Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Happy Places

For me, winter in Shanghai usually involves a roller coaster of emotions.   Holiday celebrations with students, colleagues, and friends are incredibly fun.  However, for every good time, there are lonely, gray days over my month and a half long Chinese New Year break that make me homesick.  When I start to feel melancholy, I simply tell myself that I need to go to one of my happy places.  After a visit to one of these spots, life gets better.

The Park
Many Chinese parks are magical places.  You never know what you will see until you get there, and after you visit you want to return for more.  I love cutting through parks on my commute to work.  Dancing grannies, old men duking it out over games of cards, and well maintained landscapes lift my spirits. 
I love People's Square in the Fall.

Many card games can become quite heated.  It is hilarious.
Some dancing grannies perform with pink ribbons and orange loofahs. 
Rumor has it there have been some dancing granny turf wars. I would not want to cross these ladies.
I enjoyed watching a little weekend Tai Chi.
Many folks find parks extremely peaceful.

The MOCA and other Art Galleries
In a city of over 24 million people, sometimes it’s nice to escape to a quiet place where one can ponder the meaning of life while looking at inkblots. 
The MOCA in People's Square is extremely peaceful on weekday afternoons.

If you aren't looking for a crowd, you may want to avoid the museums on the weekend. 
M&M Land
For people who enjoy coco-therapy or just want to have a fun time while shopping on Nanjing Dong Lu, M&M world is the place for you! 

I don't feel really blue around the M&M's.

M&M World has done a great job marrying their candies and Chinese culture in a cheeky way.
If you are questioning your mood, an analyzer will tell you your color mood.  I hope this analysis is spot on!
I love the terra cotta chocolate warriors! 
I was surprised to see the store only carried peanut, almond, and plain M&M's.  
The lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel
Shanghai has many new, interesting smells.  Sometimes the scent of wet markets, vehicle exhaust, and pm 2.5 can make your nose feel abused.  The antidote to these foul odors is the lobby of the Shangri-La.  The piped in air freshener and tea service makes me happy in less than an hour.

A hostess at the Guilin Shangri-La greets us at the door. Every Shangri-La Hotel has a beautiful floral citrus scent. 
The Bund at Night

If you can tolerate large crowds and the weather isn’t horrible, a nighttime stroll down the Bund may be what the doctor ordered.  The magical lights usually put me in a better mood.

If you are looking for a crowd, take a walk down the Puxi side of the Bund.
The Bund is also a great place to relax during the day.
If you are looking for a quieter bund experience, the Pudong side may be the place for you.
Finding your own happy spot is essential to surviving Shanghai.  Happy hunting!