Finally, my post about China! I have far too many pictures to post on a blog, so you can check out more in my Facebook albums. However, here is a glimpse into my time spent in Shanghai.
Here I am standing in front of a random assortment of Chinese people. My mom says this looks photo-shopped, but I assure you it is not.
Much of what I ate was dumpling style foods, noodle dishes, and of course all of it was accompanied by my new favorite : Tsingtao beer!
Here I am perusing some of the goods in the Antique Market. It was amazing what kind of stuff they had for sale.
Standing next to YAO was a humbling experience... that guy is huge!
On our first day, we visited the Old Town. It was packed! I loved the architecture as well.
I loved the retail genius behind this store in the antique market...
One of my favorite meals was the Peking Duck. It is roasted for 3 days before serving, and you eat it with plum sauce, onion slices, and wrap it up in a tiny pancake.
A few remarks about China -
It was amazing being in a place so new and unique, as I had never been to Asia before. I absolutely loved the experience of being in a place that is clearly going through a revolution. There is propaganda everywhere about making it a better city and society. It's so easy, having grown up in the US, to take civilization for granted. Never before had I ridden in cars that simply weave in and around traffic with no particular boundaries, or seen so many people walking around in pajamas (if wearing clothes at all), or seen babies peeing on the sides of any typical city-street. It was definitely eye-opening at first, to realize the different norms of their society.
As I grew more accustomed, however, it became background noise to the real sites, sounds, and smells of Chinese life. I came to realize that they are a fascinating, humble, and very hard-working people. They live their lives in community with one another, as personal space and privacy are rarities. The difference between living in spacious American homes, separated by lush yards and high fences, and living in a high-rise Chinese apartment building with no elbow room, definitely creates quite unique cultural and societal mentalities. I admire how accepting the Chinese are when it comes to occupations. I saw so many people pedaling vegetables, pulling weeds on the side of the road, or picking up trash. In America, one would expect these people to have bad attitudes, or be some sort of lower-class type. In China, this is someone's job, and they do it well without complaint or bad attitude. They inspired me to be more accepting of the day-to-day task that I may typically complain about, because, like them, I am part of a giant whole.
Pros and cons taken into account, the Communist way of life also opened my eyes to a greater appreciation of freedom. This sounds like an understood statement, but although I've been well-aware that communism exists in this world, the reality never occurred to me that billions of people's lives are literally controlled by government. I could not blog while I was in China, because blogs are banned. So is Facebook. So is Twitter. So is Youtube. That's right, not only did I have to do without "Charlie bit me" and seeing how many people had uploaded new photos -- I couldn't even Tweet! All sarcasm aside, it's a true gift to live in a free country. Freedom is a luxury for a large part of our world, and I've been blessed to live somewhere that it is a right.
I had an absolutely wonderful time visiting Shanghai, and I definitely would go back. It was a great time to be able to experience a new culture, and I was lucky enough to have my own personal tour guides. My boyfriend Mark and his family showed me a great time, and I'm very grateful to them for their hospitality!