It’s been a few days already since we got to Shanghai, China and it has been very surprising and interesting. So far, Shanghai was very friendly and it turned out to very modern, but everybody told us that Shanghai is nothing like the rest of China. Shanghai is quit clean and very Western, and the people are very nice, and we should expect a different culture outside of the city.
But I have to say that even though the city is considered very Western and modern, there are still very significant cultural differences. I will write about the food and architecture later on, but right now I want to focus on the streets and people.
The people in Shanghai are mostly friendly and nice. I took a taxi from one hotel to another and I was dropped off a bit too far from the new hotel, so I had to cross a traffic bridge. I had my luggage and it was raining, and the stupid bridge had a gazillion stairs. But my motto is never to pack more then you can carry, so I started to lift my bags up the stairs and it was ok. Suddenly a local dude just came and helped me with my bag! He was going the same way so he waited for me on the other side and helped down the stairs as well.
Everybody had warned me that Chinese people are not so nice, and very suspicious, and so I was surprised by this act of kindness. Also the hostel staff was very kind and have assisted us with everything.
One thing that is very strange to Western people, but very common here is to clean your throat, and very loudly as well. There is a whole soundtrack of throat and nose cleaning noises in the city, which are considered as normal. My theory is that it is common because of the pollution in China, but it might just be a cultural thing. Anyway, it is definitely something to expect here.
Something else that is also interesting is to see the local people on the street – they either hurry somewhere or at work, either looking at their phones. People here are very attached to their phones, from what I have seen. Some of them might even bump into you because they are so focused on the phone! I think nowadays it is very common everywhere, but here it’s very noticable.
And of course there is the mask thing. When I first saw someone wearing a medical mask years ago on the plane I didn’t understand it, but it is pretty common in Asia to wear a mask, just because of pollution or to be careful.
Oh and something interesting to know about China – they don’t really have cheese in the supermarket, and also no tampons, ANYWHERE!!!!
So what are we up to?
Friedmanski has finally joined me here and we have spent two full days in Shanghai, in the first one we went to see the main touristic area which is the east side of the city – the Bund, East Nangyang road, People’s Square park, Yu garden, Tao temple and the old streets of Shanghai.
Here are some photos:
This is the famous Bund area. It is a beautiful walkway on the riverside, with the famous Shanghai skyline as the background.
These photos are from the Tao temple and Yu gardens, where we got a little lost, but as you can see we had a good time.
And these are just straight off the streets, very interesting signs and an army of chefs!
On our second day we went with our hostel to Zhujiajiao – an ancient water town about an hour away from Shanghai. It was very intense and we got a more Chinese feel there. The small town has a very big food market and it is so crowded! The people, the smells and the colors are such an overload of information, but it is very interesting and the town is beautiful. I have to admitt that I was still to scared to try any of the foods in the market, although they had some that looked very interesting, especially fruits and sweets. Hopefully I will try food market food while I am here.
We took the bus there and it was very cheap and comfortable, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t have known which one to take by myself. It’s a local bus, and the station is just a regular bus stop next to People’s square.
Oh and there is no problem with head stands and being weird on the streets, just a bit of extra attention.
So what’s next?
We have two more days here in Shanghai. Actually a day and a half because tomorrow we catch a late flight to Chengdu, where we’ll stay for a few days. Chengdu is a city in the valley, on the west side of China. It’s a 3 hour flight, just to get an understanding of the distance. From there we plan on going up the mountains to cities like Dali and Kunming, but nothing is planned yet. For now, we are just waiting to see the pandas!!!!
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