Travel Tuesday: Shanghai surprise

October 23, 2012

in China,Shanghai,Travels


Huxinting Teahouse at night. While it's a huge tourist destination, I still thought it was fun to have tea there. All photos by Robert Corkery.


I loved both the sweet and the savory dumplings in Shanghai. Yum.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with Shanghai. It’s a big city and while I am a fan of cities, this one seemed like it was way too intimidating and big with that population of 23 million. Shanghai was both totally modern and completely ancient and the intersection of old and new made for a dynamic combination. There were glittering skyscrapers, elevated neon-let highways and luxury boutiques that sat in direct contrast to the ancient lanes with no indoor running water and street markets selling everything from kiminos and pearls to Chairman Mao bags and terracotta soldiers. Horn honking taxis and cars do battle for space on the roads with mopeds and bicycle carts laden with fruit and vegetables.

Wandering around the back streets, I was continually surprised by all the life on the sidewalks. I saw people getting hair cuts, brushing their teeth, bathing their dogs, washing dishes, cooking and playing mahjong and checkers – both entertainment and basic life rituals were played out for all to see. In a carryover from the past when only the wealthy could afford pajamas and thus wore them as status symbols, both men and women walked around in fuzzy polar and silk pjs on the street during the daytime.

I had some fantastic meals in Shanghai and loved both the savory and sweet dumplings. Xiao long bao or pork dumplings are a Shanghai specialty and you could find them at street markets and more formal restaurants. I also loved how you could go into a tiny cafe, grab a basket and fill it with vegetables and then have the ingredients made up into a quick stir fry or soup. Getting to choose what to put in seemed safer than when I just ordered a soup. When I did that, I more often than not ended up with chicken heads and feet as well as fish tales and heads floating around – not my idea of grand cuisine.

But what was particularly fun to experience was how curious people were about why I was in Shanghai. Most every day I was asked, ” You likee Shanghai?” I was invited to family homes and shown how to better use my chopsticks. It felt good.

By the way, be sure to check out more Travel Tuesday options.


The water village of Zhouzhuang was a short drive from Shanghai and was a complete contrast to the big city.


Shanghai street life: playing mahjong on the sidewalk.


One of the many Shanghai street markets.

pudong shanghai

Looking from the Bund toward Pudong.


1 Antropologa October 27, 2012 at 10:41

Your travel posts make me so jealous!

2 Sandra October 27, 2012 at 10:59

Antropologa: Think of this as just food for thought for where to travel later in life. And after all, it’s all in the perspective: In terms of most of my family and friends in the US, I am well traveled. In comparison to most travel writers I know, I am just a babe in the woods!

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