Shanghai is a vast city, a diverse mix of Eastern and Western cultures. From the sprawling mega malls, designer shops, and many Western fast-food outlets, to the popular heritage sites of Yu Gardens and Jade Gardens. Multi-million pound hotels and towers dominate the Pudong skyline, whilst colonial style buildings dot along the Huangpu River on the Bund.
For me however, what made this city exciting to explore, were the narrow winding back street Hutong areas, that upon entering felt as though you were in a different country. Here there were few tourists, shoppers or professionals but locals trading food on the pavements and streets. Workshops with shoe makers, electricians and seamstresses carried on with daily life.
The smells from the vast street food on offer were difficult to ignore as I was enticed to stop at a stall. The stall had the narrowest of buildings located to the rear with a small seating area. As I politely pointed at the vast food in front of me, my plate soon filled up. My lunch of duck leg, rice, dumplings and various other choices, some of which I was unsure what they consisted of, was in fact one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed. The food was fresh and simple, but cooked to perfection with a nice kick of spice. At a ridiculously low price of £1.00, it certainly was value for money. The amusement of the locals was obvious, staring curiously at me whilst I sat down in the back seating area and got stuck into lunch. (China trip, January 2015)