There are not many places in the world where you can experience the metropolitan super city feeling in a tropical environment. Green bushes tangled around the bottom of skyscrapers in an emissive heath. The scenery of this is quite beautiful since it puts two worlds together whereas one is artificial and the other natural.
Another thing that will capture your attention and especially one of your senses is the smell. During the summer, much of the cooking happens on the street and in every alley. Unlike westerners, Chinese people eat outside most of the time since it’s sometimes cheaper than buying groceries and certainly saves them time. This has made the number of food courts, food stands and restaurants to equal the number of people…. No, of course not, but there are definitely a lot of them!
During the summer you get to experience this more than ever. Walking on any street will hit you with a combined smell of chicken soup, street BBQ, dumplings and western pizza. This is both a blessing and a curse depending on how you are feeling at that moment. You will love it if you are feeling hungry but you will hate it if you are feeling hangover or just nauseous. I try to stay inside after a long night partying or with a bad stomach since the combined smells from boiled chicken feets, grilled squids, dumplings and pizza will hit me harder than a knockout punch by Mike Tyson in his prime. What I usually do instead is to enjoy China’s fast and almost free delivery system.
If you are afraid of body contact, then Shanghai over the summer is just the right place and time to overcome your fear! Since traffic jams can get stuck for a while, the best and most efficient way to get around is by Subway. Just as in any mega city, the subway gets overcrowded during rush hours and that’s where you should conquer your fear. You will get squeezed, pushed and manhandled until you reach your breaking point. I think I hugged more people the first day in the subway here than my whole life prior to that day. The ‘squeezy-ness’ (is this even a word??) is all year around but the heat during the summer takes it to another level. It doesn’t matter how nice you make yourself when you leave the crib in the morning, you will still look like you just fought 15 gorillas when you arrive to work.
Despite all these, Shanghai is actually a very nice place to spend summer in. Really. There are so many parks to explore, pubs with terraces where you can sit and drink for hours, and so much more. It’s all about building some tolerance and embrace both the good and the bad.