Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Shanghai Photo Diary (Part 1: The Basics)

My Shanghai Visual Diary is a collection of photos I took during my half-year stay in a beautiful city in Mainland China. The beautiful city is often called the "Paris of the East" and I spent many days of freedom, friendship and happiness in there. This photo collection is my gratitude to everyone who made that experience for us everlasting and unforgettable. 

Part 1 is about the beginning. How we settled down. And how we went with the basics.

February is quite rainy in Shanghai. I always wake up freezing. Thank God water heater was already invented. This is my usual view in the morning taken from where we stayed, the Fudan Foreign Student Dormitory. FFSD is like the United Nations in one building. A lot of foreign students stay there while they take classes in Fudan.  

I heard one Korean said during a seminar for volunteering students that most foreign students go to China not to study. They read the Lonely Planet instead of their textbooks. I couldn't blame them. China was very beautiful. This photo was taken inside the convenience store at the ground floor of the dormitory building. That's my Gege (Chinese for big brother) in front of a gondola with some of the most delicious instant noodles in the world.
This is the storekeeper. She became our friend. She takes care of the store in the mornings. All the foreign students get everything that they need from the store- breads, tissues, drinks, milk, beer, nicotine, notebooks, pens and many more. This is where I get my internet card. 

After breakfast, we boarded the same vehicles that took us from Pudong International Airport to the dormitory. It was a chance to look at the beauty of Shanghai again. Only this time, I'm already taking pictures. Even the ordinary roads were beautiful in my eyes. Manila is still my first love. But undeniably, roads looked better in Shanghai.

It was as if we were transported to a land I only saw in fantasy movies. I was literally in awe seeing the beautifully designed houses and buildings that were built beside the roads. 

There were giant pumpkins and eggplants growing in the middle of the roads too. Oh I forgot to say, we were in Shanghai during the World Expo 2010. The theme is "Better City, Better Life". The effort to really beautify the whole city by the local government of Shanghai was felt everywhere and was very tangible.

Our first stop that day is the Philippine Consulate in Shanghai. In there we were able to meet some Filipino government officials, diplomats and workers who had been in Shanghai for so many years. It was a short but fruitful visit. The consulate gave us maps and city guides that helped us a lot during our stay in the city.

We headed for the inner streets in downtown Shanghai. Often called the "Paris of the East", Shanghai is where you will find the French Concession. During our mini-city tour, we saw a lot of fascinating restaurants such as this one. Apparently, the Shanghainese have also learned to embrace the western culture. They like visiting European shops, cafes and restaurants too.

This is a photo of a typical Chinese merchant selling ornamental plants. Most people in China use bikes. He is one of the reasons why Shanghai is full of color, energy and vibrance that day.

Some restaurant crew members doing their stuffs on that day.

This photo was taken in front of Luneta, the only Filipino restaurant in Shanghai, with my Jie jie (Chinese for big sister) and Kuya Zee. It's the tail end of winter in Shanghai that time and we're loving it!

A view of Luneta's interior from the outside. It's always a good tactic to make the dishes visible to the the people outside.

With dishes like this, who wouldn't want to come in and have a try? It's Pinakbet and Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet for lunch. For more information, please visit

Glass walled-restaurants are pretty effective right? It was fun to look at the Chinese folks getting enticed by the dishes served at Luneta.

A picture with my co-Gokongwei Brothers Foundation scholars. GBF is an organization founded Mr. John Gokongwei, Jr., a successful businessman in the Philippines. He sent us to Shanghai to study Mandarin Chinese and to discover the economic miracle of China. After more than five months of initial Mandarin Chinese education in the Philippines under the Confucius Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University, we were sent to Fudan University for further training.

Yours truly with my co-scholar, Chanty, were invited on stage for a song number. A stage and karaoke inside a restaurant? But of course! It's not just a restaurant. It's a Filipino restaurant! Filipinos love to sing and to entertain. It is almost imperative to have a stage and karaoke if you're the only existing Filipino restaurant within a foreign city.

After a sumptuous lunch, we headed straight to Wal-Mart in Wujiaochang. For the first time, we went shopping for all the things that we will need and I found myself shopping for things I won't typically buy when I'm in the Philippines. I bought some hangers, tissues, toilet cleaners, handwash, soaps, shampoos and other basic items.

Evert was going for some delicious-tasting bread with meat floss like the ones that you get at Bread Talk. However, I must say, that even the ones that you get in an ordinary supermarket in China is so much better.

Because Shanghai is cold, vegetables and fruits don't spoil easily. I even have a classmate who made a make-shift fridge at the terrace of her room in the dormitory because it can get THAT cold in Shanghai! One of our favorite purchases in Shanghai is the strawberries! They're fresh and sweet! And they can be found everywhere. Affordable too!

You will find a myriad of herbs, spices, mushrooms and preserved foods in a typical Chinese grocery. You won't find these stuffs anywhere else. I wanted to buy some of them. The only thing is, I don't know how to use them.

Wujiaochang or Wanda Plaza. This place played a very important role in our lives there in Shanghai. It is our meeting place, it is where we buy our groceries, it is where we watch movies, it is where we hanged out. You can't miss Wanda Plaza when you're staying in Shanghai.

The Spaceship! One of the modern architectural wonders existing in China today. There are so many architectural wonders found in Shanghai that are feasts in the eyes. You won't typically find them in books, magazines and even on the internet. You have to see them for yourself! With me is Celsius, one of my beautiful co-scholars .

For dinner, we ate at a nearby cozy restaurant that we believed to be ran and operated by Uyghurs. The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking ethnic group who hail from Xinjiang. They serve awesome noodles and rice toppings there! Be careful with their chili sauce too! It can get fiery. So use sparingly. On my right hand is my SIM Card in Shanghai. I used China Mobile.

I don't remember the name of this dish anymore. All I know is that it tasted so good! I love Chinese food so much, that's why. I think it's chicken meat sauteed with some potatoes, green bell peppers and tomato paste. Topped on rice. If I'm not mistaken, it's priced at around RMB 10 only. Roughly around 70 in Philippine Peso.
Oh! Look what we found on our way to the dormitory. A Condom Vending Machine. Yes. Contraceptives are THAT legal in Shanghai. They have this tiny Vending Machine spread all over the city- even at the gates of our university. Especially there? Anyhoo, the smallest vending machine I have ever seen in my life can be a good counterpart of "takatak" in the Philippines.
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