In the span of two long days we packed and stored our NYC life, grabbed a direct 14 hour flight from EWR to PVG, and checked into our new temporary home in the former French Concession (FFC) in downtown Shanghai. We chose Shanghai because we are familiar with the city and will be able to have a longer visit.
In 2008, the Chinese Consulate in Seoul granted my husband and I both 30 day Single Entry Visas. It was pretty much just enough time to hit up the major tourist draws – Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. Back then, China was frantically getting ready for their world stage premier and the Olympics was just the first act. There were other events unfolding behind the red curtain which were causing headaches for everyone for travels, locals, and officials alike. Securing travel visas was difficult. We made due with what we were granted in Seoul and just saw what we could. This allowed us to budget only 5 nights. This time it will be a 3 week visit.
This time, the Chinese consulate in New York granted both of us 90 day multi entry visas which are good for a year. This will allow my husband and I plenty of time to visit what was missed back in 2008 including a proper visit to many cities like Shanghai. We will also witness what has become of China after four years of rapid expansion and construction. So far, it’s obvious that much has changed and this country is still rolling along at full Maglev speed.
Shanghai still appears to be caught up in a construction frenzy. Streets are constantly being swept in the former French Concession and it is not uncommon to see a Bentley speed by while strolling down Huaihai Road. Will the things we see in China’s cultural capital be a stark contrast to what lies ahead? I’m enjoying it all none the less.
The first week was a blur of jet lag and it still hasn’t sunk in that there’s several more weeks – and possibly months – ahead in this journey. At least the jet lag only lasted a few days, Shanghai looks sort of familiar and the transition from living in NYC and now in Shanghai is not very difficult – just warmer.