Wild. The quickest way to sum up our time in China. Not somewhere I’d expected to visit at this stage in life (or ever really) but when Jack’s longtime Mandarin speaking BFF, Drew, made the temporary move, it was an adventure too good to miss. I say this because visiting China without someone who speaks the language would be hard. Not impossible, but hard. I should also mention you need a visa to visit China, easy to get so long as you have proof of flights and accommodation or a letter of invitation.
Drew became our go-to in language and in life. Planning everything from where we went, what we ate, and how we got there. Not to mention everyone uses WePay, a service connected to WeChat (Instagram and Facebook are banned in China) where you pay by scanning your phone against QR codes. This was only available to those with a Chinese bank account, aka: not us and also the key to unlocking bikes dotted around the city. Aside from biking and the occasional Didi (essentially Chinese Uber and only available to Drew), metro was the way to go. Although checking out the Maglev is a must, as hitting 420km/h was truly something.
Shanghai held all the goodness I’d hoped for. Bright lights, busy streets, authentic food, but also some things I hadn’t. The food was amazing amazing and being a spice lover, I was in my element. We ate steamed buns on the reg, fried bread for breakfast and some OTT degustation (Korean BBQ, all you can eat and drink Japanese, hot pot) for dinner. Delightful at the time, not so delightful as the stomach adjusts to a wholesome diet of carbs, oil and chilli. As expected, the struggle was real and all too real when we realised most public toilets in China are of the squat variety where toilet paper is an unknown luxury. You have been warned…
I was also not prepared for the nightlife and in turn, calibre of drinking that followed. Shanghai is wicked and home to some of the coolest/craziest clubs and bars. Barbarian, Bites and Brews, Bull and Claw, DADA, Le Baron, Beverly, Nest, to name a few.
If that’s not your thing there’s always Disneyland, although I highly recommend doing your research as unbeknownst to us it was semester break and absolute mayhem. We’re talking 4 rides in 6 hours and a kid taking a shit in the line (I wish I was kidding) kind of mayhem.
Aside from Shanghai, we took a day trip to Suzhou to visit the little water town and Tiger Hill. Despite being 40 degrees it was immensely enjoyable and one to add to the list when in China.
Shenzhen was next and easily the trendiest city I’ve visited. The vibe was ultra-modern and that of 20 years in the future. We opted to Airbnb, a great way to chill out post-Shanghai madness.
What was less than two weeks felt like a month and we didn’t even scratch the surface! There’s so much I haven’t mentioned and plenty we didn’t have time to cover. I’m still dying to see the Great Wall and a Giant Panda, so until we meet again, China.