Walking and Seeing
Just walking around Shanghai is full of wonders, large and small, human and man-made: yes, there are some things all tourists are told to see but I found that just taking-in one section of Shanghai at a time was the best, and most deeply rewarding. Wandering around the French Concession I discovered fascinating streets with alleys and doors worth painting; I met people working in stores and found a fabulous bookstore that I would not have found if I were intent upon an itinerary...and, after a few days I felt like I really was in Shanghai...and I felt that sense of truly sensing what it must be like to live and toil in Shanghai. I also found-out that I could simply walk down Shanxi and get to Nanjing Lu without a taxi!! And, in so doing, found stores I would not have otherwise. Plus , hanging-out in the cafe a bit at World Books I found-out there is a flea market there starting in March. So, taking it slow and easy yields a thousand joys. The must-see Tourist sites like the Bund or People's Park paled in comparison to ambling along and observing freshly and without any filter. Also, this allowed me to stumble upon a small group of men playing traditional instruments in a very small meeting place...magic happens without plans!! Plus, not allowing myself to feel rushed yielded meetings with people that gave heart to the city...and, a city is, afterall, the people. My fondest memory of Shanghai is the amazing warmth in the eyes of the people I met, and the sweetness of their smiles. So many examples, but here is one: on a chilly, rainy night we were lost and could not find our restaurant...I showed a woman with her daughter the address in Chinese and she walked us four blocks in the rain to the restaurant...though we could only communicate with our eyes, it was one of the best communications! Such heart and sweetness are common.