Everything you've heard about Shanghai is true: it is gawdy, overwhelming, intimidating, commercial, postcolonial, modern, postmodern, big, huge and ginormous. It is, through and through, a tribute to money, the big fat dollar extra-fat on its own fat-feeding mechanisms, yet it is also, if you're willing to walk around a bit, organic in its own special way, and welcoming. Mostly, it is alive. It is filled with commotion. It is noisy and bustling and hard as hell to get a cab. It is jammed with people with someplace to be, or no place at all.
To give you an idea: the People's Square subway stop on line two has TWENTY exits. Twenty. During rush hour, there is a veritable stampede. It is a million people converging on one stop and fighting to keep their wits. It's a constant challenge, and don't even get me started on subway card dispensing machines that take coins-only.
They closed the Bund for a few months or so for construction this past year, and since re-opening, it's never looked this good. On a blue-sky day, anyway. And I was lucky enough to encounter one over the weekend, just before it got nasty, cold and rainy. Here, what the government is hoping Shanghai looks like come Expo time (more or less):