SHANGHAI WOOSUNG NANKING ROAD Arrival at Woosung—Up River—The Bund—Nanking Road—The Bubbling The Departure from China of Sir Robert Hart.
The approach to Shanghai from the sea offers a great contrast to that at Hong Kong. Here no towering Peak greets the traveller's eye but, as the ship enters the mouth of the Whangpoo at Woo-sung (the Pilot Station), twelve miles from the city, the nearness of the great trading centre of the Far East is suggested by the large numbers of steam-craft, tugs, and dredgers interspersed with numerous native boats of quaint design, large and small, plying busily hither and thither.
The water-way is here a mile or more in width, bordered by a flat landscape, almost Dutch in character though not in colour. The course of the river has been altered considerably from time to time, by Nature and man, and the hard task of keeping open this great com mercial highway is the duty of European conservators, who have their hands full.
Off Woosung the great liners lie anchored, until lightened of part of their cargo, that they may pass up 29 the river, and one may see the white hull of an Emfress, or the dark mass of the P. & O. or German mails, or the blue funnels of a Holt cargo steamer. Here pas sengers are transferred to the launches waiting to take them up to Shanghai, on the last stage of their long journey. The yellow waters of the Whangpoo run swiftly, and this, added to the strong tide, makes navigation no easy matter.
Soon we began to see buildings of European character; plain and solid, and factories with tall chimneys ; we could read the names of European commercial firms ; and when we got up as far as Hongkew we realised that indeed we had reached the commercial metropolis of the Far East, reminding us of some of our ports at home in the similarity of the river approach and traffic.
I was met on landing at the wharf by my relatives, and, if it had not been for the number of coolies and rickshas, could almost imagine myself at home ; but as I was driven away along the fine Bund, the chief thoroughfare facing the river, on which are all the finest commercial buildings, banks, and the fine Shanghai Club, I soon saw evidence of the mixed nature of the population.
There is no sharp line of demarcation in the European settlement of Shanghai between the streets inhabited by the Chinese and those occupied by Europeans ; the houses in the Nankin Road, for instance, changing their character as proceeds, although the native city is and always has been walled in and quite separate from the foreign settlement.
The native-built houses usually differ from those built by Europeans, in being highly ornate and more cheaply and slightly constructed. The shop-signs in the Nankin and Foochow Roads and other thoroughfares are wonder fully picturesque in red, gold, and other colours, and of all shapes and sizes. Passing along, one notices crowds at the upper windows, drinking tea and smoking ; while in the street, side by side with the fine equipage of the foreign merchant, may be seen the wheelbarrow, pushed by the coolie in scanty attire, carrying perhaps a whole family ; a single passenger must be tilted to one side, to keep the barrow balanced. A wonderful medley of East and West ! rickshas speeding along, bicycles ridden by natives and foreigners, and even the latest in motor cars, for which there must be a great future. The Chinese are taking up motors ; they love speed, so the motor suits them ; but as yet they can only use a motor in the foreign settlement where are roads fit to drive on. I have heard that on first seeing a motor car a Chinaman re marked : " What thing No pushee, no pullee, go like hellee! Hi yah ! " No one can visit Shanghai without realising that it is destined to be of still greater importance when it becomes the centre, as it soon must, of a larve railway traffic, as well as being what it is now, a great seaport.
The more central part of the settlements is the most densely populated, and the land very valuable in all the Concessions, the British and American being under one Council. The residential quarter, much as at home, has been gradually pushed out farther and farther from the centre of the city.