My trip to China was in May 2009. My sister and her boyfriend lived over there for a year and I took the opportunity to visit her and a totally different country. At the time I was quite the shutter bug I am now and the, relatively, few photos I have are not the finest example of photographic skill or, indeed, a steady hand. I didn’t really document what we did anywhere afterwards so have had to ask my sister for reminders of the places we went and things we saw in order to sort through the pictures.
I waited for about 4hrs at the airport for my sister to finish work that morning, I was going to just take a taxi but she didn’t think the taxi drivers would understand me, even if I wrote down in Mandarin where I wanted to go. And that’s the first, and perhaps biggest, difference between China and Europe; people don’t speak English! Of course some do but by and large most people did not. In fact, most people stared at me because they are so unused to seeing white people.
My sister was staying at Sanda University, Pudong, Shanghai. Huang pu is the river through Shanghai, dong means East, Puxi is on the other side of the river with xi meaning west.
The French Concession is a series of tiny little alleyways with a more European influence than elsewhere in town. Here was where we got all the pizza that sustained me during the trip, and here people spoke more English. We ate a place called Commune that sister raved about, bought little cups at a place on Taikang Lu, and started ‘tan diary’ which was our pathetic attempt to record how much my skin tanned whilst in China and lasted about two days before we forgot to do it anymore.
Also in the French Concession part of town was a café my sister raved about called Citizen’s Café, they did the best breakfast around. But when I ordered myself a breakfast all she would do was mock me for my choice of pancakes and fruit and fries and coke. Which I thought perfectly reasonable. On the subject of coke, it may be an unadventurous choice but as it is so ubiquitous you are guaranteed to be able to order it everywhere you go so it’s just so easy to order in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language. That being said Chinese coke is rubbish, the cans look cool but it tastes like it’s diluted and costs about £3.50 (for a can you could get for 70p in the UK). Soft drinks in China always seemed disproportionately expensive, alcoholic ones much cheaper.