For an obvious tourist, as I said before, it's hard to walk through any part of Shanghai without feeling like a walking dollar sign, but I got better at walking by and saying no without engaging. It definitely seems like everyone seems to have a side gig going selling watches, or bags, or tea ceremonies, or yes, massage. It can become annoying, but it's understandable.
It is an extremely expensive city. Something I don't think we can even comprehend back home. The prices I heard made my head hurt. It's a city on a level beyond my understanding anyway. Like I said before, the transit system is incredible and food in restaurants is cheaper than back home, but the disparity between rich and poor is enormous. Even people with very good jobs like lawyers and doctors, cannot afford to live in the city.
On the good side of the ledger and reflecting on my preconceived notions that I talked about in one of my older posts, I didn't notice a smell everywhere, other than the air just being like walking through sweat due to the humidity and rain. There are 25 000 000 people in Shanghai, and not once did I feel overwhelmed or like it was any more densely populated than Toronto really. I know it is, and that may have something to do with being able to time things outside of rush hour. People, when they were not trying to scam me, were very friendly.
One day on the metro a teenager around 18 or 19 years old engaged my roommate and I in a conversation in english, partly to show off and practice his english, but partly because he was a friendly guy. He was interested in history and once he knew we were Canadian he talked to us about his theory that Canada would be the next superpower. When we laughed and said it would more likely be China, he relayed a sentiment that I've heard quite a bit so far. Essentially, the Chinese have never wanted to be a superpower, they always want to be number 2 and are uncomfortable with the responsibility of being number 1. He pointed to ancient Chinese rulers becoming lazy and profligate when they got too much power. Like China always wants someone else to push them to be better.
The other thing I've heard a lot is that until recently, (in the past few decades) China has always felt like outsiders were coming to bring bad things to them and something about the national psyche is only now starting to feel comfortable with outsiders and the idea that they might not necessarily intend them harm.
I definitely don't know enough about Chinese history or the Chinese people to make a judgment on either of these ideas, but I have heard them from a few sources, so I thought I would relay them to you all, as they are beginning to shape my understanding of China and its people.