A perfect time in Shanghai

I’m always a little jealous of tourists viewing Times Sq. for the first time. Actually I’m really annoyed by them, but deep down I’m jealous. I grew up with Times Sq. It was just a brightly lit corner of the city that we would always run through, late for a Broadway show. It was where I saw my first homeless person, my first transvestite  and my first naked cowboy.

When I worked in Times Sq. I watched people look up with their jaws dropped, amazed by the lights and spectacle. I would look up and think, “what a waste of electricity,” but I’ve always wondered what it must feel like to be blown away as an adult.

I will always love Shanghai because it let me experience what it must be like to see Times Sq. for the first time. I got off the bus and looked up at the dazzling skyline of Pudong (the financial) and I was speechless.

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Sorry my camera doesn’t take better nighttime photos. You’ll just have to go there and see it in person.

My jaded New Yorker shell slipped off and I was gawking like a little kid.

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It felt like Times Sq. meets Las Vegas

Every building has a unique style and it was all reflected in the dark waters of the Huangpu River.

A closer shot of the Oriental Pearl Tower

A closer shot of the Oriental Pearl Tower

Across the river is the old American and British concession. I don’t have time to go into the history of the spheres of influence, but I would suggest reading a bit about it. I loved seeing the juxtaposition of classic and super modern architecture.

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I wasn’t expecting to see this kind of architecture in China

The next day we were off on out own, and we made a point of avoiding the tourist traps. I heard from other people on the trip that the sightseeing tunnel and Nanjing road were big wastes of time and money (just in case you’re planning a trip to Shanghai).

We spent most of the day just walking around, taking in all the small streets and glimpses of daily life. We stumbled on a ballroom dancing class that was held in a small park. We navigated a back alley and found two master guitar players practicing together. They proceeded to give us a free concert and then took lots of pictures of their new American friends. My favorite part was entering a walled in garden where old people were playing chess. It was filled with cats and I made a great friend:

I named him Wonton.

I named him Wonton.

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Mike posing in the cutest market place, Tian Zi Fang. Give yourself a few hours to navigate the labyrinth of shops and cafes.

On both nights we hung out in Xintiandi (the French Concession) which had old world charm, a bustling nightlife, and great wines. We ended up at a bar called Luna on both nights because we were blown away by their band. They had incredible energy and they were rocking everything from Queen to K-Pop. Of course they pulled me up on stage for a dance-off to Gangnam Style.

Can you see the fear in my face?

Can you see the hatred in my face as he explains the rules?

It was humiliating but it was the perfect way to end our trip!




  1. Hi Tracy,
    Interesting post 🙂 I live in Shanghai, have done for over 12 years so it’s interesting to see it from a visitors perspective 🙂 BTW, the “cute market place” in one of your pictures you can’t remember the name of is ” Tian Zi Fang 田子坊 comprises a neighborhood of labyrinthine alleyways off Taikang Road in the French Concession, Luwan District, Shanghai.


    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for reading my post! I’m glad you enjoyed, and thanks for reminding me of the market’s name – I knew if I put it out there someone out there would give me the name 🙂


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