Shanghai & Zhujiajiao
I visited Shanghai in 2004 and again in 2013. During my most recent trip, the amount of construction that had taken place since my last visit made the city seem starkly different.
The contrast is just astounding. To get a feel for what Shanghai used to be, cross the river and visit The Bund. It has richer history and the architecture is more fascinating
Shanghai is similar to any large city in that there is a lot to do, a lot of restaurants to try, and a vibrant nightlife.
One activity that many people don't often think of when visiting the city is one of the best: custom tailoring. For $100 USD, you can purchase custom-made tailored suits at the South Bund market using a variety of styles and fabrics. Make sure that if you do get clothing made for you, bring an article of clothes that fits you extremely well. While the tailors will be able to take your measurements, the example that you bring will help them create the correct cut of suit you're looking for (i.e. modern styling vs. traditional).
Zhujiajio, The Water Town
This town is located just outside of Shanghai, and is one of the best day trips you can take. The easiest way to get here and see everything is to enlist a cab driver to take you for the day, and instruct him to wait outside the town until you've finished exploring.
The town is set on canals, which offers many opportunities for taking unique photographs.
The big highlight, besides all of the scenery in Zhujiajiao, is visiting the paper cutters school. This school is dedicated to preserving and teaching the art form of cutting stories into single pieces of paper. It is an intrinsically delicate process and certainly worth picking up an art piece to bring home!
You can see everything you need to see in Zhujiajiao in a single day.
Try and catch the golden hour in the water town if you can--the light will do amazing things to the buildings. If you have the opportunity, I would get to the water town early as well. Typically, I find that waters are calmer in the morning which would give you a better opportunity for reflections
Photography Gear Recommended
- 24-70mm lens
- 70-200 lens
While I normally like to highlight a single nonprofit organization in this section, speaking about any of China's nonprofits requires a wider focus on the struggle of these organizations to exist within China.
With that in mind, I would like to draw your attention to a March 2015 article by Josh Chin for the Wall Street Journal, which you can find here. The piece explains that as China's civil society rises, the amount of crack downs on nonprofits by the Chinese government increases exponentially. The government's tolerance for activism has thus been diminishing swiftly.
The article goes on to state that the Chinese government believes that the West is trying to bring about a pro-democracy movement through nonprofits, and because of this, the government continues to stifle the existence of foreign nonprofits. This is unsettling, and even more so when you consider that these limitations will most likely continue for years to come.