Thursday in Shanghai was a day of history and political lessons on Chinese culture from Dr. Yaohua Shi, WFU Chair of East Asian Languages and Literature. In the morning, Dr. Shi led us on a “rooftop” tour of Shanghai architecture, illustrating how the old/new Shanghai, composed of three separate cities (old, walled Chinese city; French Concession, International Settlement), was totally transformed by the cultural revolution and the economic reforms introduced byDeng Xiaoping. Here is a picture of the group from the Bund side, looking out to the modern skyscrapers across the Huangpu River, which were only built in the last 20 years:
Then we had lunch in a lovely American restaurant atop what used to be the Jockey Club of Shanghai (reflecting the former British influence), and could still see the outlines of the racetrack that was once below. Next, we toured the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, a truly marvelous museum, detailing the growth of Shanghai from an ancient fishing village to the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the world.
The day’s tour ended with a visit to the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China, notable in itself, but made even more interesting by the juxtaposition of high-end retail stores and restaurants at the site, reflecting the odd mixture of communism and capitalism that makes up the current Chinese culture.
Since food is such an important part of Chinese and Shanghainese culture, we ended the day with a fabulous restaurant that was renovated from a 1930′s slaughterhouse (I kid you not) and my new instant favorite, Jardin de Jade. Being vegetarian in China has not been a problem, as all food is exquisitely flavorful and delicious!
p.s. I gave Wake the Library t-shirts to all the Wake Forest students helping with the China Initiative. Here is Jenny Li, happy with her new shirt:
Tomorrow: Dulwich College.