First thoughts

As I sit back on this Monday morning and reflect on my time here in Shanghai thus far, I cant help but miss home a bit. Shanghai is a really cool diverse, modern city with everything to offer, but I can’t help missing the small things in Halifax. Knowing I could walk down Spring Garden rd and see 15 of my closest friends, cold beers on the sailboat bumming around the harbour, the patios on Argyle and the freezing water at Rainbow haven.

I am basically as far as I could possibly be in the world from all that right now and as much as its liberating, its a little melancholic.

A little bit on where I live. I am currently living in the Fengxian district which is south east of the downtown core- about a 25-35 minute drive depending on traffic. This is considered the suburbs of Shanghai and its mostly large housing complexes with commercial spaces below them. Most of the development here was done 20+ years ago and the upkeep hasent been done very well, but that being said, due to the overpopulation of the downtown core the government has decided that Fengian will be used for more residential development. when driving into the city there are massive highrise house complexes in various states of construction- each project with at least 10 identical buildings, some with over 30! Its a crazy sight to see.

Out here the gap between the nouveau rich and the destitute is very obvious. There are brand new Audi’s, BMW’s, Mercedes and all sorts of other luxury vehicles stopped in traffic surrounded by people wearing essentially rags driving by on bicycles from the 60′s. The building I am living in is newly constructed and absolutely gorgeous. Huge marble foyer, very modern units, doormen, security cameras everywhere- they even roll out a red carpet some days ;) On the first two floors there are some businesses like a bank and a McDonalds and they are building a KTV bar a jewellery shop and an ice cream bar.

Across from us is a beautiful luxury hotel and a slew of other small businesses and restaurants (including a spectacularly spicy Sichuan/Hunan joint that I love). Down the road a few blocks in either direction are two markets/malls where there is everything from department stores to many restaurants, jewellers and anything else one could need.

Being outside of the core, I am definitely the only white guy a lot of these people have seen in the flesh and its quite apparent from the stares that im a novelty. At first it was a little off-putting, but now I understand its just curiosity and everyone I have met has been pretty friendly.

I got to meet most of Jo’s extended family the other day for dinner and they cooked up a HUGE feed for us including some traditional dishes I had never had before like jellyfish and bamboo stalks. They were all very kind and happy to meet me and look at the the pictures in my iphone :)

I have only spend a total of maybe 5 hours downtown, but its been raining a fair bit the past week. i am going to go in for a reddit meet up for sure next weekend and maybe a few times this week to see what i can take in. I am going to be travelling to Bejing and through rural China with Jo’s family in a few weeks when it warms up (im excited to take their new futuristic Meglev train!!) and have been actively doing online mandarin lessons so I can try and communicate with more than one person in this country :)

Thats all for now !

Cheers

L

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