Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 10

Christmas 2010 has now come and gone, and we hope everyone had (and is still having) a great holiday with your family and friends. It was nice to talk with a lot of you over Skype! We are very jealous of the scrumptious-looking food in your mouths!! (We are accepting leftovers, if you fell like freeze-dryng and overnighting them to us, haha)

Our Christmas was good on this side of the world. We started off Christmas Day by going to church at the International Church on Hengshan Road. Normally the church has two services on Sundays, but for Christmas Day there was only one, so it was packed with people. We had to bring our passports with us because only foreigners are allowed to worship there (i.e., the government doesn't allow Chinese nationals to attend these services), but on Christmas no one asked to see them. I haven't said prayers inside a church for quite a while so, for me, the experience felt good.

After church we came back home to exchange our gifts. This was our sixth Christmas gift exchange and it was different in so many ways. For one thing, searching for the right gift to give was a lot harder than in previous years. There was one thing I really wanted to get for Tiff (which shall remain nameless for the moment), but I ultimately couldn't locate stores that had the item I wanted. To be fair, I waited until a week before Christmas to start looking, whatever. The other challenge was finding places that offer gift certificates. I urge all of you to try and explain a gift certificate to someone who either 1) doesn't understand you, or 2) isn't familiar with the concept. It was a hoot. Anyways, I ended up giving the best gift of all: cold hard cash, baby! My wonderful girlfriend got me one of the best gifts ever: NFL Game Pass!!! This little treasure is only offered to viewers outside of the U.S., and it is an online subscription to every NFL game from 2009 and 2010, AND it includes the 2010 Playoffs AND the Super Bowl. I have been up for two straight nights trying to catch up on Playoff contenders, and I love my girlfriend.

Mike and I spent the rest of the day with Mike, Belle and their dog Bingo.  Mike and Belle live in the "suburbs" of Shanghai which we were excited to see. When we got there, they took us to a Wet Market, the Chinese version of a Farmers Market.  However, as you can tell from the photos below, this market is very different from the trendy, hippie-filled South Pasadena Farmers Market (we love hippies, please take no offense).  This real "working" market is open daily and growers bring in fresh fruits, veggies, sauces, spices, and meats twice a day. After showing us around and purchasing some food for Christmas Dinner, we went back to their brand new, beautiful condo where Mike and Belle proceeded to cook us the most amazing dinner.  Mike and I want to give a special thanks to our hosts for making our first Christmas in Shanghai absolutely beautiful and amazing.

 Aisles upon aisles of amazing looking fruits and vegetables!
 Mike had to specifically ask for a special cut of meat, since Pork Tenderloin is not a typical Chinese cut.
 Chef Mike and his wonderful Sous Chef, Belle, cooking us an amazing Christmas Dinner. (Bingo taking a sniff)
 Pork Tenderloin, Mushroom Risotto, Bacon wrapped Enoki Mushrooms, Holland Beans & Carrots

Mike, me, and Bingo

As you can all tell from the pictures, our Christmas Day ended up being pretty awesome. Thanks again to Chef Mike, Belle, and Bingo for the entertainment (I will not post pictures of the entertainment because this is a family blog, haha!)

Last week I talked about our trip to Pudong. Instead of paying the 45RMB to walk the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, we decided to take the subway. We thought it would be a good idea because Pudong is only one Metro station from the Bund. It was, to say the least, not exactly the comfortable ride we expected. I want to include the video this week in case anyone is coming to Shanghai and thinking about making the same mistake. I hope this will give everyone an idea of what it's like riding a busy subway in Shanghai.
We are on the brink of 2011, and hopefully it is a year that brings lots of health, prosperity and happiness to all of you who read this blog. Best of luck to those who don't, haha. Hope everyone has a great New Years Eve. Be safe, but have a lot of fun, we'll try to do the same on this side of the world!

Things To Do in Shanghai: 

6.  Visit the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market 

Located at 399 Lujiabang Lu, (or 陆家浜路399 if you’re taking a taxi).  Three floors of shops selling just about anything you could desire, all custom made.  Suits, shirts, jackets, jeans, leather coats, scarves, robes, etc., are all sold here, but most shops specialize in one or two types of items.  However, bargaining skills are a must or you WILL be duped!  Three piece suits (Pants, Jacket, Shirt) go for between 300-600rmb and Coats seem to go for about 400-600rmb. So much fun and such an amazing experience: A must see in Shanghai!

Maybe It's Just Me

I have an idea for "Things To Do in Shanghai": Don't take the subway during rush hour. If any of you has ever lived life on the edge, then you know what it feels like to ride the subway in certain parts of Shanghai. These trips can be a chaotic free-for-all where someone will throw elbows to get on and secure one square foot of space, and stand on one leg if necessary. And when people are trying to get off the train? I would say it's like watching Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris. The crowd can be overwhelming, and getting through it is a testament to "survival of the fittest". Even after you've confirmed that you still have your wallet, you still need to make sure that all of your limbs make it into the train before the door closes on you. Some Chinese people simply don't care, and want to get on the train anyways, which is scary because these nomads have nothing to lose. Maybe it's just me, but why risk your life and limbs for an extra 3 minutes of your time? It's unbelievable.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week 9

Week 9 started off with our first snowfall in Shanghai!! In the morning, it fell lightly and melted fast, but by mid-afternoon it was coming down heavily. I took the scooter down to Starbucks to get my morning cup of joe. I soon learned that I should have walked instead, because I got pelted in the face with snow and was freezing my hands off. The snow lasted until about 9pm, when it finally stopped coming down, but most of it stuck around for the next day or so. I was happy to see snow for the first time in a long while, hopefully more snow days to come!

The Shanghai fashion scene is becoming an insatiable part of life here. There are clothing boutiques/shops on many, many streets and corners all over the city, all of which seem to have the latest trends hanging on their racks. I suppose it's partly because artists are plentiful, and partly because clothing can be made cheaply; not to mention it is one of the biggest metropolitan markets with locals and expats from around the world. Nevertheless, Shanghai is definitely a great place to see budding fashion designers and their latest clothing lines, which you probably won't find on display at your local GAP.

The building where Tiffany works hosted a fashion show last week for three up-and-coming designers based here in Shanghai. We were lucky enough to get invited and sat in the front row for Frau-Ana's show, a talented young designer originally from Germany. Frau-Ana's theme was Pink Rocks. Her inspiration for clothing design stretches back to the pop-culture of her childhood, stuff like Knight Rider with David Hasselhoff, Game Boy, and comic books idealizing superheros that can do anything. Her inspiration explains a lot, because the colors used in her clothing line run counter to conventional attitudes for wearing certain colors. Getting people to drop these adverse attitudes, and to start wearing colors, is what gives rise to her theme of Pink Rocks. Her presentation featured a young lady who wants to go out but is trying to decide what to wear. The energy in the room was buzzing with a sort of soothing chaos that supplemented what seemed to be planned disorganization. People were anxious to see Frau-Ana's line, and she did not disappoint.

Again, special thanks to Frau-Ana for being so nice to Tiffany and I when we were there, and for the great bags she gave us! If anyone is interested in seeing more of her clothing line and where to find her clothes, please visit her website at: http://www.frau-ana.com/. Currently two stores here in Shanghai, and another in Singapore, offer her clothes, but I'm sure many of you in the U.S. will be hearing the name of this promising artist in the near future.

As I was saying earlier, driving the scooter in the elements was horrendous. It is ridiculously cold, and hard to drive when snow and rain pelts one in the face. However, Tiffany mentioned something to me the other day when we were on the scooter that struck a note. So I thought it would be nice for her to share the comment with you, too:

Coming from LA, where practically everyone has their own car and often drives by themselves, not having a car in Shanghai has been quite a change. Instead of a car, we are utilizing public transportation, our scooter, taxis, and of course our own two feet to get around. But we hardly ever use taxis, so while walking and even on our scooter, we've been forced to slow down a little bit and really start to interact with the people, the street, and the city. I feel like we are becoming active participants in the city, instead of being shut out from the human interaction that results from being in a vehicle flying down the road in the sea of cars.  Here, we hear the sounds of the traffic, feel the bump of a passerby, and sometimes, unfortunately, smell the smells of the city. By becoming walkers and public transportation users, we end up running into amazing happenings and events that we would probably miss if we were flying down the freeway at 90mph! One of these such events we happened to run into the other day on our way to the Bund.

After we had a chance to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, we made our way across Huangpu River to take a closer look at the awesome skyline that everyone sees in pictures of Shanghai. We have been down to the Bund a couple times since we've been here, but we've never actually been across the river to the east Pudong area (mostly because it's never been a clear enough day for us to get good pictures). Pudong is a newly developed area of Shanghai where most of the financial action happens. The Shanghai Stock Exchange, World Financial Center, and many large financial firms that do business in Asia, are situated in Pudong. The signature of Shanghai's skyline is the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, which looks spectacular in clear weather.

Christmas is coming up this week and I'm sure everyone is getting very excited for the holiday. We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. We sure are sad to miss out this year, but hopefully all of you will be lucky enough to enjoy being together and cherish celebrating with friends and family. If you've been good, I'm sure you will get everything you asked of Santa. If not, well, there's always next year. : ) Merry Christmas everyone!!

Things To Do in Shanghai

5. Eat dumplings.

Shanghai offers a variety of types of dumplings from all over China. Jiaozi 餃子 are extremely popular in Shanghai and can be found just about everywhere. They are the meat (typically pork) or veggie filled wrappers that are boiled.  Other types of dumplings are fried, steamed, and/or come in soup, with a large variety of ingredients. However, we have found some of the best dumplings in the Former French Concession at Shandong Shougong Dumpling Restaurant (14号 Yanqing Road).  This little dumpling shop is extremely popular at lunchtime and offers a very small menu that includes: pork dumplings, pork and leak dumplings, pork and celery dumplings, pork and cabbage dumplings and pork wonton soup.  All of which is delicious. Plates of dumplings go for around 10RMB ($1.50), which is plenty for one person at lunch. Address:

Maybe It's Just Me

I have talked in earlier posts about the frenzy of driving on the roads of Shanghai. I have heard from multiple people here that the number one reason expats are forced to leave the country is due to traffic accidents. Not to further scare my worry-wort mother but, according to government statistics, there was over 46,000 traffic accidents in China during the first quarter of 2010, which is roughly 500 accidents per day. And this isn't just scary for drivers, because that number includes pedestrians, too. Having observed and participated in the system for a couple of months now, I am not surprised and would think the estimate might actually be a little low. Maybe it's just me, and I need to pay more attention while I'm driving or walking. Then again, when I see people frequently driving on the wrong side of the road, using the sidewalks as a third lane, and disregarding all notions of common sense on the road, I have to say, maybe it's just them...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 8

We've hit the two month mark of our journey and, so far, we have been having a blast in China. One of the major things we're missing by living here, however, is the holiday season in the U.S. The spirit of the holidays is something we both love, and it seems to be lacking here in China, so that's one thing we're sad to miss. On the other hand, Chinese New Year is coming up in a couple of months, so maybe we can feel the holiday spirit during that time.

Anyone who comes to China on a one-year tourist visa is required to leave the country every 60 days. If someone does not make this mandatory trip, they would be subject to a penalty of 500RMB (approx. $75) for every day past 60 days. So, that means that every two months we are forced to take a vacation (sigh) outside of China, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. We hope to use these trips to see more places in the region, but this time we headed for Hong Kong.

The city of Shenzhen is part of the Guangdong Province in mainland China, but it borders Hong Kong to the north. We decided it would be a little cheaper, and a lot more fun, if we took a plane to Shenzhen and then ride the train down to Hong Kong. We had a friend of ours book a hotel for one night. Since she speaks Chinese, we think she might have gotten us a better deal than if we had tried to book it ourselves. When we arrived in Shenzhen, we had a few hours to look around and walk the streets. As one of the designated Special Economic Zones in China, it is a big-business city that only started "developing" in the late 1980's, yet it is clearly still on the rise. With an estimated population of over 10 million and a recorded 2009 GDP of over $120 billion, I think Shenzhen is the type of city that China will become known for in the 21st century.

After we walked around for a while, we started getting hungry. We looked around and stopped in a couple restaurants, but none had English menus or pictures that looked appetizing (to put it politely). Then Tiffany looked up and found a gem. We had dinner atop the Shenzhen International Trade Center, which has a 360-degree revolving restaurant!! I'm happy to report that they had an English menu, and that the tab came to a very reasonable $50!! Great food, phenomenal view.

We got up the next day and headed for Hong Kong. Our friend booked us a place there, too. We had asked her to book a room for two, but the place looked more like it was meant to accommodate one-half of a person. It was approximately 5 feet wide, 10 feet long, and the toilet was inside the shower stall. The "double" bed looked more like a toddler's crib without rails. Needless to say, the room was authentic Hong Kong -- small. So, we decided it would be best to spend as little time in the room as possible.
It was Tiffany's first time in Hong Kong, so I thought you guys might like to hear her first impressions:

We emerged from the Metro onto Nathan Street in Kowloon and I found myself completely breathless.  The only thing you could see on the streets were people, cars, and advertisements.  Every few steps we took there was a new person vying for attention, shouting “Lady: Tailor-made suits, hand bags, watches?”  Honking horns, shouting people, and loud music streamed from every direction.   In my head I thought, “Now, this is China.”  I felt like I had finally found what I always pictured China to be like. Amazing.  Kowloon, the area across the river from Hong Kong Province, is a hustling area full of eastern medicine pharmacies, fake markets, hostels, and Indian food.  

As we made our way through the throngs of people over to the bund, the skyline started to appear.  We stood on the Kowloon side of the river enjoying the view of the skyline in every direction.  It seems like the tall buildings go on forever.  Taking the boat over to Hong Kong Province, the glitter and beauty of Hong Kong became more apparent.  Hong Kong has a Prada, Gucci, Tiffany’s, or Coach-type store on just about every block.  The entire area is filled with beautiful buildings, shops, and cars. Hong Kong Province shines just like the Swarovski
crystal Christmas tree in the center of town. It’s beautiful.

The highlight of our trip was our first time at the Hong Kong Disneyland. Now, in general, many Chinese people have no shame about cutting in line. And normally I wouldn't care if a couple people in the grocery store want to cut in line and pretend like they're talking on their cell phone. But at Disneyland, REALLY?!? Anyways, I was surprised at how many people did nothing about others cutting in front of them.

A few years ago, when Tiffany and I were both at SC and had time between our classes, we would go to Disneyland every Tuesday. We went countless times using our annual passes. But, even though we've been many times, I have to say, it never gets old.

Part 1
Part 2

As always, Disneyland was magical. But we were exhausted after being on our feet and standing in lines. At the end of the day, Tiffany told me that she wanted to sit down, relax, and take a shower. Luckily, we had a room where she could do all three things at the same time.

Things To Do in Shanghai

4.  Pick out a fish, frog, turtle, etc. to have killed for your dinner!   
Restaurants all over Shanghai have your food fresh (i.e., still alive) and ready to be picked out and eaten!  The other night we visited a delicious fish hot pot restaurant that allowed you to pick out your own fish to be made into fish balls and cooked in your hot pot.  The fish’s head was served on the side with noodles. Quite delish and about as fresh as you can get.  Poor Guy…

Maybe It's Just Me

For those of you who don't already know, smoking is rampant in Asia. Coming from the smoke-free-in-public-places state of California, I have been reminded of how uncomfortable one can get in a restaurant where people can smoke freely. Without dismissing the global health problem of smoking, it seems like people here smoke unbelievable amounts of tobacco. But as we were walking home from dinner in Shenzhen, we saw something that explains a lot:

Have any of you ever played the classic arcade game where you try and scoop up your favorite stuffed animal with a mechanical claw? Well, how much fun would it be to have the same game with different brands of cigarettes as the prize, right kids?! Maybe it's just me but, what's next, Monkey Bars made out of Cuban cigars? Perhaps blowing smoke rings for show and tell?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 7

I wanted to start this week's post by thanking all of you who read our blog each week. We have been getting a lot of people viewing our blog from around the world in countries like Vietnam, India, China, UK, Canada, Iran, France, Nepal, Romania, and Mauritius (among others), so we greatly appreciate people in those parts of the world who are interested in hearing about our journey. Please feel free to leave any (PG-13) comments!

We spent last week in Ningbo, a much smaller city than Shanghai. And even though I say "smaller", it still has a population of over 2 million. Some of you might recognize the Ningbo name, as the city is making news headlines as part of the WikiLeaks scandal -- the port is apparently mentioned in the report as a "critical" U.S. site. However, as Tiffany eluded to last week in her portion of the blog, Ningbo doesn't seem to have the large, diverse Expat population that Shanghai offers. But the people are just as friendly, and welcome, if not embrace, foreigners into their restaurants and markets. A lot of the locals are eager to practice their English skills and give directions when needed, which was very helpful for us. We found that even though many restaurants didn't have English menus, they put up pictures for people to look and point. We took advantage of that option often, haha.

While the city was good to us, the apartment that we got put up in was, hmmm, not as quaint. In addition to the roommate that we were scheduled to live with, we soon found out that we had many, many other roommates -- cockroaches and what appeared to be extremely large ants that could have eaten whole pieces of fruit. The shower stall, as we painfully learned the next day, allowed us to take five-minute prison showers (including time to let the water warm up). Why? Oh, because the drain doesn't work until you stop running the water. The couch we were provided was more like a park bench, and the bed frames we slept on felt like we were sleeping on a wooden pallet, probably because they were literally wooden pallets! And don't get me started on the layout of the kitchen-restroom (please read my Maybe It's Just Me segment for that doozy).

Despite all of the issues with the living arrangement, we were able to see some great things in Ningbo before we decided to move back to Shanghai for the comfort of our own apartment. Even though Ningbo isn't as Expat-diverse as Shanghai, it is one of China's oldest cities and has fantastic cultural sites. The first one on our list was the Tianyi Ge Library, which is the oldest library in all of China and possibly all of Asia. The founder, Fan Qin, began construction during the Ming Dynasty and it was cared for by his descendants for centuries. The library collection includes original lists of the successful candidates of the Imperial Examination, stone printing presses, and hand-written copies of Confucian classics. For a history nerd like myself, the place is absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend the Tianyi Ge Library as a place to visit if you are anywhere near Ningbo. Please check out the two videos below for a look at the grounds.
Part 1

Part 2

After we spent a few hours checking out the library, we decided to head down to the 1400 year-old Moon Lake. The area that surrounds Moon Lake is an awesome place to be in Ningbo on a beautiful afternoon, as we were lucky enough to have been. There are many different paths to walk on and places to sit and chill. We were there on a day that included lots of music and dancing, so we had fun watching that stuff. Please read Tiffany's Things To Do in Ningbo for more on the dancing (which I didn't participate in, haha). We also took a little trip around the lake on paddle boats!!
Even though we're back in Shanghai, Tiffany is still working on the Universal City project at work and she is really enjoying it --> The Ningbo Project is turning out to be a lot of fun to work on. The programs include the largest indoor theme park in Asia, an outdoor theme park, a shopping village, a department store, a hotel, a large restaurant, a theater, an arcade, and a grocery store! It's such a large and exciting project to be a part of.  I'm currently in charge of designing the landscape, which is super fun because the programs are largely about entertainment and shopping. So we get to do some really neat stuff like crazy paving patterns with lights, grass, water, and pretty much anything we can think of, incorporated into the paving! We're also getting to design a skyscreen (Like the one on Fremont Street in Vegas). I've enjoyed getting to design so much of the project and I'm excited to see how it turns out in a few years! Hopefully we'll be able to visit after it opens!

On Thursday, we leave for the first of our mandatory out-of-the-country trips as part of our visa requirements. Partly because convenience, and partly because Tiffany has a personal goal of getting to every Disneyland in the world (don't ask me), we are going to Hong Kong. We have a one-night stop in the Guangdong Province City of Shenzhen, which neither of us have ever been to, and then we take a short train ride to the former British colony. It should be a lot of fun, and we'll definitely be writing about it next week!

Things To Do in Ningbo

1. Go Dancing near Moon Lake
Moon Lake is a large, crescent-shaped lake in Ningbo with a park surrounding it that has lots of recreational activities. You can paddle boat on the lake (as we did), have a picnic on one of the many grassy knolls, or do your laundry in the lake (as we witnessed others doing). One really cool activity is line dancing -- not the country western type. In the evening, as it was just starting to get dark, dancers started appearing and dancing to a variety of Chinese music blasting out of speakers.  Most of the dancers, being women, know all the dances and of course socialize in between every dance.  They'll be happy to help you out by showing you all the steps and encouraging your dancing skills. However, beware of warring dance groups, as there may be more than one group dancing in the same area.

Maybe It's Just Me

When we arrived at our apartment in Ningbo, we took one look around and knew instantly that it was going to be an awkward living arrangment, especially because we were expecting another roommate. The main thing that tipped us off was the design of the kitchen-restroom. Take a look at the next photo.

The "kitchen" is on the right, and the "restroom" is on the left. If you were standing in either room, you might not be able to tell the difference, because there is a transparent GLASS WINDOW that separates the two areas!! I can't imagine what the architect of this place was thinking when they thought up this doozy. Maybe it's just me, but I figure it's fairly universal to expect a little privacy in the restroom. I mean seriously, what's the point of this glass wall, so you can keep an eye on your eggs while taking care of your, other, business?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Week 6

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, it was nice talking with some of you over Skype. By the way, anyone who does not have Skype should really think about getting a webcam and downloading it. It's such a great way to keep in touch and is much cooler way to talk than a normal phone call.

Our Thanksgiving ended up being one to remember. Despite my worries that our dinner would consist of noodles and dumplings, we found a great South Texas restaurant on Shaanxi Lu, named Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (they also have a location in San Dimas, CA), that served a full Thanksgiving dinner complete with real sliced turkey and all the trimmings. They served it up in large portions, too. We were also very lucky to have spent the holiday with some good friends, Mike and Belle. It was a really nice evening that did NOT end with any of us riding the mechanical bull in the middle of the floor, haha. Having great food with awesome company really made missing Thanksgiving (and American Football games) at home a lot easier.

Before we left Shanghai last week, I met up with my friend Mike for lunch near his office. One of the things that we got to talking about was the lack of pronounced historical sites for tourists to see, but that some really interesting Chinese history actually lies hidden in plain sight. For example, you might not see it on a tourist map, but the building he currently works in was once used to fortify Chinese troops during the Sino-Japanese Wars of the early 20th century. Yet today it stands transformed into a very modern-looking, artistic building. Mike was very gracious to let me take a video of him describing the history and renovation of his building. Here is the first of a two-part interview:

 Part 1

Part 2

We arrived in Ningbo safely after an extremely uncomfortable bus ride. We originally thought we'd be taking the high-speed train from Shanghai to Ningbo. That didn't end up happening, because the people we went down with from Tiffany's firm decided that it would be better to take a 2.5-hour bus ride. Needless to say, this mode of transportation was not ideal - cramped, stuffy, smoggy, and remarkably uncomfortable. We couldn't help but laugh and take a video for all of you sitting in your comfortable chairs at home!
After we arrived at the Ningbo bus depot we were led to the now infamous Ningbo taxi line, where patience turns into fervent irritation. Not exactly sure why, but we stood in this line for over an hour waiting for a taxi to take us a mile and a half down the road, where we were meeting the rest of Tiffany's work crew before dinner. Part of the reason that we waited so long is because people kept grabbing taxis that were meant to come to the front of the line!! They knew they were cutting in line, which was the beginning of our frustration. The other thing is that the taxi line is covered and enclosed in some parts, and is also along a main road, so smog gets trapped inside the enclosures. It is an absolutely terrible place to stand for over an hour. For those of you thinking about traveling to Ningbo, I have two lessons: 1) Don't take a bus; and 2) if you didn't heed the advice in lesson 1 and need a taxi, do not stand in the taxi line outside the Ningbo bus depot. Instead, take your luggage, walk a few blocks outside the train station, and hail a cab. I'm telling you, it is definitely worth the two or three block walk. 

We eventually ended up meeting with Tiffany's co-workers for dinner, which was very nice after the bus ride. It was a fantastic Chinese dinner with many different dishes and tasty Chinese wine. I took a picture of what was left after we all feasted. 
Tiffany's first day at the new office was yesterday and, so far, she likes the surroundings. But there are some things that make her feel like an outsider:

Working in Ningbo has been such a huge change for me.  Our new office is located on the 20th floor of a highrise building in a new office park designed by Mada. As far as I know, I am the only foreigner in the whole office building (and it feels like one of the two only foreigners in all of Ningbo!!) The building serves a traditional Chinese lunch, as there are no restaurants located in the area yet.  The first day, at lunch, I was told by my coworkers that I would get stared at a lot in Ningbo since it is not as international as Shanghai and there are less foreigners.  Since we live in an expat area in Shanghai, and are used to seeing people from all over the world, its going to be strange to be one of only a few foreigners in the city.

Our apartment situation is still getting worked out, not sure what is going to happen but I'll update everyone in next week's post. We don't have internet yet so unfortunately I'm not sure if I can check email or post pictures of the day regularly. As it is, I'm in a place with wireless internet to post this week's entry of the blog...Ningbo is definitely not as internet-friendly as Shanghai! Take it easy everyone!

Things To Do in Shanghai

3. Visit the Bund
The Bund in Shanghai runs next to the Huangpu River, facing the picturesque Shanghai Skyline on the opposite side of the river. This area consists of dozens of historical buildings that look like they came strait out of Europe! The buildings on the Bund side of the river are historical and much shorter than the skyscrapers on the other side of the river. This area is a huge tourist attraction.  However, good luck picking a day to go see the Bund, as most days the smog is so bad that the other side of the river is barely visible.

Maybe It's Just Me

I am happy to report that we finally have a kitchen knife for our apartment in Shanghai. The reason it took so long for us to get one is because many stores were not selling them until mid-November. The reason, you might ask? We were told that the government was not allowing widespread sales of knives during the World Expo for public safety. So until mid-November, one of the only places we knew to get a knife from was IKEA, and they kept them in a back room that you could only get to by showing your passport. As some of you may have heard, there was fire a couple weeks ago that killed 50+ people and was caused by unlicensed electrical workers!! Now, maybe it's just me, but is there a serious misalignment of priorities when it comes to achieving public safety goals?