Our family's stay in Shanghai, China

Archive for November, 2011

Parks, Gardens and Grass in China

Downtown Shanghai

Trying this post again because the photo didn’t work yesterday.  Sorry.

Gardens and parks are pretty easy to find in China.  But, you are not always welcomed into them.  Grass is well cared for and pedestrians are encouraged not to walk through the grass.  Our travel books suggest you might get yelled at if you walk through the grass, so we’ve avoided the lush, green areas.  We’re planning a daytrip to Suzhous, a nearby town a week from Saturday.  The city is known for its gardens, some of which date back 900 years.  It has its own leaning Tower of Pisa, the Yunyan Pagoda.  This blue brick octagonal structure has slowly tilted over the years.  These gardens are welcoming, but Jenna probably will not be able to run wherever she’d like.

In Shanghai, landscaped areas and gardens are pretty easy to find, but not always accessible.  A small, landscaped lot near our hotel was fenced so you could only enjoy the garden from the public sidewalk.  According to the foliage in this photo with the girls, this landscaping was completed in 2010.  It’s found near a very busy intersection with spacious sidewalks and pedestrian plaza between lanes of traffic.  We stayed off the grass and enjoyed the walk in the plaza.  Every day we walked through, at least 2 or 3 people were there flying and selling kites of all shapes and sizes.

Friendly grass?

Within our apartment complex, there are multiple types of gardens including a formal garden with walking paths and statuary, a man-made lake with winding paths and benches and a French maze we found to be fun to run and hide in.  We also found the sign in the photo in several places in our apartment complex.  Sometimes translations from Chinese to English are not quite accurate, but whatever the case, we thought this sign was humorous.


Hello to Everyone from Shanghai

Hello from Shanghai.  For those of you who have been watching for new posts, our profound apologies.  The Chinese government chose to block the host website between David checking availability on his last trip in September and our arrival in November.  We have access now and should be able to post more regularly.

We’ve been to three different grocery stores, a Carrefour (a French grocery), a Walmart and a small Western neighborhood grocery.  The first two are large, expansive stores with everything from hygiene to food to clothing and household items including large appliances.  They are very similar to Super Walmarts in the US, only on multiple floors.  A “travelator” carries you and your cart from floor to floor.  The first several times we used the travelators, we braced the cart going up and down because we were afraid it would start to roll and knock everyone in front of us down.  Then, we realized the cart has brakes that automatically engage when the cart is on a slope, so it wouldn’t roll.  We can only imagine what the Chinese around us thought about the crazy Americans bracing their cart!  Thinking back now, everyone else around us was riding the travelators pretty casually.   We found things in English that are safe for Jenna in both stores, but they are overwhelming to shop in when you can’t read very much.  The small neighborhood grocery is about a block from our apartment.  They have things we weren’t able to find in the other groceries (cheddar and parmesan cheese) and the labels are in English.  But, prices are pretty expensive.  Although I don’t mind trying some new foods, we didn’t want to give up our American diet entirely.  Finding what we need to make homemade macaroni and cheese was exciting.  So, although we will probably do most of our shopping in the larger stores, the neighborhood grocery is a nice alternative for special items.

Shanghai is a busy, noisy city.  When you walk down the street, almost every one of your senses is assaulted all at one time.  As a pedestrian you have to be constantly alert for other pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds and even cars on the sidewalks.  A walk around the block is anything but relaxing.  Noblesville will seem like a quiet, sleepy little town when we get home.

We’ve been here for a little over two weeks and it’s still pretty overwhelming.  It’s hard to imagine Shanghai ever feeling like home although I do think we will get more at ease with living in a large, foreign city.  Living here will be quite an adventure for everyone and a checked item on David’s bucket list.  But, I don’t believe we will have any regrets when it’s time to return home.  Just getting access to our blog site has given us a greater appreciation for our freedoms in the US.  It might not be perfect, but it is home.

Arriving in China

In China taxis are green, blue, red, burgundy and dark purple. Taxis can even be mini vans. The mini vans are yellow on the roof, but they are white everywhere else.

On Thursday, we moved into our apartment. We bought a TON of groceries at a place called Carrefour. We could hardly find anything the store was so big. It was so different. We could not find anything. It was very hard to find the sugar.

My bed is a queen or a double. I do not know which. Laura’s bed is big also, but she thinks its shorter.  She wishes they were bigger because her toes hang over the bed.

My girl scout troop made me a poster that says, “ Have Fun!” Everyone signed it. I put it on my desk in my room. It made me a bit homesick, I miss everyone so much.

Our apartment has a HUGE window in the living room. It overlooks a river called the Huangpu River. A lot of boats sail on the Huangpu River. Long ones, short ones, big ones small ones. Any kind of boat sails on the Huangpu River.  The boats honk their horns a lot. They sound like this: HOOOONK but deep and loud. One horn even sounded like this:  BEEP……….BEEP……….BEEP HOOOOOOONK.

Our shipments keep getting later and later. We were supposed to get our shipments sooner than this but we have ended up getting them next week. The first shipment has a lot of my sister’s and my stuffed animals, mom’s crockpot and school supplies. The shipments are so late we have not even started school yet!

Well gotta go. I’ll write soon!



Getting Settled In

Wow! Already, it’s been almost two weeks since we arrived in Shangai! We would have posted sooner, but China is now blocking wordpress, and we had to wait to get a VPN, an internet service that lets us see blocked sites. Dad finally was able to get it set up, so we can now post.  The morning we left seems like ages ago. We got picked up in a limo. That’s right, a limo. We needed a big car, since each of us had two suitcases, but we thought it would be maybe a mini-van. The flight was long, and pretty uneventful. The flight to Detroit was pretty short. The flight to Shangai was not. 15 hours in a plane. There were DVD players on the backs of the seats with lots of movies to choose from. I watched 5. I couldn’t get comfortable, and get to sleep, and it was dark, so I just watched movies. Once we got to the Shangai airport, the adventure really started. The Chinese don’t seem to know the meaning of personal space. They’ll brush up against up, and it won’t be a big deal. And I like my personal space!! We were really jetlag, it was kind of weird, because Shangai is 13 hours ahead, so it was almost like we went from day to night, then to night again. Try to get your mind around that one! It was night when we got the hotel, and we went to bed, but even though we didn’t get much sleep on the plane, we were up at 3 am with jetlag.

The next few days were a bit overwhelming. Shangai is huge. A city of over 20 million people. And you don’t exactly see many blond people running around, so we get a lot of stares. All the time. And we still do. People will ride by on motorcyles, and turn and stare at Jenna and I. Drives me crazy. Kinda makes me want to dye my hair black. Getting around can be intimidating. There’s so many people, and street signs, and very easy to get lost. When you’re going around Shangai, a map is your best friend! We went on the subway last weekend. You know how Indianapolis has been thinking of getting a subway? When we get back, I’m sending a letter saying they do not want one! Not really, but the subway wasn’t fun. People cram and shove, and try to get on at the last minute. If it’s really crowded, you’re shoved up against several other people, who happen to be staring because you have blond hair. You’d think they never saw someone with blond hair before!! But the hardest part? Eating. Jenna and I aren’t really fans of Chinese food, which can be a bit of a problem. Especially with her nut allergy. China has Subway, and Pizzahut, and some places like that, but eating is still hard. It’s easier though, now that we have an apartment, and can cook.

Our apartment is pretty nice. We found it last weekend. Took us awhile to find one we liked, but this one’s just about perfect. Jenna and I have our own rooms, so our parents’ sanity is safe. It’s pretty big for an apartment. We have a great view of a lake. There’s a small balcony; doesn’t have the greatest view, but is still nice go out on. There’s a clubhouse with a bowling alley, café, gym, even a pool. We got moved in yesterday. We also made our first grocery trip yesterday. Wow. It’s kinda hard to find stuff, and we practically cheer when we find something in English. They have imported goods, so we can get some of the chips and stuff we like, which is nice. But the one we went to is huge. It’s on three levels, and to get up and down, you go on an escalator. Sort of. It’s an escalator, but without the steps, so you take carts on it. It’s just one big slope. Seems like every day we go through another culture shock. Going down the escalator is fine. Going up with a heavy cart can be a problem. We haven’t found all the stuff we need, but we’re going to try a Walmart tomorrow. They’ll probably be similar, but since it’s a western chain, we hope they’ll have some western goods.

I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, but this is post is already really long. We’ll be posting more often, and I’ll probably post again tomorrow with all the stuff I forgot to say. Still getting adjusted, and there have been times when I wanted to just get on a plane and go home. But we’re getting there. Oh, and did I mention we have our own car and driver?

It’s finally time!

It`s finally time! I feel like I`ve been waiting a year! It`s been so long since Mom said that we might go to China. Guess what? We rode in a stretch limo to the airport! I felt so weird sitting sideways. My Mom also got me and my sister mints for the plane since we won`t be able to brush our teeth until Wednesday. I`m looking forward to a lot of things but I`m most looking forward to maybe petting a panda, the underground army ( terra cotta ), seeing the Great Wall of China and Skyping with my class.

I need to get on the plane now. See you in six months!


Packing.  A nightmare in itself.  It’s so hard to decide what clothes to pack, what games to take, what activities to take on the plane.  We’re getting there, but still a little ways away from being finished.  Each of us are able to have 2 suitcases which is nice considering all the clothes you want to bring.  But this weekend has been nothing but rush, rush, rush!  There’s so many last minute things to do: Getting the airshipment ready, packing suitcases, cleaning up the house, cleaning out the kitchen.  I’m looking forward to Wednesday when we’re finally in China, and can finally relax a little.  Yesterday was my last day of school.  I was a little sad to saygoodbye to friends and teachers, but I know what an amazing adventure this will be.  Thankfully I can still keep in contact with several of my friends through email, and will even be Skyping with some of them.  It’s hard to believe that I may never be back at the middle school, depending on when we get back.  I’m still a little sad about it, but excited too.  I think leaving is a bittersweet feeling for all of us.  I just can’t believe that in roughly three days, I’ll be on a plane to China.  Well, there’s still lots of stuff to do, so I better get back to packing.  I’ll be posting again next week once we’re in China.

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