One thing that has struck us deeply about Shanghai is that people from all walks of life live right on top of one another. As far as I know, neighbourhoods are not divided into rich and poor; there is no Beverly Hills of Shanghai, there is no Skid Row.
The closet thing to a fancy neighbourhood in central Shanghai is Xintiandi, which is reminiscent of Old Town Pasadena (including its very own branch of Cold Stone Creamery). An apartment in one of the developments there can go for around $6 million.
Yet, in two minutes, you can walk from one of these elite apartment buildings, with doormen, high-tech security, and apartments bigger than most American houses, into warrens of run down buildings filled with families renting single rooms and sharing bathrooms, kitchens, and water supplies.
This made my photo exercise for today, One Block, far more fascinating than it might have been in another city.
I stepped out of our hostel and turned left. There, I found old Shanghai in all its glory.
This tiny brick home sit above a shop and no doubt the whole place is rented or owned by the person who runs the shop. Fancy serviced apartments run by Marriott tower over it.
This pile of bamboo has been sitting on the street all week, just waiting to be put up into scaffolding.
The street is always full of life, with each of the shops displaying their merchandise on the sidewalks.
All manner of animals are available to buy. I’m still not sure if they’re meant for food or as pets.
There are also the requisite noodle shops, vegetable sellers, and plant stores.
There are plenty of people just hanging out.
Around the corner is the posh shopping street, East Nanjing Road.
There is always a line at this candy store, but I couldn’t figure out why it was so popular.
Even on this expensive street, you just need to duck your head into an alleyway to see the modest places most people live.
Yet, there is also the opportunity to buy the car of your dreams.
After you’re done shopping for your Ferrari (or Maserati, which is right next door), you can stop in at Starbucks for a latte, or go around the corner and hang your laundry out to dry.
One block, so many different lifestyles.
We are so thankful to be affluent enough to enjoy all aspects of it (well, maybe not the Maseratis). and so lucky to be reminded every day that people are the same, whether they live in a $6 million apartment, or in the room at the back of their pet shop.
Tomorrow I take a closer look at the architecture of Shanghai. ♥
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