This past weekend, May 1st-May 3rd was labor day holiday here in China. I left Thursday afternoon to try and beat the weekend crowd. I discovered once I left my university that it didn’t matter when I left; as long as it was a holiday weekend, the streets and cities were going to be full of people trying to get home for the holiday. The buses were packed and all the taxi drivers were trying to get the customers who were desperate enough to pay their high fares.
Originally, I was going to ride a taxi to the Qingdao airport, which is about 90 minutes away and would cost me about 240kuai. Divide that by 6.2 and that’s how much it’ll be in USD. My friends fortunately told me about an airport shuttle bus that would take me to the airport for only 40kuai. I was so relieved to use that and it seemed to take a lot quicker.
I arrived in Shanghai at about 8:30pm and the night lights were so beautiful. I only saw what I could see from the highway while my driver drove me to the flat of my host.
I tried couchsurfing for the first time and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to stay with a nice, 22 year old girl for free, the 3 nights I was there.
Once I arrived, I changed, and we explored the streets. Shanghai is so full of bars and places to hang out at. I came across so many expats in Shanghai, it felt like I was in America. What surprised me the most was how safe the city was at night. We were out until about 1AM that night and I saw many people (especially women) walking the streets alone and people eating on tables & chairs on the sidewalks. My host said that no one resorts to violence there, which was really comforting.
We met this guy and his father (who took the picture) while they were trying to flag down a taxi. I started the conversation with his father commenting on seeing a forklift pass us by as a vehicle. They had a little to drink and were joking about it from across the street, I told him it reminded me a lot of Texas. After asking where we were all from, it turns out my host and them were from the same city and state in the US. She received her marketing degree from James Madison University in Fairfax, Virginia before moving to Shanghai to pursue her dreams and career. They were a nice father and son duo who were there on a business trip, for their global-wide company.
The next day, was a gorgeous, clear, warm day in Shanghai. My host gave me a list of sights to see and give to the taxi driver and I went. Apparently, I didn’t dress appropriately for the weather and was quite miserable the whole day through. I took some great pictures, the city is so beautiful.
I’m always amazed by how beautiful the flowers/roses are in China. They are just so vibrant and pretty, with the grass so green.
Here’s a picture of how packed the number 1 attraction in Shanghai was. (The Bund)
Shanghai was so crowded and hot that day.
On Saturday, my last day there was so much fun. It was the complete opposite of Friday. It was dark, gloomy and rainy. I enjoyed myself because the weather was a bit chilly and I had rainboots with an umbrella to keep me protected from the weather. The pictures below may look like the infamous smog in Shanghai, but the factories were turned off for the holiday and it looks like that because of the overcast weather.
Speaking of rainboots, I went back to the Bund to get my infamous Bund picture and made friends with the nicest woman.
I started conversation with her off the topic of our rubber rain boots and discovered she was from Michigan. She and her husband are a teaching couple in Shanghai and have been there for 6 years. After about 5 minutes of convo, she invited me to dinner with her husband and two colleagues. They all applauded my decision to study in China for a year and are well-traveled themselves. That was probably the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to and the cuisine was delicious. It was Yunnan cuisine, which is West China, near the Tibet area.
The pictures are so dark because the restaurant environment is so dimly lit.
They so generously ended up paying for my dinner, saying they remembered what it was like being a college student, having college students of their own. After dinner, we took a walk on the Bund to see it at night and paid a visit to a nearby 5-star hotel to have some drinks at their sky-view lounge.
Overall, I had a great time in Shanghai and can’t wait for many great experiences!