Lest any readers of this blog come to the hasty decision that Beijing is more awesome than Shanghai because of its more awesome mascots, here is a more comprehensive comparison of the two cities.
cute mascots: BJ
Okay, well... see post on Shanghai World Expo.
clean air: SH
"Clean" is very relative, but the sky in Shanghai was recognizably blue! Currently in Beijing the air looks extremely gray and foggy, with the slightest, almost imperceptible tinge of blue. And the fog is, of course, smog.
cool buildings: SH
Shanghai has very funky architecture. The most famous is the Oriental Pearl Tower, but there is also the Jinmao Tower, and a can opener shaped building currently under construction of which I have forgotten the name - right to left order:
paper/coin currency: BJ
I am in favor of Shanghai abandoning coin currency. In Beijing people use bills even for one kuai (approximately 14 cents) and five jiao (approximately 7 cents). Everything is coins in Shanghai :( a mi wallet no le gusta.
My judgment on the quality of shopping - and by shopping I mean bargain shopping - is based on very few data points and so is not very accurate, I'm sure. In any case, I have been rather disappointed by shopping in Beijing so far, but we went to Taobao City in Shanghai and that was enjoyable.
A bit of trivia: Taobao is China's equivalent of eBay and it trounces eBay here. Taobao City is a 3-story mall that was opened a few years ago, with 300 stores representing existing sellers on the site. Neat business idea, bridging e-commerce with real life retail.
Another sidenote: Shopping with Stanford people who are not Asian is always quite interesting. One seller tried to tell Pokey that the rhinestones on the cap he was examining/bargaining for were actual diamonds, and thus he should pay more - but even she couldn't keep a straight face.
As we pulled into the Shanghai Train Station I received an SMS welcoming me to the 時尚之都, or Fashion Capital. Shanghai is definitely far more fashionable than Beijing. I actually felt semi-inspired to upgrade my usual outfit of Aeropostale polo and jeans, although I did not act upon this semi-inspiration.
ease of transportation: draw
My primary mode of transportation in both cities is taxi, because I don't know the bus and metro routes and I am scared of so many people squishing in public transportation. Taxis are cheap but they are also immensely difficult to flag down! Not much difference between the two cities.
All very tasty. 小籠湯包, xiaolongtangbao:
clubs and lounges: SH
I am entirely not qualified to speak on this subject but I vote Shanghai. Perhaps Helen will substantiate this decision in another blog post, or refute it.
Being the EECS nerd that I am, I carried my Macbook Pro around with me in Shanghai in my extremely large handbag, searching for wifi. I failed. This despite repeatedly SMSing a Shanghai entrepreneur I met last week, requesting wifi hotspot locations. Oops. Beijing wins because I have internet access here and have successfully located two (! plural!) wifi cafes, which students use to study when their electricity has been turned out at 11 pm.
Master Kong jasmine tea: BJ
Master Kong jasmine tea is my favorite type of bottled tea, easily available from convenience stores in Beijing (or at least those that I frequent). Not so easily available in Shanghai (or at least where I looked). This tea is actually extremely important to my personal happiness, so big plus points for Beijing. See my collection of Master Kong tea bottles:
Beijing has Houhai, but Shanghai has the Bund. One side of the river has European-looking buildings lit up in warm yellow and orange tones at night; the other side has neon rainbow-colored alien-looking buildings like the Oriental Pearl Tower.