With my month in Shanghai drawing to a close, I keep thinking about how I don't want to leave yet. There's still much I haven't seen or experienced in this city and as a result, I can't help but have an unsatisfied feeling in the pit of my stomach. However, my departure is inevitable. So when I head to the airport (kicking and screaming), I'll be reminiscing about the food and sights I ventured out to find during this trip. Two places in particular stand out clearly in my memories. They are significant not only because I stumbled upon these places by chance or by word-of-mouth, but because they are truly a sight to see, a hidden treasure among the traffic of buildings, construction and people of Shanghai. More after the jump....
The ever-changing canvas
The first place is Moganshan Lu. Admittedly, this street has been featured in tour guides and websites, so it isn't really unknown from the rest of the world. I, however, must've skipped over the page about it because this summer was the first time I ever heard of the place. And, after climbing out from underneath my rock and actually going there, I wish I had heard about it earlier.
Along Moganshan Lu is a wall that's completely engulfed in graffiti art, with different characters, scenes and words gracing the wall (editors note: this wall was slated for destruction in the summer of 2012 to make way for a new apartment complex; as of this writing—6 August 2012—it still stands in all its spray-painted glory). But it didn't seem like a couple of drawings on public structure. Looking at it, some of the artworks were like glimpses of the future, with futuristic city-scapes depicted on the wall. Other works seemed alive, as if the concrete canvas couldn't restrain the life that was sprayed on it. There were even just works of words, which functions to do just what all the other works do in a more straight-forward fashion: to make a statement.
With so much happening on the wall, I had to walk along the opposite side of the street because it was just impossible to comprehend everything from up close. Even with the M50 Galleries at one end of the street, offering free entry to a plethora of contemporary art in many different galleries (which is also a must-see), the wall is really something else. It'll be a shame if it's ever torn down, but that just means we all just have to keep our eyes open for rare street art in Shanghai.
The best spot in Shanghai
I stumbled upon the second place by accident. After having dinner in Pudong, my family and I were trying to work off the food we had just feasted on and, after some exploration, we came to this place. What greeted us first were soft gusts of winds that seemed to be coming from all directions. Despite the humid summer weather of Shanghai, this place seemed largely unaffected by it, making it a refreshing break from the rest of the city. As my family walked further out onto the patio, our heads slowly tilted upwards in awe. The lit up skyscrapers and high-rises were looming around us, threatening to topple down. Rows of bright office buildings were lined up in the distance, while cars and people were bustling below. As we continued to explore the patio, we eventually discovered a fantastic view of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. The best part? While there are masses of people trying to get good pictures of the tower from the streets, the patio we stood on was empty and we could easily take photos in peace.
There are a lot of different sights to see in Shanghai. It's always recommended to go along either side of the Huangpu River to get pictures of The Bund and the shiny towers of Pudong's Lujiazui, or to go to the top of a building or restaurant to get the best view of the city. While those are all fine-and-dandy spots to go to for a bird's-eye view of this developing and historic city, I was more impressed when I stood in this place, where I got a "human's-eye view," if you will. For me, at this place, it wasn't just a place to get great pictures: it was a place where it becomes so apparent how illuminated Pudong is at night, how alive everything is and how the level of structural and human development continues to skyrocket. And as an observer trying to take it all in, I had never felt so miniscule. It was dumbfounding, breath-taking, frightening.
This is officially my favorite spot in Shanghai. And if you would like to see it for yourself, I challenge you to find it. I'm not giving you the name of this place outright (you didn't think it would be that easy, did you?); you'll have to go find it based on the provided picture. If you know where it is already, fantastic! But let the others find it themselves because, I assure you, the views are more satisfying when you come across them on your own. So go explore the city and hopefully, you'll find it! Or maybe you’ll discover another amazing spot along the way.…