As I have to work during the weekends, I get Wednesdays and Thursdays off. This is bad in the sense that I have to drag myself to work after a Friday night about town, but it is wonderful in the sense that I can go sightseeing without being trampled down by the worst weekend crowds. (They are bad I tell you, BAD!).
If you want to discover Chinese culture, I would recommend Beijing and Xi’An rather than Shanghai. With its many skyscrapers, Shanghai is a symbol of 21st century Asian financial growth, and its culture mainly revolves around the lines “show me the money” and “hey, lets build the tallest tower in the world right here, we’ll have it done in 6 months!”. There are some hidden cultural gems here and there if you look closely though, and today I decided to check out the Jing An Temple, a famous Buddhist Temple in central Shanghai. As the Chinese never name anything without it having a meaning, “Jing An” literally means “Peace and Tranquility”, but ironically, there is nothing peaceful or tranquil about it at all, as it it located in the midst of the huzzle and bustle of Nanjing West Road:
Locals come here to pray, tourists come here to take photos:
The contrasts between the old and the new are peculiar and remarkable:
Is city life characterized by spiritual emptiness, or does Shanghai still have a spirit? I am trying to decide.