Shanghai – China
Shanghai is the pace-setting city for modern China.
From it’s origins as a small fishing village on the Huangpu River near the junction with the Yangtse, China’s longest and most important river, it has grown into an international city of great wealth and fame.
First came agricultural prosperity, then, after the Opium Wars of the 1840s opened China to the world, it grew into a great trading centre.
Shanghai at it’s peak in the 1920s and 30s was world famous for it’s extremes of wealth and poverty and it’s exotic mix of nations and cultures . The handsome stone buildings along the riverside Bund, now restored and re-cycled, were mostly built in the early 1900s.
Now Shanghai is a city of 24 million people and bursting with energy and optimism. Economically and politically it has been in the forefront of the changes that are making the new China.
Across the river from the Bund the new 21st century city of Puh Dong ( meaning the east side of the river ) bristles with massive skyscrapers, including a beautiful new structure that on completion will be the world’s second highest building.
You still see in Shanghai the contrast between the traditional and the super-modern. Along the Bund you can see women dressed in traditional velvet jacket and pants doing their morning Tai Chi. A bicycle laden with pots and pans will pull up at the lights next to a limousine. There are streets with tiny shops and stalls selling trinkets, bicycle wheels , silk and all manner of food. Above the shops in their narrow alleys and streets, washing hangs to dry out of almost every window. Even in some streets of smart brand shops, fronted in marble at street level, you can see the family washing flapping from the floors above.