In a country that eats, breathes and lives trade and a country that boasts a separate city for manufacturing pretty much everything, Shanghai cuts the clutter and shows you a side of China, which is completed is distinct from the original canvas of China.
Not because it isn’t that good or anything, but simply because, if you’re here to see China and its culture, you’re likely to be demotivated at the start itself, because Shanghai is so much about big-ass fancy malls with international brands alluring you to pour our all those yuans (RMBs), and the up market buildings enveloped by spiral wide flyovers twirling around Shanghai’s high-rises.
What they say about China is actually true, that with every 100 kms, the architecture always changes, so do the people’s eating, drinking and living habits. Thus, you go a few kilometers away from Shanghai and you are likely to find an entire city manufacturing only socks, the city is called Datang in Zhuji, where about 8 billion pairs of socks are manufactured everywhere. The list doesn’t end here, we have a tiny hamlet namely Gurao, which is called the undergarments capital of China, and you will find the latest of everything as far as ‘inner beauty’ is concerned.
Thus in a china which is divided into a plethora of such cities, Shanghai seems to be comfortably placed between its DNA and its aspirations.Shanghai is the quintessential black-sheep, in a herd of colorful stock. Unfortunately and due to logistical convenience, I commenced my China sojourn from Shanghai and spent about 5 days in the midst of skyscrapers and the dynamism of city-life. For someone who was born and grown up in Bombay, city-life can never be exciting or novel. For us, fast life is normal and there are enticing options to party after every few stations. Thus cities are not the go-to options for a vacation for a lot of city-dwellers like me. But hey, that doesn't mean you don't get touristy.
Shanghai to me in one word was VAST. It’s humongous and everything is spruced up in a fashion that one has to travel several kilometers in order to get to the next cluster of fun and entertainment, and between that, is just elevated concrete and more of that.
As far as connectivity is concerned, since my folks live in China, it was easy to move around as we had a car at most times, and when we did not have a car, the metro transport always saved the day. Let me tell you their metro deserved a total 5 on 5, with the amount of lines they have and the fact that the metro stations are so beautifully placed outside every relevant place one would want to visit.
Download the application called Metro Man right away and you can thank me later. In a city where there was a major language barrier, this app helped me sail through my solo travels to the interior parts several times. Just tell the app, the closest station which is in your area and the name of the station where you want to head and after that let the app work its wonders.
The metro is conveniently placed, swift and inexpensive in a rather pricey Shanghai. You can cover a good amount of distance between multiple lines (say about 10 stations – 30 kms) in about 4 Yuan i.e. Rs. 40/-. Now you can thank me!
Also, if you have arranged a car from outside Shanghai, you won’t be allowed to travel on their highways (which is pretty much the entire city) from 4pm to 8pm, because they give preference to their local vehicles that time and they don’t want the cars of the outsiders to jam up the expressways. That is a thoughtful move for the locals, isn’t it?
They have cabs as well, which start at a basic fare of 8 Yuan (Rs. 80/-), but please avoid taking the red color cabs as from what I heard, they have records of being unnecessarily pricey.
Most places have a Metro station but the only issue can be, that the Metros stop working around 10:30pm onward (there’s different time for every line of metro), so watch out before you make those late night plans.