Shanghai is an extremely contradictory city, although it’s really too soon to make any comparison to the rest of China. The city is huge, for one thing, but like Berlin, the interesting centers are spread out all over the city. Our hotel is in the old French Concession – one of the areas where foreign businessmen were permitted to settle under the Qing dynasty. The streets are narrow and tree-lined. The buildings are reminiscent of any 19th century district in a European city. If it weren’t for the signs, you might think you were in Amsterdam or a suburb of Paris.
Fortunately for us, taxis are extremely cheap. It cost about 60 RMB to get to the other side of town for the NetBeans conference yesterday. Pudong is the new business center and looks every bit the business center. Huge skyscrapers, wide roads and a distinctly empty feel. I had to run over to the “Super Brands Mall” to pick up some batteries for my microphone – it’s simply impossible to imagine that this place is actually a communist country when you see 10 floors of brand name shops – everything from Apple to Addidas.
Today we made it down to the Old Town district to check out the markets and the Yuyuon gardens. Unfortunately, we got there too late to see the gardens themselves, but we’ll definitely be heading back tomorrow for some more sightseeing. There’s lots of work to do with NetBeans.tv stuff, so I’ll be keeping these short for the next week. More pictures and the Bund tomorrow!