After I bought my ticket back to the U.S. from Japan in December, I wanted to do one final jaunt. The cheapest and most interesting option from Japan was Shanghai, that's when I decided on spending a solid seven days in the city.
The business capital of mainland China, Shanghai is a modern, world class city and immensely interesting. It has all the usual western amenities: Starbucks, McDonald's, KFC, the Gap, malls, a subway system and art museums. Most interesting of all is how fast this city has grown in the past twenty years. Here's a look at what the cityscape looked like in 1990:
And here's what that same grassy plot of land looked like when I saw it 21 years later:
Across the river from this young, vibrant financial district is The Bund. Initially a British settlement, it later housed many of foreign banks and trading houses, turning it into the financial hub if East Asia. This foreign development in the area lent itself to the construction of many remarkable buildings in styles ranging from Neo-Classical to Art Deco.
Another popular destination in Shanghai is Nanjing Road, a pedestrian shopping street similar to New York's 5th Avenue or Tokyo's Ginza. It's especially spectacular to see at night.
While Shanghai is a huge metropolitan city with a lot of western influences, it is still very much a Chinese city with traditional architecture right next to a modern skyscraper.
My plan was always to spend the entirety of my 7 days in Shanghai, I wanted to take my time and relax. My only trip outside of the city center was to Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town in the Shanghai suburbs. The town was amazing, I got there just as the sun was setting and the color was beautiful.
I met a lot of great people in Shanghai and saw just as many interesting things. Going to China absolutely put a lot of the news I read about the country into perspective and was a great experience.