I had been planning to make a trip back to China for a while now. The last time I was in Shanghai was 2003...likely 2003. China is as complicated to describe as the US. The good, the bad, it's all there in the open, you can see it the moment your feet touches the ground.
Whatever the case, China is charming to me. I may hate it sometimes, but I'm irrevocably drawn to the "busyness". The absolute buzzing, standing in just a whirlwind of change.
The New York of China. It's the same confusing, harmonizing intermingling of the old and the new, the foreigners and the locals, and the push of international influence is so clearly felt.
My husband sent pictures of Shanghai back to his father in Switzerland. His dad asked where he was. He's thinking of old architecture, pagoda roofs and something he's seen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
You've gotta dig a bit deeper for that in Shanghai. If you peek in alleyways, you might see the lasting bastions of the real Shanghai.
But most of the time yeah, it's super malls. Pretty ones at least.
And can I say. Please can we just up the coffee space game in the US? Chinese coffee shops has got their "home away from home" concept design down pat. I'm always excited to go hunt down new coffee shops, even in the rural areas of Guilin they were designed to the teeth.
One of the places that really struck me in this cosmopolitan stew.
So charming, the little alleyways that twists here and there. A real whiff of traditional Shanghai architecture mix with juuuust a right amount of stink of a tourist trap. But the maze of brightly and bold colored little shops and eateries are just brilliant. And those candied apples, they're nasty, but you just can't stop eating them.
Of course the FOOD .
One major mistake we made was when we first got to Shanghai, we were recommended what Chinese people wanted to eat, which was whatever international mash-up was in the fad. Oh no no. We want the traditional, the everyday blue collar worker, 38¥ a pop, shabby little hole in the wall with a long line of people type of goodness.
Next Shanghai post will be the old towns, Zhujiajiao and Zhaojialou!