Shanghai's Progress Has Opened My Eyes - My Family Travels

Progress is an ongoing phenomenon that will never disappear. Like many developed cities, Shanghai, China is no exception. With a population of over 13 million people and an incredible amount of foreign investment money, Shanghai is rapidly regaining its status of international commerce and trade powerhouse.

Despite this, however, Shanghai presents an interesting combination of modern city glamour and century-old backwardness. In fact, the contrast between the two is noticeably abrupt. In Shanghai, the scenery in front of you may be among the most sophisticated cities in the world, with some of the world’s most advanced technology at your fingertips; while a block behind, you see rundown buildings that desperately need renovation.

I saw this co-existence first hand in Shanghai last summer, where the old, traditional Shanghai setting is roughly fused and merged with the sights, sounds, and smells of a new, modern Shanghai, creating a rare but interesting environment to live in.With hundreds and thousands of foreigners, tons of investment and technological advances of current times, one might assume that Shanghai would be among the most ‘cutting edge’ cities in the world. In many ways, this is true. At the moment, however, that’s not entirely true.

Behind the shining glass-wrapped office buildings, I noticed how difficult life is for some people. Many houses were old and rundown, with visible, extensive damage including huge cracks in the plaster and on the walls, weakly supported by a brittle foundation. Many families need to light up coal stoves to cook food; many people were seen outside at night gathered around fanning themselves while hoping for a breeze to pass by to cool them down.

Many wore ragged, tattered clothing that seemed to be nearly centuries old. Because of massive population and widespread infrastructure problems, the atmosphere of Shanghai’s old sections like this presents a sharp contrast to the utopic society that many of its native residents long for.As if to contrast the gradual progress in rundown sections of Shanghai, the rapid growth in well-developed sections of Shanghai continues. Subways and high-speed bullet trains, endless skyscrapers and high-rises pack the streets of Shanghai for as far as the eye can see.

Spotless both inside and out, these buildings could rival the best in the US such as the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. With acres filled with trees, flowers, small lakes and streams in new residential areas, city parks and gardens are frequently being tended to and kept in pristine condition. Countless restaurants with phenomenal service and exquisite cuisine cram the streets of Shanghai like bees in a beehive.

At night, blinding neon lights that could rival those in Las Vegas illuminate the city. But these neon lights are only one of the countless properties and aspects that vividly illustrate the spirit, vivacity, and exuberance necessary for the life of a city to thrive and prosper.Thanks to such an atmosphere, the enthusiasm and energy in Shanghai is palpable, tangible. Among all of this, I was most impressed by the countless malls in Shanghai.

These colossal malls could match and surpass most in the U.S. Stepping into one, you can find over 10 floors packed with everything including food courts with food and drinks from around the world, arcades that resemble Dave ‘n Busters, elegant showrooms full of world’s cutting-edge technology products: a plethora of iPods, MP3 Players, PS2’s, plasma and flat screens from major name brands such as Sony, Phillips, and Apple. A high tech addict could not go amiss at these malls, with enough gadgets to satisfy even the most insatiable lust for technology.

Furthermore, as if to contrast with the old and boring clothing in the past, scores of people throng to the malls to buy the hottest trends, styles, and designs including both China’s own along with those from Italy, US, France, brand names such as Nike, Timberland, Adidas, Abercrombie.Even though Shanghai is a long way from being perfect, it’s making progress. Nevertheless, true ‘perfection’ is unreachable because progress is everlastingly, infinite. Today’s Shanghai, both rich and poor, both advanced and backward, co-exist with each other, mingled as one within this spectacular city. Progress is vividly evident in Shanghai, though in different speeds. Be that as it may, progress there goes on — and will never end. Guaranteed.

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