New Years in Shanghai

I decided to go spend New Years in Shanghai. It seemed like a good way to start the new year. Out of curiosity I googled “Shanghai New Year The Bund” and learned that last year there was a human stampede that killed 36 people. With that in mind, I decided I wanted a very low key adventure in an area with little or no people.

On Wednesday night I decided to be a responsible adult and wash my hair. (I have a bad habit of waiting a long time to wash my hair…) As the conditioner in my hair the water just stops. There is no more hot water left. There is a little bit of cold water but its freezing cold water. I decided I would rather sleep with conditioner in my hair then deal with the misery of freezing cold water on my body.

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Bad hair day: wear lots of your favorite color to feel good!

I woke up early to make sure train tickets were sold out. There were numerous available so I would be fine and tried to tell myself to just relax. While getting ready my boss texts me, “Why didn’t you teach this morning?” I was told I had Thursday to Sunday off. He replies, “I told you Thursday afternoon to Sunday.” I misread the text. A simple mistake and even easier to make when I am desperate for some time off! In my mind I declared we were even as he has forgotten to tell me multiple times my classes have been cancelled. It still didn’t help my foul mood as I wished the school communicated with me in a more professional manner.

I left my apartment. It took longer than usual to get a taxi but I made it to the station, got a ticket to Shanghai, and had a painless uneventful ride. There was a lot of good things about my last hours of 2015: Starbucks had three new flavor lattes and I wanted to try them all, since I was eating dinner alone I had no wait time ,and the Thai food was just as good as I remembered. But there was more stressful things than anything: the hostel address on Google was complete wrong (like a few streets down, on the other side of the road, down an alley, wrong) so I wasted over an hour trying to find it and it was just exhausting. I have been dealing with my phone company for the last month and thought I would finally be able to get a cheap SIM card. When I did my phone was still unlocked so I had to call the company yet to but because of the time difference it took longer than need be. On top of everything, I was starting to get sick, and the last time I had a cold in China I was sick for a few weeks. I think its something about the horrible air that made my cold linger.

As the clock was ticking towards midnight I debated. I could go walk up to the two guys playing pool in the lobby and bring in the New Year with them. Or I just go out and be my charming self and find somebody. But I really didn’t want to. I was exhausted and just wanted to rest in my quiet empty room. Plus, I wasn’t in Chuzhou so I was pretty much as happy as I could be. So I brought in the 2016 by myself and alone. But it felt right way to start the year: alone and doing what I needed to do for myself. And I decided more than anything, it was more important to have a good first day in 2016 than being with strangers at midnight.

My alarm clock was some drunk French guy coming in to the female dorm room at 7 o’clock. The night before the neighborhood was hustling but in the early morning it was empty and calm.

I have been wanting to get a new camera and decided today would be the plunge. With some Google searching I learned where to buy camera in Shanghai and it happened to be an area I had been to before. I bargained and got the camera the same price as Amazon. I went down the street to Starbucks and figured out the basics but decided the best way to learn was to go out and play.

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“Artsy” photo of a Starbucks cup. I took this is auto. Bad me.

I love this area as the locals live here so there were men selling fish, baskets of fruits, and bikes all around.

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I decided to head off to the Bund and go down the same alleyway I went through last time. I just love this alleyway. It’s next to the main street which has expensive shops and a million tourist. Its a almost empty and just a completely different world.

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The last two times I have been to Shanghai I have taken pictures of The Bund but I have yet to get one that I love. When I got there, there was a boat in the water that I really didn’t like but I decided to go with it especially since my battery was dying. Looking at the pictures I think it really “makes” the picture. And now I have two photos that I love (and perhaps will frame someday whenever I make a permanent home).

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That evening I read more about photography and played around with yet another Starbucks cup. I decided I would wake up early again because of the good morning light. I would take some pictures of the charming neighborhood and walk to a temple nearby and take some more photos there.

I picked a winner when I booked this hosel. The streets are lined with trees and there are alleyways everywhere. Plus, I saw two DVD rental places which I haven’t seen in ages! IMG_5481.JPG

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The temple was in the middle of the city right across from the largest Old Navy I’ve ever seen. I had to pay 50 yuan to go in but decided I didn’t wake up early and walk all the way over to not go inside. The temple itself was beautiful and since it was still “early” it had just enough people for my taste. I wandered around and felt at peace with my surroundings, my camera, and myself.

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Overall, I am happy with the camera. I have been doing my research for a while so it was only a matter of time. My iPhone just wasn’t cutting it and taking photos has been a sense of release for me in China. It sounds cheesy but it allows me to really notice the world around me and not skip the details. After the initial purchase there was anxiety but that was more, “This is a big purchase! And I get nervous buying a camera! How am I ever going to get married? How can I make a commitment to another human being or dog?” Those feelings eventually settled down. I mean, this camera got me waking up early for the sake of good lighting! I still have lots to learn but I know my photos will only get better

This is my third time visiting Shanghai and the city has really grown on me. I think its because I avoided the heavily tourists areas and I more familiar with the basics like how to go around the subway and where some Starbucks are. I plan on going back next week and I am filled with anticipation. I am actually sad as it will be my “last time” in Shanghai but I will make the most of it.

Tomorrow I will have a small adventure in Nanjing. I am super excited to go exploring and to play with my camera.

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