Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chinese Handiman

Last week my office was closing up and being moved from the city (Puxi side) to the new COMAC facility in Pudong.  At the same time COMAC was also closing up.  This photo is a classic example of the Chinese innovative thinking without regard to their own well-being.  
That worker is being held by his ankles out the 8th story window.  I watched him for about 10 minutes before I got bored, who knows how long it took him to do the job.  He was working on something electrical - could have been hacking into free electricity, which is a popular activity.  
I've watched people cross the highway by standing on the striped line while cars go by at 50 mph.  The taxi drivers tend to drive at night without their lights on because the think that "it saves them gas".  Think about that one...  I've also heard stories about construction workers working while sparks from welders are shooting into crowds of people.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cheap & Drinkable

I noticed five bottles of this wine in a Chinese woman's grocery cart so I purchased one to try as well.  It would be a very inexpensive mistake if it turned out bad.  To our surprise, it is not bad at all, in fact drinking this has stopped us from depleting our "suitcase cellar" that was stocked from numerous trips to China.

Chinese Cat Fod

Notice the three shrimp!
We were a bit apprehensive about the cat food that would be available in China.  Ben likes it to have gravy.  We found only one brand of canned food and it comes in two flavors - a pink can and a green can.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the pink can.  Inside were actual bits of fish (not animal parts ground up and pressed into shapes to look like meat), lots of gravy and 3 small shrimp!  Feline utopia!  

We just bought the pale green can and found the same fish and gravy but instead of shrimp it had very small, skinny white fish and you can see their two little black eyes on each head.  Ben loves breakfast time.  The only drawback?   It's expensive.  About $1.20 ea.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Can Opener Experience

The World Financial Center building (aka - can opener) in Shanghai is the tallest in the city. Can you guess which one is the can opener? This is the view from our apartment/hotel this month. It is what I wake up to each morning. 

Many days the top of the building is in the clouds since it is so tall. At night, the top of the tower sparkles and blue lights outline the edges of the tower from the top to the bottom. I've even seen it once turn red.

Yesterday, the whole family (minus Baba) went up to the top of it and experienced Shanghai from above. There was lots of security making us walk to scanning machines, there was three of them. They were watching us making sure all of our liquids were gone. But it was worth it since it was a clear day and we could see very, very far. The picture below is looking over the river to the West - Puxi side of Shanghai.

In the top part of the can opener on the 100th floor there were glass squares lining the floor bottom of the top area of the can opener hole. You look at the bottom area of the can opener section and then also see the ground. 

The scariest thing that I did up there was to lean on the tilted glass. Mark was scared when he was jumping on the glass.  It was a great visit!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cǎoméi's Hospital Visit

I’ve just removed Cǎoméi’s stitches from her face to avoid having to go back to the Children’s Hospital where they were put in.  Here’s the story.

A week ago, she was leaping from her closet onto her bed but her foot slipped and she landed short, splitting the side of her face by her eye.  It wasn’t large but it was obvious she needed stitches.  We’d only been here a few days, I have no Chinese phone, there is no phone in the apartment, my email was not working, Baba was at work and I was in a tad bit of a panic.  Luckily, I remembered seeing that there is a clinic on site so grabbed the kids and away we ran.  On the way there, we ran into the same woman we’d met twice already that day while riding the elevator.  She’s English and speaks a little Mandarin, she saw the blood on Cǎoméi and me and immediately offered to help.  She went with us to the clinic and we were told that Cǎoméi needed to go get stitches at the Children’s Hospital.

The nurse wrote down the Hospital name in Chinese for the taxi driver and we went to the street to flag one down.  There was a taxi waiting for hire right across the street but the driver was relieving himself behind a bush so we opted to wait for the next cab.  We arrived at what appeared to be a filthy train station in NY.  We were “adopted” by a registration attendant who walked us through everything.  Then a man dressed in security uniform took over for her and took me everywhere when needed.  First, he took me to the cashier/admissions to pay for Cǎoméi’s hospital ID card. RMB 14.00 ($2.30).

Doctor's Desk
The walls were filthy, holes in them, and the room where we sat with the doctor had an old wooden desk painted an odd peach many years ago, chipped and dirty.  The purple sink desperately needed cleaning, latex gloves that didn’t make it into the garbage can were lying on the floor.  The boys sat on the 1960’s exam table while Cǎoméi huddled by me and the doctor and I talked.  (I established that he was the doctor as he looked so young – what does that say about me?)  He used his copy iPhone to translate words. 

Nurse's Station
We had to pay cash up front for the visit and stitches.  (“Phew, I’ve got my Marriott Rewards credit card,” I thought.  I couldn’t help thinking that this bill would glean us mucho bonus points and a few free nights in Thailand!)  The guard took me down a few halls again to the cashier window  to pay for the stitches.  I was preparing to take out my Marriott rewards VISA card when I did a double-take at the total.  RMB 126.00  ($21.00)

I am in shock.   I pay cash and we head back to Cǎoméi.  After further discussion, I say I want Cǎoméi to have local anesthesia.  The doctor says I will have to pay.  Fine.  The guard takes me back to the cashier but now there is a large queue of people.  He walks right to the front of the line.  I hold back embarrassed.  A woman engages in challenging him for cutting in line but he must have explained my daughter’s circumstances.  She is quiet and I am waiting to pay the huge anesthesia bill.  I kept the VISA tucked in my wallet but I am pulling out 100 RMB bills.  I am told the price and I stop.  What???  I look at the register which reads, 0.40 RMB.  My mouth gaped open and I questioned the amount.  Yes, that was the price that I had to pay.  Total, not even $0.07!!!  For that he cut me to the front of the line in front of everyone else?  There’s no time to feel embarrassed, I pay and we head back to Cǎoméi. 

Nurse and Doctor
Cǎoméi was super during the procedure.  The nurse (without gloves) pushed gauze into her wound to clean it and then yellow sponge-like things in to sterilize it?  The “Procedure Room” looked as though it came out of a M*A*S*H set.  Unbelievable.  I grabbed Yu Gege’s iPod Touch to take a few pics before the stitches began.  I talked to Cǎoméi and held her as she lay on the gurney.  She never flinched as the anesthesia was injected into her wound in 4 places and then 3 stitches were put in.  I prayed for the guidance of this doctor’s hands, as you can imagine.  It came out perfectly! She was so good.  They praised her and smiled and, rather than go back, I took out her stitches tonight.  Heck.  I’ve seen my Dad do it enough and I’ve had enough removed from me. 

So, that’s our fun (and lengthy) experience with a real Chinese hospital.  People have since said we should have gone to an ex-pat hospital, and I think for something more serious, I would agree.  But this gave us a unique experience that we won’t forget.  And I really know that God helped out when we needed it most.  Phew!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yang Mei

We've been here one week, long enough to discover my new favorite fruit (yang mei, or mayberry - why have I never seen this in the US?), eat lots of rice and steamed buns, taxi to the children's hospital for stitches, and watch my children have their pictures taken ... many times.

Portions here in China are small - small loaves of bread, delicate cups of fruit or soup, a day's worth of vegetables, only 6-10 eggs per carton, and a meal's worth of freshly steamed buns.  I'll attempt to do the same with my posts and just offer tastes of our lives without overfeeding you with boring verbiage.  Enjoy!

Posted for "Yang Mei" by "Baba".

Friday, June 1, 2012

Purpose of Blog

In thinking about what to name my first blog, I wanted a title that expressed a generic description of the differences witnessed while my family and I spend the next three years in Shanghai.  "The Shanghai Way" is appropriately titled since there are customs, manners, activities and lifestyles that I have only witnessed in Shanghai.  The Shanghai way of doing things is not necessarily bad, it is just different than a way that an American would expect.

The perception of China in the eyes of many Americans is not a completely accurate representation of what life is like.  Sure, there are issues with the way the government handles certain circumstances but there are issues with all governments and has yet to be a perfect government.  Some are better than others, America's constitutional republic is the best to date (IMO), but all have bad aspects.  There are also many 'walls' that are coming down in China as the society continues to open up it borders.  For example, there are thousands of 'protests' that the Chinese people conduct each day - so many that the media doesn't cover them.

This blog will illustrate differences in our American way of doing things to the Shanghai, China way and various other experiences of being an expatriot in Shanghai, 2012.  Stay tuned for topics covering at least the following:

  • Bloggers background
  • Piracy- movies, Legos, software, books, technology
  • The Bubble- expat living area
  • Shopping- grocery stores, wet markets, technology malls, fake market
  • Working- 7/11, lack of process and efficiency
  • Carless- taxis, metro, biking
  • Driving- whoever gets there first, slow drivers, fast drivers, no seat belts
  • Smoking- everywhere, indoors, no one told them that it causes cancer
  • Language- lots of signing, must learn it
  •  Grocery stores- what they sell, prices
  • Bargaining- an art form, a way of life
  • Dinners- many courses, the food never stops, drinking
  • Houses- the expat allowance, location, Jinqaio, mansions
  • Massages- need to have one before write about it
  • Schools - International and local 
  • Walking- no yielding from right turns or bikes and scooters 
  • Growth of Shanghai- last 20 years, still growing, everything new