In the words of my 3yr-old son as he viewed Shanghai for the first time: ‘Wooahhh’. This is indeed one big city with tall buildings and lots of cars with drivers who seem to like using their horns and ignoring pedestrians. It seems that scooters taking short cuts over pavements is totally acceptable.
We arrived late Thursday night and after looking at the streets below and the high rises around with a mix of both shock and awe from the 34th floor apartment, we slumped into bed.
My first meal was a breakfast of rice congee with fish and ginger. I was surprised to find goji berries floating on top. I know that they are grown here, but I’d always used them in sweet rather than savory ways. I wonder if they weren’t added simply for color?… the dish certainly needed it although I’ve since learned that you are supposed to add condiments such as some nuts and pickles to this dish.
Our first day was under the rain (apparently the rainy season has officially begun and will last for approximately 3 weeks or so). We had to go to International Travel Healthcare Centre to prove that we are healthy. It was somewhat amusing to see foreigners lined up in hospital robes waiting to be ushered from one room to another and back again. After that we decided to check-out a local market where we saw all sorts of things to buy and presumably eat, such as string bags full of live toads, tiny wriggling eels and chou doufu (‘stinky tofu’) … sorry, didn’t have my camera with me.
We have visited some parts of the Former FrenchConcession/Huangpu district with the help of Thomas our relocation agent. We adored Tian Zi Fang – a collection of little lanes with artists and tea/coffee shops. We also loved the more traditional streets lined with soup vendors, vegetable stands and bicycles. Our children’s school is in this district so we’ll be looking for housing in this area over the next few weeks. The next 3 days are Dragon Boat Festival holidays – which sounds rather exciting but I believe it’s primarily an occasion for families to get together – so disappointingly there will be no dragons. We took the opportunity to go and visit the ‘Old Town’ with it’s tranquil Yu Gardens. We also visited a fabulous antique market and finished it off with a great Sichuan hotpot (huoguo) meal where we plunged vegetables – such as the delicious lotus root – and meats into a boiling broth and then fished them out before dipping them into a variety of sauces and condiments (such as sesame paste, chilli sauce, fresh coriander ….monosodium glutamate!)
‘Shanghighs‘ this week: discovering new food, some great contacts with other ex-patriate families (some play-dates are set for this week), plenty of opportunities to stop-breathe-remain calm 😉
‘Shanglows‘: kids being sick and waking-up at 3am every day, rain, not speaking the language, the kids asking to go ‘home’ or to see their friends, missing the comforts of home and routine……. more about ‘comfort’ next week.