I’m in a pensive mood, thinking about all the wonderful things about home. I watched the movie Looper last night, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who looks exactly like a young Bruce Willis, I never realized how much they resemble each other), and there were some scenes that were in Shanghai. Of course, it made me yearn for home as any movie or TV show that takes place there often does. It got me in a headspace that just made me want to list everything I miss about home.
Sometimes I wonder if these lists are more for me than anyone else, because let’s be honest; how many of you are going to read this and think to themselves; “I think I’ll book a trip to Shanghai tomorrow”? Very few of you, I imagine. But I guess those who have been there will be familiar with almost every one of these places or things, and maybe they’ll get you reminiscing right along with me. If you’ve never been there, it’s one of the most amazing, confusing, beautiful, and sometimes infuriating places in all of the world. I love it very much and want to go back as soon as I can. Without further ado:
If you’ve never had Shanghai Xiaolongbao, they’re simply the best dumplings ever. You can find them filled with pork or pork with crab meat or roe. The taste is absolutely out of this world. But that’s just the dumplings, Shanghai has a rich and diverse flavor palette of spicy, sweet, and hot. Hunan spare ribs, buttery scallion pancakes, crispy lotus root. The freshest fish you’ve ever had too. It’s all so delicious and wonderful and while San Francisco has a few great Chinese restaurants, it’s hard to top the authentic versions in my beloved Shanghai.
One of the most famous waterfront views of the Pudong side of Shanghai along the Huangpu River. The skyline is filled with skyscrapers and at night it’s electrifying to see! Even when it gets most crowded with natives and tourists alike, it’s still one of the best views of the city. The bridge changes color at night and sets a dramatic backdrop for the barges and cruise ships that sail past it.
Perhaps one of the things I miss the most about Shanghai is the people. Just walk down any street in the city and you’ll get an unvarnished look into the lives of the people that reside there. Conversations in public no matter what the topic, people playing Mahjong, old men asleep in places that don’t look very comfortable, women still hang their laundry outside. There are random dance parties in the plaza, men bring birdcages to the park and hang them as they lounge by the lake. The smells and sounds of the city are inviting and mysterious all at the same time.
Frowned upon for the most part here in the U.S., in Shanghai you can haggle over price for just about anything. Clothing, food, even beauty supplies, you can engage vendors by trying to get them to lower the price of something you need to buy. My father was an old pro at it, and almost always walked away a winner. I wasn’t too bad at it myself, but I’m sure my skills have diminished since without practice!
The Pearl Tower
A huge pink skyscraper with a bulbous top, I used to see it on my way to school in the mornings and my fellow students and I used to make up stories about what it really was and who lived there. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.