If you have ever travelled to a foreign land where all of your preconceived notions of the place were challenged and turned on themselves with every turn of a corner and human encounter than you will understand just how difficult it is to impart the experience to another person. I don't want to sound cliche but you just have to walk the walk for yourself.
The sights, sounds and smells of both Shanghai and Beijing have left an indelible impression upon me and I would love to have the chance to deepen the experience in the future with another visit.
When you give yourself up to the streets of Shanghai you will discover as you walk along lanes that are scented with exotic spices, dust from massive construction projects, grease from makeshift sidewalk kitchens selling God knows what kind of food to those brave enough to partake of the fare and the occasional whiff of raw sewerage that seems to appear out of nowhere like a Limburger phantom.
You will also experience a curious mix of fabulously old neighborhoods lending their style and blending with modern architecture that boggles the imagination and leaves one feeling quite small and insignificant among the steel and glass creations that soar into the heavens.
The french concession, a burgeoning artsy area that is quickly becoming the place for foreigners to meet and where two scooters would have a difficult time passing each other.
The view from what is presently the world's tallest building. All of the towers in the foreground are over seventy stories tall and the buildings across the river are from a place called The Bund.
Do make it a point to visit this town. The great wall, the forbidden city, Tienanmen Square will all give you a a memory of something that was created with the idea that there are things bigger than the single individual. Bigger even than an entire generation. Things that can only be measured in millennia and even then we aren't quite certain that we are looking at it from the correct perspective. The place is a mystery; and all the better for it.
November 05, 2008
Top:The only thing I will say about Beijing is that it will reassess your ideas of scale. The city is huge! And because of the Olympics it is also very well maintained. Chinese pride insisted on showing the west the finest of livery for the multitudes of visitors who flocked to see some of the world's finest athletes compete for fame. Little did they realize that the city was competing as well.