This part will be a bit more touristy than the first. As much as I hate being a tourist, it's hard to avoid not being one in a city as beautiful as Shanghai.
The disparity between Shanghai's downtown and its less-affluent areas is staggering. Although the density is uniformly high across the city, almost all other aspects vary substantially. The downtown area is surprisingly clean and modern, perhaps even more so than that of Vancouver. Most of the city lives well into the night, it is truly hard to find a moment of peace and quiet.
There are shops galore here, most in the affluent areas are brands familiar to most westerners. There are a few unique treasures scattered around as well. For example, I stumbled into a small vintage watch store, which luckily for my wallet, was closed at the time.
The view of the modern side of downtown from The Bund. Just behind me is the old heart of Shanghai.
On this old side is Nanjing Road, one of the most famous shopping streets in China. From the words of a local, it's nothing more than a crowded tourist attraction. Most stores are international megabrands which have inflated prices for the Chinese market. I'd say visit it for the view, but perhaps go elsewhere for your shopping needs.
It is here where you can see a few glimpses of disparity through the alleyways and around some subway stations. Compared to the modern area just across a river, Nanjing has much more grit and character to it.
DaXueLu, or University Road, is another example of this contrast. A modern, clean, and beautiful street lined with upscale cafes and restaurants, it is eerily empty during school hours but bustling with life after. Walking towards one side, you reach huge upscale malls and other luxurious buildings.
A sidenote: I find it humorous how umbrellas are used both in the sun and the rain. Because of this, they are much more fashionable than the ones I'm used to seeing. These next four images were taken at the same intersection, one day apart.
Just a couple of blocks down and you're quickly taken back to traditional Shanghai. Rustic buildings, dusty streets, family owned corner stores and markets.
It's a common sight to see 2 to 4 people sitting on the back of a bike or scooter on the road. Yes, entire families can somehow fit on these.
Shanghai is a truly diverse city, it would be a shame to only experience it through a tourist's eyes, as you'd be missing much of the unique beauty of this city. Yes, there are many parts that aren't pretty in a traditional sense, but it's much more satisfying looking at something with your own subjective sense of beauty than experiencing it through anothers definition of it.