This was my first time in China, and I'll admit I had a very specific idea of what I might see in Shanghai, admittedly borne out of stereotypes and minimal research.
What I didn't expect was for it to look so... European.
Back in the 19th century, Shanghai was one of the few places where the Chinese authorities would allow foreigners to live, trade, and work. At one point, it was known as "The Paris of the East", and this French influence is especially noticeable in areas such as the aptly named "French Quarter".
A few other things I learned during my time in the city:
VPN are unreliable, but they are still your friend. I made use of a free VPN called Turbo VPN... mostly because its logo/loading screen is a cute hopping rabbit. It was spotty at best, with constant refreshing and lots of patience necessary, but without it, the majority of my go-to sites: Facebook, Google, etc are useless. As a side note, this also forced me to be more present in the moment, which I did appreciate!
Download your VPN before you arrive. It's, understandably difficult to do so while you're in the country. On a side not, if you're like me, and forget to do so, I found out that the messaging client on Steam is not blocked by the Chinese Firewall.
Fingerprint scanners are used at various touristic sights. The government is watching.
Anyways, here are some sights from around and about Shanghai.
Nanjing Road is one of the world' busiest shopping streets. At night, it lights up in neon of all shapes and colours, and on a particularly rainy evening, the colour is all the more vibrant. I love the photo below because it almost reminds me of a watercolour.
One evening, after a particularly boozy evening out, I walked down Nanjing Roand, enroute to my hostel home, at 4am in the morning. The road was eerily empty, and I wished I had brought my DSLR out with me to capture the moment. In retrospect... it probably wan't a smart idea to be wandering out solo at that hour of the evening.
Sofar Sounds Shanghai
Sofar Sounds (short for Songs From a Room), is a global collective bringing music to unconventional spaces. I work with the group in Toronto, and was able to snag myself an invite to one of their Shanghai shows. It was quite the treat! It also made me question whether Shanghai has firecode capacities in their buildings, as we were absolutely sardine squished into this room.
M50 Creative Park
I seem to have this skill for visiting creative districts during the day they collectively decide to close (eg Pier-2 in Kaohsiung). Regardless, the street art at M50 was a treat to behold. Yes, that is Ai Wei Wei pictured in the last photo of this set.
This arts and retail enclave was once a residential area. It's located within the French Concession district, hence the style of architecture.