Sunday, October 25, 2009
Coming back to Shanghai from The States last week, I saw some refreshing changes in the infrastructure of the city. With the 2010 Expo looming next April, the city is in construction turmoil. Every time we go out it seems that some building is being newly remodeled or another sidewalk is being improved. Even newly finished buildings are remodeling to add more glitz for the world’s fair. It is disheartening to know that we will be returning home a month before the Expo is underway because we have suffered through the dust and detours. But, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
New sculptures are starting to show up in some of the parks, and foliage shaped like Expo symbols are surfacing on the street corners. I can see subtle changes taking place in the medians and on overpasses to beautify the city. Flower baskets are being hung, annuals are being planted, and festive decorations are being draped on buildings. My favorite improvement since returning is the number of sidewalks that are (almost) in working order. I have been very frustrated pushing Ella’s or Jack’s strollers on the chaotic streets because the sidewalks are dug up. All the sidewalks in our area are laid with brick and they are almost done except for the areas around drains. Thank you!!
Another frustration has been the number of new hires by the taxi companies. Every time we get into a taxi where the driver’s number starts with a 3 we know we might not get to where we’re going (yes, we’ve gotten out of a taxi in frustration), or we’ll have to use more energy trying to direct in Chinese. These new drivers can drive, but that’s about it. Most don’t even know where prominent city landmarks are. Once we had to direct the driver to a nearby massive tunnel under the river which everyone should know. I have learned that if the driver argues with us or our concierge at the Marriott about where we want to go, it’s best to just get out and try again. Not only do we spend more time in those taxis getting to where we want to go, but we also spend more money on the fare by wandering the streets of Shanghai. I hope the visitors to the Expo appreciate the tutorials we are giving these new drivers. Since returning though, I have not had a bad experience with a new driver. Maybe they are quick learners.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
1. It’s easy to make friends because everyone has only been here a short time and people are always moving away so you have to keep looking for friends.
2. Our friends are from all over the world and so not only are we learning about Chinese culture, but we also see firsthand what German birthday parties are like, learn Aussie words, and get parenting tips specific to Malaysians.
3. I don’t know about the rest of China, but there’s a load to do here. New restaurants are always opening, there are museums galore, and interesting neighborhoods and unusual markets, and everyone comes here to shop.
4. We don’t need to own a car. Taxis are super cheap and the subway is only 2 blocks away. The subway already has stations at most important destinations, but they are currently expanding it to prepare for the Shanghai Expo in 2010 and they plan on opening 100 (I think) more stations before next April.
5. Every time I leave home I see something interesting or am learning something.
6. Shopping- We have a bronze warrior statue, wood inlay cricket boxes, hand painted bone china, freshwater pearls, and lots of fake stuff.
7. We can live comfortably on one income. I LOVE being a full time mom.
8. The Chinese really like fresh food. I love going to the wet market which is a market with produce fresh from the farm and live animals. We buy our fish and shrimp live and the fruits and vegetables look great and are cheap.
9. Domestic help is very common and almost expected. Mei (Ella and Jack’s nanny) is key to our happiness here. Not only does she help us with the kids, which alone is a huge job, but she also helps clean, cook, sew, interpret, and run errands.
10. Did I mention Mei also helps entertain the kids, gives them baths, does laundry, changes diapers, buys food, mails packages, and anything else I can think of. She is the personal assistant we all wish we had. She is the main reason I wanted to spend a second year in China.
I could go on, but “The 20 Best Things about Living in China” doesn’t have the same ring.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The other thing holding me back from beginning a blog was not finding time to write with two kids in the house. Fortunately, we hired Mei over a year ago and she comes Monday though Saturday from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. She makes life very pleasant for us all.
Talking about our life in China is a BIG topic and I don't know where to begin. Even if I take an idea like cultural differences or taking a taxi (our main mode of transportation), I'll be talking for days. So, I've decided to just see what comes up during the day and write about small parts of our experience here.
I'm relieved to start this. I love looking back at our "Where are Jim and Anna" blog now that my memory of that trip is starting to fade and I'm hoping this will be as fulfilling as that blog was.