Welcome to Shanghai

Finally the day had arrived — We were on our way to China!  After giving each other enthusiastic high fives, Collin and I packed up his truck (we had 6 pieces of luggage including our carry ons) and headed to DFW airport around 5 in the morning.  Thankfully we had a good friend who agreed to take us (Thanks Cyrus!) or else it would’ve been quite the debacle packing all of our stuff into a taxi.

The night before I prepared plenty of food for the plane, because if there’s one thing I remember about these long flights is the terrible terrible food.  Airplane food is a mystery on it’s own, you never know what you’re eating and whether it is meat, salad or dessert — it all strangely tastes the same: it’s either overly salty, horribly preserved or just plain bad.

I decided to bring along some wheatberry salad with broccoli, zucchini, red bell peppers, arugula and cranberries and topped it off with some crumbled hard boiled egg.  I also brought along some guacamole and pre-sliced all of the ingredients so it’d be easy to assemble at the airport/plane.  Plenty of fresh fruit, granola bars, almonds and Haribo gummies were stuffed in my purse in case we needed a snack along the way. 🙂  Don’t judge me, being on a 14 hour flight, the last thing I’d want to deal with is bad food and feeling hungry the entire time.  Hungry zhang = grumpy zhang.

This trip was a huge deal for me, it’d be my first time traveling to Shanghai on my own.  I guess I never realized how dependent I was on my parents for Chinese.   Over the years my Chinese had evolved into “Chinglish”, my Chinese would sometimes require English as fillers for the vocabulary I had forgotten.  I suddenly felt regretful.  Crap.  I don’t even know how to say “engineer” in Chinese, how am I suppose to explain what Collin does?  I was intensely furrowing my brow when Collin patted my hand — “Hey you okay?” “Yeah, I’m fine.  Just nervous.”

Our flight route was interesting.  We left from Chicago’s O’Hare airport and flew over Siberia where I captured some really cool shots.  I couldn’t help but be completely awestruck by the strange scenery — I’ve never seen anything like it.  The images almost looked like it came out of Lord of the Rings (okay that was dorky).

A long nap and a few movies later, we finally arrived in Shanghai.  The minute we stepped off the plane it was evident we were no longer home.  The airport seemed massive, swarming with Asian people, mostly Chinese I’m sure.  I felt at home yet like a stranger at the same time.  All the signs were now in Chinese (which I am unable to read btw) with shoddily written English translations underneath.

My uncle (I call him Jiu-Jiu) was picking us up and after we grabbed all of our luggage we went out to find him.  I searched through the crowds of people thinking to myself “How to hell am I going to find him?” when suddenly I heard a familiar voice “Xin-xin!”.  There was Jiu-jiu with wide eyes as he took one look at our massive amounts of luggage — “WOW, you guys brought ALOT.”  I blamed this on my mother, seeing that one luggage was packed full of presents for the family and the other was packed full of William”s books and shoes…

We had to step aside and think of a logical solution for transporting all of our luggage back home.  As we went out to search for a taxi, all the drivers looked on with hesitation.  I could completely see their minds going “Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me!”  Finally a driver agreed, but not before exclaiming “Jesus Christ, I have never seen two people with more luggage.  Did you guys pack your whole damn house with you?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.  So with half of the suitcases packed into the back of a small early 90s Jetta and then carrying the rest on our laps, we were finally on our way to Jiu-Jiu’s house.

Pictured above is actually the alleyway of my grandmother’s house at the intersection of Tian Ping Lu and Guang Yuan Lu.  My Jiu-Jiu lives at the intersection of Heng Shan Lu and Yu Qing Lu — they are literally within walking distances of each other so I’d always walk to my grandmother’s in the morning to give her her daily dose of hugs and kisses.

The energy of Shanghai is undeniable.  There are people running around EVERYWHERE.  I thought New York was busy but Shanghai brings it to a whole new level.  All around us there were cars honking, our taxi driver was weaving in and out of traffic like we were in an action film during a high speed chase.  There were highrise buildings everywhere yet also buildings that have been around for awhile — a mixture of the old and the new.  The streets were heavily congested with all different means of transportation: mopeds, cars, wheelbarrows?? and lots and LOTS of bicycles.

When we finally arrived Jiu-jiu’s house I was happy to find they had an elevator, or else I might’ve ripped my hair out carrying all of our suicases up several flights of stairs haha.  As we walked up to Jiu-jiu’s door there was Jiu-ma waiting for us with a huge smile on her face and warmly greeted us.  She pulled me aside and said “Xin xin are you still able to speak and understand Chinese?”  Thanks to the phonecalls my mother and I have several times a week has prepared me for this moment “Jiu-ma I can definitely speak and understand Chinese the only one who’s out is Collin.” (This entire conversation took place in Chinese btw as Collin looked on with a blank smile upon his face)

But do not worry, being the sharp fellow that he is Collin picked up Chinese quite easily while we were there.  To the point where even natives were impressed by his SHANGHAINESE, but I will save that story for another time 🙂  Once we unpacked all of our things and ate dinner, Jiu-ma arranged for us to take a night ferry tour of Pu Dong and Pu Xi so we were able to see all the wonderful lights of Shanghai’s skylines.

It was very cold and foggy that night, so I was unable to capture great shots of the night scenary.  The ferry was also moving at quite the fast speed so many of the photos came out blurry, shucks.

But after a 24 hour journey we were finally here, Shanghai, my second home.  I was excited about all the adventures she had to offer and was happy that this time Collin was with me.  I was ready with open arms to experience all that is Shanghai — stay tuned for glorious dimsum, an introduction to my family, and more photos capturing the everyday life of the people in Shanghai.

34 responses to “Welcome to Shanghai

  1. This is the first of the series of your Shanghai post. I wonder how many you have. It doesn’t matter as I look forward to them. Your food for the flight looks and sounds really good. Thanks for sharing what you brought. You definitely all the nutrition to feel and look good upon arriving Shanghai. Great pictures. 🙂

    • Divina haha I hope I can keep it under 5 — I seriously went completely overboard with pictures 😦 Hee hee this is kind of gross, but the plane always stops me up so I made sure to keep that in mind when I planned the meals I made for the flight. Thanks for the kind words as always, you’re the best 🙂

  2. The food that you bought with your looks awesome. I bet it tastes better than what they serve for first class passengers!
    And as usually, great pictures! SH has been changing so much. Though it has become sophisticated, you can still see it’s historical stories!

    • Aw lululu hee hee thanks!! I am honestly so happy I brought my own food.. Omg the food options on the plane were pretty terrible I gagged when I tasted their “Sweet and Sour Beef” more like sweet and sour barf -_-. Yes, everytime I go back I get lost and can’t find my grandmother’s house haha there’s always new buildings and new stores — i fell in love with the city this time…I can’t wait to go back.

  3. Hooray! I’m looking forward to more of these entries 🙂

  4. So, SO jealous. >P

  5. Dude, I love Shanghai and I love food and I love photos. 😛 I should hook you up with another friend of mine who is native Shanghainese/loves food/takes fantastic photos… http://www.liang-shi.com

    • Kat — thanks for the referral — your friend is very very talented!!! (must be the Shanghainese in her…just kidding!!) Shanghai is really awesome, i honestly want to move there haha

  6. Excellent shoots, Joy! I love how you play around with the colours. I wonder when will I be able to do that! hehe…. OK now, 2 persons with 6 luggage! Are you serious! You’re lucky cause the taxi driver not charging you extra for that. hahaha…. Those China men are unbelieveable. They still using those kind of carriers to deliver bricks! Oh, can’t wait till the next batch of photos. Happy Belated Easter to you & Collin!

    • LOL KRISTY hahaha don’t make fun of us and our luggage — I promise two of those were solely my mothers… Thank you very much for the kind words happy belated easter to you and your family as well!!

  7. Sorry Joy, I think you’ve to email me your address again. Your last mail went missing the other day! Thanks.

  8. Very cool post. Can’t wait to read the rest of it.

    Sounds like you two had an awesome time.

  9. Hi Joy, so nice to read all about your trip and what is going on in your life. Have you and Collin set the date yet??? I really enjoy your web site!

  10. I love all of the images you’ve captured, and the effects of you’ve used in some of the photos!

  11. Sounds like a fabulous trip and i totally agree with you about the feeling of flying over Siberia. Totally dreamy landscape.

    Shanghai is a great city, loved the energy, the people, the food.. I was there for about 10 days and it wasn’t quite enough. Can’t wait to see more of your trip and great pictures!

    • Zen — I have never seen anything like it– Siberia is quite breathtaking!

      I agree, 10 days is not long enough I wish I could’ve stayed for a month — I love Shanghai, I am convinced I want to move back there one day. Thanks for the kind words!!!

  12. I love your photos! Shanghai looks amazing and glad to hear you guys had a blast 🙂

    Can’t wait to read more about it!

  13. Wow Joy, sounds like a great trip, I’d love to visit Shanghai some day. Your pix of the city are fantastic. Can’t wait to hear about the food.

    • Premo!! Thank you so much for the kind words — you HAVE to visit Shanghai some day, I have a feeling you would fall in love with it 🙂 Food pictures are coming soon!

  14. Absolutely interesting, Joy! I can identify with you on the number of pieces of luggage! Packing for me is always very stressful and a nightmare…trying and trying to cut down but never succeeded…haha Bringing food along….I think I need another luggage bag for that with 4 of us travelling 😛 Joy, you made me feel better knowing that your mandarin is also quite ‘half tank’…haha But it’s always so fun to be back home. Really glad that you have so much fun. Looking forward to more from you about your Shanghai trip.

    • HAHAHA I am so glad you can relate to me about the excessive luggage — I mean we just have a lot of gifts/food to bring!!!! I hope my Mandarin will eventually be up to par to my relatives, we bought rosetta stone while we were in Shanghai hahaha

  15. Your trip sounds amazing, Joy! You could seriously be a professional photographer. Gorgeous!

  16. Joy! I LOVE looking at your pics especially of Shanghai…what a Gorgeous city… I wish I could visit soon!!! 🙂

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