Abstract Ideas & The Metro – Shanghai, China

From time to time, I get asked which country I’ve visited do I like the most. This is a very difficult question for me to answer. I don’t think I actually have a favorite, but there are some places I do love & China is one of them. China was the first Asian country I visited & it was the first time I had traveled without my family. It was on this trip that the travel bug bit & when I learnt that I didn’t need to rely on anyone else to see the world – that if I truly wanted to see the world, I could.

I had just finished my studies & had saved a small bit of money. I had no idea where my life was going & my friend invited me to visit her in Shanghai. My great & wonderful friend, Sue, was teaching English in China. Going to the Far East was just such an abstract idea that no one in my family had done before so naturally I jumped at the opportunity.

Possibly the very first impression I had of the country was the air pollution. Bear in mind this was years before our current pandemic days of reduced production & manufacturing. I had a window seat & I wanted to see the countryside as we got nearer Shanghai, but that wasn’t possible. There’s this smog that plagues cities in China which drastically reduces your visibility. The time of year & weather do affect this as well, but overall a clear sky is not always guaranteed.20170410_174139

Sue had told me to expect a culture shock & that was an understatement. That culture shock is something I struggle to express because of the magnitude of it. The way of life in China is vastly different from what I knew & what is the norm in South Africa. Experiencing something so different is what formed my passion for travel. There’s just something about it that takes over my thoughts & it seems to seep into my bloodstream & pulsates through my body. It sounds ridiculous, but that is how it feels to me.

The cheapest way around Shanghai is the metro system. This system alone is a mind boggling topic because of its size & the sheer number of commuters using it. It has 16 active lines with over 400 stations & the system’s total length is roughly 700 kilometers. On the average work day, over 10 million people will use Shanghai’s metro. I can’t possibly explain to you what it is like using this metro at peak time. It is crowded. The trains are overflowing with people & the stations are so packed that if you don’t have a tight grasp on the person you are traveling with, you will be separated from them & good luck getting back to them. If you think I am exaggerating, there are actually reports of numerous injuries & a death caused in crowded metro stations. All of this & people laugh at me when I say using public transport in China during rush hour is like an extreme sport.20170414_153135

On one of my first days in Shanghai, Sue & I were going somewhere during this busy period. I was unprepared. Getting on the first train was fine, but then we had to change lines at a busy station. The train slowed to a stop & I saw hordes of people pressed up against the glass doors ready to spill into the train. Sue quickly grabbed my wrist & held my arm tight against her. The doors opened & it was mayhem. The sea of people was pushing us further inside the carriage. It seemed like our bodies were being picked up & moved backwards against our will. I remember having to almost fight our way out. Sue got a foot on the platform first & pulled me out of the train. I don’t know what would have happened if we weren’t holding on to each other. As soon as we were in a quieter area, we just looked at each other & burst out laughing – to the point where we were actually in tears. I think we were in such disbelief at what had just happened.

I’d love to squeeze more into this post, but I have already gone over my word budget so you’ll just have to follow my blog & wait for the next part of this adventure.

Keep traveling, keep safe.

DanVenture Travels

17 thoughts on “Abstract Ideas & The Metro – Shanghai, China

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  1. I went to Shanghai almost 10 years ago, and although I didn’t take the metro, I can imagine it’s mayhem! After all, it has almost 25 million people, plus tourists to boot. Glad you survived the ordeal and had fun!

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  2. I think I can relate, the subway in NYC used to be that way (pre pandemic), especially going to a Yankee game, I am glad I have a company car now and can just drive, trying to master the ons and offs and lines of the subway to get to a game is mind boggling…. awaiting more on shanghai though, it seems like you are holding something back (I could be wrong, just ask my ex, lol)

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  3. Wow! I cannot imagine riding the metro and now I understand more how hard it would be to try to social distance in a crowded station like that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I truly admire and envy your sense of adventure. As to your trip to China, I fully admit I am not brave or strong enough to make that trip. Enjoy your travels and I will look forward to reading more of your travels!

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  5. This is a Flashback of living in New York for 25 years and riding the Subways. I found that way of Life to be Dehumanizing. I moved from NY to The Rural settings of Pennsylvania. It’s been 50 years since I rode Public Transportation and don’t miss it. Fifty years ago I knew that Social Distancing was important.

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  6. That’s It! The Travel Bug! The people! The Culture and the food! The wonderful architecture and history. Once it gets inside your blood to experience new places it is very much an addiction. Add this addiction to photography and your good to go. Be well! Be Safe! Mark aka Not4wood

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha! Thus reminded me of a few trips to the Philippines where politely lining up doesn’t exist. I remember lining up against the wall in the bathroom only to be surprised by people walking past me as they went in the stall! I guess you stand in front of the stall, not line up against the wall! Oof.

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  8. I’m with you on China. I’d already been living and working in Hong Kong for a while before I first ventured into mainland China, sometime close to Hong Kong’s handover in 1997. For some reason, one of my most vivid memories is of a hotel I stayed at in Beijing. The huge window in my room with dark, heavy curtains, washed out, drab wallpaper, big red plastic flask filled with hot water on the desk, stillness, all of Beijing waiting outside for me. Thanks for stirring up this memory with your post!

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