Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Week 14

@Allison from Georgia -- Thank you SO much for contacting us!!! Congratulations on your daughter's modeling contract, you all must be excited to come to Shanghai/HK for work!! That's very exciting, and we would be happy to help in any way we can. I'm sure you have a lot of questions, so please feel free to email me at: I will say one thing without knowing too much about your story : moving here may seem daunting, but it's not that hard. After all, it is a free country, right? : ) I wish you and your family all the best, look forward to hearing from you.

To the rest of you turkeys reading this blog, thanks for coming back, hope you like our new look. Tiffany and I designed and created the logo at the top of the page ourselves. Be sure to check out the poll we have on the right side of the screen, we're soliciting votes on where you would like to see us at our next mandatory visa leave (I voted for Tibet). We just bought our tickets to Japan, and our trip there next month will include stops in Nagoya, Kyoto and Tokyo. It should be a really awesome trip with lots of cool pictures and videos.

The last week has been a busy one for both of us. Tiffany has a couple of projects that are demanding a lot of her time, and the rest of the firm is really busy too. Yesterday Louis Vuitton came into their office in Shanghai because they were looking at Mada as a potential architecture firm for their business. Tiffany said everyone was on edge, but she didn't get to actually see Louis Vuitton so she was bummed (I didn't mention to her that Louis Vuitton died over 100 years ago. She dressed up for him, haha).

I was busy this past week, too. A friend of mine runs a web development company and had one of his project managers take a leave of absence for a couple weeks. So he asked me to fill in while she is out. Apparently there isn't much of a temp market here in Shanghai, and he would have had a problem finding someone on such short notice. As luck would have it, I am currently, um, between jobs at the moment, so I was happy to help out. It's a pretty cool job, but it's a field (Web Development) that I have relatively no experience in outside of some college courses. However, stepping into a project manager role sort of softened the learning curve, since the role has a lot of responsibilities I am familiar with (coordinating schedules, assigning tasks to the right people, emailing and correspondence, etc.). So far, it's been a really good experience. I have begun learning about a new field and it's jargon, which is always fun for me. My coworkers are all very nice, there are about 15 or so. I have an assistant who serves mainly as a translator, and she is vital to me being able to do my job. There are still a few things I'm getting used to in terms of dealing with people and the language barrier (see Maybe It's Just Me), but overall it's been really fun. I'll be there for about two weeks, so hopefully I'll get on a "normal" sleeping schedule too, haha.

Last weekend was cold but beautiful outside. We stayed in and took care of things at home on Saturday (bills, laundry, groceries, work, etc.), but Sunday we explored the city. We started off by going to Egghead Bagels on Shaanxi Road. Phenomenal food for expats not wanting noodles and soup for breakfast (not that there's anything wrong with that). Afterward we went to see a landmark in Shanghai: The residence of the former Chairman of the Communist Party, Mao Zedong, on Maoming Road. When we saw this place we had to go because it's a great mix of our interests: architecture and politics. Mao came in and out of Shanghai several times, but he stayed at this location with his wife and kids longer than any other place. Another family, who worked closely with Mao, also stayed at the home in the upstairs bedroom. I would describe the whole place as small and simple, but it clearly shows the intense adoration that the Chinese have for Mao Zedong. There is a downstairs sitting room, a bedroom for his family, a room for his mother-in-law, and an upstairs that was for the other family. It is a classic piece of Chinese architecture from the 1920's, and it was a very interesting experience.
Part 1
Part 2

We were practically the only people who went that day, the only other people there were the students who you saw in the last video. We found out they were studying for a test to become volunteer tour guides, and they sure took their studying seriously. As we were walking around looking at stuff, many of them were trying hard to memorize all of the individual exhibits, while practicing with imaginary tourists. They were super happy when Tiffany started asking them questions, so I decided to lighten the mood and have a little fun with them...

We've been getting bills for a few months now for our regular utilities, gas, water, etc. But Tiffany wanted to tell you about our most recent bill.

When we arrived in Shanghai and first rented our apartment, we asked the landlord how much we could expect our bills to be for electricity, water, etc. She said maybe they'd be between 50-100RMB (approx. $8-15) a month. Which has turned out to be very true on a month to month basis. Water is always around 75RMB and electricity is typically around 100RMB.  It took us a while to figure out how to actually recognize and "pay" the bills, as they are all in Chinese.  However, once we finally got over this hump, we thought we were doing pretty darn spiffy (pay bills at the local post office).  However, we just received our electricity bill for December and the first thing Mike, very seriously, stated was "I'm not paying these things anymore!" after seeing the bill total at just over 600rmb!!!  So after getting over the shock (and laughing at Mike for a bit), we realized Wow! We have been running the heater 24/7 for the past month, maybe that's why?  We're still not sure, but a friend told Mike that it's possible someone is actually stealing our electricity! I hope not but I guess we'll just have to see!  Anyways, thanks everyone for tuning in this week and we hope you're all doing well and enjoying the New Year. Until Next Week!

Things To Do in Shanghai

9. Dress Up Your Dog For Winter

People here in Shanghai LOVE their dogs.  They dote on them and treat them just like children.  I know that dressing up dogs is fairly common in many parts of the world including the US. But I've never seen it quite so much! It's rare to see a dog without a full outfit (sweater, pants, and shoes!) walking down the street here in Shanghai. So go ahead, give it a try, make sure your dog is suited up in the best of the best this season. (Outfits available at any fake market or at any fake stand along any street, Seriously)

Maybe It's Just Me

Since taking over the responsibility of coordinating certain tasks in the office, I have found that there are certain oddities related to the language barrier and expectations of coworkers. Part of my job requires assigning tasks to the appropriate individuals, since web-development jobs can be tediously specialized. One task I assigned last week was rather straightforward, or at least I thought it was.

I went to Xiao Jie and asked her if she could make a small change to a website, and she informed me that she would need Wang Peng's help (because he specializes in something she needed). So I went to Weng Peng and asked, through my assistant/translator, if he could help Xiao Jie with the project. Wang Peng needed to ask his supervisor to come over and approve. Most of this didn't get back to me right away, since my assistant was doing most of the talking. As I was standing there, I thought it was a little strange that five people needed to leave their work to join a seemingly simple conversation. Wang Peng's supervisor wasn't sure he could approve two hours (not sure how they determined the need for two hours) time to set aside to help Xiao Jie. After this was relayed back to me, all five of us stood there looking at each other. So I asked if it would be possible for Xiao Jie, while she was working on the project, to simply ask Wang Peng a question whenever she had one (i.e., rather than pull him aside to sit with her for a block of two hours). There was a moment of awkward silence, followed by everyone in the circle nodding their heads and smiling in agreement. Maybe it's just me, but did this solution really need to involve 5 people?!?

1 comment:

  1. Hi - i came acrosss your site via a FB friend who posted the link on FB. I suppose i was curious as i have been visiting China regularly now for 3 years, i originally come from Denmark and live in Istanbul Turkey.
    I can already see from reading the first dialogues there are so many things you have experienced whcih i can put a finger on and say OH YEAH been there and done that or tried this. Still after 3 years, i also employ two people in China it never ceases to amaze me how different things are. I look forward to reading your trepidations on your journey of wisdom.