Why hello there!
Just before I landed in Seoul, I happened to have a 9-hour layover in Shanghai. Weirdly enough, I was actually quite excited about this, as I have never been to China and thought it would be a good experience. While I didn’t get to see too much of the city, I did get to leave the airport (passport stamp included… yessss), get on a 300km/hr train and hang out for a bit.
As I don’t have too many fully-formed thoughts about Shanghai, I thought I’d put my photos here for y’all to peruse, and maybe some pearls of wisdom will pop up later!
So, without further ado…
The Oriental Pearl Tower is one of Shanghai’s most recognisable landmarks. I didn’t have the time/patience to actually go in (there were huge queues that I was not prepared to become a part of) but it was still interesting to see. My first impression of Shanghai/China was of an old, historical and perhaps slightly dated city/country. Funnily enough, this tower is designed to be really futuristic-looking, but the weathered cement and perhaps the overall overcast day just made it seem like a spaceship from the past that had never been set into space.
Is that too mean?! I don’t meant it to be! It just seemed like something out of the past for me (it was, after all, designed in 1994). I’ve seen photos of it online, on a clear evening, and it does look a lot more glamorous. However, even though China is set to take over the world, on this morning Shanghai seemed pretty quiet, serene and unassuming… or maybe that was just me! Badumtish!
One thing I really liked was these lawn dragons. They are just so cute! I thought they added a lot of playfulness to such a business-centric city (then again, which city isn’t focused on da biznaz?). One thing that Shanghai did introduce me to was the Korean/Chinese/perhaps-elsewhere-as-well habit of hocking and spitting loudly in the street. I still find this pretty darn disgusting, but I am but one person and I am sadly outnumbered! To be fair, not everyone here does that, but a lot of old men seem to think it’s fine to hock loudly and grossly all the time. Ironically, it is considered rude to blow your nose loudly, and I think it is the same in China. The world is a funny place!
So eventually after about 3 hours or so (really not exaggerating), I managed to make my way to this river and hang out for a while. As I cannot (yet) read nor speak Chinese, I am still unaware of its name and it will require a Google search to remedy this problem (task completed: I believe it was the Huangpu River). Even though it was a smoggy day, I thought the skyline and ambience by the river was really peaceful. I should note that I was here in the early morning (from about 6am) . I also happened to find a Haagen-Dazs cafe which made me feel instantly more comfortable, even though I don’t eat Haagen-Dazs, ever (not because it isn’t delicious – which it surely is – but simply because it isn’t readily available in Australia):
After this peaceful time for reflection, I found a huge shopping mall and lost myself in there for a few hours. It’s funny, I think back to this time and it was so different from now! Everything was unknown, I had no idea what I was getting myself into… but I knew exactly how to hit the shops!
China was also my introduction into Asian beauty standards for women:
I remember seeing this picture (which was pretty huge in real life) and thinking how ridiculous it was. It’s funny, we are so susceptible to the usual brainwashing we experience at home, but it’s so easy to see how it works overseas. This poster really sums up a lot of what I have seen coveted in Korea: tiny, tiny women, pale skin and Western features. They almost don’t look Chinese, which was worrying for me. Of course, they are beautiful, it would just be nice to witness that beauty in its full Chinese glory.
This is, of course, a much bigger issue than I can fit into one paragraph. Rest assured, you will hear more about it from me later!
Wandering around, I happened to see a beacon of light emerging from the depths below… what is that? Why, of course, it’s the Apple Store, derrr! I thought this was a really cool structure and pretty unique, even by Apple standards. Now, I am no Apple fangirl by any stretch of the imagination, but where else can you see a cylindrical glass tower in the centre of a shopping district leading you to their basement ‘genius bar’ or whatever it is they call themselves (please don’t answer if there is another one somewhere in the world)? I was impressed with this! Again, I was nervous, tired and apprehensive at this point, and this Western juggernaut made me feel much more at home. Thanks, Apple!
And soon enough, before I knew it, it was time to head back on that speedy train and make my way back to the airport, then onto Seoul.
So ends my brief adventure in Shanghai!
Until next time,