Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our First dose of Shanghai


In June we got to go and see Shanghai to explore the neighborhoods and get a look of the city. The only place in China I had ever been was Hong Kong. I think I was expecting Shanghai to be somewhat like that. I realized extremely fast that they are very different places. Shanghai is a very busy place and there is a lot to see! 
When in the downtown area, there is a 360 degree view of high-rises and skyscrapers. It is a bit intimidating at first. Los Angeles doesn't even compare to this city skyline. I kept asking our tour guide what goes on in all of the buildings. She said that most of them were office buildings. With about 23 million people in Shanghai, that makes sense. 

So many buildings!!! When the building on the left is finished, it will be the 2nd tallest building in the world. No big deal. 

Nanjing Road


I really loved all the nightlife and colors. It was very fun to walk around and see everything that is going on. Great people watching! 



My Husband was very excited to see this Apple Store within reach. I was excited to see the Gap across the street. 

We were walking down this street while just getting off of the subway system and I kept looking up to see signs that were not in English that I could not translate. Suddenly, I turned my head upwards and saw a sign that I could read perfectly. Forever 21!!!! My eyes were misty. 



Xintiandi

This neighborhood was so pleasant. There were many shops, malls and cafes. It was hard to believe we were in China. It had lots of character. The housing that we saw in this neighborhood were some of my favorite. It is close to public transportation and lots of nightlife. 




Tianzifang

This was one of my favorite places that we saw in Shanghai. Tianzifang is a small neighborhood composed of alleyways with boutiques, craft stores, art studios and small restaurants. I wanted to spend more time browsing and shopping but we didn't have time. I will definitely be back! 




Wet market

On our visit I told our relocation service person that I was really interested in seeing where I would be doing my food shopping. I wanted to see all of my options on where to buy produce, meat and other necessities. We were taken to a wet market to see what it would be like to shop like a local. A wet market is where there is butcher shops, fresh produce, and dried goods. You go vendor to vendor and pick out your food, sometimes you may even barter your prices.
 Wet markets are different than grocery stores because the food is very fresh and contain no preservatives. Because food is so fresh and will only be kept for a few days it is very common in China to get your produce and shop for food every day. One thing that surprised me with the wet market is that there are a vast amount of live food there. It is sometimes customary to see your food alive before purchasing it. This freaked me out, and something I will have to get used to. Live frogs, shellfish, and chickens were available for purchase as well. I really like the idea of buying my produce here. It reminded me of a very authentic farmers market. 






Asian supermarket

For anything that I cannot get in the wet market, I can buy at the supermarket. We visited a few to get a feel of the layout and the products they have available. The prices that you see are in Chinese Yuan's, a primary unit of the Renminbi (China's currency). I was constantly converting to US currency through an app I had downloaded in order to see how much money the products were. The supermarkets had areas that were designated for imported American goods. Things like Campbell's soup, canned tuna, ketchup and pasta sauces were available. Because these goods are imported, they are sold at a premium and are quite expensive. People who are relocated are urged to find the Chinese equivalent to the products they love from home, as it will be much cheaper.






The humidity wasn't too bad during our trip. (We went in June) However, it is now August and it has changed drastically. Summers are usually hot and very humid. Random downpours and thunderstorms are normal during the summer, as well. The most pleasant time to visit us (and you really should) is in the spring. April-May are prime time for climate. Living in Los Angeles most of my life I realize how "weather spoiled" I have been. This will take some time to get used to! 



Here we are getting a look at "The Bund" during the day.



Shanghai French Concession

The French Concession neighborhood of Shanghai was surprisingly green. I liked the area, and thought that it had a lot of character. It has a very distinct type of architecture that is different to its neighboring cities. 





 I am excited about moving to Shanghai. I am interested in learning mandarin while we are over there. I would like to eventually be able to converse with the locals, even if it is just to barter or order food. 

 I know that it will help me in the long run if I embrace the culture and try to make myself aware of the customs. I do not want to be that "ignorant white girl" who doesn't fully adapt to the lifestyle. It will be fun to do something different for 2 years and to see the world. I know that I am being pushed into a very different atmosphere than what I am used to, but at least it will never be a dull moment!