Artist and globetrotter Meagan Morrison finds the unexpected in the Far East.
“We are more united than we are divided,” says artist Meagan Morrison of her journey to Shanghai, China. “The world used to feel so big and I always thought that our differences outnumbered the ways in which we are the same. This trip changed that.” While the jetsetter can be seen slurping noodles in Seoul or painting the sun setting over the Sonoran Desert via her vibrant Instagram account, this adventure hit home in a new way.
Whether perusing the local art supply district or picking up a new skill from a master paper-cutter, Morrison was able to “build a bridge through a shared love of a craft.” Not fluent in Mandarin, she discovered new ways to communicate: “Despite the language barrier, I felt very connected [to the city’s artists] through our mutual love for creating and working with our hands,” she explains.
Here, Morrison reveals six memorable ways to experience this spectacular city and make lasting connections.
SPEND: SHOP TIANZIFANG
“My impression before I ever visited Shanghai was that it was a city of the future,” says Morrison. “In reality, there are parts of it that are very modern, but there is also so much history. These two contrasting worlds tell a very different story of the city’s evolution.” Head to experience the “Parisian-style architecture” and explore the labyrinth of little streets dotted with bars, cafes, galleries, and boutiques. “It feels like you’re walking through Europe,” she explains. Morrison picked up a box-shaped purse in lieu of “a trinket that will sit on a shelf,” but says that a lucky cat figurine always makes for a cheap thrill.
If you’re interested in avoiding throngs of tourists and after a more authentic experience, head to the art supply district where many of the stores specialize in Chinese calligraphy. You’ll find everything from supersized brushes to a plethora of paper and ink. “Going to an art supply store is something that I do at home almost weekly, if not bi-weekly, but to have this experience in Shanghai gave me another glimpse into local life,” explains Morrison.
SEE: THE BUND
There are many ways to view The Bund, a colorful waterfront area of Shanghai that is lit up by “electric pink, purple, and orange colors” by night, but Morrison says taking it all in by boat is especially spectacular. “It is one of the most incredible city views on Earth—the ferry gets you so close!” she notes. Take a river cruise to enjoy “Shanghai plugged in” and see the Oriental Pearl Tower from an entirely new perspective.