5 Pros and Cons on Being Posted to Shanghai

Several other Foreign Service bloggers are putting forth posts on the five pros and cons of their city/country. This might be a post better written with more time under my belt, but what the heck, here it is:

1. Things to do. There is no shortage of things to do in your spare time in Shanghai. Are you into museums? Shanghai reportedly has over 70 museums with something for everybody. These include large world-class spaces such as the China Art Museum, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the Shanghai Museum, and the newly reopened, refurbished Shanghai Natural History Museum. Yet you can also find lesser known museums such as the Shanghai Post Museum, the Shanghai Museum of Glass, the Shanghai Museum of Public Security, and the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, which is so much cooler and fascinating than its title leads one to believe. There are also the little one or two room gems such as the Propaganda Poster Museum or the Shanghai Chopsticks Museum.

Are you interested in history? Although Shanghai cannot compete with the 600+ year history of Beijing, its history is nonetheless fascinating. Stroll through tree lined streets of the former International Settlement or French Concession area to see beautiful homes from the 1920s and 1930s during Shanghai’s celebrated and turbulent coming of age. Or stroll along the iconic Bund on a sunny day and contemplate the historic waterfront, then turn to look across the Huangpu River at the modern high rises of Pudong.

Do you like hills and nature? You might not believe it but Shanghai’s highest peak, Sheshan Hill, is surrounded by Sheshan National Forest Park and the 10 acre Chenshan Botanical Garden, one of the largest in the world, is nearby. You can also find restored Shikumen, a type of residential neighborhood popularized in Shanghai in the early 20th century, with winding narrow lanes filled with boutique stores and restaurants. The most famous are Xintiandi and TianziFang. Within Shanghai limits you can visit several ancient water towns, think Venice with a Chinese flair. There is a zoo and an aquarium and a wild animal park. If you like amusement parks Shanghai has several with the Shanghai Disneyland set to open in early 2016.

Of course there are also restaurants and bars galore serving all manner of cuisines and atmosphere. For kids there are indoor play areas, parks, and summer camps. If you like to watch sports you might be interested in Shanghai’s Formula One or the Rolex Masters. If you like to participate there is anything from tai chi in the park to the international marathon. There are even several vertical marathons, given Shanghai also boasts some of the highest buildings in the world. There are world-class stages where you may to see such performances as Chinese Opera or Katy Perry.

It is quite obvious I could go on and on and on. Yet I do not have the space and unfortunately even if you stayed here more than one tour, you would be hard pressed to see and do it all.

Living Room 1

Don’t hate me because my apartment is beautiful.

2. Housing. You will not be disappointed with your home in Shanghai. A common complaint in the Foreign Service is the Drexel Heritage furniture that you find wherever you go, whether posted to Jakarta or Juarez or Tbilisi or Timbuktu, but here in Shanghai you get a break from Drexel (or DrexHell as some lovingly call it) as all the housing is furnished in house. All are serviced apartments or villas with at least twice weekly housecleaning service. The amenities and conveniences in each of the housing options are numerous. Whatever your day brings you, your home in Shanghai is nice to return to.

3. Travel. Even with the incredible number of things to do in Shanghai you do occasionally need to get out of town. No problem. Shanghai has four main rail stations that will take you to famous nearby destinations such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. The high speed rail will whisk you to Beijing in only five hours. Or head to one of Shanghai’s two international airports and head off to Chengdu to see pandas or Hainan Island for beaches or any number of incredible Chinese destinations. Or if you are tired of China, flights out of Pudong head to over 70 international destinations, with frequent flights to Southeast Asia.

4. Energy. There is a spirit and energy in Shanghai that is infectious. Although entrepreneurship is not easy in China, and sometimes the local government runs afoul of Beijing, people in Shanghai are making things happen. There is a buzz and hum to the streets. Seeing some of the tallest buildings in the world rise up to the sky and beautiful feats of architecture and innovation in the form of incredible new museums is astounding. When I first visited Shanghai in 2002 there were three metro lines with a total of 35 stations, today there fourteen lines with a total of 337 stations. People in Shanghai are literally moving and shaking! There are most certainly many wealthy people in the city (see the cons) and a certain amount of capital is required to make projects move, but it is the everyday people, both foreign and local, that are shaping the future of this city and beyond. It makes you want to do more yourself!

5. Work. There are plenty of pundits which define the U.S. – China bilateral relationship as one of the most important in the world. Of course all diplomatic work matters, but diplomatic work done in China is most definitely on the radar in Washington and Beijing. In whichever city you work, in whatever section you work, your contribution to the team effort is important. As part of the massive U.S. Consular effort in China, know that each tourist you approve to visit the U.S. spends an average of $5,400 during their trip. Every sixteen Chinese tourists to the U.S. supports one U.S. job. Last year that meant 1.8 million Chinese tourists spent over 2.1 billion dollars in the U.S.  That number is expected to grow in 2015.


Pollution mask or no pollution mask? That is the question.

1. Poor Air Quality. It is very unfortunate with all the wonderful things that Shanghai has to offer that the pollution levels are at times too bad to spend much time outdoors. You will quickly bookmark the Consulate’s Air Quality Monitor link and even if a quick look out your window tells you the air is bad, you still check the AQM to find out just how bad.

2. Internet Access. You have probably heard by now that the Chinese government tightly controls access to the Internet and/or rather certain sites on the Internet. Over 2,700 sites actually. All you want to do is read the news on BBC, or get on to Facebook to post your latest photos from another day out in fabulous Shanghai, or send an email from your Gmail account, or watch a video on YouTube, or post to your WordPress blog, but every single one of these sites is inaccessible through the domestic Internet. In order to access such sites one must employ a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and it is a constant (and frustrating) cat and mouse game.

3. Costs. In 2014 Forbes ranked Shanghai the 10th most expensive city in the world. I talked about the high prices of many items in my post Lap of Luxury. There is a good reason that Foreign Service officers receive a 50% Cost of Living Adjustment here. Still I wonder who buys all of these luxury goods? Who can afford 200 RMB (US$32) for half a pound of cherries? The millionaires of course! Shanghai also ranks in the top ten cities with the most number of millionaires, over 166,000. There are also over 1000 multimillionaires and approximately 23 billionaires. If you have preschool aged children and want to send them to an international preschool (State Department does NOT cover this) get ready to fork out the dough.  The average cost is US$24,000 a year. For preschool!

4. Crowded/Lack of Privacy. There are over 14 million people living in Shanghai so it is a pretty good assumption you will never, ever be alone. If you make the mistake of heading to IKEA or the Science and Technology museum on a rainy Saturday (guilty on both counts) be prepared for the deafening crowds. If you attempt to stop to look at a display it is very likely you will be carried away with the flow. I have had bags ripped from my hands on the subway as people jostled to get on and off the train. Once I even nearly lost hold of my three year old in a similar crowd and it was a terrifying moment. And speaking of adorable blonde three year old cherubs; if you happen to have one or two, cameras will constantly be pointed at your child. A quick stop to check a map and I can look up to find we are surrounded by cell phone camera wielding Chinese. If you look anything other than Chinese, then when out and about, it can feel a bit like living in a fishbowl.

5. Work. You will be busy. Very, very busy. As awesome as it is to be part of something as significant as the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, it is also important to have some downtime to enjoy some of Shanghai’s numerous diversions. There are many days when I simply do not have the energy to leave the apartment again once home. (good thing for #2 in the Pros)

EDIT: Honorable Mention PRO: I have already received a few messages letting me know I have been remiss in not mentioning two very fabulous aspects of any Shanghai/China tour.  One would be massages.  I hear ya.  There is a massage place on just about every other block and if you can get off the main drag they are more than reasonably priced.  Another is shopping.  This country is the manufacturer of the world after all.  Yet I am not talking about clothes and knock off electronics.  Of course you can buy lovely chopstick sets, hand painted perfume bottles, and have your name carved into a Chinese chop.  There are also furniture shops and pearl markets.  So when the cons start to get you down have a massage to melt the stress away or indulge in a little retail therapy.


Three Months in Shanghai: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Disgusting

Three months. Wow. I can hardly believe it. Here we are now one-eighth of the way through my two year tour. All of my Household Effects (HHE) have been delivered. The apartment is set up. C is in swim lessons. The nanny is working out great. I got the visa interviewing thing down.

When I started to think about this post, I wanted to write about all the great things C and I have seen and done since our arrival. Shanghai is a city chock full of things to do, places to visit, activities to experience.

Then it happened, that magical time in the cultural adaptation cycle when the honeymoon is over and you start to kinda, sorta, really, really, become bothered by little things. Sometimes Every. Little. Thing.  Culture Shock.

Culture shock graph

Yeah, there I am, right there in that trough.

Early this week I was walking to work the “short cut” way. It is not really a short cut in the true sense of the word. It is basically the same number of blocks, just less traffic on the “back way” allows for opportunities to jaywalk and thus arrive at one’s destination faster.

Anyway, I am walking along that road and get to this section of sidewalk that is just so disgustingly dirty that sometimes when I walk on it I slide. This section of sidewalk is only for half a block. It is caked with filth and for whatever reason a bulldozer is parked on one part of it. That morning I saw another person approaching me on the road rather than the grimy segment, and I too decided I would prefer the street.Of course I do not believe the street any cleaner however I do not expect a street to be clean and the sidewalk is an affront to my sense of order.

I thought to myself: I have been here for three whole months and no one has even attempted to clean this sidewalk. It is in a nice section of town and there it sits all mucky. Someone should power wash this sidewalk! I generally dislike power washing sidewalks because it seems like such a waste of water, but this here sludgy, slimy sidewalk screams “power wash me!” And I will probably walk this way on my last day to work in two years and it will STILL be sickening slick and revolting. It will never, ever, ever be cleaned.

I hate that sidewalk.

And the “work in progress” site that is directly in front of the Cartier store that has been in progress for three whole months without any visible work being done EVER.

2015-04-29 16.32.47

Art installation or social experiment maybe, but certainly not a work in progress.

And then while buying a salad in the swank Isetan department store the cashier, before giving me my change, turned back from the register, cleared her throat in the classic Chinese style, and hocked a loogie into the trashcan in front of me. Nice one lady. That sound may haunt me for weeks.

And there is the pollution. It makes me crazy that my top used bookmark for Shanghai is the Consulate’s Air Quality Monitor. Is it a face mask worthy day? Or a just don’t bother going outside at all kind of day?

First bad smog day Feb 4 2015

Hey, wanna play outside? Hang on, let me just get my air pollution mask with exhale valve.

And those people who ride the elevator in in our work building. Those ones, who even when they see you coming or even that you are right behind them, start pushing the door close button as soon as they can; I got hit with the doors pretty hard on Monday. Thanks a million lady. I hope one day you need a visa and you happen to get in my line… (I know, I know, undiplomatic thoughts, bad)

And as I predicted in my post Lap of Luxury, I have grown irritated running the luxury brand gauntlet to and from work. Or basically whenever I leave my apartment. After three months of passing a window display of a sweet pair of Ferragamo shoes on my daily commute, I finally went in to ask the price. Big mistake.

2015-04-30 02.37.01

See that lovely pale blue shoe on the left? Only 7,200 RMB or $1150. I hope it comes with a second one for free.

So, this is actually a really, really, really good time to remind myself of the many good things we have already experienced

I have a long list of things I want to see and do in Shanghai and I have most certainly not been remiss is getting out and about. In the category of temples we have visited touristy Jing’An Temple and the quiet, reserved Temple of the Jade Buddha.

17 almost closing

Temple of the Jade Buddha

We went to the top of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower and even sauntered out on the glass bottom walkway. Especially for C we visited the Shanghai Aquarium and M&Ms World.


C and her stuffed cat contemplate Shanghai from the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower.

I have also dragged her to the Shanghai City Museum, the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, the Shanghai Postal Museum, and the Propaganda Poster Museum. To C’s credit she usually promptly drops off to sleep to give me time to enjoy the exhibits.

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The incredible scale model of the city at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum.

I have been through the culture shock rigmarole quite a few times and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That sidewalk might bother me for awhile (especially if it is never, ever cleaned and/or that bulldozer never, ever moved) but the bright side is we have sidewalks, right? Not every place does. Just trying to keep things in perspective.

Hanging in Hangzhou

“Above there is Heaven, below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou” ~ really old Chinese saying

Well, I wouldn’t go THAT far, but it turned out better than expected given the weather.

Murphy’s Law: The day before, even the day of, our departure to Hangzhou was lovely. Then once we were on our way it wasn’t. Our first trip outside of Shanghai since we arrived 9 weeks ago and the weather was terrible. I cannot be exactly sure, but it may have begun to rain the minute our high-speed train departed Hongqiao Station.

And it kept raining.

Through the train journey. Through the ride in the taxi to our Hangzhou hotel. Through the night. And through our first day.

I had wanted for years to visit Hangzhou and had certainly been looking forward to this trip (almost desperately) for weeks and now…

2 Anna & Elsa contemplate weather

Queen Elsa and Princess Elsa seem as disappointed as I contemplating the poor weather.

We had breakfast in our room and I poured over the Hangzhou tourist brochure looking for something, almost anything, that we could do on a rainy day. But even the tea museum had an outdoor component. So I gave in.

I decided our first day would just be a relaxing day at the hotel. Just C and I. And I looked at the bright side.

I managed our first trip in China. Getting C and I to the train station on the metro and then to Hangzhou with the two of us sharing a single seat on the one hour journey. I managed, with the help of my little spitfire, to get us from the Hangzhou train station to our hotel. Surrounded by taxi touts refusing en masse to use their meters and tossing out crazy, inflated numbers. As I walked away and they followed, C yelled at them “Leave my mommy alone. BU KEYI!” Yes, in Chinese she told them to basically buzz off. (Well, she said “Cannot!” but I know what she meant.”) I negotiated from 80 RMB ($12.80) to 50 RMB ($8). (Though of course, as I learned later, the real meter cost is 12 RMB or $1.92).

We had a lovely lunch at the hotel and then we went to get a foot massage. Or rather I did while C enjoyed the adjacent chair – in our private room! – with her iPad and then fell asleep for her nap. This is the first massage I have had since a post-partum one within a month of C’s birth. I also read a book. Gasp!

We enjoyed an hour swim together in the hotel pool and then dinner. The hotel had a Tex-Mex promotion and did not do half bad. Sure, I had never before had Mexican Lasagna, but it was very tasty.

When I threw open the curtains on day two to find another overcast, grey day however, I felt a bit defeated. I debated just cutting our loses and heading back to Shanghai whether I received a refund on the third night at the hotel or not. I did not know however if I could get a ticket back on the train. It was a holiday weekend after all. And then, through the clouds, I saw a little glint of sunlight hit a nearby building. So I threw some clothes on C and myself and we headed out.

I thought I would first thing get a taxi to Hangzhou’s famed West Lake. But down in the lobby I thought to the glimpse of greenery, a park perhaps?, I had seen across the street with what looked like a traditional Chinese bridge. We would head there first to see and then back to the hotel for a taxi.

We did find not only a park but a canal filled with upgraded traditional dugout canal boats. In a little exercise park by the canal, friendly grandmas and grandpas getting in some workouts and moms and their kids out for a stroll, came over to check us out and chat us up. They were curious and sweet, testing my Chinese and practicing their English. One woman told us rather than head back to our hotel, why didn’t we head to the little canal boat dock on the other side of the bridge, and head down river a ways?

So we checked out the bridge, where we again became the subject of much kind interest and then over to the boat dock. Turns out the boats are canal taxis. They are fitted with mechanical transport card readers. I did not have a card of course and asked how much. I did not get far as a kind older woman motioned to me and C as she scanned her card three times. It was on the house. (I think it cost 3 RMB, or 48 cents, for a ride)

What a fantastic little trip! We meandered along the canal (or a river with incredibly tamed banks) for at least half an hour. I honestly lost track of time. Our canal trip benefactor took the opportunity to snap some pictures of C enjoying the boat (as did I) and since she had been so nice we both acquiesced to a photo with C on her lap and giving her a hug (because no one gets a photo like this unless C agrees). The canal was lined on both sides with a tree lined walking paths and periodically with covered Chinese gazebos where old people rested and watched the water, did exercise or played Chinese musical instruments. People walked their dogs. Moms and dads walked with their babies and children. The low clouds created a mist that only made it more inviting.

15 bridges

14 bridges Just some of the beautiful scenes along the boat trip.

We were let off at the terminus where pretty little white houses with grey roofs and red lanterns lined the canal. We walked back a little along the canal path, underneath willows and plum trees in bloom. C ran and laughed. Geez, it was lovely.

Then we made our way on foot several blocks to West Lake. We stopped for lunch and unfortunately the skies opened up and buckets fell. Thankfully it started after we entered the restaurant and by lingering a bit longer it ended before we left. A few blocks more and we found the lake.

The weather was still overcast. Clouds hung low and the opposite bank, even boats on the water, could barely be seen through the mist. Still it was beautiful and, judging by the crowds, we were not the only ones longing for a stroll by the lake.

We walked for hours. C alternated between the stroller and running excitedly ahead. When it drizzled, we found refuge under the trees or in one of the lakeside gazebos or even once in a temple. King Qian’s Temple was a wonderful respite from the buzz of the Chinese crowds. It cost 15 RMB to get in and I was a bit hesitant at first, but I am so glad we took the time to visit. Just off the main path around the lake it was as if we were suddenly transported a long way away. The crowds were gone, only a handful of other people were inside, and it was so incredibly quiet.

27 temple quiet

Enjoying the tranquility of King Qian’s temple.

I did not make it all the way around the lake. I had no such anticipation when I started as it is expected to take approximately FIVE HOURS to do so. Yet I did not even make it to Leifeng Pagoda. C conked out in her stroller and I too became tired. So I made the decision to head back to the hotel but told myself that Hangzhou is worth another trip, soon.

29 blossoms and pagoda

About as close to the Leifeng Pagoda as we got. Not a bad view, despite the clouds.

I think C enjoyed the trip. The one part though that seemed to disappoint her is that we never did find “Joe.” Seems every time I mentioned going to “Hangzhou” she heard something about “Joe” (zhou in Chinese is pronounced quite similar to the name Joe). Even just now as I write this, while looking over the pictures of our trip, she said, “Next time let’s visit Joe.”

So there is likely to be a next time.

The Lap of Luxury

I work on the eighth floor of a posh mall on Shanghai’s most extravagant commercial street in the heart of China’s wealthiest city. As I walk to work I pass such stores as Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, Chloé, Mont Blanc, Tiffany & Company, Fendi, Rolex… Inside the mall where I work are high-class stores such as the up-scale Japanese department store Isetan, Godiva (the chocolatier), Ermenegildo Zegna, Cerrutti 1881, Versace, Coach, and Burberry. Our applicants reflect this environment, some dressed to the nines and I have seen some of the most stylish nails around while fingerprinting (though I admit it, I have also seen some of the most hideous nails one could imagine).

My apartment is in one of the towers of the Shanghai Centre, part of Shanghai’s Portman Ritz Carlton hotel complex. This year Shanghai Centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary as Shanghai’s first multi-purpose building, and was once the tallest building in the city. Within the complex are offices, including several Consulates (like that for Ireland), restaurants, a supermarket, clinic, pharmacy, and theater (home to the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, the oldest such troupe in Shanghai). Amongst the retailers at the Shanghai Centre are Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin, Miu Miu, and Paul & Shark.

Inside my apartment, from where I sometimes have a breathtaking view across the city towards Pudong (when it is not obscured by a pollution haze), where I can make out half of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, there are wooden floors, marble countertops, and leather closet doors. (LEATHER CLOSET DOORS! Who in the world needs leather closet doors? Certainly not a woman with two cats with sharp claws!!) It is bright and inviting place to come home.

The supermarket is full of imports. The cheese selection is incredible. Twenty years ago there was imported cheese at a few upscale supermarkets, but the quality and quantity were far less. In 1994, as a student in China, I recall heading down to Sanlitun with several of my classmates. This was the area for the international stores, the Beijing World Trade Center, and Embassies. After more than a month traveling around China, even the more adventurous eaters amongst us were craving some goodies from home. I found a large block of cheddar cheese for US$10. I circled the store three, four times before I gave in and bought it. (My friends bought ice cream. Imagine four foreigners sitting on a city curb in the sweltering July heat; three eating ice cream, one gnawing on a block of cheese.)

Nowadays in the Shanghai Centre City Shop supermarket you can buy just about all you might want. Though a bag of Tostitos will cost you $7.80, a pack of shredded mozzarella for $7.60, a 250g package of light butter for $6.99, a 16 fluid oz jar of baby kosher dill pickles for $7.20, approximately $10 for a box of regular sized box of cereal, and the most expensive thing I have bought thus far was the 6.2 fluid oz of maple syrup for $19!! Shanghai is amongst the most expensive cities in the world, and for prices like these State Department employees do receive a 42% cost of living allowance (COLA). This is not an additional 42% of salary, but rather percentage of spendable income, calculated by the portion of salary expected to be used to purchase goods and services included in a market basket. It sure helps, because pancake Sunday with my daughter is not nearly so great without the maple syrup.

Walking back from the supermarket through the garage today, I passed multiple Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, and Cadillacs. Yesterday, on a walk around the neighborhood I passed a Lamborghini. I feel rather relieved I decided to leave my classic, dependable, non-descript silver Honda Civic at home. Not just because I would have been a nervous wreck driving around Shanghai, but also as it would have stood out like a sore thumb.

There is one place that appears to stand out – the McDonald’s. It is located in the CITIC Square mall adjacent to our mall. Inside you will find such shops as Armani Collezioni, Lancel Paris, Max Mara, Givenchy, and Pandora. On the lower ground level you will find McDonald’s, across from Starbucks and Wagas, an upscale sandwich and salad shop, and cattycorner to Armani Jeans. Still this is a McCafe, with all the usual McDonald’s fare, but also quality coffee, delicate macaroons, and petit cakes. There are no wait staff or white table cloths, but it is not as incongruous as one might expect. The diners are generally dressed smarter than in the average U.S. McDonald’s.

It is not a bad place to be, this area where I work and live. It is an area of high fashion and low crime, short hemlines and high boots. It is smart and clean and bright, even after the sun sets. The sidewalks are broad and perfect for a stroll. But I am so conscious of the conspicuous commercialism, of the lavish affluence. The billboards, with their airbrushed models dressed in stylish clothing and shoes and handbags, stare down at me as I pass beneath them. I have once or twice eyed a smart handbag or chic dress, even stopping for a moment to look, before I snap back to reality and realize these ensembles would set me back a good chunk of a paycheck, if not the whole thing. I have only once owned an Armani dress, something a friend passed on to me before she moved abroad. You will also find some nice Nine West or Anne Klein shoes in my closet, as a sweet pair of high heels is one of the few things on which I will splurge. But mostly I am a recovering backpacker and though I love the clean lines of a beautiful well-made dress, I am most comfortable in an old, comfortable pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and flip-flops.

I can write about this now because although I am aware, it is not yet bothering me. Yet, I know there will be days when all of this lavishness is going to get to me. It will make me sad. It will make me angry. I know there are days when I am going to feel like a chump for spending what I do on a box of cereal or a small bottle of maple syrup. And it will occur to me that the cost of those items would probably feed a family of four for a week in some countries. Or that the cost of a single pair of deliciously gorgeous but ridiculously expensive Christian Louboutin shoes is about the equivalent of a plane ticket back to the US. I will feel small and powerless at times thinking about the global economy and the intersecting lines of wealth and poverty.

I know because I felt it acutely at some particularly low moments while living in Jakarta, as I slid up the escalator from the basement supermarket, hands full of groceries, in yet another designer mall, filled with wealthy well-coiffed Jakarta women with their Prada bags and Gucci watches and Chanel something or other, followed by two charmingly dressed children who were themselves each followed by plain-clothed, plain-faced minders. There are days it would make me feel so unimportant and unattractive and other days it just made the world feel ugly.

Thankfully, I know I can feel this way and knowing is half the battle, right? I have already found that even here on Nanjing Lu, behind the high fashion façade there are everyday people doing everyday things. Just a block or two away, you will find the fruit seller where you can buy blueberries and oranges and strawberries for a fraction of the cost of the Shanghai Centre City Shop. You can find supermarkets and beauty salons with more reasonable prices. You will see the colorful laundry hung out to dry from hundreds of windows of more common apartment buildings. And there are still Shanghaiese who travel on foot or via the metro or by motorbike or on bicycle instead of luxury car. I hope I can stave off the lows by regularly stepping off Nanjing Lu and exploring the streets behind the glitzy veneer. Nanjing Lu is Shanghai’s most well-known road, but it is not all there is to Shanghai.