I initially started this blog to share my many photos of the places I’ve visited, people I’ve met and adventures I’ve had during my gap year with friends and family back home. But I don’t have this one place I call home. And friends and family are spread out across the world. So I started maggiesmangos! I had just moved back to London and was overwhelmed by this exciting city (and it’s massive food scene) and I neglected the real purpose of the blog. It was never meant to be a food blog, really.
I travel a lot. My family always has. And ever since I left my parents’ home to go to boarding school at a very young age, I’ve been taking matters into my own hands – making plans and booking flights for trips with friends or only myself.
Last year, I spent a month in Hong Kong staying with my best friend from London. After about 10 days in HK, we went to the travel agency and booked a 23 hour train ride to Shanghai. Across the Chinese countryside, to the Motherland we go! (The landscape was incredible, but no blurry photo taken through the dirty window would do it justice…)
I loved Shanghai. It’s a fusion of cultures, as if China and Europe had a baby. I also loved the food and Shanghainese Dumplings. I had two of the most incredible nights in my life, which I will never forget. If I had to give these nights out a movie title, it would be ‘The perks of being a pretty girl in a city with money where everyone fulfils your dreams even though you’re wearing Converse and pyjamas”. And if I had to give a speech about this movie, I would first have to thank Francesco, the bar tender of Bar Rouge & the man of the night, and Steven, the Asian Chief Concierge with the sexy American husky voice at the Peace Hotel.
If you were wondering why we were wearing pyjamas in the most exclusive clubs along The Bund – we hadn’t packed for the occasion. We hadn’t packed for any occasion as a matter of fact. Our trip turned out differently than planned. Five days in the Chinese countryside turned into 12 days after my passport got stolen just before boarding the night train to HK. After weird encounters with the Chinese police, bureaucracy and incompetence, I realized that I couldn’t leave the country. I was trapped in China.
When S. and me arrived in Shanghai, it was freezing. We had only packed for 5 days and nothing warm. We went for the Zwiebellook, layer for layer, putting on everything we had. We spent a day running back and forth between China’s Entry & Exit bureau and the Austrian consulate (weird encounters with little Chinese women speaking flawless Kärntnerisch), trying to track down an emergency passport for me. And once that mission was successful, we were ready to enjoy Shanghai. In pyjamas.
I had no idea my hair was this long during my gap year. After my passport got stolen, S. and me always carried our backpack in the front, always. Even when entering Bar Rouge. (Yep, we went clubbing with a backpack!)
And off we go – with a passport – a 23 hour train ride back home to Hong Kong! It was my 18th birthday when we arrived in HK! So many crazy experiences and memories I will never forget. S. and me were such a great team. And this was such a great trip!