Thursday, May 18, 2006
The Shanghai story begins ...
I wrote a whole post at my moms and just before I was able to hit ‘save’ ToddlerJi pushed the power button.
So here I will attempt to do it again.
We took the bus VERY early to the airport in Japan and had a few hours to eat breakfast and do some window-shopping.
Our flight was short and uneventful: ToddlerJi was fairly good, the food was terrible and they didn’t even bother playing a movie for the three-hour fight.
I went to Shanghai four years ago and basically really enjoyed myself. This time was different in some way: I was different.
I was looking at the city with different eyes: a different view: different feeling. I don’t know if it is because I have changed, my views have changed or my cultural understanding has changed but things looked different. I do know that this time Shanghais did not wow and dazzle me the same way it did last time. This time it was just a big city like all other big cities.
Last time I hated the dust, the spitting, the dry air, the bad breakfasts, and the horrible toilets: this time I was more prepared for it all.
My very first observation of the city was a big one for me and happened on the drive from the airport to my mother in laws house (from now on aka: mil) – the cars were different.
Last time I was shocked, amused and quite amazed by the fact that it seemed like 90 percent of the cars on the road were VW Santana’s and most of them were black. This time there was every type of car imaginable – BMW, Toyota, Mazda, and KIA you name it, and in every colour of the rainbow. I saw this as a HUGE difference in the direction of this city and this country – a break from conforming.
Another thing was kids – they were everywhere. I am pretty sure they were before as well but last time kids were not in my personal picture or thoughts and not on my list of things to thing about. This time I went as a mom and became a big observer of the differences in parenting.
One was diapers and their usage. Obviously higher income parents use diapers but the lower income parents go with the open pants – squat and go when you need to style.
Then there were the millions of little emperor children due to the one-child policy: spoiled!!! After three weeks ToddlerJi was heading down that road and all the things Li and I had been working on went out the door. It was driving us a little crazy.
The air still sucked but I was more mentally prepared for it. ToddlerJi had some problems but I went armed with cough syrup and Baby Vicks to help her out. She ended up with a fever for two days but it wasn’t bad and I had my Baby Tylenol with me.
I think it is statistically impossible to travel anywhere with a kid for three weeks time and not have them sick at any time during the trip.
The toilets were still god-awful but I was prepared and quickly learned when to use the toilet, whether I had to or not, and had pretty good radar for toilets to avoid. The super stores and department stores are actually pretty good places to pin point on your map or toilets. OH and if you do go to Shanghai always carry toilet paper with you.
People were still spitting, which makes my teeth grit just thinking about it, but nowhere near as bad as before. The SARS scare made people much more aware and scattered around prime areas were signs written in Chinese and English telling people that it was a 200RMB fine if caught spitting.
This did not have a 100% effect on people but it helped. That and most people now have spit bowls outside their door and use them now instead of horking out the door.
Overall our stay was good and no real problems occurred. We did far too much shopping but enjoyed it all.
I am going to attempt to blog every day for a bit to get the entire Shanghai story out for me and my scattered brain more than anything.
So stay tuned for a much more to come.
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