Shanghai Revisited

I felt that in my last few posts on my trip to Shanghai, I didn’t write that much about the trip itself. While all of that would make up an extremely long blog post (and I know I’m not famous enough to make my readers stick around for an essay), here are a few thoughts for those of you who want to visit China sometime in the near future.

As I stated before, my views are obviously biased since I am Chinese. It’s no surprise that I assimilated into Chinese culture much more smoothly than a non-Chinese person, and I probably had an easier time dealing with things like squat toilets and the constant stares Chinese people like to give anyone who seems remotely foreign (myself included). But having said that, I’m not afraid to call China out on things that need improving, like their priorities on hygienic and sanitation (which from the looks of things, are very low indeed.)

For a quick recap, I basically stayed in the city of Shanghai for the majority of my 12 day stay, with the exception of two quick trips to Suzhou and Hangzhou, two nearby cities. I have family in Hangzhou, so in my last two visits to China, I got to know that city the best. In Shanghai, I did various things to occupy my time, like visit museums and temples, go shopping, see the sights, etc. Actually, if you think about it, besides outdoor activities (which Shanghai lacks), what else is there to do when visiting a foreign city? But I digress.

Some people say that the air is awful in China. When I was there in 2007, it was remarkably cleaner than I had remembered (then again, I was 9 when I had previously gone) probably due to the pre-Beijing Olympics preparations. But honestly, I don’t think the air is any worse than LA. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a smoggy environment, but I feel what’s noticeable about China’s air is the distinct aroma of food+sewage/garbage+cigarette smoke. China definitely needs to lay off burning coal, but the air is not black and sooty like one might think.

As I mentioned previously, the lack of basic hygenie really bothers me. China needs to get their plumbing fixed. Having people throw dirty toilet paper in a trashcan and then not providing soap to wash their hands is just plain gross and a breeding ground for germs. And Chinese men (less so for women) still practice the age-old habit of hacking out what always sounds like the world’s largest loogie and hawking it out of their mouth onto the sidewalk. Or clearing their throat to make it sound like their lungs are going to shoot out of their noses. Not sexy, dudes.

But Shanghai definitely earned its old nickname “Paris of the East” with its metropolitan feel and mix of old and new buildings. There were tons of expats living there and foreign businesspeople conducting work; at times I actually forgot I was in China. I saw more Western faces than I do sometimes when I go out here in LA (true fact). It was an awesome blend of East meets West, and if you’re someone who isn’t sure how they’d handle the culture shock of living or even visiting China, I would recommend Shanghai as your gateway drug city.

Here’s the last gallery of photos from my trip, probably my last bunch for some time until I go traveling again. This time the photos were all taken from my iPhone, which means the quality is lower, but hopefully seeing whatever spontaneously caught my fancy at the moment when I was sans-camera will still be interesting. Plus, there a few pictures that are sure to make you laugh.

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