Vivian Gong, General Manager Greater China & East Asia
What makes you a local?
I was born in Shanghai, a fabulous metropolis that I love. I grew up here and remember being a child and seeing the red lanterns hanging along the streets of my home-town during the “Lantern Festival” on January 15th, when parents would take me to Yu Garden for the beautiful view and amazing taste of small steamed bun.
After more than 30 years living here I am a local “Shanghainese” with no doubt. I know the owners of my favourite local bars and I like the lifestyle of this city and I love the local cuisine – whenever I travel it is the taste of Shanghai snacks that makes me feel homesick.
What do you love about Shanghai?
Maybe we do not have the history of other destinations, but we are a culturally diverse city that sets the trend for the whole of China, whether it be fashion, leisure activities or even cuisine – this is great as every day there is the possibility of something completely new. My favourite activities include riding a motorbike to explore the city, or even just a regular bike, just for the experience of being in Shanghai. I also like to find a fancy café for afternoon tea.
How are you different from other experts on this destination?
I enjoying trying the new things, which means I keep up with the pace of change in this city. Also, although I am a local I have lots of friends that are not, which always gives me an external perspective of my home. No matter if you are old school style or a chic person, I can take you to explore Shanghai in your way.
What would you recommend to others?
The amazing architecture will be my biggest love of this city forever and is my main recommendation. Next to the Huangpu river is an area you can walk along known as the Bund, which has been described as a ‘museum of international architecture’, lined with twenty-six major structures; banks, hotels, exclusive clubs, press organizations and international headquarters that aesthetically have changed very little since the 1930s.
You could also visit Zhujiajiao Water Village and get on a gondola to explore an oasis of small rivers, willow trees and streams, with lakes and mountains in the background. I also find it very relaxing to just stroll down the Old French Concession and enjoy the smell and taste of coffee in the morning.
In your opinion, how will Shanghai change in the next 5, 10 and 20 years?
There’s a saying about Shanghai: “a change per year, a great change per 3 years” – I cannot imagine what this city will look like in next 5 years. It will surely make great developments and attract more tourists – maybe we will become a year round destination! I am sure there will be more charming parks, fancy restaurants, chic museums and I am always looking forward to a better city.