A few weeks ago, we moved into our new apartment in the area called Pudong in Shanghai. Holy Hell-if you thought moving in the US was stressful, try doing it in China. Though we have a real estate agent who is working on our behalf and they had known about our move-in date for months, we still arrived at the appointed time with two mini vans packed with our belongings only to find that the apartment was a wreck from the painting crew that had just finished the night before. After lots of heated conversation between our rep and the landlord rep, a crew of ladies showed up to clean and I promptly left to shop for needed stuff at Ikea and various grocery stores. In other words, I bailed and let Thom handle it, which he did magnificently. When I got back, it was clean and we proceeded to be able to unpack the air container that had miraculously shown up at the appointed time. Our new mattress also arrived–we had heard that Chinese mattresses were hard but I swear they are made out of slabs of marble because they are just that hard. I couldn’t have slept even a night on one of them so thank God our memory foam King size slice of Heaven showed up in time to save us. We will have to buy super padded covers for our other bedrooms so our guests don’t have to suffer.
Our area is definitely expat friendly and close to the downtown financial center. Our complex of seven buildings is built around a lake, which they had drained for repair. Looking down from our 15th floor (really 12th level because they don’t have a 4th, 13th or 14th floor due to bad luck) and seeing a pit of mud, I was near tears but they assure me it will be filled up soon–yeah, right! I do love looking down to see the dog walkers and tai chi groups exercising in the morning in the area around the mud pit.
While we have an unbelievable gym, there’s nothing like running outside, which I haven’t been able to do because I value my life and limb. Pedestrians (and what few joggers are out and about) are the lowest form of life in terms of who rules the road and sidewalks. You find out very quickly that the chain of life starts at the lowest level with pedestrians, then bikes, scooters, cars and then buses are the biggest bad asses and craziest of them all. You step in front of a bus and you are history. There is no “right of way” and certainly no niceties like “yield to pedestrians or crosswalks” going on in China. Basically, if you are walking on a sidewalk or crossing a street, even with the light, you better be nimble, head on a swivel and dodge all the chains of life that can run you down because they will without a thought. I just watched Dodgeball on TV and when the old guy says, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball” I just have to laugh because in China, it’s more like, “If you can dodge a bus, you can save your ass.”
Not for the faint hearted or slow in movement, this is probably why Thom and I are the only Lai Wai’s I see walking the streets. All the other ex pats are using private car/drivers or at least taxis. What can I say–we like to live life on the edge and Thom likes to stare them down like the New Yorker that he is and see if he can get them to yield-not the buses, of course, but all other forms of killer transportation. Sometimes he actually wins but, in the game of life, he also has learned to dodge too.