To spend almost two weeks in Shanghai is an exceptional opportunity for a European. The giant Chinese metropolis showed its Western face to me, especially in downtown. This helped me a lot to avoid getting lost, apart from some hiccups with the Chinese maps and other language difficulties.
Staying for a week is not enough to get rid of the tourist attitude and I did not even try to get involved in the local society. However, I really wanted to learn a bit about the people living here, even though I would not draw any conclusions based on my experiences.
I feel very fortunate to have gained my first China-related impressions in Shanghai. It is even luckier that I could spend a few days in Istanbul before, as I felt many similarities between the two (downtown) cities. This way, I felt a bit more prepared for the lifestyle here than I would have been without the trip to Turkey in January.
Just like in Istanbul and other mega cities as well, there are major differences among the districts. There was a large, wide street just beside the hotel that I was willing to approach only without any belongings at first, although it emerged to be completely OK. People were even dancing on the streets after sunset. In the same time, guards were saluting to me wherever I went in downtown Shanghai.
I am deeply impressed by the world of skyscrapers, still I felt it was very far not just from me (I was just a guest anyway), but also from the mass. I have the impression that Shanghai shows a face to me that we anticipate and the truth would emerge only after living here for some time.