Text and images by Martin Tannenbaum.
I’m sitting in my apartment, staring out the window at a building covered in neon lights and I am almost at a loss for words because I am still in complete disbelief that I am here. Out of the few the places I have traveled, Shanghai has to be the biggest culture shock. Living in New York City, it’s crowded and you see new things every day, but here the amount of people and things to do are extremely overwhelming. The number of malls and restaurants, and places to see and do things is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen.
One of the biggest culture shocks is the food. I am a fan of Chinese food, but the food that I am a fan of and accustomed to is, I guess, way more Americanized. It’s more difficult to eat it everyday then I thought. I have come across “American” restaurants, though, the kind that give you the comforts of home. Another thing I noticed is how inexpensive things are. At the small markets, you can buy a bottle of water for what is equivalent to just about 16 cents. That to me is mindboggling.
Out of all the tours we have gone on so far, my favorite has been going to the Jade Buddha Temple. Once you walk into it, you feel this sense of calm (or at least I did). Just being inside and watching people pray, was moving in more ways then I can describe. Then, there was the reclining Buddha–one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
All in all, so far this trip is life changing. It’s someplace I never thought I would be, and I couldn’t be happier to be here.