When people ask what it’s like living in China (and they do, often), sometimes, I find I am stuck for words. Phrases come to mind like, “It’s challenging”, “I feel conflicted”, and the one consistent phrase I always think but never actually externally leaves my body to project is, “[Bleep] China, I love you”.
A dear friend who recently visited me in her thick South African accent just kept describing Shanghai as a “juxtaposition”. She really hit it on the head. So, nine months of living here, nine juxtapositions.
- The sometimes slow internet, that sees 650M mobile internet users throughout China.
- The volume at which (actual polite) conversations between locals occurs. Voice projection is sometimes at an all time high, but the conversation is usually about their day, their families, the community, a general chat.
- The fame generated from live streaming oneself, sitting at your work desk, eating an apple. 90% of broadcasters are female millennials – it is not uncommon in China for someone to earn a comfortable living being minor internet celebrities.
- The green pedestrian man flashing, yet cars don’t give way to you whilst crossing the road. Why? Road laws are different, Teresa.
- The Maserati parked outside the fancy well known restaurant, with the homeless man sifting through the bin outside that same restaurant. “China’s widening income inequality is largely a reflection of faster income growth among the rich, rather than stagnant living standards among the poor,” said two economists.
- These bike sharing companies are exploding. Although the bike riding skill level is somewhat at a low, 430 million owners of cycles in China represent the biggest increase of individual mobility of the human history.
- Winter sees more blue skies than summer. Meaning, I even smile in winter (rare for an Australian summer and beaches girl).
- The diverse architecture throughout the streets. You can wander from a really modern building, two metres down the road into a small alleyway, then find yourself in a cute, traditional local Chinese community.
- The 6th largest city in the world, with over 23M residents, yet you can ride down a street, in the middle of the city and it be near empty and calm.
There you have it. Nine juxtapositions. All of these, plus more, make Shanghai what it is. The thriving, exciting, challenging, opportune and quirky place it is, ranking as Mainland China’s most liveable city in 2016. And now I say it, to you, “[Bleep] China, I love you”.