We began our day with another trip on a high speed train! This time, we spent six hours gliding through the countryside from Xi’an to Shanghai. As we spent the entirety of this trip staying in large cities, these train rides allowed us to get a glimpse into the lives of the rural Chinese that make up a good deal of the population. Once we arrived in Shanghai, I could immediately tell that this city was much different from the other two. The buildings were taller, the streets were wider, and the historically Chinese-styled buildings that marked the architecture style of the other two cities gave way to much more western design, even French and English in some cases. Though I learned about European colonization of China in history class, it didn’t quite sink in how much that occupation would create a lasting impact on the areas that they held, even years after their departure. I was surprised to learn about the British and French quarters of Shanghai, especially as we drove to our hotel in the French quarters and experienced the drastic shift in atmosphere.
After settling into the hotel, we took a trip to the Shanghai History Museum. It was interesting to see the history of the area from a Chinese perspective, especially in the creative, almost wax museum-like format. After a (very) spicy dinner nearby, we boarded a river cruise to get a stunning view of the coastline. All the futuristic looking buildings were fully lit up, reflecting a myriad of colors onto the icy black waters below (as a studio art minor and self-proclaimed lover of color, I was ecstatic). I also noticed a large amount of construction of new futuristic-looking buildings on the coast, which I felt mirrored China’s growth as an economic powerhouse. The beautiful sites on a beautiful night was the perfect end to our first night in the city. I was already swept away in awe at Shanghai and making mental plans to return one day!