Shanghai: the little towpath that turned into a forest of skyscrapers
With five thousand years of prestigious civilisation behind it, the city has gone from rice fields to skyscrapers in three decades, without losing its identity, its dumplings, its magnolias or its jasmine.
Discover Shanghai and its river, the Huangpu. In a little over a century, the small towpaths along it have made way for what is now a huge megalopolis of more than 26 million inhabitants. On its left bank is the Bund. At the turn of the 20th century, foreign powers that had obtained concessions to trade in the city-mainly the United States, Britain, and France-had turned the Bund quay into China's Wall Street with big and beautiful Art Deco buildings. On the right bank is the Pudong neighbourhood, where in the space of 30 years, rice fields have been replaced by the world's largest concentration of skyscrapers.
What happened to the Shanghainese in the midst of all these changes? Their good mood remains unaltered and the energy they transmit to their city is felt everywhere here.
Enjoy mandarin fish on one of the many sky terraces with breath-taking views of the city. Come enjoy steamed dumplings and grilled noodles on the streets of the old town or, even better, in neighbourhoods ignored by tourist guides. Be enchanted by the scents of jasmine, magnolia, and spices, and stroll through the former French concession.
Even if people have been able to showcase its squares lined with plane trees, inherited from settlers, there are still alleyways little known to foreigners, where working-class Shanghainese neighbours meet at various times of day in their small courtyards. Be enchanted by the poetry of the Chinese language. Visit the 'Living Room of Tenderness' or the 'Silent Pavilion of Regard' and be carried off into the sweetest of dreams. Go to Jing'an to pray to the Buddha, amid a crowd of bankers. And stay in hotels whose architectural folly has no rival in the West. Shanghai awaits you..
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© Text and photography courtesy of EnVols