Last week was my birthday, and it was a great day. I had to work but my coworkers surprised me with a cake and sang Happy Birthday to me in Chinese, which was pretty cool. It was my first birthday outside the U.S., and being in an exciting new place helps me reflect on what a great year I had being 30 -- it definitely was not "just another year." Tiffany and I had a wonderful evening going out to dinner by ourselves. She took me to a fantastic restaurant called M on the Bund. It is located at No. 5 on the Bund, Guangdong Road, and it has a spectacular view of the Huangpu River and the Shanghai skyline. Awesome atmosphere, great view, even better food. It's a bit pricey, but it's the kind of place that people go and take pictures of themselves to remember the occasion. Every table we sat by was asking the next table over to take a picture for them, so we did, too.
Contracts in China are also part of the deal when it comes to employment for expats in China. Unlike the U.S., where many jobs allow someone to leave (or be fired) at will, there seems to be an expectation here of signing a contract with terms and conditions. The bad part about this is that some contracts bind you to work for a specified time (i.e., one year), while others may prohibit you (upon termination) from working for/with a competitor in the same industry or starting your own company. I'm not keen on signing that type of contract, especially when the conditions are overly intrusive on my decision making. But Tiffany has a story about contracts she'd like to share.
I found renegotiating a contract in China to be very different than similar experiences I’ve had in the states. As many of you know, my contract was up at MADA a few weeks ago. However, I kept working, waiting for my review and renegotiation of my contract. Well, when it came time, I received the news that MADA would not negotiate on salary and they were not going to budge from a number that was well below an established market rate. For a few days, the process went back and forth, me asking for more money, them saying they wouldn’t budge from their number but they didn’t want me to leave, my supervisors fighting with the company to give me more money so I would stay, etc. The process was a complete chaos for a few days. Finally, I realized they couldn’t or wouldn’t budge. They had many other people in my same position who were told the same thing and they were afraid they would find out I had received a higher number than them. So we ended up not being able to renegotiate and, as a result, I am currently looking for other opportunities here in Shanghai. I don’t know what’s going to work out for me but I’m very excited to see what China has in store for me next.
There is a place I've been frequenting for lunch called, Yang's Fried Dumplings, and it's somewhere I go to get utter happiness. For those of you who don't know, dumplings are really popular in China, and there are many different kinds to choose from -- steamed, fried, boiled, etc. One of my favorites is Sheng Jian Bao, or fried dumplings. They are cheap, fast, and totally delicious. Yang's Fried Dumplings is one of the more popular places to find Sheng Jian Bao, and some of you may have read about this place in your Lonely Planet Guide. Yang's is really close to the office and I've gone probably three or four times since I started working, haha. Last week I took Tiffany down there so she could try these amazing little treats, and we took a video in case you people want to see what Yang's is all about.
It is Chinese New Year today and everyone is very excited. Many people have left the city to go back to their home towns, so the streets and subways have been much less crowded over the past few days. The general spirit of people around the city feels a lot like Christmas in the U.S., and the fireworks have already begun. We've been told to expect getting very little sleep tonight, as the fireworks will be going off all night. We are going to take the scooter on a little journey tonight around 12am to get a feel for Shanghai on Chinese New Year, so expect that next week's post. Until then, Xin Nian Kuai Le!! (Happy New Year!!)
Things To Do in Shanghai
10. Ladies, Get A Wax!
Maybe It's Just Me
My friend Mike and I (yes, I know both of our names are Mike, and yes, that is funny) were walking to lunch last week, minding our own business, walking through a green-lighted crosswalk. Just as we approached the sidewalk, a car started honking at us and sped through the little space between us and the curb. The guy got so close to Mike that the drivers side mirror hit Mike in the arm. He stopped almost immediately, because Mike tried to quickly get out of the way and hit the back of his trunk. This idiot gets out of his car and starts yelling at us, as if we were the ones who did something wrong. The guy has the audacity to grab me on the arm and start pointing up at the crosswalk sign (which had now turned red after all of the commotion), saying it was our fault because we walked through a red light! I threw his arm off of me and, for the first time in a while, felt like knocking this guy out. Instead of apologizing for hitting Mike and seeing if he was okay, this guy tried to lay blame on us!! Maybe it's just me, but are people really this stupid?