10 things I love about Shanghai

10 things I love about Shanghai

Shanghai and I – it wasn’t love at first sight.

In 2016, Thorben traveled to China 6 times and was offered a job in Shanghai. We kind of already made the decision to move here before I ever stepped a foot into China. In January this year, our company sent us on a 5 day look-and-see trip to check out the city, look at apartments, neighborhoods (and in my case for a job) and make the final decision to accept or reject the offer.

After the first 2 days in Shanghai I just wanted to go home. I couldn’t believe Thorben would want to move here. It was cold and wet, grey, the air quality was bad, the chicken in the restaurant still had its head and feet attached, plus lots of skin and bones and eating with chopsticks was a nightmare.

I think part of it was that many cities aren’t that great in the winter – blue skies and green leaves make a huge difference – and our hotel (which was very nice) was outside of the city center and not in the prettiest neighborhood. The next few days were much better. We walked along the Bund, Nanjing East Road, toured Jing’An and Xintiandi, ate some good food, looked at an international grocery store, some nice apartments … so after that I was still skeptical but also thought that we could maybe somehow manage.

Now, after living in in Shanghai for almost 3 months, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I really like the city. According to what we learned in the intercultural seminar, I’m still in the Honeymoon Phase of the cultural adaption curve. Up next: Culture shock, recovery and adjustment πŸ™‚

Hopefully, it won’t be that bad and if it is, I can always read this list and remember all the great things about living in Shanghai!

1. The Food

If you’ve read a few of our previous posts you might have noticed that we LOVE food. And the foodΒ in Shanghai is great: No matter where it is from … local Shanghainese, other regions in China, Asian or Western. Not only is there great food, there is tons of it! Even if we ate at a different restaurant every day, I don’t think we could even go through half of the ones in our district. And no matter what I crave, I can most likely get it here. Usually the restaurant is in walking distance or just a few metro stations away.

2. Travel Possibilities

For me, one of the best things about living in Shanghai is the possibility to travel all around China and Asia-Pacific easily. Until the end of this year, we have 4 trips with a total of 6 destinations planned (Seoul, Beijing, Hongkong & Taipei, Cambodia & Singapore) and many more are on this list for next year. Hello, Australia!

3. Cheap services

Ever since the first time I got a manicure in Shanghai, I’ve gotten one about once a week. Thorben asked me when I’d become such a girl but what can I say? They are cheap (7 – 15 Euro), it’s fun and my nails always look pretty πŸ™‚

Not only manicures are cheap, you can also get awesome foot and back massages for a fraction of the price they charge at home. Thorben can get behind that one, in fact, he’s already gotten way more massages than I have.

4. Having an Ayi

An Ayi, which literally means aunt, is a maid/housekeeper and everyone in Shanghai seems to have one. She can do a number of things for you including cleaning, laundry, ironing, shopping, cooking, taking care of you children … A lot of families have full-time Ayis, some even have 2. We got an Ayi, recommended through our landlord, a few weeks after we moved in. She comes 2 times a week, once to clean and the other time to iron. The only chore we still do is laundry. It is the best.

5. The diversity

Shanghai is a city of contrast – old and new, traditional and modern, Chinese and Western. You can meet people from all over the world and from all over China. You can see a Lamborghini parked on the street and next to it a rusty bike. There are traditional lane houses, old temples and tall skyscrapers, small stands selling chicken feet and huge shopping malls, big compounds with more than 10 buildings next to a quiet parks – it really never gets boring and there is always something to discover.

6. Public transport

Though often very crowded, the metro system in Shanghai is great and it is cheap. I could write a whole blog post about the amazingness that is the Shanghai metro (maybe I will soon). There are 14 lines going all over the city and both airports as well as all major train stations are connected to it. Then there are tons of buses (I haven’t figured those out yet) and thousands of taxis. Our street seems to be a popular break spot for taxi drivers and so far, we have always managed to find one quickly. And, I have to admit, the bikes you can just pick up anywhere are super convenient as well.

7. Alipay

I’ve only gotten cash on my first day here and I still haven’t spent it all. I pay for everything with Alipay or WeChat Pay (apps connected to my Chinese bank account), it is so easy and convenient. I even pay for our electricity with Alipay, it just takes 5 seconds every month. It’s not just Alipay that is awesome, there are so many great apps making life easier in Shanghai, even someone as direction challenged as me can get around with them πŸ™‚

8. Delivery – especially Sherpa’s

You can get anything delivered here. Grocery, furniture, train tickets, you name it. Taobao is like Amazon, Zalando and Ebay combined and while it is in Chinese, there are also Apps that translate and buy it for you from there.

My very favorite delivery thing is Sherpa’s. Words can’t express how much I love this app. For a fee of 15 RMB (2 Euro), they bring you food from almost any restaurant within a 3 kilometer radius (and from all the restaurants further away for a slightly higher fee). I tried to count from how many restaurants I can order, I stopped after 100 and those were all within 2 kilometers. I just click on the things I want, pay with Alipay and within 45 minutes the door bell rings. It is magic.

9. Our neighborhood and surrounding areas

I love the area we live in. On our way home from the metro, we walk past a fancy boutique, tiny soup kitchens, a new nail salon, someone fixing their scooter on the street in their pajamas, a local wet market, a craft beer bar, laundry drying outside, people sitting outside cooking, … all within a few hundred meters. The streets are lined with trees and it is so much greener than I expected. Everything I could ever want is within walking distance. The French Concession, Jing’An and Xintiandi are all pretty to walk around in and I love the view of the Pudong skyline from the Bund.

10. Endless entertainment possibilities

There are tons of restaurants, clubs, bars, museums, movie theaters, spas, malls, gyms, parks, comedy clubs, concert halls, shows, events … There is Disneyland, a water park, golf courses, you can play Laser Tag, get locked inside an escape room, sing karaoke, go ice skating or bowling. I heard there is even an indoor ski arena. Whatever you want to to, you can probably do it in Shanghai.

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