Shanghai, Part 1

It came as no surprise that I love Shanghai. Big cities brimming with lights when the night falls where hurrying throng of unfamiliar faces pass by you – each with their own story to tell but you get no glimpse inside their inner world. Even then, you take comfort in knowing that you are not alone amid the crowd. It is a funny way of detaching yourself without feeling the painful isolation.

I was staying in Fuzhou Road. Little did I know beforehand that it is also known as the cultural or book street, where stores selling books, stationery, supplies for calligraphy etc are found. So I spent my first afternoon in Shanghai excitedly checking out one bookstore after another. Among them are the multistorey Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore and Shanghai Book City (brother would kill to be here because of the huge collection of Mandarin titles on display). Put aside the more established and well-known stores, small stalls selling used or brand new books/ magazines attended mostly by elders could be found hidden at some corners or alleys. The entire time I was debating if I should shop for some Mandarin books for myself (esp those that are hard to come by in Malaysia). At last, I decided against it as I wouldn’t finish reading them anyway 😦 😦

Fuzhou road where I stayed. Gotta love the buildings around and it was not packed with tourists.

Books and more books. Heaven.

Fuzhou road was also where I finally found a family-run restaurant that served nice fulfilling flavorful Chinese cuisines with good price. I was fed up with having dumplings or noodles for past few days so I decided to stop settling for shops that didn’t serve rice no matter how hungry I was. I ended up having almost all of my meals there that the owner and her daughter recognized me as the weird girl.

Nice stuff. Wished I had taken more (and better) photos.

The reason why I chose to stay at the hostel in Fuzhou Road albeit the mixed to negative online reviews was because of the location. The Bund is just few steps away from it and it has a fantastic roof top bar which overlooks everything at night! Not to mention that it is near to the metro station which makes it easy for me to access all the attractions. But I wasn’t happy when I was there staying in the 8-bed female dorm. In fact, I felt so lonely and I craved for human interactions. As expected, all the girls in the room were young local Chinese. This seemed to be the same everywhere else (happened to the last two hostels I booked). Some came with friends, but most were alone. I soon realized that it was common for these girls to travel alone within the country and even when it was not summer break, they would travel around as long as they got few days off from classes. However in this hostel, the girls usually stayed for one night then checked out the next day before someone new joined the room. What drove me crazy was everyone minded their own business, no one looked at you and even if they did, they did it quietly. It was such a shame because I really loved the spacious room and the huge comfortable bed (nevermind the unsightly balcony that was full of clothes hung to be dried by these Chinese travelers). If I were to make friends with any of them, I needed to be the one initiating the conversations. But when I was put in a room with so many girls, I got intimidated. What if my friendliness was mistaken as a weakness or an unwelcoming nosiness? What if they reacted with indifference or hostility? I would feel hurt. I was such a coward, I was no different than them. So I told myself I would book a mixed dorm the very next time. But then again, the thought of sharing a room with so many Chinese guys put me off. Lol. On the last day before check out, finally a new girl said hi to me and conversations followed. Later on, another new girl chipped in. Both girls came from different parts of China and were in Shanghai for different reasons – one to look for a job, another to look for a friend.
As much as I enjoy the sight seeing and having a break from normal routines, I guess the biggest satisfaction comes from the interaction with people of different walks of life made along the journey.

P_20160619_194106_NTView from the roof top bar

Discovery through Books and Journey

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I need at least one book with me whenever I travel. So I am not surprised to see books easily available at restaurants, backpackers’ hostels and secondhand bookstores in the Sosrowijayan International Village of Yogyakarta city. However, interestingly, all 3 of the secondhand bookstores (they buy, sell and exchange!) I have checked out also offer other services/ goods such as tour & guide, souvenirs, motorbike rental etc.

The Secondhand Bookstore

 Part of my Bangkok itinerary involved visiting a secondhand bookstore. In fact, it has been made my goal to visit at least one secondhand bookstore at the cities I will be visiting. Dasa Book Cafe is one them!
She might not have all the books I had on my mind, but I did stumble across titles that surprised me. Too bad it was our last day in the city and we were left with not much spare cash with us. Or else, I would have bought more.
P/S: The Boyfriend, who has long abandoned his childhood reading habit, really liked the bookstore. He spent some time alone reading without bothering me 😀 We were glad that we were there.
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