The Paris of the East

  Nov 29, 2016   Edmond


Location: Shanghai

I touched down in Shanghai around 1400. The airport had worn me out lugging bags around not to mention that Hong Kong night and epic fucking hangover. I arrived at my hotel, the Astor House Hotel, an 18th century building that I wanted to stay in because Albert Einstein stayed there.

I immediately realized that it was going to be hard going traveling in China, Hong Kong was such a breeze and spoiled me rotten. In contrast to Hong Kong, no one speaks English, google is blocked so no maps, which forces me to use Apple Maps (which is like using no maps at all really). Facebook, Instagram and any website worth visiting is blocked. Which makes it frustrating when youre trying to plan your day and sort out how to visit what and when etc.

As we approached the city I could barley make out the skyline, at first I thought it was just clouds in the distance. I finally realized that it was a thick layer of light brownish gray smog that engulfed the entire city, limiting visibility. It made me appreciate clean air laws in the rest of the world.

Astor House Hotel.

I got to the hotel, got some caffeine and liquor in me from the minibar and went out to check out the Bund, which is a long stretch across the river from downtown full of art deco buildings and reminders of Shanghais once decadent past. I wandered changed some money to Yuan and got a SIM card. I couldn’t find any redbull or any little markets, which I also found a little frustrating. Then had some Shanghai style noodles and walked around till about 9 when I finally cashed it in to wait for the next day.

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The Bund.

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View of Downtown Shanghai from the Bund.

When I woke I was coughing slightly as my asthma had already kicked in. I showered and met a manufacturing rep for a project Im working on in the lobby of my hotel. She drove us to her office where we had a meeting for about an hour and a half ironing out particulars. after she and her assistant took me into an area called the Tianzifang. Little lanes of shopping and knick knacks which I found very charming.

Tianzifang lanes.

The girls treated me to a spectacular traditional Shanghainese lunch. All very classic style sharing large plates of food, It actually blew my mind, we had shrimp, frog boiled in oil and peppercorns, pork neck, pigs feet and cabbage. All of it was incredibly good and pretty spicy which made the beer I was having that much more fantastic. When I put my coat down on my chair, the waiter came and covered it with a cloth cover, when I later asked the girls they said it was to prevent my jacket from smelling like the food. I thought that was pretty wild. We parted ways after and I thanked them for their kindness and agreed to talk more about my project before I left town.

Lunch with the ladies.

After lunch I wandered around for a little while and was starting to get a real feel for Shanghai, I was getting my bearings and had got my VPN working so google maps was back on. I could feel the old romance of this place and wish I could have experienced it in the 30’s, opium pipe in hand chasing the dragon all over this city. The experience on the busy street here is exciting. All kinds of people rushing from here to there, people yelling, the smell of cooked foreign spices and the faces of the people all around me really add to the experience. Dodging cars and scooters zipping by you in the streets, and knowing you’re not safe in a crosswalk (cars can still take a free right through pedestrian traffic) certainly keeps you on your toes.