New Experiences and New Favorites
For the past week, I have focused most of my time on the job search. I’m sure you’re wondering what I have been doing for the past five weeks if I haven’t been looking for a job, and the answer is tough. I have been looking for a job, researching various companies, exploring the city, meeting new people, updating this website, designing a website for my mom, updating my resume, reformatting my portfolio…..but honestly, I wasn’t doing any of this very well. For some reason I hadn’t mustered the real confidence I needed to actually follow through and do my due diligence to find work. I think I was waiting for something to fall into my lap. I made excuses for why I wasn’t getting any calls from the five resumes I sent out…the economy is bad, I’ve never worked in China before, I don’t have any connections. In reality, I only sent out five resumes. And nothing else. No one would get a job in a completely new continent by sending out five resumes blindly into city where there are architecture offices on every corner. I’m not sure why I thought I would be any different.
Then last Thursday, I snapped out of it. I finally realized I wasn’t doing enough, and then I thought about the past year in terms of the-money-I-didn’t-earn for the first time. That’s thousands of dollars my bank account will never see. The money isn’t what is driving me to get a job, but it is a factor. I am proud that I took the risk and walked away from everything for a little while and I never would have done it differently. The added advantage is that now I am fresh and energized and filled with dreams of Asia…past and present. I have begun to take looking for an architecture job in Shanghai seriously, and the fruits of my labor are already paying off. I don’t have a job yet, but I have started conversations, and conversations will hopefully lead to more conversations and those conversations will lead to interviews and those interviews will lead to work. I am optimistic, and there will be great things for me in Shanghai, I just know it.
On the exploring side of things, Nik and I joined a couple of his co-workers for a Saturday ride around the city. At first the destination was ambiguous. We rode past the Moganshan Lu galleries and along Suzhou Creek, then stopped for coffee and smoothies in the middle of Nanjing Road shopping chaos. We eventually found ourselves riding along the Huangpu River towards the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Prior to Saturday, the only time I had ever heard of this tunnel was when Nik and I visited last December and we saw a sign while we were walking around near the entrance. I wrote it off as a tourist trap rip-of, and never thought twice. But let me tell you. If you come to Shanghai, you have to go on the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, it is worth it!!! Talk about wierd Shanghai.
After walking down a flight of stairs into a subway-like tunnel just off of the northern tip of the Bund (the riverside park on the west side of Huangpu River lined with colonial architecture), you enter into this amusement park ride entrance filled with vending machines and jade dealers and viewfinders with provocative pictures of Chinese women. The ticket counter isn’t anything special, but it plainly displays the prices in Chinese and English. 40RMB for one-way, 50RMB for round-trip. We paid our fair and filed through the turnstyles and into the ride entrance. Here’s where I got completely confused. I thought this was just a tunnel where you walked under the bund and there were photos all about Shanghai and perhaps the history of the Bund, but no. It is a tunnel where you ride in a little glass car though an elaborate series of Christmas lights of various colors flashing and spinning while an intercom announces the phase in which you are traveling through such as “heaven and hell” and “metior showers plummeting towards earth”. It was the most bazaar thing I have ever paid money for, and I’m glad I did.
When the ride is finished you end up on the Pudong side of the river with a nice view looking across at the Bund. Because I am recommending that you do this the next time you are here, I recommend that you only purchase a one-way ticket then go to the Super Brand Mall or Century Park or something else in Pudong and take a ferry or the subway back to the city. It just isn’t worth doing the ruturn trip.
Then Nik and I split from the group because he had to go into work. Since he wasn’t going to be long, I found a table at my favorite Shanghai cafe, A:Mokka, to sit and enjoy Saturday afternoon. I started reading Ann Pachett’s book Run, and love it.
The rest of our weekend was uneventful. Sunday we spent most of the day at home with just a short ride through some construction sites and then I got hungry so we headed back to the apartment. Of course, as soon as we locked up our bikes, all of the clouds went away and we were left with an amazingly clear blue sky. But it didn’t last. The clouds were back within 30 minutes, and we were in for the day.
On Monday, I spent all day doing research, then met up with a new friend to have hand pulled noodles at a little shop called Noodle Bull on Changle Lu. This place is also quickly becoming a favorite, and will certainly be one of my staple dining options.
Then on Tuesday, I rode over to Xiantandi. If you’ve visited Shanghai, you have probably been there, but I had never even heard of it until last week. Xiantandi is two city blocks of of old buildings that were converted into modern restaurants and luxury shops. The weather was nice, so all of the restaurants had outdoor tables and the inner courtyard seemed like a European beer garden. I like the effort that is being made, but the tables were filled with westerners in suits so I’m sure that most of the prices went along those same lines. Luckily my new friend recommended the bakery, Paul, which sits at the very edge of the complex so I had my lunch there. I picked a smoked salmon sandwich with fresh greens, and it was pretty delicious. Good bread is one thing I miss most about America, so it’s good to know I can find it here!!
My final new favorite is this quilt that my mom gave me for Christmas. It is new because it just arrived in Shanghai on Monday, so I finally have something to hold on to from home. The quilt itself has an awesome story because it is the first quilt my mother has ever made (didn’t she do good??)…and I had no clue that she was making it before I opened it on Christmas morning. It now has a permanent home on our couch, and I huddle under it every night. Thanks Mom for giving me my first hand-made family heirloom! It’s nice to have a little piece of you here with me.