When traditional meets modern – Shanghai & Suzhou Travel Diary

I like China. I find it interesting to watch how the country evolve in such an incredible pace.

When I first went to Beijing in 2001, the public toilets had no door, just the toilet bowls. Not kidding – we had to pee with 6 other local aunties who’re chatting loudly with one another when they pooped. When I visited Shanghai in 2004, all I could remember was the messy traffic and old buildings. Not impressed.

Fast forward to 2019, so much has changed especially in Shanghai. The traffic is much smoother and the CBD areas are uber posh. Shanghai IS indeed the heart of China.


The Bund 外滩, the most iconic spot in the city. Historical buildings lining the street like a European fairy tale.

The Bund 外滩 on a winter evening. Beautiful and majestic.

Shanghai night at Yuyuan Garden 豫园. I stood still and stared at this view for a long time.

Yuyuan Garden 豫园, reminds me of the streets in Miyazaki Hayao’s film, Spirited Away 千与千寻.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the largest and most vibrant of its kind in the world. The theatrical and stunning interior was impressive. Do pay a visit when you visit Shanghai. Just note that the coffee is pricier compared to regular Starbucks outlet.

China Art Museum 中华艺术宫, a gigantic piece of art.


Shanghai is modern, busy and fast-paced. So we took a short break and came to Suzhou.

In 2004, a bus ride from Shanghai to Suzhou would take around 2 hours. Today, thanks to the high speed train, you only need 30 mins to travel between the two cities. How convenient is that!

With over 2,500 years of history, Pingjiang Road in Suzhou is extremely poetic and serene.

Suzhou in winter exudes a historical aura that’s so relaxing and charming. We were so relaxed that we almost missed the train back to Shanghai. *shake my head*

What makes this place even more magical were the people. Many young ladies in traditional hanfu (汉服) were wandering around the streets.

Cat’s Sky Castle 猫空书店, a heaven for the chic and artistic hipsters, or a 30-year old lady who likes to read and play with cats.

This trip open my mind about how urban development can be executed at such a fast pace and make lives better. Shanghai impressed me. Their public transport is highly efficient and organized. The high speed trains work like a dream. Imagine staying in Melaka and you can commute to work in Kuala Lumpur daily. Imagine the rent you could have saved.

This trip also inspires me to think about efficiency and possibility. It’s possible to preserve the tradition and modernize at the same time. It’s possible to think big and evolve in a short time, not only at the economical level, but at the personal level.

Actually I’m reflecting on myself. How much have I grown since 2004 when I first visited China? Do I still have potential to evolve?

The city shows me that change is possible. 

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