This is my second time in Shanghai, the first being around 5 or so years ago. During my first trip, I had just bought my first DSLR a few months prior and had very little knowledge about photography in general. The photos I took were like those any tourist would take, uninspired photos of landmarks and pretty things I saw.
For this trip, I had one primary goal: to take all of the photos I wish I took during my previous trip. To go beyond capturing what a tourist sees, and take photos which reflect how life in China differs from in Vancouver. During this first part, I'll be sharing a few photos of just that.
I was staying in an area by University Road, which as its name implies is located very close to a university. The area seemed quite upscale, with over 10 cafes lined up along the same road. I'll be talking more about those cafes in a future post, but just a glance at each made me want to try them all at least once. As I type this, I'm 3 cafes in, and yes, I did visit that cat cafe.
The block was bustling with students day and night, with many foreigners also calling the area their own. It seemed almost sterile of culture, not at all reflecting the China that I remember. Most cafes and restaurants serve items similar to those you'd find in Canada.
Just a few blocks over however, and I was back in the Shanghai I remember. Slightly gritty, yes, but it was a beautiful feeling being immersed in surroundings so different from those I'm used to.
I'm generally super accepting of cultural differences, but I don't think that applies to food safety. Yes, that is a butchered pig stored in a van. Yes, below that is a man hauling a piece over his shoulder into the market. If every step of the meat supply chain here has such lax food safety concerns, I can imagine the accumulation of acts like these may negate the health inspection notices posted in every restaurant.
It's hard to find a place of silence in the city. Everywhere is almost always filled with life and action.
The subway stations have aged quite a bit since my previous memories, but it still ran efficiently as always. An oddity is that at every entrance, you must have your bag checked in an x-ray machine before getting in. Security seems to be a big concern in the city.
The dark passages the subway trains pass through are occasionally broken up by many strips of LEDs, which appear almost like a flipbook when passing by on the train.
I'm generally not that big of a fan of big cities. While I can certainly appreciate the beauty for a short amount of time, the noise, crowds, and traffic associated with most cause me to be turned off from living in one. There is definitely a unique charm of both the old and modern sides of Shanghai, and I'm certainly looking forward to learning more about both over the coming weeks.