Life in China
Hello all, and thank you for having a brief look at my article. I am a very new student at Hutong and at total beginner level of Chinese. I hope you all enjoy reading some of my content for the foreseeable future.
As I come close to my Shanghai-versary, it felt pretty apt to make an article highlighting my time here so far. November 19th, 2019 I first stepped foot on the Asian continent. After many a month in confusion and solitude, I managed to get out and see a fair amount of what is a huge city.
Right now, you are reading my first blog / article, (of many, hopefully) describing a little about the current day-to-day life in Shanghai.
I will start with what is a very recent hobby of mine; cycling. I never thought, when arriving to such a densely populated, metropolitan city like Shanghai, that cycling would ever be a realistic hobby for me. However, it’s such a popular activity, and appears as common now as ever. It’s difficult to walk a block in downtown Shanghai without seeing at least one bicycle – shared bike or personal. One thing I have noticed a lot of, is the use of road bikes; it appears cycling is very common among commuters and travellers alike. And with the weather being more predictable than what I’m used to in the UK, it’s no surprise people take what, at home, would be deemed a ‘risk’ of cycling on a nice day and inevitably getting followed by a rogue rain cloud.
While travelling was banned, it took me longer than I care to admit to realise how big Shanghai really is, and that I don’t have to leave the city to explore some amazing things. With this in mind, I picked up a cheap road bike and hit the road with a few friends. Our first destination was Chongming. A ferry is required for this particular journey, and although you should be able to buy your tickets easily enough with gestures and a basic knowledge of numbers, you are likely to need some Chinese ability after this to decipher which ferry to get on! Regrettably we made the mistake of not studying enough before our trip and we did get on the wrong ferry…not that it is a big issue as they all go to the island, but they do arrive at different parts of it and it meant we couldn’t sit in our assigned seat numbers. This mistake resulted in us standing for the majority of the journey, as the ferry was full of families heading out for a day on the island in the lovely October sunshine. Nevertheless, we got to the island in good spirits and went to do some exploring.
The exploration inevitably finished with a bar, but it was the middle part of the journey that perhaps provided the biggest thrill. I got the sense I wasn’t in Shanghai anymore; I felt like the high street was like a movie set, it seemed so different to downtown Shanghai. But anyway, the real crème de la crème was the abundance of potato smileys we managed to devour. To anyone unaware, it is essentially a roast potato in the shape of a smiley face, which may not faze a lot of people. But to a Brit, who grew up in the 90’s, a potato smiley is a taste of childhood and nostalgia, only bettered by a side dish of baked beans. And somehow, they just taste better than regular roast potatoes – don’t ask me why, they just hit different.
With Chongming behind us, we headed for the idyllic views of Zhujiajiao’s water town. It’s a small, scenic town in Qingpu, West Shanghai, at the west end of line 17. The ancient town was packed with tourists, highlighting China’s surge back to normalcy after a scarcely travelled few months. Tourists had travelled from around China to spend their holiday experiencing the local food and ancient buildings. I highly recommend experiencing the scenery from a different perspective by travelling by gondola through the town, getting up close and personal with the temples and houses.
So, bear in mind, while we may not be able to leave Shanghai, there are still many things to explore, outside of downtown. I’m looking forward to my next trip already!