Shanghai is the largest city in China
. It is located in the southeast corner of Jiangsu
Province; however, Shanghai itself is considered to be its own region rather than being considered part of Jiangsu
. The Huangpu River runs through Shanghai, seperating the city into east and west parts. Most of the old buildings in the city were taken down to put up residence housing, so Shanghai has a very modern and urban feel to it, although there are some remaining places where older architecture- both Chinese and western, can be seen.
Due to Shanghai's location at the mouth of the Yangtze river, Shanghai is an extremely important trading center for most of central China. Hence, a great amount of people are employed in shipping and importing-exporting. There is a very strong international presence in Shanghai as many foreign companies like GM and Volkswagen have set up large headquarters in Shanghai. (Shanghai, a city, has the second largest economy in the country, only behind the province of Guangdong) has the However, due to the fact that Shanghai is one of the most expensive cities in China (second to Guangzhou), recently many companies have been investing in cities like Suzhou and Hangzhou, which are close to Shanghai but much less expensive.
Living in Shanghai is not bad. There are people there from all around the world, so it is China's most international city. Still, it is very crowded and noisy- but there is also lots to do. The best thing about Shanghai is probably eating. Most every type of Chinese food, including Shanghainese food, Hangzhou food, Cantonese food, Beijing food, and hotpot can all be bought in Shanghai. Furthermore there are a fairly large amount of foreign restaurants that serve Japanese, French, German, American and Italian food. (My personal favorite is the all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant- anything on the menu in unlimited quantity, plus all the beer and sake you can drink for about $15 US)
Besides eating, you can either sing karaoke (the Taiwanese karaoke chain, Cash box, currently has three stores open in Shanghai) or go clubbing (which can be somewhat sketchy). Also there are many tea houses, where one can go to drink tea and play cards, or one can go play mahjong, although I would recommend learning to play well first as people usually gamble when they play mahjong. Also there are places to go online(people are sometimes surprised when I talk to them online and I tell them that I am in China- e.g. "they have computers there? aren't you afraid of being oppressed by the chinese government?" ^_^), go rock climbing, numerous gyms, parks, video arcades, computer game centers (counterstrike and starcraft are the most popular games) old temples (sometimes very touristy), etc.
Getting around in Shanghai is pretty easy. Taxis are ubiquitous and fast(basically all taxis in Shanghai are volkswagen santanas), and still not extremely expensive. There is a generally a hierarchy of taxis (different companies have different colored taxis) which is as follows:
- blue-green and white taxis are best and most reliable, the drivers know directions best. Also now there are volkswagen passat taxis, also green.
- gold/yellow taxis are decent, although of lesser quality overall are still usually good.
- blue, green and red taxis depend on the driver, sometimes they are OK, sometimes the driver just came to Shanghai from a farm someplace and doesn't know where anything is.
- Also, there are Hongqi taxis, also red in hue. The Hongqi is "the best" domestically produced Chinese car. As such, these cars were formerly used only to carry dignitaries and government officials. Nowadays however, Shanghai has one taxi service that uses them. The hongqi looks sort of like an Audi and is a lot roomier than the Santana.
Also in Shanghai, there are a lot of buses that go everywhere, and a subway system that is useful for travel through the heart of the city- there are now 3 lines (two north-south, one east-west.)
The best weather in Shanghai is in the middle of fall and in the middle of spring. Winter is damp and chilly, and there is no heat because Shanghai is in "south China"- only cities north of the Yangtze and Luo rivers get heat in the winter- and summer is oppressively hot and humid with mosquitoes everywhere. Shanghai mosquitos are a lot faster flyers than their American counterparts and they tend to hide in dark places and wait until one has turned out the light and gone to sleep before biting, so it is a good idea to burn some sort of citronella or use mosquito netting, or you could do what i do, which is use my old copies of Xinmin Evening news, Shanghai's #1 newspaper, to kill the little buggers.
Shanghai is my favorite city in China because the food is good, living is convienient, and the people are interesting.