It is quite complicated to sum up a city in a couple of paragraphs, particularly when Charlie and I only spent five days there but I’ll try. This city was definitely a lot different to what I had initially expected. At any rate it is not Shanghai, far from it. The time away actually confirmed something that until now I was unaware of, which was that Shanghai had become my home and I had fallen in love with it.
Beijing has the cultural sights, the winding Hu Tongs, the smaller expat community, backstreet bars and a whole host of delicious places to grab a nibble or twelve but in my opinion it ain’t got nothin’ on Shanghai.
Getting away was indeed necessary and I had a really wonderful time but once the smog really settled in, along with the heat, we became tired and restless. The level of pollution was beyond anything I had ever experienced and something I don’t want to experience again. Our only solace was our little apartment tucked away in a relatively quiet neighbourhood.
And even though catching a cab was an incredibly arduous task that took more determination than trying to master the Chinese language, the destination always proved to be reward enough. Losing ourselves in the hutongs, day or night, was always an adventure. Life grew from the walls, it rode on rickety bikes, was served up in delicious cheesy dumplings or drunk in a backyard micro-brewery. Small bars squeeze in next to each other, they hide down the tiny alleys and only reveal themselves to those who look closely.
It was a whirlwind experience and seems like a lifetime ago but amidst the sea of my foggy (or should I say smoggy) memories it is an experience I will never forget and am happy that I shared with my very best mate. Even if we almost died from the heavily polluted ‘air’ it was well worth it.