Shoe & The City: If Your City Was a Shoe, What Would It Be?

Have you read one of these articles lately which are all about how your shoes are supposed to reveal your personalilty type? Well, how about, what your shoes reveal about your city? Put it another way…if your city was a shoe, what kind of shoe would it be?

I’ve had the privilege of living in three of China‘s biggest, fastest-developing and most fascinating cities: Beijing (7 years), Shanghai (2 years) and Guangzhou (1 month & counting…). When I think about these 3 cities in terms of shoes, here’s what I came up with:

Converse sneaks (summer) / Uggs snow boots (winter)

summer kicks for the Beijing hipster…artsy, intellectual, with just the right touch of ” I’m so cool I don’t care about how I look” grunge attitude
with sub-frozen winter temps averaging minus 20C, comfort & warmth reign over style for the resident Beijinger’s toes

Christian Louboutin stiletto peep-toes (summer) /
Jimmy Choo patent leather stiletto knee-high boots (winter)

seductive, blatantly sexy, oh-so-expensive & not afraid to show it, with just the right amount of toe cleavage, the Shanghai stylista endures suffering as long as she’s tres chic!
for striding through snow & ice…and a fashion runway (just in case). in Shanghai, style always triumphs!

Ok, I must admit I was in a bit of a quandary about this…this city is so hot & humid, deceptively sunny & yet so mercurial, with sudden massive downpours of rain. With the amount of rainfall, enough to ruin your shoes after two outings, at first I thought Guangzhou would be a pair of  sturdy Hunter Wellies (Wellington), as is:

in Guangzhou, blame it on the rain!

But then last Sunday, as we were caught in yet another unpredictable downpour and I was mourning my soaked Onitsuka Tigers (they were espadrille-style…darn), a girlfriend glanced at my feet and said, “You really should get a pair of Crocs.”

Now don’t get me wrong and I hope I don’t offend anyone out there but I just think Crocs are the fugliest shoes on the planet and only babies, toddlers, teens and grown-up men doing manly things like going to the hardware store, look remotely good in them. Grown-up women, news alert! Crocs don’t make you look good. At all.

Then I glanced at her feet…voila!…she had on a pair of Crocs and mais oui, this is what they looked like (my friend is, of course, French):

casual, unpretentious & low-key, perfect for sweltering sun or sudden torrential downpours, to keep one’s tippy toes happy in Guangzhou

Trust the French to find something stylish yet practical to my footwear conundrum in Guangzhou. So, here you go, Guangzhou: Crocs crocband flats.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t give my old hometown in the Philippines – Cebu – a whirl with this game. So here’s what I came up with and in this case, my heart is  really where the shoe fits….right at home.

Castaner wedge espadrilles

for perenially sunny, blue-sky days, the Cebuana keeps it easy & casual-chic, ever-ready for kicking off & going barefoot on the beach or instead, slipping on a pair of…

Also, for Cebu:
Havaiianas flip flops

a Cebuana’s unofficial uniform

A shout-out to the Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Cebu peeps out there, do you agree with my shoe choices above?  Let’s make this fun, everyone!!! In the Comments below, tell me about where you live and what shoe would your city be?

On the 194: Gweipor Bus Anecdote


Today I achieved an incredibly significant milestone in my 9 years of living in China. I finally mustered up enough courage to ride on the local public bus – all by myself.

Can you believe it? Nine years in Beijing & Shanghai…where I mostly schlepped it in cabs & the Metro (the latter in Shanghai at least)…and never set foot inside a bus.

Total fear of the unknown.

Today I decided to face that fear head-on, walked to the bus stop outside our compound and got on the 194 bus. Our real estate agent had previously told me this is the bus that would take me from our home to IFC – the office tower where Herr Hubby works. Ok, not exactly the most adventurous itinerary but hey, I’m taking baby steps here.

Of course as I boarded, I had no idea how to swipe my transport card to pay (just like in Hong Kong & Shanghai, we use stored value cards for public transport here). I tried putting it on top of the meter and the driver eyed me with a look that said:”Here comes another clueless gweipor.”

He then proceeded to teach me (in excellent English, I might add) how to use my card, in front of an entire busload of amused passengers. Once my RMB 2 (approximately 30 US cents) had been deducted, I was free to sit and enjoy the ride as I wished. It was a beautiful morning and an excellent way to see the city!

There was even a moment when I bonded with my fellow bus passengers. A flashy lime-green Lamborghini pulled up in front of the gigantic China Minsheng Bank building in the Central Business District. From the driver’s seat emerged a young man, who couldn’t have been older than 20, in a Gap t-shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops, yapping on his iPhone. All of us in the bus stared at the car and at the young man as he sauntered into the bank and then we all looked at one another with a smile. I knew what was going through everyone’s minds…Yes, this is the New China. And for most of those people on the bus today, that young man and his car was the perfect illustration of The Chinese Dream.

Getting a new perspective – aboard the 194

By the way, wouldn’t you know it…all bus stop signs and stop announcements were bi-lingual, in Chinese and English. There had been nothing for me to be afraid of at all! What a liberating experience. I’m totally taking the bus more, from now on.