I previously wrote on this platform about the fake Dutch Town in Shanghai and how I was looking forward to visiting another fake town: Thames Town, an artificially created British town in Shanghai. Three years later, and we finally made it there, oops.
So what’s up with all these “European” towns in Shanghai? Or China for that matter? Both Holland Town and Thames Town are part of an initiative called “One City, Nine Towns”, a project intended to decentralise the city and lure portions of Shanghai’s increasing population to these Euro towns. Why travel when you can have a Swedish town in your backyard, right?
Unfortunately, due to ignorance to Chinese building code, the “One City, Nine Towns” project kinda failed. Whereas Holland Town was completely deserted, people seem to actually live in this quaint British part of Shanghai, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Thames town was not the ghost town I was expecting it to be! Apparently, this is because Thames Town adhered more to a typical Chinese planning structure.
It has now become a favourite destination for wedding photography, and many local shops are renting out bridal gowns and suits. I’m not even sure if the church is just an empty structure or if you can actually enter. We couldn’t go inside because too many future newlyweds were blocking the church’s entrance. We counted 7 couples. Nothing speaks romance more than having 6 other couples in your frame.
It’s definitely one of the stranger places I’ve been to, because you know how everything is just artificial and doesn’t make any sense. It feels more like a historical theme park, rather than a residential area. But if you’re feeling homesick, at least it’s nice to know that there are places in Shanghai that resemble home.
Besides walking around and taking pictures in front of a phone booth, you should definitely go to the library / coffee shop. This one was one of the prettier ones I’ve seen!