KRISTA MILLS / FOR THE SUN
Nearing Dusk on the Bund
Shanghai is the largest city in the world by population. In comparison, it has two-thirds of the people that Canada has in an area that could comfortably hold ten Torontos. But, with these 23 million people come art, architecture and culture that are unique to China.
Walking Section of Nanjing Road (KRISTA MILLS / FOR THE SUN)
It is huge.
There are not a lot of places in Yangzhou to buy western things, if any. So, the shopping and a taste of home were part of the reason why Krista and I left Yangzhou for a weekend in the big city. If it exists, you can buy a knockoff version of it in Shanghai. More specifically you can probably find it in and around Nanjing Road. An enormous main street piercing the centre of the city, part of which is for foot traffic only. Anything from books, to watches to DVDs are available there. The goods are advertised everywhere by men handing out pamphlets who take their job way too seriously. They are stubborn and hard to avoid.
Which is why we tried running away, losing ourselves in the crowd.
We sprinted through the teeming streets to Shanghai’s largest foreign language bookseller. It had been a long time since I had been in a proper bookstore and I took advantage of the situation. It was difficult not to become a little crazed with book lust when browsing through their titles for a brief half an hour. It was only through focus and Krista’s insistence that we would be late that we left.
After leaving, we pushed and battered our way through even more crowds to the Bund. Located next to the Huangpu River, this old part of the city used to house foreign banking institutions. Now, it is one of Shanghai’s biggest tourist attractions and is visited by thousands every day. The buildings in this area have height restrictions to preserve the classic turn of the century side of Shanghai revealed in front of a modern backdrop. The whole scene is beautiful.
The most interesting part of the city has to be Tianzifang, or as we call it, Art Street. A maze of twisted back alleys all connected showing off the works of some of Shanghai’s lesser-known artists. After some haggling we bought a Tintin print and then went for lunch at one of the little bistros strewn throughout the alleys. It is the simple things you miss the most. Things like eating food in sandwich form.
We finished the night in a western restaurant. We bought drinks next to a window overlooking Nanjing Road and no one talked about work. It was nice. Kind of like opening a birthday present you expect to be socks, but instead, turns out to be a puppy that knows how to find your lost keys.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 17, 2012