A City by the Sea, 2005

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Shanghai is a real City: it engulfs and amazes from all directions. With building size, Victorian architecture and the countering cosmic forms of the business center across the street. In Shanghai, which translates as “on-above the sea,” there are, according to different estimates, 16 to 20 million people, the density is, on average, is over 2000 per square kilometer. Managers in extremely expensive suits, vendors of fakes, freaks and beggars who ask for charity all bustle back and forth, above the crowd tower fat American tourists. In the center, where several streets are closed to drivers, people mostly speak English, unlike in China. To sit in an Internet cafe, you must show your passport, they are afraid of the white threat, yep. Only two blocks away from a magnificent flower park with mirror buildings across the street, ground rhinoceros horns and deer hooves are sold from a rag that is spread out on the roadway, and the vendor rather aggressively suggests walking past with photo cameras. This is China: the country of contrasts.

Living in Shanghai, as in any normal city, is expensive. The bigger the population, the less friendly the taxi drivers. I recall how on one of the checkered cars we drove about fifty kilometers, explored the local sights from the trusty guide-book “Lonely Planet.”

Lines into the cosmic tower Oriental Pearl, measuring 468 meters in height, given the ticket price of 120 yuan, which is equal to almost 500 rubles, form on a looong curvy path that is limited by dividers.

You can get to the base of the tower by the subway, a boat or an underground tunnel that is nothing but a scam to get money from tourists. In neat boxes you will be transported with quite, but not super, impressive special effects under smooth water. An elderly German turned around and said what I was going to say to him: “It’s like Star Wars, huh!”

I was actually really comfortable in Shanghai, which means I liked it. I don’t get tired of telling my close friends that, when we grow up, we simply must get a glass of tequila cocktail in the posh sector French Concession that is paved with small, neat bricks.

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