Shanghai, the bund, sunrise. Seeing the city from a new perspective, in a new light, on a misty morning.

October 30th, 2013, 7pm

In Shanghai, life can get rough for an expat. A new night club or a drink at the latest bar on the bund begin to feel old, and you start to wonder just what you’re doing in China. Feeling lost in a constantly changing city, my friends and I went searching for a fresh, new perspective. The bund is the famous Shanghai skyline that sparkles at night, but we wanted to do something different. Something crazy.

We wanted to watch the sunrise.

I lost my mobile phone, with no way to contact my party. I had just woken up, the clock striking 4:30 AM. It was dark outside, but I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long. I hopped out of bed, sped downstairs and flagged down the nearest cab. I blazed to the bund, the clock striking 5:00 AM. I promised to meet her there. I have to see her there.

I was running against time. I donned my bright red coat and wrapped a blue scarf around my neck to keep me from the cold of the Shanghai morning. I emerged from the cab onto the bund walkway that runs parallel to the river. I saw light slowly creeping up from the skyscrapers across the river. Just a little longer. Please, just let me find her.

I run. My lungs are cold from the morning air, but I don’t care. I’m running as fast as I can; I’m a red blur breaking through the morning mist blanketing Shanghai. I look around me to see nothing, and nobody. The world is silent. The usually noisy and congested bund is silent and still, but it still feels like Shanghai. It still feels like the bund.

An orange ball begins to emerge in the sky. No, please. Just a little longer.

Although the morning is cold, I feel sweat dripping down my cheek. My breath becomes shorter, my legs weaker, but I can feel myself coming closer. Just a little closer.

“Mary!” I hear a voice scream through the fog.

“Mary! Over here!” I hear an Italian voice cry.

“Tomoko! Simona!” I bolt forward through the fading mist and see them, smiling. They run toward me.

“You really made it. I knew it was you when I saw the red.”

“Of course,” I smiled. “We’re destined to meet here.”

Three women, three ex-pats, three travelers looking for a new path, a new light, a new perspective on a life that feels vulnerable and cluttered. In the emptiness of the Shanghai morning, we found peace and solace.

In this city full of sin, sex, and temptation, we did what few ex-pats ever mange to do:

Watch the sunrise.

Paul, Luis, Christine and Shu said thanks.

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Mary Halloran

I live Japan, breathe China, and somehow winded up in America. I'm a traveling writer, translator and interpreter.

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