This is the third of my series of notes taken while in China. Although I visited other places, I didn’t get a chance to write brief notes on what I thought of them (well, or they’ve been lost, I’m pretty sure there was at least one more, if I find them I’ll post them).
As before, I’ve not modified this from the original, which was written on my Blackberry in brief quiet moments.
Shanghai is an ocean of lights. At night the Bund is lit up and showing it’s best face. The streets behind are modern and indifferent, but the Bund itself is full of old European pomp. At night it looks like a future past, like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Facing it across the river is the New Shanghai, another future. This is Atom City. Improbable towers, shifting colours and sparkle. On the river there are huge paddle-boats with every spar outlined in neon. Leisure cruisers from Tron.
At 11.30 all the lights goes out. The City of Sin likes an early night. Perhaps because there’s work in the morning.
The people are better dressed than Beijing, and much more stylish. The streets have cars in place of motorbikes. There’s money around. People move quickly, everyone has somewhere to go. Only the touts stand still.
The city along the river is splendid. There’s a large viewing area people stroll along in the evenings. In Shanghai the best show in town is the skyline. The taxi drivers are from out of town and get lost every trip. Another reason for walking.
We went to a jazz and blues bar where a band from New England played late-period blues and funk-influenced jazz. My martini was good, though nobody in China seems to really get the importance of chilling the glasses yet. People mostly drink beer, neat spirits or long drinks which I suspect is why. Wine is clearly a way to show wealth and taste.
In the French quarter the buildings you want to see are all behind gates and high walls. The tourists like the whole ’20s thing, and I firmly include myself in that, but the locals are all about what comes next.
Emma commented that Beijing was China’s present, Xian it’s past, and Shanghai it’s future. It has a lot of truth.