Where am I now?

As you can see, this blog hasn't gotten any love in many years... But you can now find me on my site jessicatravels.com.

30 October 2005

Shanghai: Arrival and Observations

Ni hao! from the lovely Diamond Court Hotel in Shanghai, PRC. To answer Jess' question, the weather has been fine. While it was raining when I arrived on Friday night, the last two days have been very temperate with highs in the mid-60s and a light haze.

The flight over was comfortable and actually seemed to go by in a flash. Typically, the flight from Oregon to Asia is quite long because the plane is fighting the prevailing winds. This time we picked up a tailwind and made the crossing from Portland to Japan in 9-1/2 hours. I ended up reading and working the entire time, not even stopping for a nap or movie! I'm hoping "Batman Begins" is still playing on the way back, I was looking forward to seeing it.

My first day in Shanghai was tragic in that I was locked to my PC doing work the entire day. Fortunately, jet lag didn't find me and I made good progress. I only stepped out to pick up a pizza in the afternoon and to wake myself up in the evening. I cranked all the way to 2 a.m. fueled by cold pizza and cold Cokes.

Today has been a slower paced affair. I met my boss and we ended up just hanging out for about 4 hours exploring the neighborhood. We are staying in the international district where most of the ex-pats in Shanghai reside. While it blunts the experience of being in China, there is something to be said to having a Starbucks and Papa Johns Pizza within a block!

After meandering through a shopping mall, we happened upon another colleague and had lunch in a the aptly named MegaBite food court. As we perused what was on offer, it reminded me of the amazing diversity of cuisines in China. While in America we think of "Broccoli Beef" and "Sweet and Sour Pork," the varieties of foods is endless. I am happy to report that I did not see any fluorescent pink sauces among the 20+ stalls. We opted to sate ourselves with dumplings that were being made right before our eyes. So, so delicious...

China is a fascinating place, and Shanghai is at the forefront of the country's shift toward capitalism. The area in which I am staying, Pudong, was literally a rice paddie only 15 years ago. Now it is a forest of skyscrapers and modern conveniences, but coming from the U.S. the veneer seems a bit thin at times.

As we walked around today I noticed little things time after time that caught my eye. For example, to enter a modern complex of shops and restaurants, one must step over a chain about a foot from the ground. Hmmm, what the heck is that doing there? It is actually dangerous. Then, about 20 steps later I had to duck under a cable at eye level that is being used to support a 30-foot tree. In Starbucks, which looks exactly like every other Starbucks inside, there is a tiny 2-inch step right in the middle of the room that isn't marked at all. In the U.S., these things would have conjured up lawsuit after lawsuit, but here it is de rigeur.

In our society, we've filed off all the rough edges and surrounded ourselves with safety belts and airbags. Well, China is on the fast-track and lawyers aren't in charge here (yet), so you better watch where the hell you're walking!

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