Published: July 12th 2011July 12th 2011
The culture of Shanghai is a culmination of East and West but mostly the East. While you can find plenty of Western stores and restaurants, there are plenty of traditional Chinese venues throughout the city. But if you do fancy a particular genre of food, it can most likely be found somewhere in the city, though one does need to hunt for Mexican as there are very few Mexican restaurants in the city itself.
Let me first begin by discussing the Shanghainese people, who seem to be the most friendly and welcoming people I’ve ever met. I’ve Never been treated rudely or disrespectfully during these past 3 weeks of living here. This is in stark contrast to the people I’ve encountered in France and Italy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the people of China are the very best thing about China.
A lot of Chinese people go to the local park and practice Tai Chi, and I mean A LOT! I thought that it would be something that's overhyped but definitely not. It's a visual treat for Westerners so make sure to go to a park in the morning and check out all
Tallest buildings in China
A symbol of China's wealth
the people practicing either Tai Chi, sword dances and all different sorts of dances. It's amazing.
The most fascinating parts of my trip so far have been my run-ins with political rallies and also trips to various temples. I will not comment on communist politics in China but I suggest for you to check out my short video of a Shanghai communist rally. But visiting Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist temples have been enlightening and fascinating. No, the people of China aren't as religious as Western countries but their religions are intriguing.
The not-so pleasant side among the common people of China is the streets where people are equal to the cars. It's pure mayhem! There's no logic at all when it comes to pedestrians versus automobiles and vice versa. You just need nerves of steel and GO. Do NOT stop or honestly, you could be hit. So be careful or it might not be so pretty.
The climate in Shanghai is downright terrible in Shanghai, to be very blunt. The humidity is the very worst I’ve ever felt. You will find yourself taking a minimum of 2 to 3 showers a day and wearing several articles of
clothes as you go through them by the hour. The day I arrived it was nearly 100 degrees and the humidity level was through the roof. It felt as if I could swim through the air.
The city is VERY clean and efficient. Yes, you will come across the more authentic streets but other than that, the streets are cleaned continuously. The modern downtown is always in tip-top shape and looking welcoming for tourists and businessmen alike.
IT’S A MALL WORLD AFTER ALL! Yes, that take on the popular phrase rings true in Shanghai, as every corner seems to be a mall. And of course, it’s China, meaning that this mall needs to be enormous. So on average each mall seems to be a minimum of 4 to 5 stories tall and a maximum of 10. It’s Very easy to get lost, believe me.
Speaking of all things fashionable, umbrellas or parasails are in every female’s hands as it protects them from the sun’s rays. Many of these parasails are smartly designed and seen as a fashion accessory. But if you are not cool enough to pull off the umbrella look then invest in a Chinese fan.
Yes, the Chinese actually use them. It’s not just a stereotype that is often conveyed in the West.
And it is true that Shanghai is a shopping Mecca as everything is cheap to dirt-cheap. I recently needed black shoes for work and I was able to buy Italian leather shoes for around $13. But that was in a full-fledged store, whereas you can buy things for dirt-cheap prices in the Old Town. It’s tourist mayhem but it is wonderful. And yes, it is far better shopping than your typical Chinatown.
Now what about English? How does one survive in the city without knowing Mandarin Chinese? No worries! English is everywhere but not always spoken. I’ve found certain streets to be full of English speakers then some to be completely void of all English. So make sure to be a Mandarin phrase book.
All Things “Dirty”…
Many, if not most, public toilets are squatters, or affectionately known as “squatty potties”. There is nothing nice about these as they are barely cleaned. I suggest using the toilets in high-end malls and restaurants or else you may find yourself in a very, well… awkward position (pun intended).
the most common corner stores are called Family Marts and have a small range of various products and foods. It catches Westerner’s attention because of it’s selling of “Black people” toothpaste and adult products next to the register (see photos). Remember, the place is called Family Mart.
The notion of “extra services” in the massage business is true in certain places. So it is wise to avoid the massage places at night.
Bars are found throughout China but they do not seem to be as celebrated and out in the open as they are in the West. This doesn’t mean that the drinks are weak, no way. In fact, the drinks in China are very strong and pack a punch. Women should take note that on some days of the week is Ladies Night where all drinks are free. I would suggest leaving before 10pm though as the men are allowed in at that time and I’m sure that a bunch of drunk women make for a more ‘interesting’ night for the men.
Alright, that’s all for now folks! Thanks for reading my blog!
There are more photos below