The boring bits

In a few days a friend is passing through Shanghai on a layover and I have been researching how to maximise the 4–5 hours she has here. It’s been fun researching amongst my friends here what they would do if they had just 5 hours in Shanghai. It’s a tough one as there is so much to do. It reminded me I’m pretty lucky to stay here for a while and take my time in this city.

Living overseas longer term means you get to do the boring bits. You get to discover your new favourite supermarket; your favourite old person you walk past every day on your way to the metro; your favourite weird shop owner that always waits outside his shop rubbing his shirtless belly.

When you’re seeing someone’s life overseas online all you see is the fun and crazy moments. Those are cool to see but they're not “real” real life. Here is a small snapshot of a typical day of my life in Shanghai — the boring bits. I reckon it’s the boring bits that paint the real picture of the culture you’re living in. (#nofilter) ✌️️


This is what I eat every morning. My host dad makes me breakfast every day — how lucky am I. It’s scrambled eggs and tomato. The bowl behind is a barley porridge that has quinoa and dates in it. It’s really nice actually and really filling.

Sometimes he gives me steamed kumara to eat as well, or a boiled egg. I’m stoked when it's a boiled egg day.

Going to school

My morning commute is walking to the metro station which is 5 minutes from my house and then hopping on the metro for three stops. The metro is like being squashed like sardines in a can but you get used to it. You quickly learn how to push through people when you need to get off and people are so unaffected by people barging through. It seems everyone is on their iPhones watching a Chinese drama of some sort and I like to watch over their shoulder. (Not hard when your face is in their armpit). The other day I did see someone watching Game of Thrones with Chinese subtitles though. That was a good day.


This is a picture from today. We were learning about how to order food. We all agreed this should have been one of the first classes we were taught.

Here is how we practice writing characters:


After school I wait for mèimei to get home from her after-school tutoring and we try to practice some English. I really try to make it fun as she’s just had a whole day at school and then tutoring. I’m conscious of her making negative associations with English so I don’t want to make it a chore by using textbooks or making her read her English homework aloud. We basically just hang out and have different themes like weather, body parts, going on a picnic etc.

I am still battling to win mèimei’s affection but we are having more and more good days. I’m playing the long game.


I’ve been able to keep up my running by joining a running group over here and I’ve met some cool people who live near me. We’ve been on some great runs around where we live in the French Concession.

This picture is taken on Yan’an Elevated road. Interesting story behind the metal pillar: apparently there is a sleeping dragon underneath it. The myth came about when they were constructing the highway in the 90s. Inexplicably, workers couldn’t break up the ground beneath this central pillar. Priests who were called in advised there was a sleeping dragon underneath and they had better do something to appease it. So they made the pillar a bit prettier to keep the dragon happy. Or something along those lines.


This is a typical meal my host dad might cook for me. I’ve told him not to worry about cooking dinner for me but sometimes he still will and it’s super nice. This is noodles, beef, egg and Chinese vegetables.


This is my view of Xujiahui skyline at night.

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