4 nights, 3 beds, 24 total hours of sleep and 94,000 steps later I am back in reality (aka, a different city). After three weeks of travel, Shanghai was a fun break from time solo and less western cities. Because of friends in this city who made time to host me, and a large western influence, this part of my journey felt like a return to Minneapolis.
In Shanghai I damaged my camera lens and needed to take it to a shop. I Googled (with VPN on) camera repair in Shanghai and found many sites recommending one building as the one-stop shop. The hotel concierge wrote the address in Mandarin and, on my last day in the city, I went out for an adventure fully expecting this errand to take me the whole day and not confident my problem would be solved.
The cab driver dropped me at the right building without issue. In a few minutes I found the Sony store and a friendly clerk. He quickly understood my issue. He communicated the cost of a repair or a new lens and said a repair would take 5 hours. Through my gestures indicating flying, I explained my plane left before the repair would be done. He understood and offered to have the camera ready in 30 minutes. I was thrilled!
Finding a store, arriving there, explaining my problem, having another person understand the issue and offer a solution, discussing the repair time, and then actually fixing the problem – all in China! This experience reminds me of why I love being in new places. The daily becomes an event and, when I’m lucky, the event has a successful outcome.
Here are some photos from this past week:
I took an overnight train from Xi’an to Chengdu. With smiles and a few pictures from home I made friends with the other adults in my car. One couple had a son in a PhD program in Canada. His parents called him and we video conferenced on the train.
In Chengdu I visited three beautiful parks. All have walking paths and lots of nature plus they were free and had benches. Chinese Opera is an experience I was looking forward to. In the 90 minute show I saw shadow puppets, listened to traditional music and watched a dramatic vignette featuring Face Changing. Kevin is a 12-year-old fluent English speaker who found me and wandered with me in the park, chatting away the whole time!
Chengdu may be most famous for the panda breeding center and conservatory. This park houses hundreds of pandas and is responsible for research.
In Chengdu, I met April and her Traditional Chinese Medicine teacher. April is a friend of a friend from the US. She and her teacher took my pulse, showed me herbs used for healing, and treated me to tea and an incredible hot pot dinner.
After a 2.5 hour flight from Chengdu, I arrived in Shanghai. My first stop was the Jewish Refugee Museum, slightly north of the city. Shanghai opened its doors to 18,000 Jews between 1938 and 1941. The Shanghai community is proud of this legacy and the museum included personal stories and history.
In the afternoon of my first day in Shanghai I visited the classroom of ex-pat teacher and college friend, Austin Wellman. He teaches 4th grade at an international school in Shanghai. Check out the bus duty picture! 56 busses load and depart in 15 minutes.
My friend and former colleague Dana traveled through Shanghai for work (the hotel with a concierge came courtesy of her!). She avoided jet lag by joining me and Austin for dinner shortly after arriving. After eating, we toured the riverfront area called The Bund and went into the gorgeous European style buildings in this area.
Shanghai has an incredible skyline. Dana and I went to the 474m high observatory of Shanghai World Financial Center, affectionally called the bottle opener building because of its design.