I had my first chance this past weekend to see the "Paris of the Orient," with none other than five days at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Shanghai. I owe it to Alex, who was sent there by his internship and graciously offered to share! I will probably never see Shanghai in such luxury again.
The Ritz was located in a posh area with Starbucks, Gucci, LV, etc. One of my favorite things I got to see there was the first five minutes after I arrived. Take a look at this picture...and notice the Buddhist monks sipping their 30RMB coffee! Doesn't this explain the contradictions of a developing country better than anything else?
I spent the days getting up late, eating a fabulous breakfast, and then walking for hours around various districts including the Pudong area, the French concession, and People's square. The modern, clustered skyscrapers are really something to admire as well as the pedestrian walkways on the Bund, next to the Huangpu river. These are a few of the sites...including the famous Oriental Pearl TV tower, some buildings on the Pudong side of the river, and the dumpling basket-shaped Shanghai museum.
In that second shot I was on the 88th floor of the Hyatt, which used to be the tallest building in Shanghai until they started construction on a much higher one next-door in order to outdo the new building in Dubai.
Night was a good time to get together with people we knew in Shanghai, and do stuff like massages and cocktails! I got together twice with an old classmate from Clemson, who also majored in Chinese and International Trade and now works in Shanghai. This is us the first night out at dinner.
This is Alex getting walked on during one of the massages:
And this is me with an espresso martini in Cloud 9, the highest bar in the world!
Finally, this is a tiny video of the scenery as I am walking along the Bund at night:
All-in-all, the shopping is better in Shanghai, although a little more expensive than Beijing. Other than that, for people coming to China for the first time, there is much more to see in Beijing. Shanghai seems less Chinese, very business oriented, and the language is hard to understand for those of us learning standard Mandarin. Compared with Beijing, there were very few bicycles, traffic moved a little faster, and the subway system was very developed. I have been asked repeatedly which city is better, and there is clearly no answer to that. Depends on your goals in China. Want to learn Chinese and experience more of the Chinese culture? You better head to Beijing. Want a more comfortable, more expensive expat life with more foreign goods and culture available to you? Head to Shanghai. For the time, I'm in the right place. We shall see where the internship takes me.