Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week 5

How's it going everyone? It is the start of week 5, November 22, 2010, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner for you folks back in the U.S. We are VERY jealous of all of you who will be eating large amounts of turkey and sleeping afterward during (sigh) a football game. Our Thanksgiving dinner will likely consist of noodles and Chinese dumpings; If we decide to splurge, we may order some fried rice and pretend it tastes like stuffing, we'll see.

Continuing from where I left off on last week's post, I am happy to report that I picked up my suit and shirt from the Fabric Market this weekend and everything fits great! The stitching seems well done, I really like the way the jacket was cut, and the material feels nice to the touch. I have no complaints, especially since I only paid $94 for everything! After that, we couldn't help ourselves so we started looking around a bit more. We found a couple of other shops/booths that do very nice tailored coats, so we ended up buying a coat for each of us. Like the suit, we got to pick the design, fabric, and lining for each coat. We paid about $150 total for both, and they are going to be handy as the weather starts to get a lot colder. We pick them both up on Friday before we move (foreshadowing, keep reading). As we were leaving, despite my begging her to keep walking before we spent whatever is left in our bank accounts, Tiffany saw a couple of other items that she wanted to bargain for. I thought some people might be interested to see a negotiation take place, for whatever reason, so I shot a quick video to give everyone an idea of what it's like to Make a Deal at the Shanghai Fabric Market!

Tiffany ended up getting the silk robe (as seen in the video) and an orange Cashmere scarf for about $30 total (which I thought was a little too much but, whateves, she likes them). However, for all of you taking notes at home, the lesson here is: Americans always get their way, even if it means overpaying by two or three times what it's worth. We insist.

Earlier this week we also got a chance to go to The People's Square, which is a large park/area in the thick of Shanghai's business district. It is a tranquil place in the middle of the city that has lots of places for people to picnic, play board games, exercise, sit on benches, and otherwise relax. People's Square also has many paths for walking among the trees and landscape, which is what we did while we were there. It is a big tourist draw so we had to check it out.

As we were walking through there was this music coming through the trees but we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. So like a couple of gumshoes hot on the case, we decided to hunt down the source and capture it on camera.

Tiffany is starting to adapt to the many quirks that a Chinese firm presents, one of which is pretty interesting so I thought she should share it with you: 

One of the interesting things about practicing architecture in China, or pretty much anywhere else except for the United States, is relearning how to use the metric system.  Getting used to designing in a completely different system of measurement has actually been a much easier transition than I expected.  At first, I would look at drawings that had a dimension of 10,000 on them and think to myself (while self-consciously looking around to see if anyone realized that I have no idea what that number meant, haha) “10,000 WHAT? 10,000 millimeters, centimeters, meters!”  However, I’m finally starting to remember that doors are 2.1 meters tall versus 7 feet and that people talk in millimeters (still not sure why though)!!  The metric system is so much easier in practice than the imperial system, and I’m beginning to question why the United States does not switch!  Being able to divide and/or multiply by 10s is just so much easier than trying to figure out how many inches are in a number of feet, yards, or even miles.  

Because Tiffany loathes writing for our blog (and in general, haha), I will share some really good news regarding her and MADA s.p.a.m. Tiffany has been asked by her supervisors to join a team of 10 designers that will be moving to Ningbo, China, for the next month or two (maybe longer, maybe shorter) to work on the firm's biggest project - Universal City Amusement Park!! Ningbo is about a 2.5-hour drive south of Shanghai. She will be designing some large areas of the park and will gain valuable experience in yet another city in China!! Her supervisors were nice enough to put her up in an apartment that I can also stay in, so I will be tagging along. We leave this Sunday, November 28, and don't really know when we will be back in Shanghai. Probably sometime after the first of the year, although she may be making trips back and forth for meetings or whatever. Very exciting stuff, and it looks like her slave labor is starting to yield some very positive results for her career.

So our next post will be from Ningbo, as long as we have internet (keep your fingers crossed)!! In the meantime, here is another idea for Things To Do in Shanghai, as well as a quick story from yours truly. We want to wish everyone back in the U.S. a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, we wish we were there to celebrate with all of you. Please send us some pictures or post them as comments, we would love to see our friends during the holidays (even if virtually)! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Things To Do in Shanghai

2.  Take a journey to one of Shanghai’s Fake Markets. 
Located at 580 Nanjing, this three story fake mall has pretty much anything one could desire. Technology, clothing, and souvenirs can all be found under one fake roof.  The quality of items varies and be careful not to fall for the outrageous prices. I figure some of you out there are newbies to the China Bargaining Business so I thought I would throw in some translations to help:

Friend Price: The price I give to anyone who walks by my shop or even walks into the building or visited Shanghai at some point in the last six months.
Last price: Trust me, I will go lower.
Happy Price: I am VERY happy to sell you my product at this price.
Last, Last Price: Ok, You’re playing hardball so I’ll go down a little more for you (Helpful tip: At this point, bring out a wad of cash and hand them what you’re offering and they will take your offer, guaranteed).

Maybe It's Just Me

When we first moved into the apartment, we noticed that there were only three burners on the stove, two of which are gas burners (the other is electric). The landlord mentioned that one of the gas burners doesn't work, and that she would have someone come out to take a look. A few days later, the handy men showed up. When they tried to turn the broken burner on, gas started seeping out but the flame didn't ignite. Since it wasn't lighting, they thought it would be a good idea to turn the gas UP. All of the sudden (and I wish I could show a video, but I was standing very far away and didn't have the courage to shoot a movie), the flame burst and the two men jumped back before their hair lit on fire and started yelling at each other in Chinese. They determined that the burner was broken. They did us a favor, however, and put a nice strong piece of duct tape on the knob and told us not to use it. Thanks guys! Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the appropriate thing to do after an EXPLOSION in our kitchen would be to FIX IT!!! If not for our hapless American lives, then how about for the people who live around us?!?

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