This Fall, I returned to Shanghai, China for the first time in more than 32 years. Needless to say, I hardly recognized the place. On my only previous visit to Shanghai, in 1986, China was in the early stages of the redevelopment that would make it a world superpower. On that visit, I was pleasantly surprised to be staying in a clean Holiday Inn style hotel room, and I was amazed that there was a phone extension in the bathroom. Despite those small indications of progress, I had no idea that Shanghai would become a world-class city of 24 million people, with skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. Shanghai today is a cosmopolitan city with outstanding restaurants of all kinds, shopping venues on par with those in New York and London, and breathtaking tourist attractions like the Bund and the Oriental Pearl Tower.
I wasn’t in China only to sight-see, though. I was there to visit my daughter Stacy, who works as an executive with Nike. Stacy recently relocated from Beijing to Shanghai, but after two years in China, she and her fiance’ Corey are now in the process of moving back to the U.S. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting them and experiencing the “new” China. It is quite a place, and overall my visit there was one of the best trips I’ve taken in recent years. I was so impressed that I made a short video to memorialize the visit.
In summary, I don’t know if I’d enjoy living in Shanghai, but I sure did enjoy visiting, and would do so again in a heartbeat. I could list a hundred observations about the place, but for now I will list just a few.
Shanghai is a huge, modern city that skillfully blends the old and the new. Despite its size, I never felt that the place was particularly crowded. I enjoyed walking around the area near Stacy’s apartment, sightseeing on the Bund, and shopping in the Xintiandi (New Heaven and Earth) neighborhood. We even stumbled upon an amazing jazz singer at the Sukothai Hotel near Stacy’s apartment. That was a very pleasant surprise.
Stacy’s apartment complex is simply amazing. The facility has outstanding amenities such as a 24-hour health club, pool, and spa, a lounge with a full service bar, a couple of nice restaurants, and much more. Stacy’s building is near a beautiful upscale mall, and is steps away from The Roastery, the largest Starbucks retail outlet in the world. At this Starbucks, they roast the coffee beans in house and they bake bread and produce other foods. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that Stacy’s Shanghai digs are pretty doggone nice!
Electric scooters are everywhere in Shanghai. They have been adopted at a very rapid pace, must faster than I have seen in the U.S. The Chinese are moving to electrify automobile transportation at a rapid rate, too. Near Stacy’s apartment there was both a Tesla store and a showroom by Niu, a relatively new Chinese electric car brand.
Air quality is bad. The air in Shanghai is usually pretty bad. Not as bad as Beijing can get, but still pretty bad. Could cause health problems for long-term residents. Fortunately, the air quality wasn’t so bad during my visit.
Internet access to U.S. sites is severely limited. Sites like Facebook and Google are blocked in China, which can make life difficult for U.S. based travelers who are accustomed to accessing these sites. There are workarounds such as VPNs (virtual private networks), but they are often slow, unreliable, and subject to shutdown by the Chinese government.