Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

“12” Hours in Shanghai: Explaining Why My Skin is Black was the Best Part of the Layover

The planner in me already had this blog thought out, drafted and just waiting to be filled with photos. I was so excited about the 12-hour layover in Shanghai, China stuffed into our itinerary on the way back home from Thailand.

I intentionally booked this leg back as a way to get the most out of my trip and see another city and country in one shot.

TRAVEL TIP: Book a flight with a long layover in another city. That way you get to see a whole new place smack dab in the middle of your trip.

But as life, (bad) luck, overprotective banking systems and flight delays would have it, the 12 hours I had planned for in Shanghai turned into a little more than 5 after all the headache. We got into Shanghai about 3 hours later than expected due to our 5-hour flight from Phuket being super delayed. When we got there; jet lagged, tired and grumpy, we soon realised that we had a wad full of Thai Baht in possession and no Renminbi (Chinese currency). 

Silly us! 

Click here to get the deets on my fave fashion looks from my Thai adventure! 

“What can’t a quick trip to the ATM fix,” I thought as we found the nearest machine. 

Two hours later and I found myself still on the phone with my bank demanding they remove the block from my account. They thought the transactions from China were suspect; I get it, but what happened to an email or phone call before blacking out my account? I was finally able to pull some cash and rid myself of the mounting anxiety. 

5 hours out of the 12-hour layover gone! 

However, being the adventurous soul that I am, I refused to let travel woes weigh me down and make me miss out on what was outside the airport walls.

I’m in Shanghai for God’s sake! 

So I quickly checked the weather, got the shock of my life that it was just above 30 degrees (another bummer after enduring 95 degree weather in Thailand), went to the bathroom to throw on some warmth and went out to see the city! 

We bought tickets on the Maglev Train (uses magnetic levitation to move vehicles without making contact with the ground) which is one of the fastest methods of transportation in the world. We were literally going over 300 miles per hour, but it was such a smooth ride and we got to see a quick snapshot of the city as we rode. 

The 8-minute ride took us straight to The People’s Square where it was bustling with people moving about. It was super crowded.

shanghai china I could honestly say that we were the only Black people in the area at the time and at first the stares, pointing, and blatant chatter about us (none of which I understood) was jarring. For some reason, I didn’t expect the people in this city to be so freaked out by seeing melanin, button noses and big lips. I quickly realised that just because I’m exposed to different cultures and people, doesn’t mean everyone else is. It was indeed a lesson.

The cutest little Chinese boy pulled his parents over to us and said he wanted to know why our skin was black. It was evident that this was a lesson in diversity that she was teaching her son, and it felt good being her example. The boy walked right up to us and looked on with curious eyes. He didn’t say a word but kept rubbing my boyfriend’s hand, mesmerized by his skin. 

Although he didn’t understand us, I said to him, “We’re different, but still the same.” his eyes were warm and endearing. His mom looked at me and shook her head and said, “That’s very true.”

shanghai china We didn’t eat nor shop as we toured the area…well, we didn’t have time to (insert annoyed face). We walked the entire strip, went up to People’s Park, took more photos and got more stares and looks. But if only for that moment, with our new friend where we got to share love and show that racism is a choice, the delays, bank run-ins and stress were totally worth it! This just calls for a new ticket to be booked to Shanghai…I think I deserve it! 

shanghai china

How do you spend your layover hours? Please share tips so I can maximize the time on my next trip! 

The Thailand blog is coming soon!