Today marks the beginning of our second week in China, which means we are still new here, but not so new that we don’t know anything. We know the names of the major roads within an hour’s walk from the apartment. We know where the grocery store and some local markets are. We know where the biggest tourist trap is, and therefor know how to avoid it. We know where a big park is that isn’t too far away. Most importantly, we know how to get home and we know we are going to like it here.
Of course, there are still plenty of things we don’t know. We don’t know how to speak Chinese (that might take a while). We don’t know what to do once the water in our big jug runs out. We don’t know when I will have a job. We don’t know of many casual restaurants with good food within five minutes of the apartment. We don’t know where we are going to play our feather-kick game. And although there are still unknowns, it’s no big deal. We’ll figure everything out eventually and we’re simply determined to have a good time while we’re at it.
Over the past week I have noticed little things here and there that are worth mentioning, so here is a list of my first impressions/observations.
1. It’s harder to find street produce here than it was in Thailand.
2. Locals don’t smile much, but they smile more than I expected.
3. Everyone is extremely curious. Saturday, Nik and I stopped to watch four cats eat some food that a lady had set out for them, and within five minutes there were ten other people gathered around watching as well.
4. The Super Brand Mall in Pudong is what every shopping mall strives to be.
5. Trains on Subway Line 4 come every twelve minutes.
6. I like having a washing machine.
7. Every supermarket employs five times as many people as it needs to.
8. I suspect that a lot more people speak English here than they admit to.
9. I don’t like asking for favors.
10. Rain doesn’t only fall in Portland and Thailand. It falls in China too.
11. While having my hair cut in a foreign country is fun, the results aren’t always good.
12. This city is impeccably clean.
13. All you can eat and drink Japanese Teppanyaki for 160Â¥ ($23) is a nice deal by American standards and oh so good!!
14. I am pretty sure I could shop all day every day for at least two weeks before I got sick of it…but…
15. Not having a job limits me to window shopping only, which is a good thing.
16. I don’t like being home while Nik works all day.
17. American hair care companies don’t print any english on their Chinese products.
18. You can find everything here.
19. This city goes on and on and on forever and ever and ever and ever.
20. It will take much more than six months to uncover all the gems in this city.
Yesterday, Nik and I explored the Pudong area of Shanghai a little bit by going to Century Park and then walking down Century Avenue to the Super Brand Mall. Century Park is a huge plot of land that has been set aside in the midst of never ending high-rise residential towers. It has a large lake with paddle boats and fishing, an extensive trail system, a miniature theme park for kids with bumper cars and roller coasters, an amphitheater, a cafe and it even has a pigeon coop with a man selling corn that kids can feed to them. The park was pretty full yesterday since it was the first day all week without rain, but it was still too cold to really enjoy sitting idle outside.
Topiary beginning to bloom
Sweet scented Crisanthamums
Me in front of the pink cherry blossoms*
White cherry blossoms
Dad and daughter having fun in the bumper cars
Pinwheels, pinwheels spinning around
After about two hours, we left the park and decided to walk along Century Avenue all the way back to downtown. The route was about 5.8km/3.6miles and we were nearly exhausted at the half way point and were tempted to jump on the subway to go the rest of the way, but the walk was worth it. Instead of standing in an underground train where all you can see is the person standing next to you, we walked along a huge boulevard with miniature walled parks on every block and plenty of trees that skewered through all of the prime real estate of the newly developed area. It was like walking through a park that happened to be the main road through the city where tons of people fly kites on Sunday!!
View towards downtown from Century Avenue
We eventually made it to the Jin Mao Tower where I wanted to go in to see the 38-story Grand Hyatt hotel atrium. Nik was a little skeptical about going in, but I convinced him that it wouldn’t be a big deal. Hotels occupy flashy buildings because they want people to see them and want to stay there, so for all they know we were looking for a place to stay. I convinced him that they wanted us to go in, so we did and it was worth it! We didn’t stay for long because we were tired and hungry, but we did get a nice peak out the lobby windows onto the vast city below and have decided that we would come back sometime soon. Who knows, maybe breakfast on the 56th floor of the Grand Hyatt might become our little Sunday ritual. Why not?
Grand Hyatt Atrium image courtesy of Wikipedia
Our final stop for the day was the Super Brand Mall. We wanted to go there for two reasons. First, we needed to get an electrical adapter for Nik’s cell phone charger, and second, I wanted to see what a SUPER Brand Mall was. We also needed to have lunch, so we found a huge and empty Thai restaurant that served mediocre curry and pad thai. Then Nik went into Best Buy to find the adapter, and I went exploring. The mall really isn’t much different than all of the other malls in China, but it did seem extremely popular. It has most of the major international brands with the international price tags. There was plenty of eye candy, and I’m sure I’ll be back again but next time I’ll try not to be on my feet for six hours before stepping foot inside.
Happy we're here, and sad I haven't taken any good photos of Nik yet.*
Nik took all of the photos with the * and just posted about our weekend: First Weekend in Shanghai