Hello from… Shanghai

Recently a co-worker of mine, Rob Deason and his wife went to visit their daughter who lives in China. I asked him if he’d like to share about his trip (he went to so many amazing places!) and he agreed to share. This first post is about his visit to Hong Kong & Shanghai.

1| What was the first thing you did when you arrived in China? We flew into Hong Kong late, so we got to our hotel, checked in, and tried to sleep in hopes of adjusting to the 12-hour time difference.

View from the room | R. Deason
View from the room | R. Deason

2| Did you see any sites before heading from Hong Kong to meet up with your daughter in Shanghai? Amazingly, the morning before we left home, my wife received a Facebook message from a man whom her parents financially supported as an international foster child many years ago. He said he was sharing his Christian testimony at his church and then posting the video of his talk on Facebook. He wanted my wife’s permission to post images of her parents on Facebook as they played a part in his faith story. Then we learned that he lives in Hong Kong, and would be delivering his talk at his church on the one day…Sunday…that we would be in Hong Kong. The timing gave us all chills. So this man whom we’d never met picked us up at 9am from the hotel and took us to his church. We were treated like honored guests. The service was in Chinese, but Jack’s daughter translated for us. It was an incredibly special experience to witness a world away the fruit of Peggy’s parents’ faithfulness. After the service, Jack’s family took us to lunch and dinner, shopping, and showed us the Peak overlooking the city, as well as, Victoria Harbor. They gave of themselves and their time for the full day, returning us to the hotel at 11pm.

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Photo by R. Deason

3| Your daughter is fluent in Mandarin. Did you learn any phrases before your trip? Rachel took Chinese in high school and majored in it at Carolina, so we picked up a few words, but not enough to help. I can say “Hello”, “Thank You”, “You’re Welcome”, and “My name is David White”, which is one of the first phrases Rachel learned in high school that I oddly retained, and one which I had no opportunity to employ, seeing as how that’s not my name.

4| Tell me about your walking adventure on the Bund. China is both a modern and a developing country. Shanghai is a huge city teeming with crazy traffic and skyscrapers, but vestiges of old world ways are everywhere; bicycles and pedestrians share the congested roadways, for instance. They’ve learned to co-exist in some weird symbiotic relationship. The Bund best captures the new/old dichotomy. This area is the former British colonial seat of government. Palatial, European-styled buildings bathed in yellow spotlights line the Bund. Meanwhile, across the river, the latest technology turns futuristic spires and skyscrapers into fifty-story illuminated billboards. We walked along the boardwalk on the “British” side fixated by the sights and sounds. It was on the Bund that we first encountered a unique Chinese perspective. Several groups of people accosted us and began posing with us for photos. According to Rachel, the Chinese love the West and they perceive our looks as the standard for beauty. We had wanted to get a little Asian baby doll for our granddaughter but could find none. All of the dolls were blond and blue-eyed. This may be the closest I’ll come to feeling like a celebrity…our “fans” were simultaneously intrusive and flattering. Rachel had warned us of this phenomenon, but we didn’t expect it in an international city like Shanghai; the “fans” were likely visiting from the countryside where foreigners are still a novelty.

5| What was the most unusual thing you ate while in Shanghai? Meals are served family-style. Instead of ordering a meal just for yourself; you need consensus among your group in ordering various dishes that everyone shares. They bring out large bowls or plates from which each person takes as much as he wants. I ate nothing particularly unusual, but could have…I didn’t take any of the pigeon served with the heads on. Chinese use little sugar in food and when they bring you water, it is always boiled unless you ask for bottled water.

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Thanks, Rob! Stay tuned for the next location, coming soon.

~theavidpen

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