be with the locals. (or I thought). That was a rough trip.
Anyways, I was glad to get back to Shanghai. That meant I could finally shower after dripping with sweat all day in the 37C (95F) degree heat. Success.
Despite wanting to go to some museums in Shanghai, I have seen much of the city. Next weekend, Beijing – a 12 hour train ride. Should I be the foreigner in the airconditioned seats/bed, or the local standing up? Tough decision…