I have been back for a while and all this time, I have not properly articulated my infatuation with Shanghai and its glittery lights.
Perhaps its the metropolitan in me but the allure of Shanghai is truly irrestible. My first glimpse of it was when we landed there for a few hours, long enough for us to stow our bags at Grand Somerset Shanghai and have a good meal of hotpot before we board our sleeper train to Huangshan.
But those few hours proved enough to pump adrenaline and excitement into my tired body. As we sat in the car while our wonderful host navigated the car in the tedious and seemingly haphazard traffic, I looked out of the window and thought about all the fun we would have when we come back and explore the place proper.
“!(img)http://static.flickr.com/87/216969907_68a88d7e52_t.jpg!(Happy boys in their room)”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/yannie/216969907/ “!(img)http://static.flickr.com/57/216973202_ce72db87d8_t.jpg!(View from our apartment)”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/yannie/216973202/
When we came back again four days later, it felt just as exciting. Our apartment at Grand Somerset was cosy and well-equipped and it felt almost as if we were back in Singapore again.
Shopping took on a whole new dimension when we hit Changle Lu. I’ve always believed that Singapore’s Orchard Road concept to be a decent one – a row of malls lining the streets. But Shanghai opened my eyes. A long avenue of tiny little shops right next to the road, selling everything and anything. In between, restaurants and little dessert shops offer a resting sanctuary for the tired and hungry.
Unlike Singapore, where malls do not have any distinctive identity as each carry the same brand and stores, it was fun exploring individual shops along the road, picking out gems from the junk. And there were plenty of gems, especially in stores set up by the talented local graphic designers.
Nanjing Lu was another eye-opener. The car-free zone, just like in European cities, took us all by surprise but we recovered quickly and proceeded to hit the shops in high rise department stores that go by names like “Number One Department Store”.
It wasn’t just the thrill of shopping that got us all excited. Somehow, there was just something in the air that seeped into our pores. The vibrancy of life, bustling cityscape and glorious lights of the Bund, the beautiful mix of old grandeur and new modern – everything just screamed out “we’re alive!” in the city.
I just wanted to stay in Shanghai and soak up the atmosphere. To explore the different sights and different roads and different parts of town. To stroll down the Bund at night and feel the breeze in my hair. To look down on Shanghai’s bright lights from Oriental Pearl tower. To sit and chill in Xintiandi.
Nevermind the sometimes rude and downright obnoxious locals (some of them are real angels though) or the frightful traffic or the blazing summer skies. There was something in Shanghai that made me feel alive.
Now that I am back, Singapore shopping feels boring and lacklustre. And the excitement has faded, the old world meets new glamour has receded.
And I miss Shanghai tremendously.