June 20, 2018, Wednesday
Shanghai, one of the most densely populated cities in China is in the subtropical zone and June is the monsoon season. This rain is nicknamed as plum rain over here. It's not cold, but it's heavy. In fact, it is useful to wear boots as my feet and shoes were soaked.
As a result of the Opium Wars, China lost Hong Kong, as well as concessions in Shanghai to the British, French and Americans from 1840s until 1949, so colonial elements exist in the city. With the 1974 reforms, the decision to switch China to an open-market economy has changed the landscape of the city. In 1974 when there weren’t more than a few skyscrapers, now there are around 4000. The city is like a New York City, which hasn’t aged and with good infrastructure. Like I said before, if China is a separate planet, Shanghai is a different country in China. The cosmopolitan and open lifestyle seems different to the other major Chinese cities that we have seen.
If you have extra time in Shanghai (which is difficult as it is one of the most congested in the world), you can visit the Tongli Village and Shozou city within a 1.5 hour drive. The village of Tongli, called Venice of China, was very pleasant especially under the monsoon rains. There are even gondolas in this village, which has many canals and bridges built with very nice Chinese architectural and engineering styles.
I can not get out of my mind a dog I saw in Tongli village today. Clearly she has newborn cubs and she was running around in the rain looking for food. In China, where shops are open all the time, with places to eat, I was incredibly distressed as I couldn’t find a single place where I could get something for this dog. There was no one around maybe because it was raining heavily or maybe because it was early hours of the day. I only had raisins in my bag…
What are the duties and responsibilities of being a traveller, especially to places like India and the like, where strays and homeless children are not taken care of and are in constant danger (unfortunately, often this is the case in our own country too)? No doubt I want to do something for each and every one of them. If I had wings as wide as the Earth; I wish that I could protect them all under my wings. Could there be a solution to the desperate dilemma of the travellers? We see the beautiful sights, we enjoy them, what do we do about the bad ones (of course in our opinion)? Maybe this is a selfish point of view.
June 21, 2018, Thursday
Last night walking on "The Bund" by the sea was filled with surprises and we got to eat something other than Asian food in a restaurant called the Atto Primo in a huge Art Deco building. It was wonderful.
From the Bund, it is possible to see the typical sight of skyscrapers that we always see in photographs and on TV during New Year celebrations. These skyscrapers, some of which are the highest buildings of the world, are built on a peninsula which was formerly only a marshland and an agriculture area. Watching the illuminated ships and other vehicles on the river passing by is lovely.
What actually surprised me was the former Shanghai side of The Bund. Built by the French, British and American colonies at the beginning of the 20th century, the buildings made us completely forget that we were in China.
This region has brought together the old and the new together very successfully, with elegance and grace; without overdoing it. Of course, it was a very painful period in colonial Chinese history. That is undeniable. Today, getting enjoyment out of these old streets and architecture makes me feel a little guilty. On the other hand, it is this aspect that gives Shanghai a distinctive character. Here people are different, especially young people. They seem to be more stylish and trendy.
When I travel to a new place, especially a completely different culture, I feel like I have pressed the restart button. I feel like I have been rejuvenated; my ideas and thoughts seem clearer. The fact that Shanghai is the last stop of our China tour is also a factor. After seeing and learning about old China, today’s and tomorrow’s China is best understood in Shanghai.
I like Shanghai very much. I can say that it is one of the most impressive cities in the world. Today, especially after first visiting the Yu Garden and Complex, which has been restored with great success, representing the very old Shanghai, followed by the recently restored French Quarter, we could enjoy the beauty of the Far East and the West coming together in Shanghai.
In the evening, we had a very good quality meal at The Fellas, with a spectacular view of The Bund. I especially recommend it for the view. We even met a Turkish family eating here. We have previously met Maraş ice cream shop owner in Yu Garden, who has been living here for 8 years and is really from Maraş in Turkey. The ice cream and his traditional show are very popular among the Chinese and tourists.
We made our way into Shanghai nights by visiting the magnificent Art Deco lobby, bar and different floors of The Fairmont Peace Hotel, built by Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. I would claim that one is not considered to have been to or have perceived the soul and history of Shanghai without having visited this hotel.
Watching the panoramic view of the entire city from the 100th floor of the Trade Centre is reminiscent of New York’s past. Tomorrow we will go to our airport with Maglev (magnetic levitation) by doing 400 km / h and say goodbye to this wonderful city: through a pioneering method and an major example to the rest of world, worthy of this great civilization with a tremendous past and a brand new future.