Let’s Get Barbecued

I’ve been in Shanghai for ten hours, and I am already oh-so-enchanted with this city. It could have been the delicious 烤鸭 (roasted duck) and 叉烧 (char siu, or pork) with rice. It could have been the air, sharp and invigorating and clear. It could have been all of the lights, the holiday lights brightening up Nanjing Street. It could have been the donuts from Donut King (多乐星), with the white chocolate cranberry, the old-fashioned, the strawberry sprinkles.

I’ve been here less than half a day and from what I’ve seen…jinkies, Scooby Doo.

It’s so intriguingly…Western. I see 外国人 by the dozens. The architecture is the real give-away, I think. The windows and the roof-lines and the facades. There are planters full of pansies. I think I even saw a wall of cabbage. Cabbage.

I crossed the street without having to rush. Sure, sure, a car honked at me, tried to cut me off in my own crosswalk–but I gave him my firmest No face and continued unimpeded. No almost-squashed toes! Even though cars move dangerously fast through the streets (so much faster than in Chengdu, Congested City), I crossed Nanjing Street with relative ease.

I found myself making snap comparisons between Chengdu and Shanghai. Shanghai has less trash littering the gutters. Shanghai has more of a downtown feel. Shanghai has space to walk around and interact with the city. Shanghai moves faster. Shanghai has more foreigners. Shanghai has different colored taxis. Shanghai has more modern-looking high-rises. Shanghai has a big-ass rhinoceros sculpture.

I am, admittedly, star-struck.

Is this what love feels like? Is this what betrayal feels like? I feel too giddy for it to be anything else. But.

My admiration for Shanghai differs from Chengdu. It’s a different sort of burn. I love Chengdu with the slow burn of an old, steady love. Chengdu was my home once–just yesterday. The glow in my heart for Shanghai burns brightly, hotly. It explodes into heat, sparks erupting from a disturbed log of red-hot embers. It is piqued interest. It is new, exciting, and shiny.

Shanghai is the new girl in school, and I want to be her friend. Desperately. But I have family now in Chengdu, so I know without a doubt where my first stop in China will be. Family comes first, right? That’s why I’ll be home in time for Christmas.

I’ll have two entire days to wear my Christmas sweater. It shall be glorious.