Sunday, November 01, 2009

Taipei vs. Shanghai vs. Beijing.

Help me battle this one out. Any tips?


Postcards and Coasters said...

All of your past destinations sound fun. My job has kept me in America otherwise I'd also be tempted to roam like you do. Are you thinking of visiting China? Beijing and Shanghai are both great and very different. I'd love to go to Hong Kong.

Lauren, Ephemerratic said...

Tough choosing between places. I haven't been to Taipei.

Beijing was a stunning, large city. The week I spent there was barely enough time. The Great Wall, though well-trod, was amazing (went to a part far from where tourists usually go).

For me, Shanghai was not as worth visiting as Beijing - unless you include Hangzhou in that assessment. Then the two pull even.

kristine said...

hey there. i havent stopped in for a while; last i saw you were settling in cape town, now you seem to be not-alltogether-successfully battling the infamous travel bug! (or, rahter, you seem to be embracing it fully). Exciting times. I am in the same boat....interesting to see where you'll end up next. I see reference to the americas - I just got back from a way-too-short Colombia trip, and recommend highly. Anyway - will be back to see what you decided.

Jonathan said...

That's a tough question.

Beijing is very close to my heart since it is the first place I lived when I came to China 5 years ago. Today it has all the comforts of an international city while still retaining a very very Chinese mentality. Nowadays most of the foreign writers and journalists live there and it is one of the most important centers of the country's art and music scenes - not to mention the government and business. The food is good but with the breakneck development there isn't too much in the way of street food and just walking around is tough with 8 lane highways everywhere. The weather is generally not that nice, smoh year round (really bad in the winter), dry and very cold winters, dust storms in the spring, and hot summers when it often rains. But I love it, plus Beijing duck is awesome.

I now live in Shanghai. While this is my first time living here I've come to love it, though it is kind of quirky in its capitalistic business-oriented way. It is the largest city in China with 20 million residents, many (most?) from other parts of China. This has created a pretty diverse food selection and the large numbers of foreigners means that parts of the city resemble Paris and Tokyo more than China. Sections of the city are charming and it is very walkable (great subway, too), its history hangs on it well (whereas in Beijing everything but museums has been bulldozed). Shanghai has an interesting history and is probably as close to a melting pot of cultures that you will find outside of Hong Kong. It has a thriving art and music scene, though it doesn't feel as exciting as Beijing at times (though many see this as changing). Shanghai is considered the center of gay culture for the country and held mainland China's first Gay Pride this past summer.

Both Beijing and Shanghai are developed and expensive and to really experience China you would want to leave from time to time, as I assume you would anyway.

I've never been to Taipei but I hear good things about it. Though I imagine it is much more gentrified and westernized than Beijing or Shanghai (not that those two cities aren't on the path to such a fate). In Taiwan you will be able to access your blog, where as here on the mainland you will need a proxy/VPN to get over the firewall.

If I may, I'd like to suggest you look into Kunming. It's a beautiful city and the capital of Yunnan province, the most geographically and ethnically diverse province in China. The food is amazing. Due to the altitude the weather is great year round (it's called the Spring City) and it has almost now smog. Plus, it is only a cheap plane ride from Bangkok and an overnight bus to Laos/Vietnam.

Good luck!

Perth Hotels said...

I think Beijing would be a nice place to travel. Beijing is an old capital city developing at a fast pace. The Forbidden City is the ideal place for you to begin your exploration of Beijing by opening its mysterious face. With over 9,000 rooms and over 250 acres, this large palace building was built between 1406 and 1420. It Forbidden Cityburned down and was rebuilt, sacked and renovated for times, so most of the architecture you can see today dates back to the 18th century in the Qing Dynasty.