Sunday, October 25, 2009

Waiting for Shanghai Expo 2010

First off, I wrote this blog about 2 weeks ago. Because of the Great Firewall of China, it has taken me this long to find a loophole to get to Blogger. I think I'll continue to write blogs in Word and then post them whenever I manage to get through the blocks to this website. If there is a long time between posts, you'll know why.

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.

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