Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 Things I Love About Shanghai

Yesterday as I was walking home from Ella’s preschool, I was almost run over by a police van that was driving on the sidewalk. It is not unusual at all to see motorcycles or even cars driving on the sidewalks and so I should have been watching, but I was talking to a friend and momentarily forgot that I should always be alert when out and about in a city of approximately 20 million people. There are instances like this that happen every day here and I find myself saying or feeling negative things about living here in Shanghai and yet we still choose to live here. I know there will be days when I vent my frustrations at the foreignness of this place, but today I’m going to talk about my favorite things about being here.

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 Beginning

I originally started this blog in January of 2008 when we moved to Shanghai, but I had so many problems navigating the Chinese government firewall, that I gave up after a week of trying. Our friend, Greg, has been coming to China to work for the past few years and on this last visit gave us reliable software (I hope) to view blogs and Facebook.

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.