So many updates… so little time.
Good news: I made it off the plane, into a taxi, over to Shanghai, and into my hotel room… safely!
Bad news: No bad news, so far everything has been incredible!
I owe a lot to Kevin and his mom for introducing me to Chinese customs and values, food, basic words, must-knows, must-does, must-eats, and most importantly helping me safely arrive at the taxi stand at PuDong International Airport! To be honest, I was very sad our time together had come to an end. I’m really looking forward to staying in touch with Kevin as he starts attending college next school year.
One night in Shanghai surely isn’t enough, but if there is a will, there is a way! Amongst fighting jet-lag, I was tabbed with the challenge of experiencing Shanghai in about 7 hours. I thought, “Lets do this!!!”
Luckily, my mom had some work colleagues traveling to Shanghai for business the same time I’d be there, so my one night alone in Shanghai turned into an amazing night out and tour of the beautiful city with a local.
I was encouraged to fight my urge to sleep (more like pass out, mouth open, out-for-hours type nap) even though the jet lag was REALLY kicking in. I don’t often do as I’m told, but I followed this piece of advice. To pass the time until my night out, I decided to venture out on my own to take some photographs and find food.
I thought I’d find the Chinese version of Panera Bread, grab a noodle bowl, rice, or a small snack, then wander back to the hotel. Ha,no. The most common snack options I saw were either hot milk or ice cream. Not kidding.
I’m the type of girl that gets angry when I’m hot or hungry, and in this case, I was hot and hungry! I finally found a small, hole in the wall restaurant that looked like it was filled with locals. My favorite! The entire menu was written in Chinese so I pointed to the only food I could see in plain sight, which looked like a big ball of dough. I later learned that I ate a signature Shanghai dish, a pork dumpling. It was delicious! I ended up having the same for dinner, I’ll write more about it’s deliciousness soon.
My mom’s colleague, Athena, who lives and works in Shanghai, picked me up on her scooter for our night out. I felt like I was back in Italy pretending I was Lizzie McGuire! Our first stop was the Bund, an area of Shanghai surrounded by large business buildings and lots of tourists. Athena warned me that some Chinese people might ask to take pictures with me or look at me in awe, as most of them haven’t ever seen an American. That concept was so bizarre to me since I frequently see and interact with people of different backgrounds and heritages than mine; America really is a melting pot.
To cool off from the thick and humid heat we stopped for a drink at Bar Rouge. This was a rooftop bar overlooking the beautiful city of Shanghai that was lit up in color. I felt so lucky (and cool) to have experienced the breathtaking views from up top.
Then came dinner at Din Tai Fung, a very traditional Chinese restaurant in the IMPA mall. I told Athena about my adventurous pallet and how I was ready to eat like a local. She took over from there and ordered for us both. She ordered a very famous traditional Chinese dish, steamed dumplings. This is also when I learned that by chance I had chosen Shanghai’s signature for a lunchtime snack.
The dumplings are beautifully and delicately crafted and eating them requires almost the same gentle approach. Just in case you find yourself needing to impress a local, here’s how to properly eat a dumpling:
What I love so far about food in China is that it tastes amazing, and I don’t feel the need to unzip my pants and lay down for a quick recovery after indulging. The food is nice and light and perfectly filling.
After dinner we grabbed a drink at Yongkang Lu, a super cute bar amongst several others that line both sides of the street.
To wrap up the night we jumped back on the scooter and over to People Square, a beautiful garden elegantly lit and surrounded by small ponds. We stopped into Barba Rosa, a local hotspot for drinks, conversation and hookah.
The combination of jet lag and wine had me struggling to stay awake any longer, but I felt so great about my mini Shanghai food and drink tour. I think Athena knew I needed a couple beverages to help me sleep through American daytime; I owe her one for that! Slept like a baby.
If there is anything you’re eager to hear about regarding my trip or China in general, leave a comment below! I’ll be sure to answer any and all questions.
More to come!