I’m not sure which title suits me more right now – Shanghai resident or Shanghai tourist. We’ve been here long enough for me to feel like I know a little about living here and getting around – enough to feel a little more comfortable than a tourist passing through. But then again, everyday I am reminded by how much more there is to learn about living here and getting around and I feel only as comfortable as a tourist passing through.
I’m not sure if you ever really feel at home as an expat. I’m not talking about “home” as a noun but rather “home” as an adjective. You can make your new location homey and you can certainly feel comfortable and happy but I don’t know that after 3, 5, 10 years, if you really ever feel that inherent familiarity – where you can close your eyes, breathe in and listen – that defines home the adjective. And I think this is a good thing. Home should always remain a special feeling. And you only get that special feeling when you leave for a while. At least, that’s how I feel.
So here we are, somewhere in between being residents and tourists. And as such, we have been trying to spend our weekends exploring like tourists when we can and at other times just relaxing and living as the locals do.
The little boss men in our lives dictate what we will do and when but so far, they’ve proven to be pretty good travelers as long as we travel between 9 and noon and provide snacks along the way.
A couple of weekends ago, we heard about the Shanghai International Beer Festival and in the spirit of Oktoberfest, thought this would be a great place to bring and infant and toddler if only they could hold out until noon which alas, they could not. So we never made it there, but we did get to check out Nanjing Road which is famous for a couple of old hotels and lots of shopping. It gets all lit up at night and kind of looks like Times Square (though we haven’t actually seen it at night). We’ve also made it over to Xintandi (Shin-tan-dee) which is really only a couple of blocks but part of the reason Shanghai is called the Paris of the Far East. It’s like an open-air mall where you can just wander past shops, restaurants and coffee shops. And finally, this past weekend we made it back to Yu Gardens where we tried to go during Golden Week but got scared off by the crowds. In hindsight, this was the way to do it because it seemed totally manageable this time around even though it was still packed. Had we not seen it as it’s peak, I might not be proclaiming confidently that it was “totally manageable.” There is an actual garden but it’s surrounded by the Yu Bazaar which is a complete tourist trap but a Shanghai must see. It’s “all new but built in a style of architectural chinoiserie” according to our guidebook.( And isn’t “chinoiserie” a great word? I can’t wait to slip it into casual conversation. “Oh, that shirt Nolan is wearing, it’s a bit chinoiserie for my taste but he likes it.”) Haters complain the place is like a Disneyland attraction.
Below are some pictures – not the best but for being taken with a phone, while trying to keep moving, not the worst either.
(P.S. Hunter and Nolan also have some new pictures on their pages.)