Go now: Shang­hai

As China Eastern launches new di­rect flights from Lon­don Gatwick to Shang­hai, take time to ex­plore the ‘Paris of the Ori­ent’ – where old and modern China still bat­tle it out on the streets…

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Old and new col­lide as new flights re­veal a city with a foot in the past

Don’t be fooled by the bright lights and sky­scrapers. Be­neath Shang­hai’s gilded ex­te­rior, the ‘Paris of the Ori­ent’ is an old rogue. It could spin you tales of its 1930s Sin City days; of opium wars and im­pe­ri­al­ists, but that’s in the past.

No other city has em­braced the glam­our of re­form-era China like Shang­hai, even if some relics of the old days still hold out. On its iconic wa­ter­front (known as The Bund), art deco colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture rises proudly over the an­cient Huangpu River, while Yuyuan Gar­den goes back even fur­ther. It was founded dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty and is still a haven of tra­di­tional de­sign.

It’s not just places, ei­ther. The French-style Fux­ing Park is a mere baby at just over 100 years old, but ev­ery day it is home to tai chi and qi gong prac­ti­tion­ers, car­ry­ing on tra­di­tions older than the city it­self, along­side el­derly fit­ness groups tan­go­ing or jig­gling to K-pop.

Pub­lic and pri­vate; old and new, both rub shoul­ders in the streets. How else do you ex­plain the busy mar­riage mar­ket on Satur­days in Peo­ple’s Square, as par­ents play a kind of ‘top trumps’ with their kids’ de­grees in or­der to marry them off.

For many vis­i­tors, Shang­hai is just the start­ing point – a place to sleep off the jet lag and ex­plore for a few hours be­fore hop­ping on its new high-speed Ma­glev trains. But a mil­lion sto­ries are to be found here.

Get your bear­ings at the world’s se­cond-tallest sky­scraper, then savour the few old parts of the city to be spared progress, from cy­cling the old Jewish Quar­ter of Hongkou to es­cap­ing to the quiet, lit­tle-seen Fux­ing Is­land – this is where China’s leader, Chi­ang Kai-shek, holed up in the late 1940s as the Com­mu­nists picked off the dy­ing Re­pub­lic.

Ex­plore the French Con­ces­sion next, an im­mac­u­late sub­urb of colo­nial man­sions that still has the glam­our of its 1930s hey­day. Pause by Longhua Tem­ple’s cen­turies-old pagoda as the rest of the city strides on, then fast-for­ward to moder­nity.

By The Bund’s weird, Tech­ni­color sight­see­ing tun­nel (worth a ride) is Ul­tra­vi­o­let, a hip 4D eatery where videos play on its walls as scents are pumped into the air. Mop up your plate in the Shang­hai of the fu­ture.

City of the fu­ture? Shang­hai’s sky­scrapers and its neon wa­ter­front be­lie a city where snatches of the past can still be found

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.