My first visit to Asia a decade ago was what some might call a bit unusual. But among the people I knew back then, it was quite normal.
I decided to fly to Shanghai, China for the weekend, alone, with nothing but hand luggage and stand-by tickets, armed with a stack of business cards featuring shopping addresses in Chinese to show taxi drivers, hoping to overcome language barriers that way. I stayed in a modest hotel in what I remember was a kind of back alley somewhere. The hotel was recommended to me by a colleague.
Due to the time zones, I was awake uncharacteristically early in the morning, took a cold shower because I couldn’t figure out how to get hot water and looked through the window of my room. I had a street view and I saw a man doing what looked like a form of tai chi on the roof of the low building opposite me. It must have been 4 or 5 am and the sun was rising. I snacked on some Oreo cookies and drank a can of Coke.
I came home with a brand new suitcase filled with random things I purchased, like half a dozen pashmina scarves (who needs so many?!). Nowadays I don’t do much shopping abroad, and if I do, it’s for necessities, clothes and practical things, not souvenirs. I guess I fulfilled all my future souvenir shopping needs on that first trip to Asia!
I did bring home this cute little box with a compass inside. I know it’s just a plastic tourist trinket, but I do like the look of it. The compass has always been broken, though. I keep it tucked away in my closet.
After this trip, I did another weekend trip to China; this time to Beijing with a colleague. This was 11 years ago and the memories have mostly faded away to make room for more recent travels.
– This post was inspired by the brand new Travel Trinkets and Memories challenge set up by nihongojapango’s Leanne –