City Lights Burning Bright

Ken Shapiro Last year, I visited China for the first time. It was a fascinating trip, and I learned much about the culture and everyday life of the Chinese people. Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was Shanghai. With a cosmopolitan and sophisticated flavor, Shanghai deserves a place at the t

By: Ken Shapiro

Last year, I visited China for the first time. It was a fascinating trip, and I learned much about the culture and everyday life of the Chinese people. Of course, one of the highlights of the trip was Shanghai.

With a cosmopolitan and sophisticated flavor, Shanghai deserves a place at the table reserved for the world’s greatest cities New York, Paris, Tokyo, etc. What makes Shanghai unique, however, is the unmistakable feeling of a future that’s full of promise, as if its greatest days are still ahead. In a city that has roughly 400 construction sites on any given day a city that is literally sinking from the weight of its building boom it goes without saying that the spirit of change is in the air.

On my last night in China, I strolled down Shanghai’s Nanjing Road ogling the designer stores, and I stumbled upon a narrow side street full of street vendors and food stalls. Crowds of people were hanging out, some eating, some talking and some examining the Prada knock-offs and black-market DVDs. As I walked along, I imagined that this same bazaar could have taken place in much the same form centuries ago, that is until I overheard two men talking in broken English and was surprised to hear they were discussing the U.S. stock market. This mixture of modern and ancient, of tradition and innovation, of moving forward while honoring the past, is a scene most certainly experienced daily by Shanghai’s citizens, and I felt lucky to share it on my last night in China.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that beach vacation or that Caribbean cruise, but as you’ll see in our cover story, “White-Hot Shanghai” (page 14), by writer and Shanghai resident Gary Bowerman, there is also something special that can only be experienced on the exotic streets of the world’s great cities. It is your job to bring out the urban explorer in your clients, and let them know that there is no better time to see the city of tomorrow than today.

>