We’ve been in Shanghai for almost two weeks now. We ended up coming out a few days later than we’d originally planned, and our journey out here was . . . ridiculous. That’s really the best word for it. We left our home at 7:30 in the morning to make our 1:15 flight. When we arrived at the airport it was to find that the booking we’d made a few days earlier had been unsuccessful and we didn’t actually have flights. Whaaa??? I mean, have you EVER heard of that happening?!
We seriously couldn’t believe it. There were seats left we could buy, but there’s no way I wanted to pay a thousand dollars for a one-way two-and-a-half hour flight. So we plopped ourselves down at a table, popped open the laptop, and searched online again for flights. Luckily, there are lots of flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai everyday, and within just a few minutes we’d found one that left just a half hour after we’d originally planned, for about the same price we’d thought we’d paid. We purchased them real quick and walked over to the new airline to check in and were through security in minutes.
Course, then our flight was delayed six hours, but hey – we made it eventually. (And let’s not even talk about the 45 minutes we then had to wait for a taxi . . . )
We are staying in an airbnb apartment for the summer while we figure out real housing. It’s tiny and the building has no elevator, but it’s in the lovely French Concession, where the streets are lined with leafy trees, and violinists serenade me night and day, and Terry only has a fifteen-minute walk to work. I’ll take it. ?
Shanghai itself is proving to be everything I’d hoped it would be. Here are some of the highlights:
- I had groceries delivered to my door. The entire website was in English, and right at the specified time, some nice Chinese guy hiked up the four floors to my apartment and dropped off a few boxes of groceries. And groceries I haven’t had available to me in years – raspberries, avocados, ready-made chicken salad. This is the land of milk and honey, I’m telling you. It’s unreal.
- Taxis are so easy. They had taxis in our old city, but it was hard to tell them where to take me since I don’t speak Mandarin. The drivers here don’t really speak any English either, but there are apps that have these convenient taxi cards for any venue you could possibly want to go to. It’ll just write out all in Chinese exactly where to take me. I just show my phone to the driver and off we go, no problem.
- This is how I always imagined China to be. Our old city was fine, but just felt very – I dunno – un-charactered. There weren’t any fun alleys jammed with vendors, there wasn’t any street food, the buildings had all been built in last twenty years or so. Here in Shanghai, there are super old buildings mixed in with the new, food actually smells good when you walk past little street stalls, you pass old Chinese men pulling carts full of random plates and cups for sale, laundry is drying outside every window, people are bustling along the sidewalks – it just feels so full of life and energy. I’m just gobbling up the whole vibe of the city (you can gobble a vibe, right? they’re gobble-able?).
- Everyone here speaks English. I mean, I guess not everyone – those taxi drivers are holding out ? – but in general, your odds of having someone to talk to are like a billion times better than our last city. Obviously, I’m the foreigner here, and I don’t expect people to speak my language in their country, but it sure does make getting around a lot easier.
- The floors in my apartment are wood. My old apartment was all marble. Which was fancy-looking and all, but extremely cold on my feet.
- There are fancy malls everywhere. This seems to be a thing all over China. Our old mall was pretty snazzy-looking, but there are just so many nice malls here. I could easily walk to a Prada, a Sephora, Dior, Gucci, and on and on. Not that I have the inclination or money to actually be shopping at these places – but they’re there. What I do care about is that these malls also have nice toilets! With toilet paper!! Do you realize I’ve been carrying my own toilet paper around with me everywhere for the last three years? That’s not even a joke or an exaggeration. Before I leave my house, I make sure I have toilet paper on my person. I’ll still make sure I continue to do that, because this is still China, but my chances of being able to find a western-style toilet as opposed to a squatty-potty are pretty good here.
- People still love to take Sander’s picture. I thought this would calm down a little bit more up here. I mean, surely people in Shanghai see foreign babies more often than the people in our city down south right? I dunno, but Little Man still turns people’s heads. I took him to the park the other day and stopped by a little lake to point out the swan that was just at the water’s edge, and the man who was standing next to us took a half a step back and turned to watch us instead of the swan. ? It simultaneously cracks me up and makes me feel awkward, every time.
- Terry can get home from work by 5:15. CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE YOUR EXCITEMENT?! He’s been working such long hours for so many years I’m not even sure I know what to do with all this extra time. It’s the best thing ever.
We’ve been busy finding things we needed for the apartment, and figuring out where the metros are, and how to get to work, and how to get food. But we’ve squeezed in time for a bit of exploring. There have been trips to the cinnamon roll store, the grilled cheese sandwich shop next door to it (ohmygosh that turkey-cranberry-mashed-potato-stuffing sandwich was gooooooooood!!!), a few parks, the DVD store (thank goodness we found one of those real quick – $2 DVDs are one of our favorite things about China), and just general trips to take a stroll around the block.
So far, so good. Let’s keep up this awesomeness, Shanghai!