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.

Zhongshan Park

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.