Shanghai - The Capital of Gaysia
The three round orbs of the Oriental Pearl Tower reflect brilliantly in the Huangpu river that divides the city of Shanghai into east and west, new and old. It is the most distinct symbol of this - a city in flux. Not modern, not historic. Not developed, not developing. Not “Eastern,” not “Western.” Everything appears to exist in magnificent contradiction to everything else. Extreme poverty alongside excessive wealth. A modern high-rise apartment next store to a centuries-old neighborhood with no running water.
Shanghai is home to more construction cranes than anywhere on earth, with the shell of new buildings surrounded by bamboo scaffolding that soars as high as the eye can see. The world’s third tallest building and largest television screen call the city home, as do nearly 26 million people and a significant majority of China’s gay and lesbian population.
No matter where you go in China, every young gay person you meet will speak of wanting to move to the city where China celebrated its first gay pride in 2009. The nightlife is unmatched, with several exceptional gay venues and a generally mixed scene at non-gay bars and clubs. Sip divine cocktails on a veranda that offers breathtaking views for half what you’d pay anywhere in the United State or Europe. Opt for a cozy beer garden or jazz lounge where the ambience screams New York or London. This city is nearly too cool for its own good. Welcome to Shanghai - The Capital of Gaysia.
Shanghai is divided into two halves by the Huangpu River. Pudong (East) is home to modern high-rises and a majority of new commerce, though venturing beyond Lujiazui (the first subway stop into Pudong) along the river is unlikely. Puxi (West) is where nearly all of Shanghai’s history, nightlife and culture reside. Take People’s Square as a starting point. Heading north leads to Hangkou, the art scene and the student district. Wandering east leads through the shopping district to The Bund - home of Shanghai’s most exclusive clubs and restaurants. West takes you into Jing’an Temple and on to Zhongshan Park - largely residential and home to a significant portion of Shanghai’s expat community. South and Southeast brings visitors into the French Concession, where French influence has left tree-lined streets, fine art, extensive shopping and the city’s best bars and restaurants.