17/6/2014. Left Shanghai for a second time. Completing a great second stint in China.
11/7/2014/ China is a happy memory. England is bathed in glorious sunshine. There are no apartment blocks or skyscrapers in view. Supermarkets have all this food that was sought after only a few weeks ago, fresh water on tap and hills that are accessible and climbable in your morning run. The family are healthy and have had the first BBQ of the summer. Life is good.
Winchester, I’ve come to find though, is a tourist destination. The place is so lovely and English that it almost feels like the Chinese have made it. Its not a grievance, I continually count my blessings that I can come back here rather than say Hull but the idealistic nature of this place makes it feel like the The Truman Show.
The culture shock is far greater coming back. You notice little things like white people doing mundane jobs, people saying ‘Thank-you’ excessively in places, overhearing conversations constantly that are slurred and full of colloquialisms a far-cry from the ‘beautiful’ language to which the Chinese paint it.
I'm continuing Chinese on at Glasgow University and will attempt now I'm a Masters student to write more academic pieces like the one I tried about 3 months. So as I have no plans atm to return to Shanghai in the very near future, its a goodbye to this blog, for now?
However, as an after-thought on Shanghai and China in general I thought I’d write a blog on the 10 things of the top things for me that makes the city and the country so delectable, so intoxicating (not just the smog), but mainly, so livable. Perhaps for the purpose of people living there now to smile and think life isn't so bad or for future people to go and seek out the wonders of the place.
- Affordability. It goes without saying the ability to do things, to go anywhere, is about what is being young. Being able to afford the essentials like Accommodation, Food and Transportation without it breaking your budget, allows you to move, groove and really do anything that takes your fancy. This allows you to become hedonistic and worship yourself a bit more, you go out more often and massages, haircuts, shopping treat are instantaneous decisions.
Shanghai is contesting what modernity
looks like. The city is at the forefront of transportation. Tackling
pollution, climate change, over-crowded lanes, I feel the worlds future is
being experimented on in China.New bus design, starting in China.
- Night scene. Shanghai had a reputation of being a sin city, where gangsters, prostitutes roamed the streets. Its not quite that culture yet, but the drinking outside, smoking indoors, over zealous spending in nightclubs, the surge in art and general lust for life from the youth, makes the night time an absolute playground.
- International scene. This will sound stupid but whether you are from Kazakhstan or Kuwait, Iran or Iceland, you are all a foreigner in China’s eyes. The Chinese race is so strong they see themselves as one race one civilization with a long line of history. So this makes all foreigners, outsiders, I feel we as a group of outsiders revel in it, people from different backgrounds and countries get on and are all ambassadors for their own countries.
- Youth. Young people are flocking to China to study, to intern, to work. The young are beautiful, positive and ‘Yes’natured.Young people come as entrepreneurs to start their bright idea, i.e. new sport TRI see below.
- Language. I definitely miss the language. Writing Chinese characters is like some kind of secret code. It is the most spoken native language, and will be the language of tomorrow.
- Lionized. China is internationalising, we as Westerners are in demand. A third perhaps more of population lived through the time of the Red Guards, of the Cultural Revolution, of the opening up of Chinese trade borders, foreign faces are a weird entity. A Western face is a sign of China modernising, you are treated with smiles, surprised looks, its a special experience.
- The History. You are often told by enthusiastic students that the country has 5000 years of history. Following a century of humiliation, the Mao years, China you get the sense is forging a new era for itself as we speak. All the news seemed relevant and the change that was happening, e.g free traze zone in Shanghai, was dynamic and it was quite compelling to be a part of. Shanghai is like New York of the 80's/90's in that respect.
- Chinese. Quirky, innovative in one sense, resilient and hard-working in another. Unassuming and loyal but go out and you will see lavishness and energy.
- Sights. The images that are just so far from your life back home make each day worth getting up for.
As proof of this I put together a big, old video containing some of the pictures from my 16 months there.