Good friends, dead pigs and sewer-oil fried pancakes


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April 1st 2013
Published: April 3rd 2013
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Hungry?
Perspectives change and so do people. One of the advantages of writing a blog like this is to re-evaluate my own perspectives of times long gone. When I was in China for the first time in the now distant 2011 I also had the chance to visit China's arguably most developed city - Shanghai. As far as I remember I was not necessarily stunned by the city by then and as far as I remember there were several reasons for this. First, of course everybody stereotypes.. and my stereotype of China and the things I was (subconsciously) looking for were probably not the ones I found in Shanghai. Infact, re-reading my former self I even described the city as 'too Western' for my taste. Hard to believe how things have changed. Second, Shanghai was freezing during my first visit and I kind of got a soar-throat. Nobodys fault really but it can harm a first impression.

A couple of days ago I had my second chance to appreciate Shanghai. My good old friend and former master-roommate Jing, a Shanghai native, has invited me and THH over for a reunion! Now, the thing is, when you meet somebody again after some
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Shanghais famous pork dumplings!
time you realize how much in your life has really changed and how this has affected you. Especially when you live in a place like Hong Kong you do appreciate something like a 70 square meters appartment and a big, soft leathercouch in front of a TV! Sounds normal to most, sounds like heaven to most Hong Kong residents (including me). If Jing wanted to gain face she has definitely done so 😊 Me and THH seemed indeed at a visit of the Buckingham palace when seeing her place.

Anyhow, Shanghai has not changed too much as far as I remember. Still it is a city of humongous streets, incredibly and sometimes intimidatingly high buildings, crowds fighting for space and last but not least... my longtime favourite pork dumplings! This is where China shows its teeth and super-speed development to the world and one can not be but impressed. Unfortunately the behavior of the actors don't always fit the quality of the stage. The good old belching, farting and spitting is still not outdated. So far so good.

Now, what better is there to do than engage in exagerated hedonic pleasures when meeting old friends. Indeed, most of
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Tourists and skyline..
our 4 days in Shanghai we spent eating, eating, and eating. Nobody was speared, including our bodies. From Indian pancakes, to North-West Chinese kebabs and everything else you can possibly stuff down your throat. The 7.000 dead pigs found in a Shanghai river during the last month (and in the local water as a consequence) and the recycling sewer-frying oil scandal of Mailand China might have done their part in eventually leading to both, THH and Jing having serious stomach troubles at some point. I mean, it is assumed that 10% of Mainland Chinese meals are cooked with oil recycled from the sewers where restaurants dump it. I was fine up till the end, maybe this is due to the fact that I became a living oil-bottle since I stay in China 😊

Back to what I wrote about perspectives. Mine have changed and apparently so have I. While Shanghai was initally too 'familiar' for my taste, this has definitely changed with my stay in Hong Kong. Although the city is displaying world-class facilities and an ever-growing and evolving skyline, there is a world between the Shanghai locals and Hong Kongers. First, clothes. The fluo-high fashion madness of Hong
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Old quarter in Souther Puxi
Kong changes into shades of brown, grey and black. I have never really noticed but most Mainland Chinese seem to love these colors. Maybe thats just the way most things are produced over there. Second, reactions. Shanghai might brand itself as cosmopolitan but many of the locals seem not to be good brand ambassadors. Indeed I got more stares in Shanghai for being a foreigner than I have gotten in 1 year of Hong Kong. Third, food. This is the only attribute in which I have to give a point to Shanghai. Compared to Hong Kong, prices are lower and you can literally taste food from all over the Middle Kingdom.

Summing up my little holiday. Good to see old friends again. Good to know that we are all doing fine. Disturbing anyhow to see how fast and how radical perspectives can change. Disturbing also that I can hardly recognize my self in what I have written only a couple of years ago. Maybe this might change my view on revisiting the same destination twice. Anyhow, thanks to Jing for giving me the possiblity to see Shanghai from the perspective of a local. I can never really tell if
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Old houses
the Chinese pessimism is a real reflection of their lifestyle or if its just stronger than them.. because as a visitor things seem more than fine. Maybe I can answer that question if I try to visit again in a couple of years. Or maybe I will just read this entry again and wonder how I could perceive Shanghai this way.


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Jing and THH
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Shanghainese food at its best
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International Shanghai
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Pudong skyline
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Pudong
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Everything in Shanghai looks.. bigger
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Pudong highrise
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The new finance tower being built
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View of center
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On top of the financial center
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Viewing platform
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A closer look at the new finace center
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Surreal financial center
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With Jings family
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Posing with the skyline


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