People watching in Shanghai

Postcards from China

My life as the local foreigner (part 6)


The many views from my office window over the course of 6 months

Two years ago, when I lived in Korea, I started the practice of sending hand-drawn postcards to my closest friends as a way to share my experiences away from social media.

I continued this tradition throughout my past 6 months in China, which included a few short trips to Hong Kong and Japan.

View from The Bund

Recipients this time included 24 friends, most of which were people I met in college; 2 strangers I met while dining in Shanghai; and 23 acquaintances I met while travelling. While tallying up these numbers, I was surprised at the number of travelling-made friends with which I had managed to keep in contact.

The water canals of Zhujiajiao Water Town on the outskirts of Shanghai

The recipients came from (or currently reside in) a number of places: US (16), Italy (1), Japan (13), Taiwan (2), Germany (1), South Korea (6), Thailand (1), Singapore (1), Ecuador (1), Canada (2), and Hong Kong (2).

China Post was something of a lottery. One could never be sure when letters and packages would arrive at their intended destination. The postcard to arrive the most quickly was one was bound for Kofu, Japan (2 weeks), and the postcard with the longest transit time was bound for Guayaquil, Ecuador (3 months).

This time, I also asked people to send postcards back to me, but those heavily anticipated cards never arrived.

Views from West Bund

As with my past experience sending postcards from Korea, it was wonderful to share my memories with friends, old and new, and to make a connection with them outside of social media. Although not as accurate of a depiction as photographs, it was my hope that my adoration of those places and moments would shine through these quick sketches and spark a curiosity in the places I have been.

My favourite places to draw were around water canals and rivers

Part 6/7 of My life as the local foreigner, a series of photo essays exploring my time working abroad in China. To keep up to date on my latest adventures, follow me on Instagram.