I’ve really liked Shanghai. It’s already my last day here and I’m actually a bit sad. There’s so much I wanted to try and so much that I didn’t get to do.
I took the metro and then walked to the Bund my first day. It was a foggy and cold day, there were a few snow crystals falling.
One thing I like a lot about Shanghai are the streets. Hong Kong felt like a big city and the streets were standard simple architecture. Here there’s some European influences. Especially in the former French concession.
It has the skyscrapers and the big city elements but it feels a little quieter than a typical big city. That’s probably because it’s the Spring Festival so most people are gone.
Shanghai is foremost a place of business so most everyone who lives here normally went back their home provinces to be with their family. That means the Metro line 2, which is their busiest line, looks like this midday.
Perfect for me! Although that means a lot of really good Sichuan, Yunnan, and Shanghainese restaurants are closed so most of the food I’ve eaten is Western food.
This is some Shanghai food I got. It’s from a chain. It’s a Shanghai style crisp pastry. Tastes phenomenal. Perfectly crisp, buttery, light, and good seasoning.
This is a fried chicken with spicy broth, cabbage, and hand pulled noodles. It was delicious.
This is my breakfast most days. A yogurt with granola and tea eggs. The yogurt costs the most at $1.70 and the eggs are 30 cents a piece.
This is my really good ice cream for Shanghai. It’s vanilla ice cream, brownie, and whipped cream with some crunchy toppings.
Some pan fried dumplings from a chain called Yang’s dumplings. It’s a mix of spinach filled ones, shrimp, and pork. The spinach ones were my favorite with the pork and shrimp following.
I have been paying attention to the shooting that happened in Florida. I talked about this with an American friend back in Vietnam, but when you are all the way around the world, it seems like there’s not much you can do. And at the same time, over here, you feel like you have as much power to change things as you would back in America… which is not a lot. (And I say “feels like” because I know you can call your reps/protest/etc but it still feels like you don’t have much power when nothing changes).
There’s a lot of cool things going on in the parks and streets new year related.
In general, I’ve mostly just walked around and enjoyed my time. Parks are my favorite thing in China. It’s peaceful and there’s usually families quietly eating food or just sitting and getting some fresh air while the air quality is good.
That’s another good thing about the city being less packed, I don’t have to worry about air quality quite yet.
The bakeries here are amazing. I had the best bread I’ve ever had at this gourmet place in the mall and it was cheap as well. I want to buy all the loaves but there’s no way I should or would be able to finish just one loaf by myself.
I’ve spent most of my time in Shanghai alone. There’s this part of me that doesn’t want it this time to be overshadowed by other things. Not just Shanghai, but China itself.
I just don’t want this part of my trip to be obscured by the same questions about my adoption or insensitive things about China, Chinese people, my background, etc.
It’s not like I’m avoiding other Western travelers forever or even think of them as bad people. I actually usually seek out other Western travelers as travel buddies.
But, for right now, I just want to let China and this feeling of just being an ordinary person really soak in for a bit.
And so, I spent most of my time alone. Which I enjoy because I like to think and to observe. To pop in randomly to places I pass by and to sit in a park if I feel like it.
Edit: I should also note that white travelers don’t really look at me or talk to me in a way travelers do to each other. I said this to my group in Vietnam who were all white but they were talking about how (white) travelers give each other “the nod” when they see each other. And I have never gotten “the nod” from white travelers. I’ve gotten it from black travelers though.
Another one of my traditions besides finding some really good ice cream, is walking around and listening to Aretha Franklin’s live performance of Amazing Grace (with Southern California Community Choir which you can probably find on YouTube or something) on my last night. It’s this 10 minute track and just the song combined with the night makes you really just take in the surroundings and appreciate it.
Now I head to Beijing. Not actually Beijing, I’ll be about three hours north in Gubeikou village by the Great Wall.
I want to spend most of my days hiking and chilling out with cats (the family’s place I’m staying at has four cats).