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Shanghai: China of the future


One of Shanghai's futuristic works of achitecture. 

Ask any tour guide to compare Shanghai to the rest of China, and you will likely hear that Shanghai is leading the way to China’s dream for the future. In fact, the city of approximately 19 million is outpacing almost everyone else in terms of new technology and unhindered growth. Shanghai is the New York City of China; an ever changing metropolis filled with every modern delight that one could hope to find. If a buzzing city with an active nightlife is what you crave, you will undoubtedly find yourself at home in Shanghai. This buzzing atmosphere is quite literal; when the sun goes down, Shanghai lights up in a dazzling array of neon lights.

Right on target with its fast-paced mentality, Shanghai boasts the world’s speediest mode of terrestrial transportation—the Meglev train. Reaching speeds of 267 MPH, this train covers its 18.6 mile route from the Pudong International Airport to Long Yang Road in a mere 8 minutes! This feat is accomplished by utilizing the latest in magnetic levitation technology. It is a breathtaking, yet surprisingly comfortable ride, and is well worth experiencing.

         

If you prefer a slower pace, Shanghai also delivers. In the midst of this hustle and bustle are many quaint gardens. The Yuyuan Garden—one of the famous public parks in Shanghai-- encompasses only about five acres, but offers a wide variety of attractions. Filled with striking rock sculptures, exquisite pavilions, charming courtyards, beautiful foliage, and whimsical koi-filled ponds, this garden offers a tranquil escape from hectic city life. In fact, it is quite common to find residents practicing tai chi in the mornings throughout all of Shanghai’s public grounds.

          

Despite Shanghai’s futuristic approach to capitalism and infrastructure, the area still honors its history, culture, and ancient traditions. The Shanghai Museum boasts a collection of 120,000 precious works of ancient Chinese art, including bronzes, calligraphy, paintings, and naturally, china dishware. The museum building itself is actually a work of architectural symbolism, with the square base representing the earth and the round roof representing the sky.

           

At the Dongwu Silk Factory, you can witness the production of China’s treasured silk products, from silkworm cocoons to finished product. Here you will learn the processes involved in extracting silk, weaving it, and dying it. In the case of double cocoons—where the silk is too tangled to be woven—you’ll see factory workers expertly stretching the silk and using it as a filler for comforters and blankets. Nothing is wasted. At the end of your tour, you will have ample opportunity to admire (and potentially purchase) finished silk clothing, blankets, accessories, fans, and artwork. Chinese silk embroidery may leave you speechless. Skillfully embroidered pieces are so precisely woven, that it’s difficult to distinguish them from photographs. (See lion “picture” below.)

 

Shanghai offers visitors the chance to see a once glorious city being reborn into greater splendor than ever before. While honoring its time-honored past and traditions, Shanghai also embraces everything that the future has to offer. No matter how many times you visit Shanghai, you will undoubtedly find a city renewed.

For more info: Lonely Planet Shanghai Guide , Fodor's Shanghai Guide

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