Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back in Shanghai!

Ah, again it has been yet months since I have written a blog. Terrible that I go so long and miss out on expressing what has been going on in our lives! Should possibly be one of my New Year's resolutions.

So we made it back from Tulsa and the crazy holidays! We loved being in Tulsa and seeing all of our family and friends, but it is nice to be back home. Yes, Shanghai is our home now and we love (for the most part) living here. However, don't think there aren't days that I don't want to run outside and scream at everyone I see, because there are those special days.

Once over jet lag, we got Jack started in his first week of school! It is fabulous and Jack absolutely loves it. It's a European based program but he's taught both English and Chinese, which means I need to start on my lessons or my son is going to be speaking Chinese and I'll have no clue what he's saying! The last day before break (the Chinese New Year!) they did a little program for us; absolutely precious. It's such a joy to watch your child grow up but to see him experiencing different languages and cultures is truly amazing.

The Chinese New Year celebration really started the week before...every night we heard fireworks off in the distance. Although I'm not quite sure we really knew what was in store for the "celebration". The actual New Years eve was Sunday evening. After a nice dinner and dessert, my boys and I headed home to cuddle up and watch a movie. We had quite a firework display right from our living room window so Jack certainly didn't go to bed disappointed. If he could have stayed up, he could have seen the greatest firework show that I have ever seen! It was truly magnificent. Around 11:30 they started picking up, more and more every minute. You could almost feel the anticipation of midnight rolling around. The energy in the city radiated through our apartment; the sound alone was

Sad- I just saw this- 3 + year later...I wish I would have posted more about Shanghai and life there. Such a shame!!!! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wiltshire's Invade Tokyo!!!!

Look who made it to Tokyo! Jack's beloved "Bedah" (his monkey blanket!), but unlike many this guy is a world traveler as well! Anywhere Jack travels, "Bedah" is sure to be, so we decided that he also need to be included in the pictures and mentioning in our writings. He is certainly a part of the family!

Our last trip in this Asian world led us to Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. A completely different world from that of China. I really had no clue to expect such a different culture, yet some lifestyles that can also be very similar. We actually went the first part of October during the Chinese National Holiday. This (and the Chinese New Year) are the biggest holidays celebrated in China, thus giving the people an entire week off (7 days exact). The National Day is the day that Mao Zedong stood in Tianamen Square (in Beijing) and proclaimed that the people of China had been freed, thus the beginning of the People's Republic of China. During this time many travel to see their families (some very far away) or await family members to come visit. The weekend before we had red lanterns hung in the entrance of our apartment complex, as well as all over the city. They were simply stunning at night; a red glow that illuminated the bustling city!

Nonetheless, we left the big city of Shanghai for a family trip to Japan! Upon arriving in the Tokyo airport, I was quickly (and more than once!) corrected by my dear husband on my choice of language. Meaning, I am so used to speaking in Chinese/Mandarin, that I so continued the same language with the Japanese. A terrible mistake I'm told to make. Obviously, no one likes to be confused for an ethnicity/culture that they are not. The first two days were difficult as I said, "Xie Xie" or "Ni hao" far too many times. Don't worry, Jason was quick to help, which I much appreciated. Tough and fun learning all the different languages that encompass this vast world!

I actually did bring my journal with me on this trip (something I mean to write in more often) and took to note quickly the many differences that there are between the Japanese and the Chinese (whether the people, the cities, or the culture). What a worldly difference! Not to mention that Japan is one of the most expensive cities in the world, whether for foreign items or not.

From our very first evening, I noticed, of course, all of the foreign stores~ so many I hadn't seen in a long time! J.Crew, Gap, Gymboree, Hard Rock Cafe!, all there greeting me, with massive price markups, so joyous then sad! The second thing that I noticed was how little attention they paid Jack. I mean, everywhere in China with Jack, he is a mini celebrity! Why, because he is a foreign baby and they love them! Now at first I was taken back by this, but realized that their culture is very composed. They would never throw themselves over at a foreigner- over a baby or something else. I often caught Japanese looking and gazing at Jack, but that was it. Here in China, we don't make it through Carrefour without someone coming up and saying "Ni hao" or grabbing at Jack. Another major difference that I saw between the two countries was how spotlessly clean and organized Japan was! Oh my; it was like a dream! Except if you ever had any trash, there were no trashcans! Kidd you not! A spotless city, with someone cleaning on every corner, stairway or aisle, yet barely any trashcans. It was a constant mystery...and somewhat aggarvation to me! Of course there are many more differences and similarities, but living in China, those were the three that I thought were the most obvious on our trip.

Well in and about all of the lifestyle differences that I took in, we were also able to sightsee! Japan is truly a marvelous city-very similar to an Asian New York City, yet much more clean, organized and calm. I don't think I heard much of a honk of a horn there; the traffic seems to effortlessly flow together seemingly well. The Ginza district was absolutely fantastic-probably my favorite! So many different stores to see and an endless aray of Asian cuisine, although hard to figure out. In China most menus have pictures or English; not very common in Japan. Before strolling the alleyways in the Ginza district, we were able to walk around (your not allowed in) the Imperial Palace. Talk about a gorgeous landscape. Very meticulously perfect as well.

While in Japan we also went to Yokohama to the Chinatown! It is the largest Chinatown in the world; funny but we had to visit and enjoy some nice steamed buns. They also have a temple there dedicated to Ma Zhu Miao, that is worshipped in Chinatowns all over the world. She is known as the "Mother of Heaven" and the "Goddess of the Sea". A beautiful temple with the most entricate and detailed artwork. I always have to take pictures of the ceilings and wall panels.

We also went to the Tokyo Ueno Zoo and park; miles of park area with flowers and plants you have never seen before. The weather was wonderful as well so it was a great time. The zoo also had some rather bizarre animals, ones that certainly aren't at the Tulsa Zoo! We were all too excited to see the famous giant black and white panda bears but near the end of the tour found out that the last giant panda at the zoo had died in April! Thankfully we didn't get Jack's hopes up (he didn't know) so it wasn't too much of a disappointment! We did, however, get to see the red panda (although it looks more like a fox).

Tokyo was a fabulous trip and Jason and I are going to try and make a trip back in the Spring (without our little Jack!) and enjoy more of the city and nightlife. Not too much to do for children in Tokyo (other than Tokyo Disney and he's a little too young for that...maybe next summer!).

Konnichiwa...Sayonura. XOXO.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where Have I Been!?! Oh yeah...China! :)

So it's definitely long over due; it's now been almost 5 months now since I've written my last post! So much has gone on and oh how things have changed! I now walk down the street and say, "You know, today is a good day!" and it seems oddly ironic that most of my days are now wonderful! Such a change from days of crying, an inordinate amount of alcohol drinking!, and wishing I was back in the States! I am now quite in love with our new city~ the good and the bad, along with the crazy days and the wonderfully lazy weekends with my family!

I shall have to write a blog over our trip to Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan! It was utterly exciting and as for those who have asked, such a different world from China! I suppose I should write one later on our trips to Suzhou ( "The Venice of the East") and Beijing; both two exciting and wonderful trips we've had. Much to say, but my son, Jack, has just turned two and I'm amazed at what a world traveler he is! Oh what a world!

Tonight I am sitting with my son~ listening to a little ABBA (oh how it gets me moving!), enjoying a lovely evening. Jason, is off working in Singapore for a few days~ what a world traveler he is as well...this, of a man, who has never lived out of the city of Tulsa and now travels all over Eastern Asia! He just sent me a picture of his view where he's enjoying a nice beer. I think his days of travel can be somewhat nice...yet, he does come home with some odd stories. He has karaoked (big over here!), which I never thought my husband would do, let alone to N'Sync, I believe! Oh yes, and please ask him about how he let a Chinese man tickle his feet on an airplane once... well, there's a story!

I went and enrolled Jack in school today; he will be starting once we return from the States after Christmas. One thing I have quickly learned here is that all expat children go to school (and at a very young age), also regardless of whether the Mother/"Mum" is working or not. They look at you half crazy if you don't have an "ayi" or your child is not in school! However, the program I have found for Jack is simply amazing! He shall be taught both English and Chinese and accompanied at school by a broad spectrum of countries~ Australia, Taiwan, China, American, Europe. Just like our friends we have met here~ from all over! It's now not what area of Tulsa are our friends living but what country our friends were once living! It is now life for us and we are loving it. I so enjoy seeing all the different aspects of different cultures, especially their language. I met one of my girlfriends for coffee the other day and she walks up with her sunglasses on and to my "Hi! How are you?" she responds, "Bugged". Hmmm, so of course, I have to ask her what that means!?!? Well, she was exhausted! Can I come back to the States and use the new slang too? I've decided it's just a little too much fun not to really!

So I have to also include in here Jason and I's little joke: "Who have we become?" and when we say this we laugh because honestly, never in a million years did we expect to be in China, let alone doing some of the things that we do. We almost always have to say it when we go to Carrefour on Sunday ( a dreadful mistake everytime) as you cannot imagine a more packed place, and it's just for groceries! Keep your eyes alert and stand your ground, for they will always try to cut in line. I hope I don't go back to the States and get as forceful and pushy as I am here (a survival, otherwise you'll be there all day!). We also have to say our line when we go for "light" groceries (those that don't involve using our driver, Steven). It's quite a sight! We are on our bikes; Jack in the back of mine in his little seat. Then I have a basket in the front crammed full of bags, one usually on my shoulder, and of course, my Louis Vuitton bag (wouldn't be fashionable without it!) and Jason behind us with his shoulders full of bags of groceries! We always laugh as we screech in and out of the taxis, the hundreds of pedistrians and noisy buses. We will have to get a picture of it soon...

My finally updated blog would definitely not be complete without the mentioning of "Torture Tuesday", which, oh dear, falls upon me yet again tomorrow! It's named this because this is the day that Mary and Flo (so I've named) come from our apartment complex service center for their weekly cleaning. These ladies just are too much stometimes. Every week they come in and say "Ni hao ty ty", which pretty much means they think that I'm a housewife that does nothing but get pampered all day. Contrary to their belief and every week, I have to say "No ty ty!" and they just laugh then continue to talk to me in Mandarin as if, I understand what they are saying. Jack, of course, is never napping at this point and runs around full of life for new visitors! My ayi is here, so that is now 3 extra people. Then it always seems that tehere is something that goes wrong or something that needs delivered or fixed on Tuesday...and always around the time Mary and Flo are here. So by Tuesday afternoon at 2 9if I'm here) I've got at least 5- 6 random extra people here floating around. Needless to say, they all just look at me and we all have our own thoughts in our head...I'm just thinking, "does it really ttake 3 people to hang this picture?" Jason just laughs and enjoys this... I don't know that I'll ever be fully used to it, but most days I just shrug it off and know that this is China!!

Tomorrow is yet another wonderful day! The weather has gone from very warm to very cold just in a matter of days. Apparently we don't get much of actual fall weather! So tomorrow we are headed off to the South Bund Fabric Market, the one stop shop for getting WHATEVER you want made; tell me this is not every girls dream!!!!! I almost fainted the first time I walked in did Jason when he found out I discovered this place!!!

*The first picture above is of Jack scarfing food from our favorite restaurant, Ding Tai Fung (the best dumplings and steamed buns!), the second is from Jack's 2nd Brithday party!, and the third is a night out on the town in Xiantandi! Tokyo blog coming soon...!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Reality of Our New Lives!

Well, yes, it does seem that our little "vacation" has somewhat passed and we are living in our new world; reality has come to us in an unimaginable way! The last few weeks have been, as an understatement, quite busy (thus my reason for no blogging!). Upon first arriving, I read a book stating all the emotions and feelings one will go through. Basically, the first month is the honeymoon phase; busy getting settled in, viewing the city, meeting new people~ all wonderful! Then, you come to the realization that you are far far away from all of your loved ones and that this new "home" is much different than any place you could have ever imagined! Not to say that we don't like it here, we do and are very excited for our next few years here, however, with every good thing in life there are sure to be the downsides.

One thing that Jason and I have both realized is that upon returning to the United States, we are going to be living an EASY life. Everything back at home seems so simple; well that's because it is! The smallest tasks here in Shanghai are quite dutiful and sometimes can be an all day ordeal. There is also never a time when things are slow or uncrowded. Yesterday we were at IKEA shopping and I told Jason just to stay in the "zone". You really just have to pretend like you are the only one there (and this is hard standing amongst hundreds of other foreigners and Chinese). I have to describe most stores like this as the people (us) being one of the balls in the pin ball machines just being batted back and forth; this is kind of what it feels like. Then (and this is Jason's favorite I know) when you try getting in an elevator~ don't be surprised if you are positive that not one more person can squeeze in, yet the door opens and you find 6 to 7 more Chinese cram themselves in. Luckily an elevator ride is not very long, otherwise you would find a Chinese crammed in your chest (obviously because of the height factor) for too long! These are moments when I truly can't wait for some people to visit and experience this first hand!

Speaking on a much more realistic note is for me, of course, to mention the earthquake that hit Wenchuan. Two weeks ago, on Monday, May 12th, was Jason and I's Anniversary. Jason was planning on taking off early but as it would have happened the plans were slighted just a bit. I had been out running errands when I came home and received a phone call from Jason telling me that they had to evacuate their building! Of course my mind was thinking of all sorts of reasons for this, but I never imagined it would have been because of an earthquake. Even though the earthquake was over 900 miles away (in the Sichuan province) there were still areas in Shanghai that felt it. Jason's building is in downtown and he is on the 22nd floor. He was in the middle of a meeting when all of a sudden he felt really nauseous and then could feel the building sway. Thus you can imagine the mass histeria as tens of thousands evacuated in the downtown area not knowing what was going on. As Jason could only feel a slight rift from the earthquake you have to think of how the others felt (and are still feeling) the impact of the earthquake. Now the toll has reached over 60,000 people which is truly a world catastrophe. I know that there are many here in Shanghai that have family members in the Sichuan province and are still trying to figure out what is going on. Many in China leave the smaller provinces for a better life in the bigger cities (Shanghai, Beijing, etc..) and often leave their parents and children behind, only sending money when they can. This is definitely a time when we must thank God for how blessed we are in the United States that we have the opportunities and lives that we have.

Jason and I did go ahead and go to dinner, celebrating our 2nd Anniversary over in China! I did have to write that I never IMAGINED we would be celebrating it in Shanghai, but that's what you have to love about this world and it's every changing surprises! We had dinner at the JinMao tower in downtown Pudong at Cucina on the 56th floor. Let me just tell you that the view alone was worth it all, even though it was some of the best Italian food I have ever had! Our view was of most of Shanghai (downtown Pudong, the river, all the way over into Puxi) and it was truly magnificent. I must say that all of our anniversary celebrations should be that memorable! Thank you Shanghai!

Big weekend for us it was because the day before was Mother's Day and it was wonderful as well! We took a journey (yes everything is a journey here!) out to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park in Pudong! So the reason I know about these places is of course, because I'm constantly reading about everything to do with Shanghai! Thus, once we go to these places we end up seeing that it's not like we really imagined. We get out to this remote area (45 minutes from our apartment) to find that the park is 2300 acres and includes more than 10,000 animals! We were there for 3 hours and didn't see all of the zoo. Also noting that when I read about this, my book had mentioned that there had been 3 tiger attacks since 1999. Well, I wasn't nervous about it until we went up to the "Animal Baby Farm" and I could see probably why they did have attacks. First of all, there are not really any zoo representatives anywhere. Second of all, it doesn't seem that they have the best security/restraints for their animals. Lastly, when we went to see the baby Cheetahs (they weren't so baby) and their container wall was just as tall as my chest. So really not so tall. Jason and I quickly assessed that the cheetahs could very much fly "cat daddy" over the walls if they wanted to and with very little ease! We had a quick look then scampered away! Like I mentioned, everything in Shanghai is an adventure! The rest of the zoo was fabulous though; Jack loved it! We saw every kind of animal; zebras, kangaroos, elephants, bears, lions, tigers, a liger!, apes, monkey, etc.. imaginable and even enjoyed some "local" Chinese food (were just hoping it wasn't any of the zoo animals!). They even have a tiny amusement park area with a carousel, bumper cars, ferris wheel. The zoo had everything! We are definitely going back again...and bringing the video camera (yes my fault I forgot it the first time!).

One last funny tid bit that I have to add is how many arguments and fights I've seen since I've been here. It is truly hilarious! Now, these are amongst everyone; we've seen old, young, men, women~ pretty much anyone. Granted some of these are just arguments, but when the Chinese get in arguments they scream at one another in the middle of whereever they are. It does make it a little more funny because we have no clue what they're saying. Then, there are the numerous "fist fights" per say, that I've seen. I say "fist fights" because the men that I've seen get in literal fights is more than hysterical. I really hate to say it but sometimes its worse than seeing teenage girls in fights; actually the videos of girls fights we see on the news is much worse. Their fights are very femine and somewhat gentle (aside from the yelling). I've seen them in the children's market, the grocery store, on the side of the street, at a restaurant...everywhere! Now that I've seen these, I know for certain that Jason will never get bullied or rattled by any Chinese!

Memorial Day Weekend it is and we are not celebrating; we are so thinking of those back home and how weird it is not to be there! We do so hope that it is beautiful weather wherever our loved ones may be. We send all of our love and hopefully I'll not miss so many weeks before writing again!

Love to all from Shanghai!!! XOXO

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Chinese May Day!

Happy Chinese Labor Day! May 1st was the official Labor Day for the Chinese! It has been a super busy weekend~ massive crowds everywhere but such a gorgeous weekend! The weather was perfect~ sunny and mostly clear skies (no smog!) so we were able to enjoy the wonderful time off! However, because of the time off on Thursday and Friday, everyone was back to work on Sunday for a 6 day work week. If you fall under the age of 28 though, then you only had to work a half day today; odd as it seems, that is their custom, so there you go!
I must say that I am certainly pleased that I chose not to blog on any experiences of mine as for the earlier part of the week. As with any big move, I was going through a bit of a rough patch in dealing with the major changes and frustrations, but have pulled through. I'm sure there will be many more days but it's nice to know they come and go. What's great about being a foreigner, is that you know that you are not alone. I have already met some wonderful women through the American Women's Shanghai group and joined their Happy Hour on Tuesday night. Women of all ages just getting to know one another; share in their experiences (good and bad) and definitely do some reassuring that it does get better! It was so nice to have them there, thus re-affirming how great it is to just have a support group (of any kind!).
Thursday (official Labor Day) Jack, Jason and I headed out to the "Xiangyang" Market in Pudong. This market is actually underground by the subway system and is quite the experience. One must definitely join in on this roller coaster of a ride as you shoot along stalls filled with every type of clothing, shoes, accessories and trinkets imaginable! As you walk along the stalls your head can only spin ( for those that are not used to such a sight) as Chinese are asking you "Lady, you want a watch, DVD, purse, shoes!?!" Every 5 steps you reach a different stall with the same question. Some even follow you down the aisles, especially if you give then any sort of inclination that you might buy something from them! I can only imagine what it will be like to watch certain family members venture through these paths of utter chaos! It has become quite fun though and I must say Jason is quite the bargainer! Jack of course, was oblivious (this being his first time) and simply wanted to dance in the middle of the aisles as he heard music. What a treat for all the Chinese, and of course for Jack, who loved the attention! Needless to say after a few hours of shopping we were exhausted and ready to leave. We exited out the entrance that leads to the bottom plaza area of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. The last picture (above) is of the plaza, with a fantastic dragon statue and the Museum (the big glass ball) in the background. If Jack wasn't tired and ready for lunch, we would have gone in to look, but Jack's tummy lead us away. Off to the Thumb Plaza where we ate at the Moon River Diner for some yummy American food! It's so wonderful to have "home" food if and when we want it!
Friday Jason and I were able to sneak away for a bit! Our ayi ("auntie" or nanny) was there for the day and able to babysit Jack. A few days before I had picked up a book, " Shanghai for Kids" and read about a great Textile market so we headed out there. Well apparently we were taken out to the one in the Putuo District (which was a good hour cab ride away). Thus, upon arrival we notice that there are no English signs, no one spoke a lick of English and we were the only non-Asians. It was quite a weird feeling, as if we were aliens from outer space. We did walk around the market for a bit; it was a 3 story factory of sort that ranged a good mile including every kind of fabric you could ever imagine. They had a whole floor dedicated to curtains, the second floor of nothing but bedding, then the third floor was clothing items. It was unreal the amount of obvious "textiles" that they had available. Now, this is definitely a place I will return, but with someone that can translate for me (or until I've learned!).
Once we realized that we were not going to get anything accomplished, we took another taxi ride into Puxi to the fabulous Portman Ritz Carlton area. This is such a beautiful area. They have really done a great job in their landscaping and keeping the area up. Although, once again, you wouldn't know that you were in Shanghai. Most of the buildings are more European inspired and other than the few Chinese restaurants around, there were mainly American or European cuisines. Then of course you did have your fantastic Gucci and Marc Jacobs shops that the fashion hungry love! We had lunch outside because it was another stunning day then walked around for a bit and enjoyed the scenery. The picture (above) in the middle was a little garden just about a half a block before the Ritz -Carlton hotel, with business buildings in the background. Definitely an area to further explore and to return.
After our lunch and mid-afternoon stroll, we took another taxi back over by the Xiangyang market. We went over on the other side, by Century Park, to enjoy the many others that were doing the same thing. There were people of all sorts enjoying the beautiful day; taking pictures, flying kites, enjoying picnics and just walking around. Jason did go to buy a kite (from the many kite sellers on their bikes) and all of a sudden the kite salesman is being scurried away by a police officer close by. The salesman from there takes his bike not 20 feet over to an area and motions for Jason to come over. Apparently that 20 feet made all the difference and that was perfectly fine for him to sell to Jason then. Funny, but another one of those things that you just shrug, shake your head then go on your merry way!
Yesterday (Saturday), we did take a trip to the ever-so-crowded Lotus SuperMarket. I swear that I have just got to start telling myself that I am going to continue to be shocked and overwhelemed by every little thing that I do here. This supermarket was (and their markets are always) like the malls in America on Christmas Day! I don't believe there is ever a time when things slow down here, so I guess I'll just have to get used to life in the fast lane! No more slow leisurely days of Tulsa! :) Upon visiting such a place (as any here) I have come to the realization that the Chinese here (or most of them) are really quite oblivious to the world around them. You walk through the grocery store watching them and I really am beginning to think that they might possibly think they are the only ones in the store. It's all I can come up with as to why they swing their carts around or buzz through like maniacs, when obviously that's not possible because the stores are so packed that you hit someone every five seconds! They are totally unaware of their surroundings; driving, cycling, walking, whatever it may be. Of course, I have started to get quite snippy with them and let them know that I will not have them try and shuffle me through the grocery aisles; even if they have no clue what I just barked at them, I know they are at least getting my drift and until my Mandarin is in full swing this is as good as it gets! Right..."As Good as it Gets", and that's all I need right now; just the simple satisfaction of knowing that I am making head way in trying to live in this crazy (but still so wonderful) world!
This world is just too fun...for those of you that have the ability~ come visit! It's such a trip! More later...enjoy the rest of this first weekend in May...wherever you may be! XOXO
~ Emily Renoir~

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting Settled In...

Goodmorning! It is a beautiful Sunday morning in Shanghai! Jack is finally on a normal sleeping schedule and we are slowly getting on a schedule. As this has been our first weekend of feeling somewhat adjusted we have been able to see what life in Shanghai is really going to have in store for us~ and we couldn't be more thrilled! The life around us is constantly changing and every day is a new adventure.

Friday night we were able to go down the way to the Golden Bridge area. It is just about a five minute walk from our apartment complex and is full of little shops, restaurants, coffee bars and a western grocery store. We ate at a place called the Blue Frog (a very popular restaurant among the expats) and just had a great time. Jack ran amongst all of the other kids laughing and dancing and it was so comforting to see him and know that he is really going to just love it here.

One frustrating bit is that I have found that everything you try to do is quite the process (and everyone else will tell you that!). One, it comes from the communication barrier (which causes many problems in and of it self) and two, our standards and customs that we are used to on a daily basis are totally different from their culture. You forget sometimes that you are not in the United States and almost anything can be different. For example, we purchased cell phones last week and they worked great for a few days then all of a sudden mine couldn't call anyone. So, of course, we went to take it back. Isn't that normal? No, not here. They told us that they had been used and the box was open! What!?! 45 minutes of arguing ( myself, Jason and our driver, J.J.) and we still left with our phones. We have to take them to the testing center to see if they really don't work. So, if you plan on buying anything over here, don't plan on returning it. Make sure you like it in the store because most likely you will be stuck with it! I have told Jason that God is only teaching us patience because this is the first among many instances that have arisen like this. One of the joys of learning about the Chinese way of life! All I can do now is laugh! :)

The first picture above is of the NanPu Bridge. It takes you from Pudong (our area and the supposed future of Shanghai) to Puxi (the older area of Shanghai). As you can see it is not very clear and this is because of the terrible pollution problem that they have here in Shanghai. It really is so devestating to such a beautiful city. As I was talking with my driver he explained that there is not alot that the people can really do about it. One of the major causes of the pollution is from foreign factories, which have no mandated laws on keeping their factories clean and from emitting their chemicals and such into the enviornment. The citizens also have NO freedom of speech so their complaints and concerns are not really heard. This is one thing that I sometimes think we as Americans definitely take for granted. Our area is pretty clear but once you drive further into the city and downtown areas you really notice it. On a bad day you cannot even see the JinMao financial building (the tallest building in the world!).

The journey over the NanPu bridge took me into Puxi to the health center. Now let me tell you that for the first time I really felt like I was a member of a herd of cattle. I had to go down there for a physical for my residency visa. I was given a number and herded from room to room for tests. Granted there were normal tests (blood, XRays, vision, etc..) but I did do an ultrasound (even the men do!) and an EKG. Hmm...that was fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Jason and Justin talking about their ultrasounds; what a sight I'm sure! Tests went fine (obviously!) and Jack and I went on Thursday to get our residency papers so we can officially become Chinese residents. I guess we are really here right!?! The second picture is of Fiona, she works at Callidus with Jason. She is in love with Jack (like every other Chinese individual- man and woman- here). Just last night when we were out at dinner, a group of Chinese flocked over to Jack and were laughing and trying to play with him. This happens every where we go. They literally follow him around; he is a little celebrity and doesn't even know it!

The third picture above is in the Xintiandi area in the French Concession. Heidi, Emily, Jack and I went over on Wednesday and had lunch and did a little shopping. We ate at a great French restuarant and then walked around for a bit. It really is a gorgeous area and a great place for people watching. As we were walking down one of the streets I noticed some blue shacks of some sort. Heidi informed me that these were the sleeping bunks of the construction workers. Now I know why (after living here for two weeks) that their buildings go up so quickly. They literally work 12-14 hours a day and then sleep right on sight. They work all the time! However, it is really dispiriting to see how they so easily tear down their old buildings and put up a brand new one. From what I've heard that are not many areas left in Shanghai with old or native buildings; everything is new contstruction. That's why I say, that in Shanghai, it does not really look like a city in China. It's a new city; their futuristic city. To see the old city you have to travel to the outskirts of Shanghai (that I am really looking forward to). Shanghai wants to become more modernized and are very easily shunning their past to be more of a city like in the USA. I hope they do keep some of their pasttimes because it is so beautiful and it is who they are after all. I think though no matter how hard those may try, your past will always be a part of you.

I do have so very much more to write. Daily I have things that happen that are worth telling, but I could definitely be writing all day. It is a beautiful day and we are going to go to Century Park to get and fly a kite! Jack will love this! Maybe I'll write a book of our travels, even if it is just for our records of this wonderful adventure!

Much love to everyone in the United States~ and Beau in Spain!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Long trip to Shanghai

Ni Hao from Shanghai!
This is now to be our 5th full day starting here in Shanghai, China! What an experience already! Each day that I venture out I see more and more things that amaze me or that is just so much different from our everyday life that we were accustomed to in Oklahoma. Yet, when you see the Chinese here, you know that they look at us and have to think the same things. Now I believe I truly know what it likes to feel like a foreigner. It's not just a matter or living over here, but it's about truly noticing the differences of our cultures and learning to adapt (in some way or another). First off, you have to understand that the Chinese have no

problem staring, nor do they think it's rude to bump into you and not say "Excuse me". These are two things that I understand now but still am trying to get used to. There are many other things, but these I know will all come in time and it's just about knowing that you are in a totally different world, but learning to love what you have at hand. I, for one, think it is truly remarkable seeing how they live each day and how accepting they are of us "foreigners" that have come to live in their city. Those that have had experience with foreigners are very accepting and very kind. They seem to welcome our new ways of life and are quite eager to learn them, all the while here I am trying to learn some of their ways of life. I know the time that I am over here I will learn to appreciate the ways in which they live life; as will they from us and then we will from then!
Well, our trip over here was definitely uneventful and we made it safely which is all I can really ask for. However, I will add that I feel it wise never to take China Eastern Airlines. I don't really want to complain but it was just awful. The seats, the service, the food (horrible!) the selection of movies, etc.. I would definitely not recommend it! The seats felt as if they had maybe a half an inch of layer over a steal bar, so a 14 hour plane flight on a seat like that was quite painful. Jack did as well as could be expected although at times it was tough trying to keep him constrained between Jason and I. Never fear, we made it safe and sound to Shanghai! Heidi Cales and Emily Forth (two wonderful girls that are living here; Heidi has been living here for almost 3 years and Emily just moved here in March) met us at the airport to help with Jack and our luggage. They were complete life savers; I don't know how we would have managed with our 6 huge suitcases, Jack & his stroller and carseat and our carry ons. We must have looked like quite the crew!
The last few days we have been quite busy trying to get situated into our apartment. Basically just unpacking, making countless trips to the Carrefour (kind of like a Wal-Mart), the grocery store, even the Toys R' Us (Jack & Jason had a blast!) and trying ever so hard to get used to the time change. It's not really Jason and I that are having trouble but Jack. He is just still thinking he's in Tulsa, as per why he woke up at 3:30 this morning thinking that his nap was over and it was time to play. It's been like that every night since we arrived, so I'm hoping that this will somewhat change! ...and soon! :)
I think Jack has been quite hilarious the past few days. He obviously has no idea where we are, but he knows that something is a little off. One of the many things I love about Shanghai is how kid-friendly pretty much every place is. They are so eager to see American babies and love on them or say hello or entertain them. We have been to two different restaurants now where they have their own kiddie size dishware and even bring out toys (and big ones at that!) for Jack to play with. They almost sit and watch as well, to see when they might get the chance to play with him. As for anyone that knows Jack, you know that he is just loving all of this attention. He gets in his fits of dances or laughing like he knows what people are talking about and this really gets them going. It is quite a sight but Jason and I love watching it. I know that this new home of ours is going to be quite wonderful!
Speaking of wonderful and for anyone that knows me~the shopping is unreal! This is just from what I've been able to see...either walking by or from a distance. We went to the Toys R'Us the other day in the SuperBrand Mall. Yes, this mall has 11 floors of shopping; everything you can ever imagine. One whole floor is designated to restaurants alone. I obviously cannot wait to go back there~ and Jason obviously can! :)
Life is coming together slowly. We have set up our driver. His name is J.J. and he is so nice and I know that I am going to really enjoy getting to know him. I discovered yesterday that he loves Micheal Jackson and Mariah Carey so I've got to get him some CD's. We are going to have some fun! We have a silver Buick minivan (yes a minivan!) that we are sharing with Emily and her husband, Justin. It's going to be odd not driving but I don't think I'm ready (nor ever ready) to drive in Shanghai. Their driving is beyond anything I've ever seen. They do not really obide by the standard rules of the road; it's just whatever they think needs to happen. But you know, it seems to work for them, so why not!?!
Oh...another funny piece of information...I went to the Carrefour yesterday to get some hangers and more supplies for our house. I go to pay and hand the lady my money. She then proceeds to tell me that one of my 20 RMB is fake! I couldn't believe it. So apparently someone (probably in the market!) had given us fake money. I had to have J.J. then explain to me the difference between real and fake money. Now we'll see if I let them fool me again!
Well, it looks as if the day for me is ready to start. Lots to do today. Jack and I are going to have lunch with Heidi and Emily, then we are off to find some items for our apartment. Should be a long and another adventurous day! I will try and post every couple of days now that I have this started; one for those to read who want to keep updated on our journey in Shanghai, and another just for myself! :)
Our Vonage (918 number) will hopefully be set up this evening, as well as our China mobiles. Pictures will be coming soon as well! :)
Love to all from Shanghai!