On Wednesday, June 10th we visited the Port of Shanghai, the largest port in Asia! It was crazy to see the thousands of containers spread across the tiny island, almost as far as the eye could see. It was a two hour drive there and back, and the planning of the day was a little off so we only spent around an hour touring the island and learning about its growth. Soon we headed back to campus early where Saba, Tiffany, and I worked on our group presentation for class.
On Thursday, after class, we visited what’s left of the old wall of Shanghai and the pet’s market. The pet’s market was a sinister combination of heartbreaking and terrifying. First of all, there were crickets EVERYWHERE! There was a constant hum of active crickets. But being in those tiny cages, I guess I’d be pretty loud too. At the market there were fish, turtles, puppies, kittens, bunnies…you name it! You’d think they’d be cute and adorable but there were so many shmushed into cages made for one. Walking past a stand with all puppies sleeping seemed kind of strange to me..and then we found out that regularly loud animals will be sedated. I really don’t like reminiscing that experience, and I don’t think this is practice that will go away anytime soon. I mean, even in the United States there are still puppy mills.
After the pet’s market we went to shop for antiques! This was my favorite and I found so many old posters of Shanghai ladies and trinkets to bring home. The best purchase of the day, though, was probably Omer’s cane. It was black and had a metal dragon carved into the top. He just bought it for it’s aesthetic, but as soon as he started to unscrew the top to break it down a sword came out attached to the dragon head. Everyone’s response was hilarious! The only thing that made me a little nervous was that he wasn’t even questioned when he brought it on the subway. Their security isn’t that top notch. I also had my first photo-op experience at the antique market. Lot’s of Chinese people will just openly take pictures of tourists if they haven’t seen foreigners often in their lives. Omer and I were seriously followed down an entire street of antiques with a guy just snapping photos of us. It was kind of an odd experience, and I couldn’t imagine going through that daily like some of the other students on my trip.
On Friday, June 12th, we visited Zhujiajian, a preserved water town about two hours from our campus. The canals were so beautiful and we were lucky enough to take a boat cruise on one of the old wooden row boats! After the tour we were set free to shop around the markets and many of my classmates wanted to get the fish massage where the fish nibble at the dead skin on your feet. I, however, learned from my Cambodian experience that those massages are not for me so I browsed the markets and found some more great deals!
This was the day, though, that I had officially run out of money. So I went to an ATM after our adventures in the water town. I went to one ATM and my card strangely didn’t work, so I went to another on the entrance gates of campus and right as I was choosing how much money to withdraw the screen flashed “Your card is being detained. Please call our office.” So before I could even grab dinner, an ATM at my credit card. I called Zhai to come help me and she sent over Arbor, a CIEE assistant, to come help me! After writing down all the information of the ATM, Arbor and I got dinner at the place called Snoodles. I had wonton soup, steamed cornbread and a mango smoothie. Not only was the meal delicious, but Arbor is also really interested in meditation and mindfulness and we talked for almost two hours about important a positive mindset is to healthy living. Arbor is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in Shanghai. His parents moved to New Jersey from Albania and Arbor speaks Albanian (his first language), English, Arabic, and (almost) Chinese fluently. He’s currently getting his Master’s here at ECNU. He’s also studied abroad and travelled all around the world and I loved being able to hear all of his stories!