As I approach my fifth year, I thought I'd post some journal entries from my first week.
From Thursday, February 24, 2005
I am here! I can hardly believe it. It's rather surreal. Everything went very well, despite the fact that no one seems to know English. Once I got to the hotel, my roommate, Krissy, was here. She's from L.A. and she arrived yesterday. It's just the two of us right now, as we both arrive early. We went out to explore a little tonight. I almost got ran over by either a bike or a car every time I attempted to cross a street. It's very surprising to find how few Westerners are here. We saw one foreigner the whole night. We went to a restaurant and the whole process took about 2 hours (and only cost $3.50 each). We had tea, beer, sweet and sour pork, beef with peppers, and rice. It was actually fairly similar to the Chinese food in America, only the rice came after the meal.
Friday, February 25, 2005 (Day Two in Shanghai)
It's amazing how well things are going. I have yet to feel stressed out or uncomfortable. This morning Krissy and I went to Huai Hai Road. First we indulged in a little comfort and had Starbucks. In there, it hardly felt like being away from home.
Afterwards we walked down to the park and were bombarded with aggressive Chinese with fliers that showed their various designer watches, shoes, and purses. I have never said 'no' so many times in my life! And they think we must like it when they say, "Hello! Hello!" but to me it just sounds condescending. The park we walked through was small but beautiful--I'm sure it's even better in the summer. There were people doing Tai Chi, which was neat. No one in the States would have the patience or the courage to do that in public. After that we strolled through the market. That was rather intense. We haggled for Burberry gloves and scarves. I bought two scarves for about $15 each--not too bad. But who knows if they're real??
Lunch was interesting--we ordered salty duck and bamboo soup and spicy beef. The beef was good, but it came in a pot of spicy oil. I hope I don't gain more weight here. I thought the food would be healthier and the portion size much smaller.
Monday, February 28, 2005
Orientation began today and it's weird not having the freedom we had last week. We started the morning with breakfast, which was a bit horrific. Beverages included: the worst milk I've ever tasted, hot Tang orange drink, tea that tasted like piss, and curiously colored coffee. I am beginning to miss American food and beverage.
After breakfast we had a quick Chinese lesson and then on then on to hear two speakers. We just got back from our day trip to Old Shanghai. That was terrific--I wish we could have spent more time there. It was filled with pagodas and lanterns (for the Chinese New Year). We went to a temple, City Hall of Shanghai. Inside were various statues. I found one for my birth year 1982 (一九八二), year of the dog (狗). It was interesting to see how serious the Chinese take these statues, praying and bowing before them. We also went to Yuyuan Garden, which was like a dream--exactly what I picture when I think of China or Japan--pagodas with lanterns surrounded by water filled with large goldfish, beautiful trees and shrubbery. . . walkways over the water. There was a 400-year-old Ginko Biloba tree. . . ornate carvings and creative doorways. But I must be on my way to dinner, more meat--Peking duck. . . great!
Footnote: I totally overpaid for those fake Burberry scarves!