“OHMIGOD! HOW WAS YOUR TRIP? YOUR PICTURES ON INSTAGRAM LOOKED COOL!”
This is an amalgamation of the comments I have gotten from people asking about how my vacation to Shanghai was last week.
Yes. I went on vacation. And you may not have even noticed. (I’m trying to get better about writing again. I promise.)
I had a shit-tonne of miles to use that were about to expire. And I could either use them to go to the U.K. or Shanghai.
I’d never been to mainland China. I’ve been to Hong Kong. And other parts of Asia. But not China.
I’ve been to the U.K. a few times in my life.
So I figured a trip to some place new where I had a free upper class ticket to get to would be exciting. And Shanghai is a major business hub, so there would be plenty to see and do.
But nothing… really different. I realized towards the second half of my first day there..
It’s completely my fault I feel this way. See… For the past few years I’ve relied on a group to pull together exciting trips to other countries I haven’t been to before, mostly stay in pretty straight forward and unglamorous settings (which suits me fine - because it’s about the adventure and I can sleep anywhere), and get to see and touch and experience lots of things that you aren’t going to see anywhere else.
Watching colors animate after drinking San Pedro in the Chakra Gardens of Willka T’ika in the Sacred Valley.
Standing a mile from the Syrian Border in northern Jordan.
Peeing on a pile of garbage in an in-serviced port-a-potty in Jordan - a “toilet” which you only found because a local who spoke no English walked you to the spot where it was, opened up the door, saw the garbage, shrugged at it as if to say “this is what you get”, and walked off.
Watching male monkeys gang bang a female monkey at the top of a temple on a mountain with eleventy bajillion steps you have to walk up in Myanmar.
Watching the dancing fishermen with their large cone-shaped nets do their thing on a lake, also in Myanmar.
Being chased out of a vision quest spot during a verbal/food/water fast by a small green snake.
Coming down with a very bad case of the flu while traveling through Ethiopia… Which you realize only a few weeks afterward probably made the bed bigs and the mosquitoes everyone else had to deal with stay away - likely because they just didn’t like the smell of your sickly blood.
There was so much more. Much more exciting stuff. But I wanted to point out that my travels in the past few years have not been cushy or luxurious. Exotic? For sure. But pampering? Hell no.
Which is why I thought that for my first truly solo (because again, the trips I had taken in recent years were with a group called Blue Morpho international) trip it would be good to stay some place really nice and do all of the fancy things I used to do when I traveled.
Long walks to discover quiet streets in neighborhoods. Fancy meals. Museums and exhibits.
For Shanghai, I had pictured going to sleep each night with the skyline partying and wake up to a clean and calm view…
And yes, I got that. And it was my favorite unique think about Shanghai.
Well, actually, it was the best thing about the trip.
Just so you know, I had a full list of things to see and do while there. And I did many of them. The first day. I walked about 10 miles throughout the city, ticking the boxes next to the things I had on my list to see. It was an easy city to navigate, with an excellent subway system.
Maybe I just wasn’t really in the mood to travel and didn’t realize it? It’s a possibility. Even with day trips to Suzhou and Shanghai Disneyland… I didn’t feel like anything I was seeing and doing were experiences for which I would tell people, “You must go there and do this!”
Nope. Not at all.
In fact, I would say you could skip it.
But at least I’ve now been to China.