We moved into a new apartment in June. Jeff will work on the Bund (right near the river in the heart of Shanghai. I will start working in August. My job is about an hour away from Jeff’s work, to the west, in a place with lots of foreigners called Hongqiao (hong-chow).
The good news is that both jobs are on the same subway line, line 10. Easy, right? We should just find an apartment halfway between the two jobs. The only problem is that we couldn’t find any apartments with a bigger kitchen and a wider living room in the middle of our two work locations. All the apartments in our price range had a tiny kitchen, and a long narrow living room. I wanted a bigger kitchen with a real oven.
In the end, we found a good sized 3-bedroom, 2 + 1 bath apartment with a “big” kitchen, and a “wide” living room (by Shanghai standards). The kitchen even has a pantry off the kitchen, with a separate little bathroom. It is designed to be the maid’s quarters if we wanted a live-in maid—which we don’t. We asked the landlord to install an oven for us in the place that used to be wasted by a “dish sterilizer” that nobody uses. It is not a dishwasher, but uses a UV light to supposedly sterilize the dishes after they are washed. Everybody just uses them for storage.
We also asked for the apartment to be painted, which turned out to be a very strange request. Nobody paints apartments, I guess. The landlord at first didn’t understand, and just put a few strokes of paint on one patch of one wall in the living room. The paint didn’t match the old paint and didn’t even cover all the little marks on the wall. We asked for paint on the entire apartment, and the landlord finally complied. The walls look great now.
In our old apartment the walls were small and our few large paintings took over the whole wall. In the new place, the paintings are sort of dwarfed by the large walls. It took me about a month to figure out where to put the paintings, but now they are hung, thanks to the building’s handyman. He is such a pro that he came in and put all the nails in very fast and in just the right places. You can’t put nails in yourself, because the walls are concrete. He had to put in an anchor and screw for each picture to hang on.
The new apartment is in the same complex as our old apartment, very close to the downtown and Jeff’s job, but a 50 minute commute from my new job. It was my choice, though. I really like the new apartment. The location is far from my job, but close to everything else—3 subway lines, banks, groceries, downtown, restaurants, tourist sites, church, etc. Our view of the skyline takes your breath away. I can look out the office window and see the Bund Center building where Jeff works, complete with its lighted lotus crown on top. The Oriental Pearl building, the Jin Mao tower and the World Financial Center skyskrapers, plus the Citi building with its LED screen face are right outside my window.
27 Nov 2011 2 Comments
November 27, 2011
Sweet Potatoes for Thanksgiving
We had Thanksgiving here, but no vacation days. We did have
a Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving with some friends of ours, R. and J. He is an important person in the Consulate
here in Shanghai. We and some others gathered around their large round
table in their beautiful apartment on the 33rd floor. The view was
spectacular. I should explain that the best shape for a table in China is
round. The food is usually served family style, with the dishes placed on a
lazy susan that rotates so everyone can get all the dishes. The lazy susan didn’t
work in this case because the American size platters were too big to allow all
the dishes to be on the outside edge.
The Chinese cook made the turkey taste better than most
turkeys in America. He also positioned the meat perfectly on the platters. He
even cut each piece of skin to look beautiful on each piece of meat. This is
hard, because the skin slides off the slices when you cut them. He hand cut a
long thin piece of skin separately and placed it at the edge of the slice. The
meat was more tender because he only cooked the turkey for two hours, and he
turned it over during cooking. I’m not sure if the stuffing was inside the
turkey. Probably not. I think we tend to overcook turkeys in America, which
makes them dryer.
On Saturday, Dad and I went to another Thanksgiving with the
empty nesters in our branch. I actually got that started with an email to all
of us without children at home. Our branch president and his wife offered to
have it at their house instead of a restaurant. They ordered two turkeys with
the fixins, and everybody chipped in to pay for it. We each brought side dishes
or desserts and had a lovely dinner. Around here, turkeys are not easy to get.
Duck is the more common bird. Duck is dark meat, so it is moister. In order to
get turkey, some people have gone to extraordinary lengths. Our branch
president’s wife piled all five children and a dog kennel in her van many years
ago and drove an hour and a half outside Shanghai to buy a live turkey for
their dinner. It took forever to find the farm, get a permission form to buy
the turkey, and then bring it home. By the time they got home, the children had
named the turkey and decided who got to sleep with it first. They cried when
they took it to the butcher, and didn’t want to eat their Thanksgiving turkey!
She says “be grateful for that packaged turkey at the grocery store!”
The potatoes here are exactly as Mark described them in Peru.
The regular potatoes are yellow, and a slightly different consistency than
ours. I’d like to try smashed potatoes. They might work better, like red
potatoes back in the U.S. We also have sweet potatoes, which aren’t as orange
as the ones in the states. And we have the dark purplish yams, also.
Interesting! There is an ex Navy British author named Gavin Menzies who claims
that in 1421 a huge Chinese expedition circumnavigated the globe. He says one
of the ships wrecked off Peru, and there are many Chinese artifacts and place
names there. Who knows—if it is true, maybe they took their potatoes with them
to Peru! Dad says the jury is still out on the Menzies idea, but it is still
interesting. Menzies now claims the Lost City of Atlantis is real. Might be too farfetched.
Speaking of sweet potatoes, when we lived in Atlanta I tasted
a sweet potato casserole that I loved. It was halfway between a casserole and a
carrot cake. I don’t know if you
remember, but for many years I would experiment every Thanksgiving to try to
replicate that sweet potato casserole. It had shredded sweet potatoes, and
flour, but not eggs, I thought. I tried, but I was never successful. The sweet
potatoes would be hard, or dry, or tasteless every time–until this week. I
have Great Grandma Randall’s recipe for carrot pudding, which is steamed
instead of baked or boiled. It uses shredded potatoes and carrots, flour,
spices, but no eggs. I brought the recipe with me because it is one of the only
desserts I could make without an oven. I had a brainstorm. What if I replaced
the white potatoes with sweet potatoes? Then it would be a sweet potato dish I
could take to Thanksgiving. It’s kind of hard for me to cook very well in my
little kitchen without many pots and the foods we are used to, so I was excited
at the thought of being able to make something good. I made the sweet potato
casserole using grandma’s old recipe, and it was wonderful! I think I finally
found the recipe I searched for all these years—and it was already in my recipe
box. I guess many things in life are like that elusive recipe. We search for
them for years, only to find that we had the secret all along, stuck away on a
04 Nov 2011 Comments Off on Mailing a package to Peru 10-24-11
I mailed a birthday present to my son Mark, who is on a mission to Peru. The China Post man said it should take about 15 days. It has been seven days now. I hope he gets it in a week. I hope he gets it period. I hope it doesn’t get lost or stolen. Not that the contents are valuable. . .
The way I mailed it was kind of interesting. I went to China Post with the package. I had printed his Peruvian address in Spanish, but I put the Chinese character for Peru at the bottom, and I looked up the way to say “Peru” in Chinese (Bilu). I went in and gave it to the clerk and told him “geng kwai” which means “more fast.” I also said “Bilu.” He nodded and proceeded to weigh the package. In the meantime, the police officer looked at the writing and gestured to another lady as if to say, “Who could read THAT? It’s not even in Chinese!” I tried to tell him in Chinese that I wrote the Chinese character for Peru, and when it gets there they could read it. The clerk finished weighing it. He told me it would cost 800 yuan, which is about $130. Then I said in Chinese, “That’s too expensive. Less fast.” Now the police officer started to pantomime swimming. I laughed and pantomimed paddling a boat. The officer laughed back and came over to stand by me as if to say, “we can be friends.” The clerk finished calculating a reduced price, and came up with 130 yuan (about $22). Then he gave me a customs form to fill out. This is a problem, because I can’t read or write characters. Fortunately, he knew how to say address. I proceeded to copy painstakingly the characters for my address, which I have on my business cards. (Everyone in China has name cards. One side is Chinese, one side English). It took me a long time to copy them, but finally I finished. Then I paid my cable bill right there at the post office. Utilities here can be paid to the post office or any little convenience store. That was my first experience with mailing something. Before I go again, I think I’ll practice writing the characters for my address.
04 Nov 2011 Comments Off on Substitute teaching 10-14-11
It has been an eventful week since we returned to Shanghai from Korea. We returned on Friday, October 7th. We were a little bit tired of Korean food. We had not had many good restaurant experiences in Korea. So when we returned to good old Shanghai, we immediately went to a great restaurant called Coconut Grove, which had delectable Thai curries with coconut milk. Yummy!
I had some assignments due Sunday for my online class. It was also Conference weekend for Asia. Saturday Jeff had to work. All of China had the week off, but to make up for it, everyone has to work on Saturday and Sunday. Jeff took off Sunday so we could go to conference. Saturday he went to work, and I worked on my class assignments. Sunday we went to watch conference at a different place than usual. We usually have church on the Pudong (East) side of the river in a very nice BMW dealership with a large beautiful auditorium. That is great, but our branch is the Puxi (west) side of the river. On conference day, we met at the clubhouse of one of the apartment complexes in Hongqiao, where most of our branch lives. It is about a 45 minute commute for us to get there since it is further to the west of us. We enjoyed the conference very much, especially hearing our bishop from Tucker ward, Elder Cornish, speak. He is now in one of the seventies quorums. We also enjoyed hearing Elder Clayton talk about his mission to Peru, since that is where Mark is now serving his mission.
Monday and Tuesday I substitute taught at a school in Hongqiao. My friend from church was on vacation in America, so I substituted for her kindergarten class. It was fun! The principal offered me a job the first day I taught there. They are opening a new English immersion class for third graders whose English needs more attention. I’m not really interested in working fulltime because then I can’t travel with Jeff. Still, it was very interest-ing to me to know that if I want a full time job, I can get one easily. The pay is very similar to my pay back in the states, maybe a little higher. Substituting is also about the same pay as subs back home. If Jeff’s job extends to a second year, I can get a job here. We’d probably move further west in the city so that I wouldn’t have a 45 minute commute to work.
I enjoyed teaching at this school. I had 17 kindergarteners (they call them Primary Reception). The school is somewhat unique. It is an international school which follows the international baccalaureate curri-culum. It is also the only international school which is allowed to enroll national Chinese students. The students in “my” class all speak primarily Chinese at home, except for one boy whose mother is Philippino and father is Danish. There were only 17 students in the class, which was a very comfortable size for kindergarteners. I’m told the classes can get up to 23 students in them. The school is bilingual. Instruction is in English for most of the day, with one hour of mandarin instruction every day. The Mandarin teacher is there most of the day for translation support when needed. There is also a full-time ayi (maid) in each class. She cleans the classroom and provides support with paperwork and children as needed. She does not speak any English, and does not do instruction, but helps with crowd control.
The children are very bright. Even though English is their second language, they are learning how to read and write in both English and Chinese. They all know their letters, and can copy a sentence from the board. They are working on their short easy word reading right now, which is excellent progress for October of their kindergarten year. There is plenty of prep time because the children have music, art, computer, and Chinese specials. In fact, there are only 2-3 hours of homeroom instruction per day, depending on which specials they have that day. Having a second teacher in the room, and having students who aren’t fluent in English gives the teacher a little less control than I would like, but overall it was enjoyable to teach there. If we end up staying a second year, I would consider teaching there, or at another international school, or teaching English to college students. There are plenty of jobs available if you happen to speak English and have a white face. Rents here are very expensive, though. We have a western standard apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms for $1700 per month.
Tuesday afternoon Curtis and Julie Fullmer came into town! We were excited to have some more time with them. We saw them in Seoul and then again in Shanghai. I took a taxi from the school in Hongqiao to the shopping mecca at east Nanjing road where Julie and Curtis met me. It was great to see them again. We looked around, dropped their backpacks in our apartment, then met Jeff at Lost Heaven for a wonderful dinner. That evening we went to the bund and took pictures of the spectacularly lit skyline we took the ferry over to the Pudong side to see the buildings up close. Wednesday Jeff and Curtis had to work, Jeff at his office and Curtis from his computer, so Julie and I went to see the bund up close and personal. We met Jeff for lunch, then we went to the Aquarium, and then went up the tallest building in China, the World Financial Tower.
In the evening we went to dinner with Jeff, then visited the Yu Yuan Garden shopping area, where all the buildings are in ancient Chinese architecture, with the curving roof lines. Also, for our viewing pleasure, the roofs are lit with Ming Dynasty LED lights 🙂
Thursday we took a train to Suzhou and saw the beautiful Humble Administrator’s Garden and Tiger Hill. The Garden is so lush and lovely—a private heaven started in the 1400’s. Oriental gardens are different from European or American gardens. They are arranged to give the viewer many different kinds of views. They use three elements to form the views: rockeries (using rocks from Lake Taihu riddled with holes), lakes, and plants. I had never seen lotus plants before. They are like lily pads on steroids. The leaves stand up three feet or more from the water surface, and they are 2-3 feet across. The rocks from Lake Taihu are in piles as high as 20 feet, reminiscent of mountains. Then we went to Tiger Hill, where an 8-story Pagoda stands in a complex that reminded us of Monkey palace from Jungle Book. The view was beautiful, but wilder. The pagoda tilts at a 3.59 degree angle, like an Asian leaning tower of Pisa.
I was worried about my ability to navigate the train station on my own. Before, Jeff was always there to read the Chinese. Train station boards are completely in characters. The people there don’t speak any English. I was able to get us to and from Suzhou, although the return trip went to a different Shanghai train station than I thought. It was no further from our apartment then the train station we planned to take, so it worked out fine anyway.
Friday morning, we flew to Minneapolis for Jeff to attend the AIChE Conference. Busy week!
28 Sep 2011 Comments Off on Subway accident 9-28-11
September 28, 2011
Here the sky is usually hazy, but last weekend a strong wind blew all the haze out, and we had beautiful clear blue skies. The weather has been lovely, too, in the 70’s and dry. I don’t know where to start to tell you about what our life is like here. Every little thing is so different from the life we knew. Instead of a big house on the ground, we have a small apartment very high up. Instead of a large yard with apple trees, we have a gorgeous view of the Shanghai skyline. The buildings here are skyscrapers built with a space age theme. Many of them look like something out of science fiction, but huge. Instead of taking my car everywhere I want to go, I take the subway or the taxi.
Instead of going to the grocery store and buying many bags of groceries, I buy only a few items from the E Mart, because it is more expensive than other options. In the large store, there are very interesting things in the meat department. There are live snakes, frogs, and fish. When you see a frog, think “dinner!” Parts of animals we don’t eat are there, like feet and fat, and squirrels, and tendons. I buy only a few items at a time, because I need to carry it all back to my apartment, which is next door. I usually only buy meat there, and milk and yogurt. I try to avoid things like intestines, snakes, and squirrels!
Most items are much cheaper to buy from the tiny little shops on the street. I didn’t dare go there much before last week because I was afraid to have to talk to people with my halting Chinese. Now, though, I buy everything I can there. Two weeks ago I needed a new light bulb. I went to the EMart and two electronics stores. They didn’t have it. The tiny little shop across the street had it, though. Another tiny little shop had a wok, silverware, a mop, a squeegee, an electric power strip, etc. Very close, down another street, is a man who sewed a seam on my blouses to make them smaller because I bought them for $3.00 each without trying them on at a different shop. He also irons clothes very cheap.
At a different shop I bought a pair of sandals that actually fit my wide feet. A few days later, when the sole came off the sandals, I found a shop that would cut a new sole and put it on the sandals. When the Apple store wanted $35.00 (converted from yuan) for a little plastic screen cover for my iphone, I found a place where they would cut one custom for me for half the price.
Dad bought me an iphone, which I coveted for its great aps: a map that shows where you are and where you want to go, a taxi driver app that shows the taxi driver in characters the address of the place you want to go, a compass, a translation app that will even take a picture of characters and translate them. It cost about $800.00. I think that is way more than iphones cost in the U.S. but it helps me get around a city where I can’t read anything.
Yesterday there was a subway crash on line 10, the train we take every day. The crash occurred on the line between my stop and the very next stop. In the afternoon I heard multiple sirens wailing concurrently for half an hour before I stopped working to see what had happened. I looked right outside my window where I had a birds eye view from the 18th floor right above the commotion. There were lots of fire trucks, police, ambulances, and buses. I assumed it was a traffic accident, but I couldn’t see any mangled cars. It was strange. I counted 25 ambulances, which would sit still for a while in a line, then drive off and more would come. Buses would be loaded up and then drive off. There were at least 70 police keeping all the crowds at bay. I went downstairs to see what happened, and a man told me it was the train. Later I heard that one train rear ended another train (10 or so cars each). The reports are not all consistent. My friend told me It happened at 2:00 p.m., but no one came to rescue them until 3:00.She said that the cell phones, which normally work in the subway here, didn’t work. The emergency pull didn’t work, either. People on the crashed train were able to post photos on twitter, however. Very strange.
Jeff heard yesterday that the driver was killed. Today he read that the switching control system had a glitch in July which sent a train to the wrong place, but was supposed to be fixed. Yesterday, though, it broke and they were using manual controls. The driver of the first train was told to stop. He stayed stopped for 40 minutes. The people on the train were concerned that they would be rear ended, because the trains usually come every five minutes. Reports say they pounded on the driver’s door. Then another train hit them. Reports say 290 people were injured, some seriously. 95 people are still in the hospital today. The line 10 train was not open today. In April a high speed train was stalled and hit from behind. That accident killed about 40 people. A switching system was at fault in that accident also.
For good news, our new ayi (maid) started working for us today. She will come every morning for three hours. Maybe I will be able to study Mandarin more diligently if I’m not doing dishes by hand in water that was boiled just to be safe. Today I also had a tutor this morning. We mostly talked about how to say things like “please wash the windows,” and “mop the floor.” This afternoon I went with a neighbor to the fabric market to see the place where a person can get anything made from any kind of cloth. The silks were beautiful. I didn’t get anything, but I think I will get something made. I can pick a dress style and have it made a little longer, with a bit of a sleeve. Right now I’m waiting for the water delivery man to bring two large bottles of water for our water machine. That’s how we get clean water to drink. A man on a bicycle laden with many bottles labors up the street bringing water to people. That’s a hard job. He always shows up with a smile on his face.
I guess I better go cook dinner. We are having broccoli beef. I finally got serious about cooking after I bought a wok and a pressure cooker. I can even cook cake in my pressure cooker, although I haven’t done it yet. I did make some carrot pudding. It is like carrot cake without the eggs, and with grated potato. It’s gooier and yummy with ice cream or cream. Note from after dinner: My broccoli beef turned out great! I didn’t like it much when I made it in the U.S. I think I have better ingredients here. The beef was awesome and tender. It was a bit expensive (about $6.00 for a small steak). Maybe I will learn how to cook better Chinese food now that I am in China!
20 Sep 2011 Comments Off on Fast and Testimony Meeting 9-5-11
Yesterday we had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. I’m so glad the government watcher up in the one-way window got to hear it, too! He/they are the only mainland Chinese citizens who get to come to our church meetings. There are guards at the door making sure no mainland Chinese citizens come in. The testimonies were so good I took notes. I’m sure listening blessed his life, too!
One young wife bore her testimony. Her husband teaches at the college here, and is also a cage fighter. Last week at a fight she prayed that he wouldn’t get hurt. Unfortunately, in the first round he got a blow to the head that gave him a severe concussion and two skull fractures. When she saw him go down, she thought, “that isn’t a very good answer to my prayers.” Then she felt strongly that she should go to him. She went expecting to see him resting, but instead, she arrived just in time to ride in the ambulance with him to the hospital.
They were at a remote area south of Shanghai. He was taken to the local hospital, where they didn’t give him pain medication or a bed. He was stable, though. She prayed, “Should we leave him here at this provincial hospital where he is stable, or should we risk taking him to a better hospital?” She heard, “Take him to a better hospital.” At the second hospital they diagnosed the second skull fracture, gave him pain medication and a bed. She said that even though it was the most scary weekend of her life, she felt closer to the Lord than any other time. She knew he was watching over her and her husband.
A mother from Taiwan bore her testimony. Her daughter is old enough to go to seminary, but they live fairly far from Shanghai. They don’t have enough money for a taxi ride every morning to get to seminary. The first day of seminary she and her daughter took a taxi ride on faith that the Lord would help them find a way. That night, her husband found that a bus line goes right from their town to the house where seminary is held. The bus used to start at 6:30 a.m., which would be too late. Just recently, the bus schedule was changed to start at 5:00. They feel so blessed that the Lord made a way possible for their daughter to attend seminary. The daughter certainly is blessed. Think of her preparation. She started by taxi on faith that there would be a way, and the Lord provided the way. The daughter has to be on the bus at 5:00. She needs to get up early enough to get to the bus stop by then. She is certainly making a sacrifice to attend seminary. Think of the blessing of meeting with other LDS students every morning and studying the scriptures. I’ll bet you wish you could have been blessed to get up at 4:30 to attend seminary instead of sleeping in til 5:30! Just kidding.
A young single sister from India bore her testimony. She was Buddhist and joined the church because of the good example of her boyfriend. She was impressed by his righteousness. One time she was scared and he prayed for her. She felt his spirit. His influence led her to take the discussions. She stressed that she did not join the church just because of him. She developed her own testimony that she could not deny.
Since my last post, Jeff fixed my iphone problems better than the mac store did. I feel much more competent now. I can look at my app and tell what Chinese word I’m looking for. I can look at the map of Shanghai and see exactly where I am compared with where I need to be. I can look at the map of the subway system and see where the nearest metro station is. I can text the name of a place to a phone number, and they will text back the address. I can show a taxi driver the Chinese characters for the place I need to go in great big font. I feel much more sure of myself now. Jeff is a big blessing to me.
Yesterday after testimony meeting I substituted for the Sunbeam class. Four adorable little three-year-olds were there. It was fun! After church we went to Century Park, a big park near the church building. All the parks here are gorgeous.
We were invited to the home of a Chinese couple of professors Dad helped in Detroit. We went from the park straight to their home. We had been fasting until their home, so we gratefully ate the fruit they offered. After an hour and a half, we were about to thank them and go home, when they said it was time to go to the restaurant. It was just around the corner from their home. It was so lovely in Chinese style. We were in a semi-private room with beautiful wood carved screens between us and the next table. The food was so delicious. We enjoyed every dish. They had invited a friend who speaks good English. He is another professor at their school. He said every year they hire 5 Americans to come teach English. The fact that I have a teaching certificate would prove my qualifications even though the teaching certificate is not in teaching English. That would be something I would be interested in if we end up staying here longer than we thought.
This weekend we are going to Beijing. We booked a five-star hotel for just $100 per night by getting a hotel in the business district—a little bit away from the tourist sites, but close to a metro station. The hotel caters to business travel, which is nil for the holiday weekend (it’s the Mid-Autumn festival). That is why we got it for a good price. We plan to see the forbidden city, the Summer Palace, the temple of heaven and maybe the Great Wall. We’ll tell you about it!
20 Sep 2011 Comments Off on Qibao 9-2-11
Here, everything is an adventure. We go to some fun place every day and see some new thing. We also have time consuming little problems to fix. For example, Wednesday I had breakfast in a café in the tallest building in China, walked on the bund by the river and the skyscrapers, rode the ferry across the Huangpu river, met the Shanghai American Women’s Club in a posh area coffee shop not too far from my apartment, ate at two different restaurants in downtown Shanghai—and spent all afternoon at the Apple store trying to get my overly expensive iphone to work properly. Fun and trouble all in one package!
Church is on the east side of the Huangpu river, the Pudong side. Pu refers to the river, and dong means east, so the name of the area just means east of the Huangpu river. Xi means west. The area we live in is called Puxi, meaning west of the river. Pudong has new huge skyscrapers near the river, and nice apartments for the expats who work here. Many of them live in Pudong because there are two good international schools for their children. The Puxi side of the river has more tourist sites, more shops, temples, restaurants and subways. The expats who live in Pudong have to have drivers because there aren’t very many subways. Many of the expats in Puxi have drivers, too. There are two branches of the church in Shanghai, Pudong and Puxi. Both meet in the lovely conference center at a car dealership. It takes us about 45 minutes to get there by subway. All the members are expats because you have to have a foreign passport to attend.
We met many new people on Sunday. Many of us feel the Lord has brought use to Shanghai. It does seem to take a lot of faith to live here. The branch president and his wife raised a large family here. They believe the Lord brought them here. The only period of their marriage where they were forced by job reasons to live in the states was for a period where the wife ended up needing surgery. Their children are raised now. We also see the hand of the Lord in our move here. We felt very blessed in many little ways as we made arrangements to move here. I’ll have to detail them in another post.
There were about 6 young men passing and blessing the sacrament. One of the announcements was about seminary. After the meeting, one of my new friends talked to another parent about how to get their children to seminary. It meets at 5:50 at the teacher’s house. The subways aren’t running at that time. There are three students in the seminary class. The distances are greater than in Appleton because Shanghai is a large city. One of the parents has a driver, but doesn’t think the driver will want to rise that early to take his son. The other parent said her husband is out of town a lot and doesn’t want to drive every day either. I think they are going to end up carpooling. I was impressed at the extra effort it takes to attend early morning seminary here. Our sons made a serious sacrifice to attend seminary in Appleton for four years. The youth in Shanghai expend a lot of energy to be faithful seminary attenders. The members I met are lovely people It will be a blessing to meet them all.
I found out by randomly wandering into shops that things in Shanghai aren’t the bargains I had thought. In my local Emart, conveniently located next door to my building, the hard pillows I got were the equivalent of $12.38 U.S. In Appleton, I could buy more comfortable pillows for $6.00 and pretty nice pillows for about $10.00.
I wanted some short sleeved shirts that would help me stay cool in the heat. I didn’t want ordinary t-shirts though. I have some of those. I wanted something slightly more dressy. In the main shopping areas in Shanghai I finally found some on sale for the equivalent of $27. I can usually find cute shirts cheaper than that on sale in Wisconsin.
Yesterday I spent the morning trying to get some computer glitches fixed. I got a new iphone because it has an app that would let me translate to Chinese very easily Also, there are apps that show the subway system and apps that show the taxi driver the Chinese address very big so they can get you there. It turns out that the iphone here costs about $783 because of tariffs. Way more expensive than in the U.S. Clark Howard says that you should buy your phones in the foreign country so you can get a sim card. Otherwise I would have bought the phone in the U.S. It turns out that you can get iphones with sim card capabilities in the U.S., but I didn’t know it.
Unfortunately, because of two things, I was unable to get any of the aps to work. The first problem is the firewall, and the second is that itunes is so picky about where you get your apps and deleted the ones Jeff downloaded for me from my phone using his account. Very service oriented–not.
In the afternoon I went to meet my possible Chinese tutor and have a demo lesson. I liked them very much, but the minimum price was for 40 lessons, about $626. I have met a couple of people here who are happy to meet with me for free and practice Chinese/English, so I might just do that instead.
Getting to my lesson was interesting. I looked on my subway map and saw what I thought was a transfer point to line 2. It turned out that my line (line 10) doesn’t stop there at all, but bypasses the spot. So I exited the subway and took a taxi. I am more familiar with the subways and hesitant to try to talk to taxi drivers in my broken Mandarin. I always defer to Jeff. Fortunately, I had written down the address characters the best I could from the website, and miracle of miracles, he could read my scratches and I arrived at my destination.
After the lesson, I called Jeff to find out if he wanted to go to the little canal street tourist area we had been talking about. I called him, and he said he would meet me at a convenient subway stop in a couple of hours. So I started randomly down the street to see the corner street signs and find out exactly where I was. There weren’t any signs for a long time, but I found a lovely park called Zhongshan park. The parks here are beautifully groomed. People use them for all sorts of things. Zhongshan park had tall trees in one area. In another lovely maidens in fussy lacy dresses were getting photographed by a stream. I walked on paths through bamboo groves. Five men were flying kites from a shady area where they occasionally had to interweave their lines to keep from tangling. One kite was incredibly high. Many couples were ballroom dancing to some piped music in a pavilion patio area. One little path to led to a badminton game. Two men on one side were playing a little older lady on the other side. There were rides for the kiddies, closed now because school is on, and a 147 year old Plane tree from Italy, the oldest in China. I have a picture of the treed area.
Then, I saw a park exit which I thought was the one near a subway station. It turned out not to be so close, but I came to a Carrefour, a European mall I had heard about which has groceries that cater to the Western taste. I saw more high priced clothing and bought a pastry and a candy bar in case we were hungry on the way to dinner. The subway stop was accessible from the mall through a very long corridor which ended up on an elevated platform instead of underground.
I met Jeff and we went by subway to the canal area, Qibao, with a big beautiful mall which we ignored in favor of the warren of little shops near the canal. It was a good choice, because they had an end of summer clearance, and I got 4 nice cool blouses for the equivalent of $3.00 each. We didn’t even bother to bargain them down. They thought we were funny. I guess we are. The answer to finding cheaper clothes is to go to the street venders outside the main tourist areas. Everything that is geared for Westerners is horribly expensive. We found a store with some shirts Jeff wanted, but the lady said they were too small for him and wouldn’t even let him try them on. Oh, well.
We ate at a picturesque restaurant overlooking the canal. We thought we ordered three dishes, but the waiter only heard two. It was a beautiful spot, but we kept waiting for the third dish. Finally, Jeff asked for the bill, and discovered that they only charged us for the two items. They were tasty, but we were still a bit hungry! No problem, we bought some jack fruit slices, some dried kiwi, and some dried carrot slices with sugar sprinkles. We have both lost weight here, partly because we walk around so much that we forget to eat, and partly because the food isn’t as rich as the U.S.
Well, I’d better get to work on cleaning, ironing, and getting my iphone working. I probably need to go to the Apple store again to try. This time I’ll take my computer. Two days ago I went to the apple store near the base of the huge Oriental Pearl tower. It is a stunning area of skyscrapers on the other side of the Huangpu river. Today I think I’ll go to the apple store in the posh shopping area of Xintiandi, just one subway stop from my apartment. By the way, the apple stores are always crowded with people playing with the equipment. ipads are hugely popular here, even though they are too expensive for most people to buy. They go to the stores to play, like a cheap video game center.