The Attraction of Shanghai

In September, 2010, Shanghai, China is a city that attracts people. The Las Vegas-style neon that lights up the night, the business that flows through the ports and the factories, the opportunities for Chinese nationals to attain more wealth in one month than their parents attained in their entire lives, the opportunities for foreigners to start or expand their businesses not only to the 1.3 billion Chinese, but also the world, and KFCs on every corner, all combine to form a city unlike any other on Earth.  
  • Shanghai House Sign
  • A Cool Looking Bike
  • Charles & Vina Having Tea
  • Inside a Shikumen, Old Shanghai Style House
  • Inside a Shikumen, Old Shanghai Style House
  • Inside a Shikumen, Old Shanghai Style House
  • Inside a Shikumen, Old Shanghai Style House
  • Inside a Shikumen, Old Shanghai Style House
  • Shanghai Street
  • The Bund at Night
  • The Bund at Night
  • The Bund at Night
  • The Bund at Night
  • Daniel, Charlie, Sophia, Phil, Vina & Sara
  • Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
  • On a Gondola in Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
  • Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
  • Locals Selling Vegetables
  • Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
  • Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
In March, 1949, Shanghai was a city that attracted people. The Communists had taken over most of the country and anyone with any personal wealth needed to get out of China. Shanghai was the best option, with the most ships on which to hide. Mr. & Mrs. Cheung had fled from the north to Shanghai with all of their belongings and their four little girls, the youngest of whom was less than five months old. Mr. Cheung escaped first with most of their things and made it to Hong Kong, which, at the time, was a British territory, where he set up residence and sent word to his wife that it was safe to follow. Mrs. Cheung found a captain willing to hide her and her children on his ship. The city had not yet been taken by the Communists, but their boats still patrolled the waters looking for emigrants. Before they left their home, the youngest girl had become sick and frequently cried. The couple's friends knew they were planning to escape and warned them that they should leave the baby behind. If the baby cried on the ship during their escape, the captain would make them throw her overboard. And besides, it wasn't like it was a little boy. It was just a girl and they did not matter so much. Now it was time to board the ship and her baby was still sick. This was her last chance to ensure that the child would live, albeit without a family. Mrs. Cheung had no choice. It was she and her four girls against too many men; men who were afraid for their lives. Her fear was almost overpowering. What could she do? She did the only thing that she could, the only option her mind would allow. She would not leave the girl and that was it. No other alternative. She would stand up to the captain and his crew if she had to, but her family was the most important thing that she had, and she would not lose it. The baby did not cry and the ship escaped the dangerous waters around Shanghai. They had escaped from the north to Shanghai, attracted to the city for different reasons than the masses today and were able to live different lives because of it. The family made it to Hong Kong and reunited with Mr. Cheung. Mrs. Cheung's crying baby girl survived the journey and grew up to have two girls of her own:  Sophia and Sara. Sophia has lived in Shanghai for the last two years, drawn to the city that attracts people by the economic opportunities afforded her husband. Sara chose Shanghai as the starting point for our journey so she could spend some time with her sister. 60 years after the Cheung family escaped, its descendants have returned to a city that has changed, a country that has changed. Together, we all stood by the river at The Bund, the historic area of the city, and looked at the same water that Mrs. Cheung and her family looked at so many years before, only this time, there was no fear, only wonder at the city.
  • Mansur & Elena

    What a story!

    • Flip

      Hi Mansur & Elena:
      It is great to hear from you all! We really, really miss Russia. When are you coming to the U.S. again? If you can make it to San Diego, be sure to let us know.
      Flip

  • Mansur & Elena

    Hi Flip & Sara! Elena is already in NY. I’m in Siberia now and hoping to fly to US by the end of November. We’re planning some trips there, it’s either will be Puerto Rico or California. If we’ll make it to California we’ll surely visit San Diego!

    • Flip

      That would be great. We would love to see you again. You’ll never guess who Sara sat next to on her flight back from Moscow to Beijing: Miss Russia, who is from Kazan. She was on her way to the Miss World Pageant in Beijing. Be sure to try to watch her on Oct. 30th. She was very proud to be from Tatarstan.

    • Sara

      Hi Mansur & Elena! So good to hear from you guys! Elena is in NYC! Vina just came back from there!… 🙁 Is she staying there until November? If you guys come out to the west coast, be sure to give us some time in San Diego! We can take you to the desert, the beach, and this nice little town in the mountains with really good apple pies! Oh, and we can go to Las Vegas!!! Let us know!

  • Sophia

    Yes, Mrs. Cheung is our beloved Lau Lau (grandma) She would love to read it on this website if she is still with us. 🙂

    • Sara

      Our beloved Lau Lau inspired every one of us in the family. She taught us to love our family unconditionally, to always have compassion in our hearts, to be adventurous… and to see the world!

  • Mansur & Elena

    Miss Russia is from Kazan!! I didn’t know that. I’m so proud:) Elena is planning to stay in NYC till February:) She was in San Diego before but I wasn’t, I definitely wanna go there! We are still not sure about our plans, I’ll let you know if we decide to visit west coast!

  • Mansur & Elena

    Miss Russia is from Kazan!! I’m so proud. Elena is planning to stay in NYC till February. She was in San Diego before but I wasn’t. I definitely wanna go there! We are not sure about our plans for November, but if we decide to visit west coast we’ll let you know!:)

  • Thank you so much for posting this personal story of your lives and Shanghai. My wife and I will be visiting for the first time in May (first time in the Orient at all and Shanghai is our start). Thank you for this perspective. We have lived our lives in the USA, but are about the same age as Mrs. Cheung and relate to her struggle. I so admire the lesson she gave to her family and now to the world since you shared it.

    I tweeted it out to my world too and strongly suggest you add an RSS feed to your blog. You have important things to share.

    • Flip

      Hi Dave,
      Thank you for your kind words. We really had a great trip and you are going to love Asia! If you are still in the planning stages, I would suggest a trip to Taipei while you are over there. It is not a normal stop on the tourist trail, but I think you will find it is worth it. The people are super friendly and the food is amazing.

      We do have an RSS feed on our home page, but I will check to see if it is working. Yes, we love Lonely Planet guides and were very fortunate that they like us as well.

      As you do your planning for your trip, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@flyingcoach.org. Have a great time and keep in touch.

      Thanks!
      Flip

  • Forgot to tell you…found you through the Lonely Planet since they picked you up as a favorite blog…you know that right?

  • Hello Sara and Adam! Your made a wonderful blog. i was a guide for flying coach in mongolia.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Daka! We are slow to post, but will be writing about our amazing experience with you soon!

Read previous post:
Trans-Siberian Railway: Trip Overview

Sara and I have just returned from our 36-day Trans-Siberia trip and we had planned on it being an epic...

Close