Shanghai is modernity in action, it is up for business, its many staggering new high-rise buildings, spear the imagination as well as the sky. It is saturated with festive almost unreal glamour, it is soaking in wealth, it is overwhelmingly proud and yet, it is humane, very humane in fact. It is habitable, it is relatively quiet, it feels safe, it welcomes you on board. It is the Western Metropolis wannabe, yet it is in the East.
I was advised before my journey that Shanghai is not exactly a ‘cultural shock’, quite the opposite; one seems to have met Shanghai in one’s urban fantasy a long time before landing there. Shanghai is in fact the incarnation of the Western urban dream: it is an astonishing materialisation of everything the Western metropolis is claiming to be. In parts it is the embodiment of the urban imagery; it is what New York was aiming at but somehow failed to reach. In other parts, it is the ultimate urban tranquillity of a Parisian tree-lined avenue with small bars and cosy cafés. It offers everything a big city can offer in terms of culture, entertainment, business and food yet it is totally sympathetic to its visitors and inhabitants.