Although she’s been in Shanghai only a year, Caroline Patton feels like a local. She acts like one too, joining the chaotic masses of people biking to work each morning, shopping in the local wet market (where fish are sold live) and spending her weekends in the city’s parks.
“Surprisingly, it’s the high-density living and the large population that I appreciate about Shanghai,” says Patton. “It’s so vibrant, there are always people around and there is always something happening.”
The 31-year-old moved there last April (after seven years in Auckland) to take a job at Boffa China, the Asian outpost of the New Zealand environmental planning firm for which she worked at home. Since then, she’s worked on two significant projects: Dong Jiao Villas, a development of 30 high-end residential villas in Pudong, and Jinshan Eco Road, a six-lane arterial road in Zhenjiang, about 300km from Shanghai, where she has worked with engineers to create roadside rain gardens that collect the stormwater run-off from the road. When she’s not working, Patton, who lives in the French Concession with her husband, is out and about.
“The biggest thing is the smog; you miss the fresh air,” she admits. “But I love getting on my bike. It’s a city of the most astounding contrasts and contradictions: a Lamborghini whizzes past you then, seconds later, a rusty old bike with a cage of live ducks on the back comes past; locals sell dumplings right outside a fine dining restaurant; t’ai chi is practised in front of a skyscraper.”
- A trip to Fuxing Park, which is one of the few places in Shanghai that has a lawn.
- Hiring a bike and taking a leisurely ride around the French Concession, stopping in at Farine, an organic bakery, for coffee.
- A night at JZ Club in the French Concession listening to live jazz.