Yesterday I set out on foot at about 2:30 in the afternoon to the Bund, an older section of Shanghai. I arrived there about 4:30 or so. I saw a lot of construction going on everywhere and it seems everyone is doing or selling something or other. On one "pedestrian overpass" (believe it or not) on a busy intersection, for example, there were numerous vendors of various commodities (bicycle-related goods, shoe insoles, books, jewelry, etc.). If I had to guess, I would say that a sizable portion of the Shanghai people were involved in the informal economy (small business folk). At large intersections you find traffic assistants who use whistle and flags to direct pedestrians and vehicles. When I first passed them in the middle of the afternoon they didn't seem that busy but when returning home during rush-hour traffic they truly came alive directing huge waves of traffic. During the day their presence I'm sure keeps travelers on their toes, and they did help me a number of times find my way across the street. Their uniforms are grey. One thing I think pedestrians here must learn very quickly is how to interface with drivers of vehicles. Folks don't seem to pay much attention to traffic signals.
One thing I have not seen yet in Shanghai is the "house," an isolated dwelling (for one or more persons or family) on a piece of land. All dwellings seem to be apartment buildings from smaller ones (2-3 floors) to larger high rises. The closest thing to houses that I've seen are "truly ancient looking" structures about 2 stores high with multiple families living in them. It seems amazing such places are even able to stand; they present a stark contrast to everyday business life around them. Another feature of living space common here (it seems) is the walkway or lanes or alleyways through blocks in the midst of apartments where children play and laundry hangs out to dry and dogs bark. You see these "ways" as you walk down streets. One of the most popular street shops I've seen is the flat repair shop for bicycles consisting of a small set of tools, a large pan of water, sometimes an umbrella for the sun, a chair, and miscellaneous bike parts; these are prevalent. So far I have not run into any healthfood stores though there are many places that vend fresh fruits and vegetables. (In the Bund I ran into a group of vendors carrying fresh fruit in baskets balanced on poles across their shoulders.) I did find a large a large indoor-swapmeet-like market with stalls selling all kinds of food items like freshly made soy products, fruits, vegetables, bins of dry grains and beans etc., meat and fish. So far I have not run into any large computer/electronic stores (like Circuit City or Frys) but I did run into a small shop selling Epson printers--I hope I managed to explain to the lady salesperson that I would get back to her after I investigated (on the Internet)the models which she showed me.
The Bund is on the Huangpu river. As I crossed it on one bridge, I noticed on the farside of another bridge what appeared to be large heavy swinging flaps extending down to the water surface completely blocking off any boat traffic. This was about 4:30 in the afternoon. Another remarkable thing I saw in the Bund was a street dedicated to cycles only. Hundreds of folks on cycles of all kinds came pouring out of this way and were directed by a traffic assistant into the regular traffic. (And, as I mentioned before, most streets throughout the city have special lanes for cycles alongside regular lanes for cars and the bigger motorcyles.)
I got lost walking home ending up in front of a subway entrance about halfway between my hotel and the Bund. A young man (a student) showed me where I was on my map and helped me find a taxi back to the JinJiang Inn where I stay.