I have to first admit defeat. I was convinced that being a “mom” and never sleeping as it was would make me immune to jet lag. I talked a huge game to my friends, most of which had left the country by flight before and of course knew better, but I was convinced. And, on the way there I was completely unaffected. Turns out this was because of when we left and when we landed, which I still don’t understand. So on the way home… it was a different story. I have still not slept through an entire night yet, and I keep waking up in the middle of the night wide-awake with huge bursts of energy. After some light google searching I saw that this could last one day per time zone. One day. Per time zone!
It doesn’t change how amazing this trip was. We were so fortunate to be invited to come along on this cross the world trip with one of our best friends Amy to visit her family and celebrate her engagement. There is no way we would have had the same experiences as we did if we had gone for any other reason or at any other time. Not only because without her (and the fact that she is bilingual) would we have probably gotten lost in rural China within the first day, but because her family showed us so many of the sides there are to Shanghai. We saw the tourists’ attractions, the local shops, and their everyday life. I should also mention we did end up getting lost, but not until the seventh day, and not because of our wonderful friend. By that time my husband and I thought we could handle it. We had mastered the subways and how to barter and we knew all of 20 words, so why not go off on our own, right? We wanted to find a Harley shirt for my brother-in-law and also give Amy a little break from her unfortunate translating duties. In our defense, we were great on the subways, but leaving them, not so much. We walked 4 blocks in the wrong direction in a… not so awesome part of town. By the time we found out where we were going my heart had almost exploded. I literally begged my husband to take me home. Buuuuuttt what’s a vacation without a terrifying story to accommodate it? We seem to have one for almost all of our trips, and It never changes the amazing times we have!
So many people have asked me in the last year “why China?!” with this weirded out look on their face. I guess for some it’s not the number one travel destination on their bucket list. Really, it wasn’t mine either. It started with wanting to be with a friend and celebrate her great news and it ended with an experience that I will have for the rest of my life. You just never know what will happen when you open your mind up to learning and allowing yourself to be immersed in a new world. Don’t get me wrong; I was definitely ready to be home after 8 days. Mostly because I missed my son more than anything has ever missed anything in the history of time and my heart felt like it was going to explode (again).
I have also heard the food isn’t good. This is a lie. If anyone tells you that then they are either lying or going to the wrong places. I am pretty sure I gained 10lbs while I was over there. One of the first words we had to learn, second to “thank you”, was “I’m full”. The meals are long and thought out and it is all about family and the company you are with. Each table has a lazy susan in the middle of it and the meals are served family style, both at home and in the restaurants. Along with every meal there is also tea. There is tea everywhere, no cold water (or beer) to save your life, but tea everywhere. Seeing the process of making tea during one of our meals and learning about the different types and what they are used for had our whole group into it. We even bought a ton of tea sets in the street markets. But, the best part was just taking a quiet minute to enjoy everything. It was refreshing to sit without any entertainment except for each other and carefully go through a process without rushing.
We were so lucky to be visiting the country with our friends family, they took so much time out of their day to take us on tours, out to dinner, and to show us their Shanghai. Everyone we interacted with was so kind. In some areas they were surprised to us, but always so kind.
I am definitely happy to be home, with a whole new appreciation for the space that we have. But I am also excited to bring some of that culture into my own life. Taking more time for meals and making sure that they aren’t rushed. Eating healthier and trying to get more fresh fruit and veggies into our diets. I have also gained a whole new respect for karaoke and I’m joining my husband’s life long obsession for things on a stick. This wasn’t even all the food for this meal! In some apartments people will share a kitchen and sometimes even a bathroom. This kitchen is shared by 3 apartments.