The first thing I've noticed? It's so busy.
I now know why the answer to ‘How are you’ is 'I’m very busy’ in Shanghai. The Chinese are always busy in Shanghai. Always something to do. You don’t stop for anyone and meals are typically a focused affair with a lot of slurping. On the metro, you just go for it and push to get on and off. No one is going to wait for you. But I can’t criticise the metro too much. Any reliable train network that is clean, quick and runs more than 10 minutes an hour is wonderful. I know Australia doesn’t have anywhere near the patronage as Shanghai... But the prospects...
The language barrier isn’t proving too challenging either… Yet. A lovely old couple tried to speak to me when I moved for them to sit down at a station. Lovely gesture. Hopefully my nodding smile and silence convinced her that I had some idea of what she was talking about.
Overall Shanghai is big. Very big. You’ll probably find it a bit overwhelming the first time you start walking around. I certainly did. There’s more people in this city than in my entire home country. I thought I would feel more of the crush of people but that might be tomorrow’s blog from the hospital after I get crushed up against the door. There’s just people everywhere. Driving, riding, knocking their washing above your head as you walk. You can’t really have a peaceful walk down the street unless you go when it’s pitch black. Horns are your constant walking companion as you’re twisting your neck around trying not to get hit by the car turning on the red, or the cyclist who’s insane and heading into the traffic on his red light. These motorcyclists and cyclists are all crazy on the road, but I’ll give them credit for just having the guts to just ride where ever they feel like really.
The first stop of the weekend was The Bund which you should not go to on a public holiday, like someone may have, if you actually want to get into the heritage listed buildings. Regardless the stroll was really nice. One of the only places I have felt in Shanghai so far where I can walk and I’m not playing chicken with traffic. Seeing the Pudong Skyline was really something. Puts into perspective how important this city is financially for China. Historically Shanghai, being on the river, was the important city, but the huge skyscrapers along the Pudong are really symbolic of that importance.
After that, Sunday was a venture to Tianzifeng. Housed in traditional Chinese small alleyways, it was a a great spot to spend time walking around looking at all the different knick knacks you would find again at several other stalls. A few gems was the store I found these old postcards, with posters from the Chinese revolution, and a cafe that was completely biased on toilets. If you’re up for something different. Again the food options… I grabbed a couple of sweet dumplings which were lovely.
I think at night Tianzifeng would really shine with the lights in the alleyways and would be a great place for a night out. Will update this post on that theory. (Update: it does look amazing at night!)
Then a hop over to Xintiandi, which is an entertainment complex built off one of these same old alleyways that hasn’t been completely destroyed in the development of Shanghai. Although the alfresco dining options and designer shops were a bit out of my price range, I did venture to the free Site of the 1st National Congress of the Communist Party of China. It was actually really interesting learning more about the CCP, but definitely not for those who can’t stand normal museums.
Finally I had this amazing quail egg noodle soup with one of my roommates and some of the staff from my internship, which starts today. Luckily the staff speak Chinese so it wasn’t complete mystery. The next time I try to randomly pick one as best I can shall be interesting!
Where’s the busiest place you’ve ever been? I used to think it was my local shopping centre on the busiest shopping day of the year… But I now realise I was quite wrong.
~ Olivia (WM)