this trip has made me realize just how amazing 上海 (shanghai) is! we’ve been going around the city, to the outskirts and within the city itself, and seeing a lot of places that i didn’t even know existed in shanghai! yesterday, we went to 朱家角 (zhu jia jiao) which is this village build over 1700 years ago and has since become a tourist place. there were really pretty gardens and old traditional houses. it was so pretty and the tour guide was super nice and taught us a lot of history about the place.
because shanghai is really close to the sea, the restaurant where we had lunch had a ton of seafood! some of it was kind of weird (like fried fish chip-like things) while some of it was actually really good (like steamed river bass). i also tried some eel and sea snails (which you had to eat by picking with a toothpick!)
today, we went to the shanghai museum, the shanghai urban exhibition center and back to 城隍庙(cheng huang miao). the shanghai urban exhibition center was really cool because they had a model of the entire city of shanghai. i never realized how HUGE shanghai was and how many tall apartment buildings they were. it was pretty awesome.
for lunch, we went to a famous local place called 小杨生煎 (xiao yang sheng jian). 生煎包(sheng jian bao) is a type of meat bun that is pan fried and then has sesame seeds and scallion. they are a shanghai speciality and apparently this place has some of the best in shanghai. they were SO GOOD. we waited in line for a pretty long time and had to fight for seats in the restaurant (it was really small!) but it was so worth it.
we ordered way too many and after all of us had literally STUFFED ourselves, we still have about 80 of them left! our only choice was to bring them back so yay for having breakfast tomorrow!
but in the afternoon today when we were wandering around 城隍庙(cheng huang miao) today eating our popsicles, we were approached by this man whose clothes were worn and he seemed to be semi-blind or have a lazy eye. initially it was hard to understand what he was saying because he was talking really softly and kept on repeating that he was from a city far away from shanghai. he also told us that he was very hungry and asked us if we would be able to buy him food.
it also seemed like he had some type of mental disability because it was hard for him to get his message across. even after we bought him a bowl of noodles, it was hard to understand what he was saying to us. but after giving him something to eat and watching him eat the noodles sitting on the steps outside a shopping center, i realized just how lucky i am. for lunch, i was basically given an endless amount of delicious food that i couldn’t even finish while he had probably been walking around with an empty stomach. i only wish we had had all the extra buns from lunch with us when we had seen him.
tomorrow, i’ll be able to eat three filling meals while this man might be lucky if he can even get somebody else to give him a few yuan to buy something to eat. i’ve realized how appreciative i need to be for all the opportunities i’ve been given. with this program i’m doing in shanghai, i’ve been given such a good chance to really understand the city of shanghai and really see how ABCs (american born chinese) like me can help in the future. it saddens me to see that despite how fast shanghai is developing, there will always be people like the man we saw in the afternoon who have nothing to eat and nowhere to live.
when he had finished half of his noodles, he got up to move to a different spot. at the time, we were shopping at a stall but we turned around to see where he was going. he gave a slight smile and waved goodbye to us as he walked into the crowded streets of shanghai.
it’s so important to really value what we have been given and i think it’s even more important to try and give back in any way that we can. there obviously is no way to guarantee that the man we saw today will be able to eat tomorrow but i can only hope that we have helped him in some small way by providing him with something today.