In 2006, and I was dying to visit China for the first time. When I overheard two friends discussing their upcoming trip to Shanghai, I jumped at the chance to join them. With less than a week to secure my visa from the Chinese embassy, and a tentative standby slot on my friends’ flight, the trip was meant to be as both came through just in time. A third friend also joined us, bringing our Shanghai crew to four.

Friendly &Bustling

This was my first trip to a communist country and I was curious about daily life there. Our first night in the city, two of us popped into a restaurant across from our hotel, and to my surprise, the restaurant owner, accompanied by her English instructor (and translator) came to our table and greeted us warmly. The friendly owner chatted with us and even ordered for us–thank goodness because the menu was in Mandarin–and I couldn’t read it to save my life. The people of Shanghai made us feel like rock stars–welcome and appreciated! Then again four black American women, even in this sprawling city of about twenty million, were an oddity–easily identified as tourists eager to soak up Shanghai’s culture.

After my first trip to Shanghai in the Spring of 2006, I returned again in November with my family. We ventured outside of Shanghai to Shuozhou and Zhouzhang. Zhouzhang, sometimes called the Venice of the East, is an ancient water town on the canals of Jiangsu Province. It dates back nearly 900 years to the Qing and Ming Dynasties.

All travel snapshots of Shanghai and Zhouzhang taken by Adele C. Berry.

ZhouzhuangVenice of the East