On the Street: Xi’an, Chengdu & Shanghai 9.1.16

Walking is my favorite way to adjust to a new city. In China, to cross the street I either find other people who are also crossing and follow their lead or I venture out on my own. Usually, I need to cross one traffic lane at a time to reach the other side of the street. Drivers turning right do not need to yield to people and the pedestrian is always expected to give way to the car, moped, or bicycle driver. I am improving my street-crossing abilities.

I am also losing my Minnesotan ways and becoming more Chinese as I enter and exit subway stations, get on trains, wait in line for bathrooms or to wash my hands, and pass through mall doors. In Minnesota, I would hold a door for someone else or have the door held for me. I have not observed this custom in China. When entering or exiting a space in China, gentle pushing is normal. There are so many people also moving that if we were all Minnesota nice and saying something like, “no, you go ahead” or “after you”, no one would get anywhere!

A former co-worker often quoted her dad who says, “bashful people starve.” I repeat this mantra to myself on occasion as a reminder that I must also push to the front or stand my ground (political aside, that’s a horrible law) to make sure I get what I need.

Some photos and observations from daily life:

Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Shanghai have many luxury stores. The larger cities have multiple malls selling and showing designer goods.
Who needs an expensive gym  membership and Zumba classes when you can go to the local park to dance? Leaders choreograph the routine and teach the group. New dancers stand in the back until they catch on. These dancers are in Xi’an and Chengdu.
In the hotter areas men walk around with their shirts rolled up. Belly patting is also common. Update on 9/5/16: NYTs says this style is called the Beijing Bikini!
In an earlier blog post, Laura asked about signage. These photos are for you! Signs in the malls and on the metro include English text or the transliteration of the word from Mandarin to English characters. Public restrooms on the streets have signs with pictures and the word ‘Toilet.’
In Xi’an there is a fabulous night market stretched for 4 or 5 packed blocks. I am excited to see more sights like this!
Always conscious of transit, here are a few examples of how China does transit well. A divided bike/car road; a sign indicating the current time and the arrival time for busses at this stop; an older diesel bus used for an hour long ride to a city outside of Chengdu has wifi; public bike share.
I imagine working as an urban planner in the city of Shanghai is a fabulous gig. The panoramic photo is an example of a pedestrian walkway above an intersection where multiple roads cross. These walkways are common throughout the city.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. grandma lange says:

    gentel pushing sounds O.K. WITH ME !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. theyearofsarahjoy says:

      Hahaha! In fact, I think you would get a long just fine here because I think it’s a skill you have too 🙂 Glad to know you approve of my new walking technique. Thanks!


  2. Laura Johnson says:

    Many thanks on all the great photos and daily observations. Loved the signage examples! Shanghai looked amazing… The photos of you are priceless – you are very expressive. They say travel is the best education, and you are helping to educate us all. Who knew “face changing” was such a mysterious art…and knowledge on how to go about it is known to few. I must also thank you Sarah for my latest reading finds. I hadn’t read Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth” since 6th grade (which is set in China). So I thought I’d re-read it. Wow, what a fantastic author, and she has many, many more books for me to read. But most of all I thank you for teaching us to have a “positive attitude”. What is frustrating to most, you make it as an adventure, your broken camera as an example. I like to read and re-read your entries, and gain something new each time. Reminder, if your back pack seems heavy some days, it is because you are carrying us along with you!
    Laura J.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. theyearofsarahjoy says:

      Laura! Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. I’m happy the signage photos answered that question. It is still amazing to me how bilingual much of these cities are. Shanghai was a thrill! I bet you’d like it very much, although there is no classical art 😉

      So happy to know too you were reminded of some classic books when you read the post. I have a growing reading list from each of these cities.

      You bet you all are with me! Happy first day of classes – enjoy the energy and the hunt for a space to eat lunch too!


  3. Kat says:

    Sarah, I am travelling along from thr glider as I hold Critter in Plymouth, MN. Love that you are sharing this journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. theyearofsarahjoy says:

      Kat! You are one of my inspirations in this blogging space. It’s a huge compliment to know you’re following along. Than you. I’m enjoying all of the Critter and life changing updates you share with us. Thanks for reading!


  4. Barbara Lee Friedman says:

    Sitting on your folks’ porch, the breeze is fabulous & so is your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. theyearofsarahjoy says:

      Aww 🙂 Glad you were over. I have a pool and view of the countryside here. Not the porch but just as wonderful. Thanks!


  5. Elizabeth says:

    Great photos and observations!
    The best advice Andrew gave me: Once you start crossing the street, just make sure you continue at a consistent pace. That’s what drivers are expecting, and then they can and will (almost always!) avoid you. It’s when you panic and either suddenly stop or run that you’re in trouble.
    Honestly once I started paying attention I realized this really is what most people do and it does really help. Though crossing with other people is always a good call 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. theyearofsarahjoy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth for the compliment! I’ll be testing out this Andrew/Elizabeth top-tip for road crossing. Slow and steady wins the race 🙂 Have a good night!


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