In traveling to Shanghai, I was not sure what to expect and wondered whether this super-size city of 17 million would be too big to navigate and enjoy. But what I found was an exciting and dynamic city that was full of life and energy at all hours of the day and I absolutely loved it.
I loved the contrasts: glittering skyscrapers, elevated neon-let highways and luxury boutiques sit next to lanes with no indoor running water and street markets selling everything from kiminos and pearls to Chairman Mao bags and terracotta soldiers. Horn honking taxis and cars do battle for space on the roads with mopeds and bicycle carts laden with fruit. In the back streets, life is lived on the sidewalks. Hair cuts, dog baths, dish washing, cooking, teeth brushing and playing mahjong and checkers – everyday life rituals as well as entertainment is played out for all to see.
In a carryover from the past when only the wealthy could afford pajamas and thus wore them as status symbols, both men and women wear their fuzzy polar and silk pjs on the street during the daytime. That means that by Chinese standards, when my cousin and I would go to the drive-through late at night in our pjs we were actually being fashionable and making a statement about our wealthy flannels.