It’s a beautiful night in Shanghai.
Lashing rain from the regretful remnants of Typhoon Morakot has now left the region, cleaning the air and drenching the streets. A thin mist is still falling, invigorating evening walkers. And a low fog is blanketing the city, obscuring the tops of skyscrapers and deepening the mystery of this city of almost 20 million.
As if Shanghai needed help in mystifying visitors. Some cities easily foster the illusion that they are known … San Francisco with the TransAmerica and Coit towers serving as beacons and reference points, Chicago defined by the lake and the blank black Mies van der Rohe towers, other cities with definable and visible landmarks.
But Shanghai, like London and other megacities, seems too big and too complex to grasp for the casual visitor. Shanghai, with a million towers under construction … Shanghai, with elevated freeways and expressways and bridgeways like spaghetti in a Salvador Dali painting with even less connection to reality than most.
I’m now back in the mundane if luxurious world of the Shanghai HIlton, just returned from my nightime stroll through Shanghai – or, the tiny fraction of Shanghai within walking distance. Tomorrow I have meetings, and probably the day after, but then I’ll have at least some time to explore this single city that has almost two thirds the population of my entire country, Canada.
But I’m glad I stole a few precious moments from tonight’s pillow time to allow the experience of being in China and being in Shanghai be more than an airport and a hotel.