Living in Kangqiao: A Photo Essay

Earlier this week, my friend Matt, a reporter for China Daily, asked me to provide some quotes for an article about life as an expat in Shanghai. I gave him my views on the easy transition and the similarities and contrasts from my time in Colombia.  I thought nothing of it and assumed he would weave a line or two into his text; but apparently I was quoted heavily enough to warrant a picture in the paper. Not having any solo pictures of me galavanting through the streets of China, I scrambled to get something together and asked a coworker, Maja Kelly, to take some photos after work, around the neighborhood.

Life in KangQiao

Our school is located in the outskirts of the city, shadowed by the iconic, futuristic high rises, in a district called Kangqiao in Pudong. It’s not as exciting of an area as Puxi (the other side of the river), but it’s quite photogenic, and provides a glimpse of what life used to be like in this thriving metropolis.


The walls are dilapidated and decaying, and homes are mostly made of crumbling cement. When you’re not behind a lens, the monotone gray can seem depressing. But somehow the drabness becomes the perfect backdrop for portraits, and to show the reality of life in Shanghai.

Raining in Shanghai
Blue Wall

It was a fun afternoon; not because I love having my photo taken (cause I don’t), but because it caused quite the commotion among our Chinese neighbors, allowing for more interaction than usual. The Chinese people are wonderfully warm and friendly, but unfortunately their hard exterior and lack of English often times prevents tourists from seeing them in this light.

Eating Street Food Shanghai
Food Street Kangqiao Shanghai
Shanghai Streets
Street Food KangQiao

Thank you to Matt for inciting the need for this photo shoot, and to Maja for doing such a beautiful job capturing the essence of Kangqiao. I’m happy to be able to share a small peak into my Shanghai life with all of you.

32 thoughts on “Living in Kangqiao: A Photo Essay”

  1. Beautifully done! And the interesting part of Shanghai most people would never get to see was unfolded because of your photo shoot. Keep sharing!

  2. I loved the pic of you in the rain. I must admit, Shanghai was way on the bottom of my favorite places. Not only because I am a country girl at heart, but I was bothered my the noise, cell phones everywhere, no eye contact and being pushed (a lot). That being said I was also helped by a young woman during a brief experience of OMG where the hell am I!!! Your pics and comments have allowed me to a better understanding their culture. Loved it!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Patty. I can totally understand your sentiments regarding Shanghai. Like I said, as a tourist, it’s really hard to get past the hard (and pushy) surface. But then you have those wonderful moments during moments of otherwise stress and panic. For me, 5 years ago during my first visit, it was an old Chinese woman on a train, who literally tucked me in while I fell asleep 🙂

  3. What a beautiful story! And congratulations on having a published article as a guest expert, what a huge achievement!

    The photos are lovely. Your co-worker really knows how to use a camera. ;o)


    1. Thanks, Eden! You MUST visit China. I’ll make sure to write a post about what to do if you have one week, two, etc. 🙂

  4. Hey!
    I just happened to stumble upon your blog and I love it, I have never been to Asia but my husband and I are headed to Hong Kong and Tokyo for the Summer, I am stoked. I loved reading about your experience. Hope you have a bomb day!

    ps you are gorgeous

    1. Thank you so much, Jness!! You are so sweet. You will LOVE HK and Tokyo; such great foodie towns. 🙂 Make sure to check out Kyoto. I have a Japan post somewhere on here of all the things you need to eat. Enjoy and thanks for following!! xo

    1. Thanks for the compliment and for reading! 🙂 I will definitely check out your blog. Always looking to connect with fellow travelers! xo

  5. Love this picture of you talking to one of your Chinese neighbors! Looks like an incredible experience 🙂


  6. Hi, I’ve just found your blog and I’ve enjoyed going through some of your posts! These photos are gorgeous, and there’s a real sense of the locals enjoying the photo shoot too! Seeing the dilapidated buildings and crumbing walls remind me of when I was living in the Anhui province. Ahhh it’s nice to be reminded of such times!

    1. Thank you so much for reading, and for the nice comment, Shing! I love living in China, and always appreciate the contrast of old and new 🙂

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