Shanghai’s Identity

 If Shanghai was a man, he would probably be in a smart suit with black leather briefcase and communicative level of English.

Trip to Shanghai was a trip to a different way of life, more structured, more western. If Shanghai was a man, he would probably be in a smart suit with black leather briefcase and communicative level of English. Many Chinese customs to which it was hard to get used to, suddenly disappeared. People were no longer spitting on the sidewalk – cleaning the throat in this way, apparently was derived from traditional Chinese medicine and accompanied us so far constantly (also in Korea, not in Japan).

We could walk without elevated levels of adrenaline across the street- in most Chinese cities passing through the street regardless of the color of the lights is very risky and equals a real risk of being run over by a car, motorcycle , bicycle, rickshaw and many vehicles which don’t fit in these categories. Chinese road we knew from other cities is usually a struggle for survival, and for Chinese drivers perhaps also for the honor because every time someone else is trying to prove that ‘he can’ drive first, faster, horn louder. Finally in Shanghai we could see a lot of foreigners. Even the city itself, through its architecture looked like commercial metropolis of the western world. It didn’t impress us. We didn’t come to China to see such things!

We felt like ignorants, because although Shanghai is a huge and famous city we had no idea what we want to see there. Eventually, we went to see huge skyscrapers in Pudong, to the touristic Old Town, where it was very, very crowded (way too crowded!) And to quite decent museum of Shanghai mail. We also went to the Shanghai museum (very nice costume exhibition of Chinese ethnic minorities) where one funny situation happened to us…

To be clear, we haven’t mentioned that in China since the first day we were under the special security precautions- travelers are checked at the entrances to the subway or the railway station. From the beginning we felt a mix of fear and deep respect for the authority. But then we realized that not every control is carried out as carefully. On the contrary, 95% of them were so superficial and done in a hurry, that if I had jacket full of grenades and small machete probably no one would have noticed (although very often bags were scanned, then indeed something dangerous could be detected).

Well, in the Shanghai museum we found the most professional control. Mrs. guardian found in Jowita’s purse transparent plastic bottle with a suspicious-looking, transparent liquid. At first glance, it looked like liquid water. Chinese woman was however vigilant. She looked at Jowita again, then at the bottle and then instructed briefly: ‘Drink a little’ Jowita didn’t explode. Luckily I still have a wife!

We were pleased that our host in Shanghai was Johan, Swedish living in this city for some time (and therefore another foreigner). He explained to us that Shanghai may not be very interesting for tourists, but if someone live there for a while he can find really cool places. Johan took us for a beer to ‘Shanghai brewery’. After a rather poor taste of beer in Korea and China, we were delighted ! This time, no one had to encourage Jowita to drink a little : )

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