Like many major cities, Shanghai’s Pudong district is one filled glamours lights and makeshift homes, high-end restaurants and trash can dinners and the haves and have nots.

Poverty In Pudong

¥20 for a cab ride down to People’s Park (人民公园). ¥10 to see the Gaudi exhibit at the MOCA. ¥40 for lunch at Pizza Hut. ¥50 for a shuttle ride to the Oriental Pearl Tower. ¥50 for dinner. ¥10 for extraneous expenses. I spent ¥170 like it was nothing, because in my mind it was only $10.

I walked along the Huangpu River that night. There was a boy in ripped rags and torn slippers. He looked about 10 years old. He approached me raising a flower in his hand and said,

“一块,一块。要不要花?”(One dollar, one dollar. Do you want flowers?)

I declined. I sat down on the stone-rimmed flowerbed and watched him zigzag his way down the path under the moonlight. He didn’t miss a single couple.

He approached me again and told me his story.  He lives across the river and sells flowers to help support his family. He works from sun up until whenever his uncle comes to get him. It was already past 10PM though. I wondered how much longer did he had to work.

Then I had an epiphany. He could have been my little brother. He could have been me. It was only by chance that I wasn’t born into poverty.  It could have been any of us.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.