A short update on my trip to Shanghai and an unexpected encounter with a new friend.
DAY 2 & 3
HIGH FIVE IN MANDARIN IS HIGH FIVE
Today, i spent the day wandering Shanghai on my own. No phone, no internet, no map, no Google Translate… Haha. I feel completely lost… AND IT WAS AWESOME. (Except it is a little frustrating that I can’t really figure my way around, and every “Free” wifi network available requires a Chinese Phone number – that which I do not have.) That being said, I did make some local Chinese friends today who helped me with my Mandarin and let me use their phone number to connect to the internet and feel a “little” less foreign for just about 10 minutes.
The weather is WARM (21 degrees), sunny, and absolutely perfect. Oddly enough, I am the only weirdo walking around in sandals and a t-shirt. #CanadianSummer
In the past 24 hours, I was treated to some of the most INCREDIBLE food ever. Off the bat, Chinese food (the real kind) ranks among my favorite. No, it is my favorite. I would probably eat more of it than Italian food if I could. Come to think of it, I probably already do. My Chinese friend says I handle chopsticks like a champion.
Highlight of my day:
SO I’m clearly a minority here. I was walking on the sidewalk and a young boy (maybe 5 years old) LEAPED away from his mother just as I passed by him and shouted “HELLO” with a big smile on his face. It was the best. I stopped and gave him a high five (which took him a second to understand), but the international symbol for connection (or at least I think it is) sealed our very simple and momentary friendship. He started blabbing to me in very rapid Chinese, none of which I understood (even with the earlier lesson from my new local friends), but after a second I was able to say “I am a Chinese student” and “I am very happy”. He smiled, gave me another high five and ran back to his mother who was watching the whole thing with a smile a few feet away. That… was weird. And wonderful.
To be honest, Shanghai is probably one of the most INCREDIBLE cities I have ever visited. It’s HUGE (think New York city, only like 6 times more huge.) It’s SO clean, and some small side streets are lined with local eats, a fragrant promenade. I really love it here! Shanghai is a city of culture, and incredible architecture (a variety stemming from the influences of some long-time European colonizers). People are friendly, they smile and are helpful. There is a river that goes through the city, it reminds me a bit of Amsterdam. People are curious, like me. I was journalling by the water earlier and several Chinese people came by and looked over my shoulder to see what I was writing… Haha. (Um, awkward.)
Being on my own today for such a long stretch of time really had me present and mindful of everything that was going on outside and inside of me. Earlier, I definitely felt this lingering pressure of having to DO DO DO or find something to keep me busy – so realizing that time and space are mine here, I am definitely feeling the winding down, and perhaps a bit of the withdrawal anxiety that comes with not really having anything to do! But… I think i’ll get over it. 😉
Yesterday my friend Bunny and I had a long, wonderful and challenging conversation. A lot of things stirred inside of me as we caught up on life. I’ve been processing a lot of it in my head and in writing. Will probably write a little bit more on that when I head back to where I’m staying later tonight.
SO, i’m about to head out of this café in search of some kind of “miàntiáo” (noodles) and hope I pronounce the kind of dish right so i won’t be “too” surprised by some mystery meat situation. Then again, for sake of cultural experience maybe I should ask for mystery meat… (not.)
Here’s a little excerpt from a journal entry from a few months ago. I found it I think I needed to read it today, and maybe it could be of encouragement to you.
“To all my overachievers. My visionaries and managers of dreams. To all my innovators. To all my shadowed workers who cherish secret desires for a greater good. To all my upstaged leaders who expect to publish thoughts. To all my activists and pacifists, to all the quiet ones repressing a truer self beneath. To all my revolutionaries and to all my friends who desire to exist in meaningful ways.
Here is some much cherished perspective i’ve recently enjoyed learning to see through in a very personal way: life is difficult. Life is short. Nothing is new under the sun. Everything turns back to dust. Live hard. Stop competing. Find your place. Know your heart. Do it well. And then just let go of the struggle and enjoy the ride.”
From a journal entry created on January 10, 2017.