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G9 Travel Guide to Shanghai: People and Activities

May 16, 2011

There is no shortage of interesting things and behaviors to observe while walking the streets of Shanghai. Many Westerners will be shocked by the almost sterile cleanliness of the city, the result of an army of government workers sweeping the streets at all hours of the day. Section by section Shanghai is undergoing rapid changes. Massive new malls are being erected housing some of the most sought after European fashion brands. Skyscrapers are growing within every square block, most larger than our unsightly One Rincon Hill. But within this city of 23,000,000 (yes million) lies a cultural marvel. Traditionalism and modernism clash showing how the Chinese cope in these rapidly expanding mega-cities.

Below is our photo journal of this clash.

23 million people in Shanghai, to put that into perspective there are currently 1.4 million people in Manhattan.

Thousands of people flood thru East Nanjing Rd. on their way to and from work.

The Bund is a great place to see both locals and Chinese tourists enjoying a mid-day stroll.

Fuxing Park 

Fuxing Park (复兴公园) is located in the former French Concession of Shanghai, in Luwan District. The park is a popular destination for locals and expats on weekends.

There were large groups of men in fierce competitions of cards and mahjong as onlookers watch in anticipation.

Children paddle themselves around a sizable man-made lake.

Other children are taught to shoot a gun at elephants and monkeys on an amusement ride.


Women swoon over the talented karaoke singer.

Monks still live in solitude. 

Temple are spread throughout the city, giving a glimpse into old world China.

Out and About 

If you’re looking to photograph and observe typical life in Shanghai, grab your camera and put those legs to work. We suggest jumping on the subway and getting off on a random exit, you never know what you might find.

Men get haircuts on the sidewalk on Sundays.

Birds hang in the trees to socialize.

Expert kite-flyers.

Water Boy.


Men smoke

and women smoke.

We're touring!

Mobile farmers market.

The People’s Square

People’s Square (人民广场) is a large public square adjacent to Nanjing Road in the Huangpu District of Shanghai, China. Prior to 1949 and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, what is now People’s Square was a part of the horse racing course of Shanghai. After gambling and horse racing were banned by the new Communist government, a part of the race course became the People’s Square, which included a large avenue and spectator stands for use during parades.

On weekends you can find a unique experience at People’s Square. The Marriage Market. Mothers and fathers gather to seek a suitable spouse for their son or daughter. Brokers assist in finding the perfect match, evaluating criteria such as; age, weight, height, occupation, and family lineage.

A father posts his daughters description at the marriage market.

Postings line the square, detailing single individuals of all ages.

You can also find children fishing in the many of the small ponds throughout the park.

Children fishing for tadpoles.

Crotchless Children

Probably one of the most ridiculous things seen in China; babies and toddlers with crotchless pants. Poop and pee freely little ones…the happy government workers will come and clean up after you.

In our next post we’ll be focusing on the amazing architecture of Shanghai. Check back with us in the next couple days.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 12:32 am

    i love those crotchless pants…cept when they sit on the ground
    sweet photos =)

  2. May 20, 2011 2:07 pm

    Looks like they’re having a lot of fun!

  3. May 22, 2011 8:31 pm

    Look like you’ve got your own translator!
    You guys have fun in China!

  4. robd2 permalink
    July 20, 2011 7:30 pm

    I absolutely love the talent you have taking pictures of people in their elements. But in a couple of the shots some people were looking at the camera. How do you deal with the awkwardness of shooting other people, especially being a tourist? Just think of it this way if you were native in China and some tourists started pointing’ their cameras at you, how would you react? I have taken a couple of trips to South eastern Asia and I have tried out that type of photography to capture people in their elements, but I have always felt timid and not wanting to end up in a feud. And when that happens you don’t get the shot you were fishin’ for. Any advice at all would be absolutely marvelous, thanks a bunch.

    • July 27, 2011 4:19 pm

      thanks robd2, its no easy task shooting individuals straight on and getting them to “engage”, I just smile a lot and invite them to see the picture after, i’ve always found photography to be a great tool to overcome language and culture barriers. There were actually more native chinese blatantly taking pictures of me, which become a bit awkward after a while. I would also advise to shoot with a 70-200mm to help you get the shot without being intrusive, plus if they do get mad you probably have enough time to get away 😉


  1. Besöka Shanghai? « riseandchina

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