First Week in China

I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve made it through my first week in China, and think you all might like to know a little bit about my adventures here.

China is HOT. CNN says it is in the 90s but our Chinese friends say it is much hotter, but after certain temperatures, many Chinese don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t go to work, so the papers here prefer to keep the temperature down. It is also very humid, which might add to the heat feeling, the blisters on my feet and the way my hair looks?¢‚Ǩ¬¶The newspaper says it is a heat wave, but again, we?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve heard that it is always like this in July and August. I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t advise visiting China in July or August.

Chinese have creative ways to keep cool ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú eating watermelon, which should help your bodies ?¢‚Ǩ?ìbalance?¢‚Ǩ¬ù is one method. Another is carrying an umbrella to keep the heat, and mostly the sun off. Chinese women avoid sun tans at all costs. Haagan Das is very popular here, with many many small store fronts selling it. It is expensive though about $8.30 per pint. You can still get a vanilla cone from McDOnalds though for US .25. The terrific watermelons ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú which are about half the size of a US watermelon sell for about $1.10 in the outdoor markets or about $3.00 in a western grocery. It is also peach season here and a perfect which peach costs .12. They are amazing white peaches.

Many Chinese grandparents also change in the late afternoon to their pajamas ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú which are typically shorts and a matching cotton shirt or some mumu like dresses and walk around or just sit fanning themselves. Ankle length nylons are also popular ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú like a brown stocking foot that just comes up to the ankle. As unappealing as these are, I imagine they are excellent protection from blisters.

I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m thrilled to say we got an apartment. Not in the Xintiandi area, like I initially wanted, but in the near by and very interesting French Concession area. I thought there were fewer markets, and restaurants in the are, but apparently I just have not found them yet. The apartment is brand new, and we have been working with the owners (friends of one of Dean?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s work colleagues) to furnish the apartment. When you buy an apartment from a developer here, it comes completely bare ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äúyou work to put in the ceiling, floor, lights everything. Or I mean someone comes to do each of those things, once you separately contract them.

Amazingly each thing comes from a particular street in one part of the city, there are large, new specific malls ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú several for furniture, two for light fixtures, many for tiles and many for curtains. This process has been so interesting. Most especially that each showroom is automatically marked up 20%, and with good negotiations, you can get some of the furniture for 70% less than the markdown process. For those of you shoppers planning to visit, I am unable to perform this miracle yet, but I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll keep working on my Chinese.

We have eaten some terrific food since my arrival, including excellent Thai, several amazing Japanese restaurants, a Dim Sum designed for the Japanese Emperor, good Indian, Shanghai dumplings, mediocre Mexican and some western food cooked by me in our tiny kitchen. Our new apartment actually has an oven, which is quite rare in China, so I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m excited about that.

I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve also spent quite a bit of time getting my China paperwork in order, I needed a Health check to get my extended visa, and proof of marriage to get my residency card. All are coming along, but Shanghai is a bit like cook county, when it comes to standing in line for some of these services. I actually suspect the clerks are more helpful, except of course I can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t understand them.

We had our first Chinese lesson on Friday night, I believe we can say a few words including: ice, inch, wife, bug and right. We learned some other words, which are harder to say and remember. We have some more sessions this week. Also, I plan to take a more intense Chinese at one of the Universities here ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú most especially since I can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t read any Chinese characters, which drives me nuts!

Chinese grocery shopping is interesting too ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú flavors of things mostly ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú I had cucumber flavored potato chips, but many Chinese like fish and shrimp flavored. And I thought I was buying ginger, but I actually bought a hot spicy root from the same family. And I can?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t find Chinese broccoli anywhere! I actually think it might just not be in season right now.

So that?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s China for now, I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll spend the next week buying the things we need for our apartment and making it into a home, hiding from the heat and planning Asia travel.