Nov 21, 2008
May 29, 2009
Shanghai is a city exploding with economic expansion, nearly a third of China's exports come from the Shanghai area and the city attracts almost a quarter of the whole of China's foreign investment, more than any single developing country. The visual impact this has on Shanghai is everywhere, building and construction can be seen in force wherever you go. The city has a very observable western feel with mega brand malls and advertising in abundance and the 21 million people living in Shanghai give the place a similar unfriendly feeling to other large crowded cities that I have been to like London or Paris. The city is also expensive, in one of our shopping trips to Nanjiang Road in a supermarket which stocked western food I noticed a tin of Spam for £4.90 and an English book store selling books at least twice the price of the UK. I can understand how imports are more expensive but it's more than that, the Chinese don't seem to have a concept of how quality relates to price, or perhaps they have a greater understanding of price. I guess if you make low quality Nike trainers for 50p that are selling for £100 in the UK it makes sense why they would think like that and why as a westerner over here it is automatically assumed that I have an abundance of money to burn. Shanghai very much more than Beijing is geared to the wealthy and specifically the western market. Some of the bars and clubs we visited were very plush and one specifically, The Velvet Lounge was filled with westerners and every one of the few oriental looking people in there spoke English, often with a strong American accent. It was clear to me that no local Shanghainese person would be seen dead in there, conversely there were some parts of Shanghai walking from a deserted clearly western part of the city quite literally across the street to a section crammed with Chinese people bustling among the crowded food stalls and not a western face in sight. The more time I spend in Shanghai the more I notice the differences as a westerner here, it's like there are two completely different cities right on top of each other both content to live in isolation from the other.