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Sleep Optional Shanghai

June 29, 2011

Americans fondly refer to New York as the City That Never Sleeps. which speaks to how egotistical we are about our own country. New York’s sleep schedule is like a newborn baby’s compared to other big cities. My experience is Shanghai.

I have heard it described as a literal ocean tide of people constantly ebbing and flowing, I like to think of it as carpenter ants perpetually filing out of an antihill. Whatever metaphor you choose to use to describe the magnitude of people, scooters, and bicycles scrambling down the street darting traffic, is not enough until it is actually witnessed. the metro commute can be like times square at new years, thats how packed together the station is.

People often say that it is only a matter of time before the bubble pops in China. I say, not as long as the rest of the world continues to embrace the 8 hour sleep cycle. China is operating 24-7.  Maybe it is because the pollution and lights keep the locals from even realizing its night time, or perhaps it is the constant nicotine buzz from all the smoking they do here.

Whatever the reason, the Chinese are awake. all the time. I bet you are wondering what they could possibly be doing with all the extra time they have not sleeping, here are a few popular activities.

1.Getting a haircut. hairstyle is important in Shanghai, but there is no reason why this activity should waste daytime hours when one could be working and contributing to the commonwealth.  Lets just say, I have never seen the hair salon so packed than at 10:30 or 11 o clock at night.

2. Playing checkers.Outside. Why not take a classic board game outside where you can enjoy the fresh air?

3. Grocery Shopping. Fruit stores and gorcery stores were packed last night when I was walking back to my apartment around 11 pm. People energetically bartered and bought fresh fruit and vegetables at the market near my house like they were on iron chef  with an hour until deadline.

4. Shopping. It is not on the level of Singapore ( locals refer to shopping as singapore’s official sport). But what better a time to pick up a few new shirts and a new ipod than 11;30 or 12 am.

5. Family Bike Rides. Shout out to the Carter Family- remember our “fond” rides to Harners Bakery for breakfast? Its kind of like that here, except I think  food is less of an incentive. My guess is that family bike rides are used as a late night break between studying and a packed extracurricular schedule. But no matter what country, there is always that kid struggling in the back….

5. Go on a jog. I saved the nighttime activity that frustrated me the most, for last. No one would be caught dead jogging in the middle of the day. I tried it once, only to receive stares and judging faces.  Don’t believe them! They are just toying with the lao wai (foreigner) ‘s fitness routine. I have seen as much as five runners out for a night time jog after 10 pm. In fact, while commuting back from work with my coworker yesterday evening, she casually mentioned she might go running later.

the jig is up Shanghai, I am going running outside, and I know your looks of judgement don’t mean anything. I might even run at 12 in the afternoon.

so next time you are doing nothing productive with your evening, might I suggest a haircut? Maybe even a jog?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    June 29, 2011 10:32 pm

    Now who was that kid bringing up the rear on the family bike ride? And we thought the biscuits and gravy would be a motivator!

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