After a month of pre-Olympics overload in Beijing, I thought taking a trip to Shanghai last weekend would be a nice break from the Games.
I was wrong.
Despite being nearly as far from Beijing as San Francisco is from Seattle, Shanghai had the same "Beijing 2008" signs that are scattered throughout China's capital (yes, they still said Beijing even though I was in Shanghai). Olympic memorabilia is sold everywhere, and the same pro-China sports advertisements adorn subway station walls, street-side billboards -- even ice cream stands.
Huge lighted ads with moving pictures, akin to those in Times Square, can be seen on the large skyscrapers that line "The Bund," a riverbank that separates Shanghai's new and old areas. But rather than see company promotions, I watched the Beijing Olympic mascots, or "fuwa," light up the screens.
Shanghai's excitement about the games isn't totally out of place. It will host preliminary soccer matches for the Games at Shanghai Stadium, and it's only natural the city have its own pride -- which it does.
Shanghai is already boasting the World Expo 2010, a global, non-commercial exhibition, which the city calls "the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology" on its Web site. I saw a large statue of the Expo mascot in the center of a park and the Shanghai Urban Planning and Exhibition Centre had an entire floor dedicated to the event.
If hosting the Olympics wasn't exciting enough for China, it seems the country has plenty of upcoming events to look forward to -- and I think it's well-deserved. Like any place, it has its faults and troubles, but China has worked hard to be where it is today, and they should (and will) celebrate that.