I asked my mom and Matt to share about their China experience on my blog. Here is what Matt had to say and some of his photos.
Matt’s China Blog
We had a fantastic trip to China. Shanghai was an experience like no other. We arrived in a half full airplane, proceeded through a jammed airport and customs, a packed 425-kilometer per hour Maglev (high speed shuttle from the airport), to an overstuffed subway, to Julia waiting with an welcoming smile. Julia showed us a wonderful time in China, both great tourist sites and places a vacationing tourist would never see in a hundred years. She was amazing with her knowledge of the Chinese language and her ability to figure out from bus stop signs and maps all in Chinese characters how to get there, and how to get back! Also, her friends May, Colin and Junyi, all fluent in Chinese, contributed to her terrific guide service.
Shanghai was all hustle and bustle, and I mean hustle and bustle like I’ve never seen. The streets are full of traffic, including the shoulders and breakdown lanes. The sidewalks are full, too, with pedestrians, bicycles, scooters and motorcycles. There is a definite pecking order amidst the confusion. The buses rule; everyone gets the hell out of their way. Next come the taxis; they may give a cyclist or pedestrian a break, but it’s a chancy risk. Scooters and motorcycles are down one more notch; most scooters are electric and silent, and they don’t use their lights – even at night. Lower in the pecking order are cyclists, and they are everywhere. Old, young, fast, slow, two wheels or three; one, two or three on a bike, maybe carrying 200-pounds of cargo, maybe with a dog or two, anything is possible. I actually saw three riders (out of probably 5000) with helmets one day. And pedestrians (that was us), had to watch out for everyone. We were low man on the totem pole. There were tons of walkers, scooters and cyclists on the sidewalk going in opposite directions around the hawkers and vendors and sweepers and card-players and cricket fights. Made one pay attention.
Of the many little obstacles to progress along the street, my favorite were the food vendors. Everything smelled good, except the stinky tofu, and even that was preferable to the cigarette smoke and the men’s toilets. There was an unbelievable variety of food to be had, from the unrecognizable to the everyday ear of corn. In front of the fabric market in Shanghai, we bought for a mere 50 cents a round, pancake / crepe / pizza crusty thing that was sweet, kind of tough and chewy, perhaps a little eggy, seasoned with chives and herbs that was so perfect and so delicious. I could eat two or three for breakfast every day for a long, long time. Yeah, we ate regular Chinese food in restaurants and western food at a great place called Boxing Cat that Julia has written about that had a delicious life-saving IPA. But for simplicity, freshness, and cooked right before your eyes on a charcoal fire, nothing beats Shanghai street food.
I had a blast, wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thanks, Julia!
—No problem, Matt! I was more than happy to have you as guests, especially considering your good taste in food & beer! (My Boxing Cat blog can be found here.)