Preparing for Shanghai 101, all your myths about Shanghai revealed (part one)
January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments
I had many preconceptions about Shanghai before I got there and I’m sure you will too, the purpose of this post is to
attempt to comfort those who are overly nervous about visiting Shanghai and to prepare you for your adventure so that you can sit back, relax and get ready for the absolute chaos, epic adventure, fun. Right, let’s bust some myths (if I’ve missed anything out get over it then feel free to leave a comment).
- “Chinese food from China is disgusting, there’s no sweet and sour pork or egg fried rice.”
True that there is no sweet and sour pork or egg fried rice or any other regulars you order from Mr Wok or whatever local Chinese takeaway you order from. However, disgusting it is not. You will find that there are certain things that you actually really like that you wouldn’t have expected. It is probably true that you won’t like the local delicacies (I personally can’t bring myself anywhere near any trotters or claws or faces so in that way I am a bit biased, so try all you want
if you have the balls), but the Shanghai Xiaolongbao dumplings and something called the Four Seasons Beans are a foolproof way to survive local Chinese food at any restaurant.
- “China is cheap, everything is made there!”
It may be true that everything is Made in China, but not everything is cheap. You will get a lot of great knock-offs which are great souvenirs for friends and family, but the living standard in Shanghai is very high. Be prepared to spend as much money as you would in major cities like London and New York if you want to eat non-local food (like pasta, pizza or sushi etc.). There are also many things that would be cheap at home but are very expensive so come prepared, Weetabix for example is £12 a box and a jar of Branston pickles is £8. So if you know you are super fussy and have certain home comforts which you can’t live without
then you are sadthen come armed with a suitcase full of teabags and Organic wholewheat brown bread (because they don’t have that for less than £10 either).
- “If I forget something it’s fine, I can buy it when I get there.”
You are likely to find something you have forgotten but it will be a local brand like ‘Mr Wu’s Deo for your B.O’ and if you do manage to find it in the brand you want it will be extortionate. But there are two things which you absolutely will not find, and if you do manage to find it I will happily eat my many many words; bronzer and spray anti-persperant deoderant. They do have deodorant but it is either a roll-on which feels like warm custard that never ever dries or they have the liquid spray which makes you smell
like a grandmother’s used thong.
- “Local Chinese people don’t speak English”
Erm…correct. Absolutely 100% true. I had the biggest shock of my life, it wasn’t Chinatown in London, it was anything but that.
The only time I heard a local Chinese person speaking English was the taxi driver that took me home at 4am once and he listed every single swear word you can use to describe the female genitals.Not only do they not speak English, they expect you to speak Chinese, no matter what you look like. They will keep talking at you and keep repeating the same sounds over and over again before calling you a stupid lao-wai which you will very quickly learn means foreigner. The good thing is, there are many guide books and the city is full of expats running restaurants, bars and clubs. So you will find a way, and I promise you that miscommunication will make for some epic disastersstories.