Shanghai’s Great Good Places

In Shanghai, The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Great good places by Haley Menchel

Shanghai has been getting me down lately. I’ve hurt my leg, it’s been non-stop raining and my workload never seems to lighten up. I want to go outside and explore but it seems impossible as no one wants to accompany me and, well, I can’t exactly walk without a limp. I laugh at this now, because I have come to terms with the fact that I have done so much already having only been in Shanghai for three months. When I do have time to roam I am always surprised by just how many great good places I have discovered.

Firstly, these places manifest themselves in the form of food shops. There is this questionable (at best) looking dumpling place called “Yang’s” and it’s only in weird malls or near train stations but let me tell you, these are some of the best fried dumplings I have ever had. There is also a bubble tea chain here called “Coco” and it’s literally a stand that makes the best boba. There are many of these little gems hidden all around Shanghai just waiting for people to come and explore them. They are the places locals don’t even bat an eye at but for someone who see’s absolutely every experience as a new and exciting one, they are on my radar as I am constantly on the hunt.

There are also nicer “great good places” when it comes to food. Clearly, food is extremely important to me and it’s really the main thing I like to experience when trying to indulge myself into another culture. Here in Shanghai, there are many amazing restaurants that I’ve either stumbled upon or heard of and had to try. Just last weekend, before it started raining this horrible, probably acid rain, I spent the weekend in PuXi. There I was taken to this amazing, very traditional, Japanese sashimi restaurant, in which the chef would come to your table and prepare your food right in front of you. We got to talking to our sushi chef and he expressed such immense gratitude for our interest in him and his world. He gave us his card and I’ll definitely be seeing him again. Sometimes, it’s not all about the food in the restaurants that gets me so excited/infatuated with a place, it usually includes the people working there.

Besides food, there are many spots to get away from it all. Across from NYU Shanghai there are these little courtyards and these have become somewhat of a safe haven for me. If I’m having a rough day or want a good, long talk with a friend I’ll take them there and grab a coffee. It’s so peaceful and you forget you’re in the middle of Shanghai. There is also a park near our dorm and when it’s not raining (or also not too hot) we’ll go there and play badminton. Great good places are important to me because they symbolize the chance to get away from the hectic qualities of your surroundings, but they still very much embody the place that you are in.

I’ll be sad to leave Shanghai mostly because of these great good places. They become the makeup of your personal map of the city. These places engrain themselves into your memories because they facilitate long talks, good cries and hurtful laughter.