It’s about time for some input after two great weeks that I got to spend with my mum and aunt. On October 19th they both arrived in Shanghai and I couldn’t wait to welcome them at the airport. Especially my mum was very relieved when she finally arrived. Not only because we go to see each other but also because I had asked her to bring as much German bread, cheese and sweets as possible. Those things are not only hard to get in Shanghai but also very expensive so that it was definitely worth trying to bring them. It all went well and I could eat a German roll right away. After our reunion we decided to take a taxi to avoid those crowded metros to the city. This way the two could already have a look at the outer parts of Shanghai. Their first impression actually wasn’t that good as it all looked very different from what they were expecting. In the outskirts there are lots of high, run down, grey buildings - an area where one gets reminded that there are great differences of living standards within the city. I’m sure that this is true for many places but in Shanghai it seems especially obvious. Luckily this was only one part that my mum and aunt got to see the first day and I promised that their impressions would change until the end of the day.
|"The market of lost souls"|
|Not too happy about the date offers|
After a short break in their hotel we started our first tour through the city center and decided to visit People Square and the park behind it which I had actually also not been to. By accident we got to see the so-called market of lost souls that takes part every Saturday. I had already read about this before and was very excited to finally see that spectacle. The park was packed with parents who were trying to find a partner for their son or daughter. For me it’s unbelievable that something like this still exists!!! Hundreds of parents put up
signs with the most important data about their children and try to arrange dates. Their children do not seem to have any say as they are not even there making any choices. From what I have heard and understood on those Chinese signs, the young adults who are supposed to get married are mostly in their mid- or late 20th and have started good carriers which makes it especially hard for women to find an husband as men are only interested in dating if they are in a better or higher position. Generally, I doubt that the young Chinese are that concerned about finding a partner that they send their parents to find one- this is all about tradition and once again it becomes very obvious that there is a great gap between culture and modern life in Shanghai. As we walked through the park everybody seemed to think that I am looking for an husband so the parents started asking for my nationality, age, job etc. I was glad my mum was there to save me when a Chinese man suggested that I should meet their son who he promised is the best looking, and successful guy in town…. Yeah right they all are :P
Then we spend the afternoon walking along Nanjing Road and taking a look at the skyline of Pudong which they both experienced as breath taking as I did when I saw it the first time. At the end of the day it already became clear that the city has many different faces to offer and that there are many things and places to discover.
|Even after two months in Shanghai it's always great to the beautiful skyline :)|
The next days we did a tour through the old part of Shanghai, visited some modern areas such as Pudong and the French Concession, spend one morning in Tianzifang, an area with cute little stores, cafés and restaurants that is known as an outside art gallery, went on a day trip to Suzhou where different gardens can be visisted and Tongli, a typical canal village. We mainly enjoyed the bus ride to the villages as we were able to see some countryside and small Chinese towns on the way. Suzhou did not have much to offer and I don’t understand why its gardens are a world heritage. Therefore the first part of our tour that day was a bit disappointing. I liked Tongli a lot better. It’s not that touristic and worth a visit, yet the villages that I had already seen in the South of China seemed more interesting and more original… Besides looking at different places my mum, aunt and I also did some shopping and went to the fake market to buy souveniers for the rest of the family back in Germany. I really enjoyed showing them around. It was a fun girls trip and my highlight of every day was going out for a very nice dinner in the evenings. We usually try to eat as cheap as possible in Shanghai, buy food on the streets or order typical dishes with rice. By the time my mum got here I was more than ready for a change in food matters. So we chose somethig different every night, tried some good typical Chinese, Thai, Indian, Spanish and always had a nice location with great views on the city.
It was very interesting to observe what my mum and aunt perceived as being exciting, different or also strange. The most striking thing for them was how the Chinese in Shanghai dress. They always talked about how the Chinese combine so many different colours, wear glasses that just consist of a frame or even walk around in their pyjamas on the main shopping roads. Secondly they were shocked about some habits such as the spitting on the streets. And they also experienced it as being very difficult to find people who speak or understand English. In those nice restaurants that we went to in the evenings every European would expect good service which we could only find in one or two cases as nobody understood our orders unless there were pictures on the menues and we could just point on what we wanted to eat. To me it seemed like they were culturally a bit more shocked than I was when we arrived in China, which shows that we got very well prepared beforehand.... After a fun week together in Shanghai my aunt flew back home while my mum stayed for another week, in which we did a trip to Beijing, the Great Wall and Hangzhou. I will soon write about those experiences as well :)