To consider the delta, for all the talk of lactose intolerance, dairy products are booming. Taxi drivers seem to have lost their reluctance to pick up Westerners. More and more hutongs have been removed from downtown (duh). There is a street with three different outlets selling Mexican-style churros. Overall it feels nicer and more normal.
I am the odd bird who prefers Beijing to Shanghai. The food is more representative of China as a whole, the faces show more drama, you are more likely to see “weird random ****” driving around in a cab, and the core culture is less chi-chi. It’s the most important city in the world. Let’s hope Washington does nothing to reclaim that mantle, New York never will.