Single in Shanghai

Single in Shanghai

Early March of last year I found myself in Shanghai, alone. It was a business trip for my company and I had to travel solo for the first time.

This made me anxious, as I was never the person to prepare itineraries for any trips, and now I had to prepare everything from packing to arranging transport to places. It was also my first trip to China.

I reached Shanghai after 5++ hours of flight. I got myself a taxi to my hotel. After checking in, I went to explore the area around the area.

As I was nearing a park, I realized there were many elderly people. My first thought was this was cool as the community was health conscious and did exercise.

Then I saw the umbrellas. What?

No one was there to exercise. It was a matchmaking park. All the parents who wanted their child to find a partner were there with umbrellas.

Surprised, I began snapping pictures of the crowd and umbrellas. I finally approached an uncle and asked him about this practice. Apparently park matchmaking was a tradition in the park on weekends. (I censored the phone numbers.)

And there I was: young, free and single. Ok, maybe not the young part, but definitely single. A part of me thought: I should stick a poster somewhere, promoting my single self.

I hung around the park just watching parents talk to other parents who were interested in their son or daughter. Then I went over to an available bench to sit and pass time before dinner.

After around 5 minutes of just sitting there and using Baidu to search for a place to eat, a guy in his late twenties sat next to me. He introduced himself and we started a conversation. He told me he worked around the area and came from another state to work in Shanghai. When he asked me out for dinner, I started freaking out and didn’t know how to respond. Having dinner with someone I just talked to for 5 minutes in a country I just landed seemed like a red flag. I just stood up, told him I had to go as my friend was waiting for me at the other side of the park and left.

Was that a matchmaking bench.? You sit there and whoever interested in you sits there and the matchmaking begins? I will never know as I didn’t stay around to ask. To the guy who approached me, sorry I left like that hurriedly, I hope you found the love of your life.

After grabbing something to eat, I continued exploring the place. I was lost and decided to use Baidu map to take me to the nearest tourist hotspot.

Baidu map brought me to the riverside promenade. Thank you map apps for always saving me from being lost.

The riverside promenade… is a romantic place. It’s also a very crowded place. 10/10 would recommend going for the night view. There are ferries you can travel on to further enhance the experience.

On my way back to the hotel, I took a route passing by Nanjing street. I was tired from the flight journey, but I could still squeeze in a little experience of this city at night. The street was brightly lit and still had crowd even though it was getting late. Some shops were closing for the night and some shops still had customers.

I reached my hotel and felt asleep instantly. While I couldn’t explore the entire city as I was there for work, it was a fun day out getting to know about the city and its people. Being miles away from home, alone and surrounded by strangers is certainly a different experience.

While going solo on travels allows you to connect with yourself more, having someone next to you to share the experience is priceless. Think about it, when you go to a toilet with no hook to hold your bag, there is someone to hold your bag for you.

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Written by Tree Chua