As my days are numbered here in Shanghai, I thought it would be brilliant to do a “What I will miss and not miss list” to remember our adventures here. On my final day before going to the U.S. for a business trip, I ran by my hairdresser Michael first for a touch up to look as good as I can for the new job. First impressions and all. He was sad to lose his steady client and I was sad that I wasn’t going to be around to see his new salon open up eventually, a project he has been working on for as long as I have known him. It’s China, of course, so it is taking forever. Afterward I walked a few miles to a final dinner with our friends, Patti and Larry, who are staying for a week after I have to leave. It has been a joy to share China with them.
Of course I couldn’t find a taxi at rush hour but enjoyed the long walk to Lost Heaven on The Bund through the former French Concession all by my lonesome. It was dark yet I felt safe and the locals were enjoying their walks home too and starting to source dinner from the many street vendors. The tiny shops were all still open trying to lure commuters in to buy their goods.
I soaked it all in knowing this would be my last long walk alone in China. Then it dawned on me. I WILL MISS IT ALL–the good, the bad and the crazy that is China. Just as there is no place like NYC, there is no place like China and I have been lucky enough to live in both wonderful places.
I’ll miss the smile from the taxi driver as I try to practice my Mandarin and agree that the scooter he almost hit deserved it by getting in his way. We laughed so hard in the taxi coming home from dinner when, we heard the taxi driver’s friend which he was talking with on his mobile as he drove the busy streets hawk a loogie with a force so huge that it came through the speaker loud and clear. ARRRRRGH but that’s China and if you breathed in all that pollution every day, you would hawk up a lung too.
I’ll miss playing the “What’s the AQI?” game daily with Thom as we wake up and check out the “fog” in the early morning light. If you can see the bridge in the distance, it’s a good day. Can’t see across the river? It’s a 250+ AQI day so wear that air mask! Pollution bad? Good day to buy more $2 DVD’s and have movie day/night/week and order in food delivered by Sherpa’s.
The TV’s not working again in the bedroom for the fifth straight day? Yep-time to read a book. Instagram blocked now? Astril VPN being targeted and slowed down by the you know who? Yep-time to read a book. Be courageous and drink a cold beverage with ice made from local tap water and end up being crazy sick. Yep-time to spend some quality bathroom time reading a good book. Needless to say, my Amazon Kindle bill has gone up in China and many books have been read.
Now, just as we had to move on from our NYC adventure, now it is our time to leave China. As we repatriate to Seattle, I will challenge myself to keep on writing and observing life with the new lens I have acquired from my China cultural immersion. Yes, I will appreciate the blue skies more but I will also seek out the new and different cultural experiences that are everywhere not just China to keep the adventure alive. We are only on this planet a limited number of days. Why waste one moment being boring when you can make every day special and new?
Everyone likes a good list–especially me, so here’s mine so I won’t forget the fun times in Shanghai:
WHAT I WILL MISS
*a sense of security that I feel in China–no one is going to hurt me, steal from me, rape me, etc. It could happen but rarely ever does here vs. on the streets of Seattle downtown, you never feel safe. There are drugs deals going down (never in China) and people beating each other in broad daylight. I will carry a whistle, mace and running shoes to get away fast when I move to Seattle.
*rat motif items–I am born in the Year of the Rat and have started my own little rodent collection of tasteful and colorful rats to celebrate the year of my birth. Who knew the vermin could be so cute?
*Vietnam–a country full of super nice, smiling people and interesting places. I must go back.
*foot massage, foot massage, foot massage–how could I have gone my whole life prior to China without this necessity to keep my body whole and healthy and, yes, 90 minutes is not enough…not nearly…
*going to the local shoe repair guy who works on the street by my house 7 days a week – $2 to stitch up my bag that ripped and no waiting. Smile he gives me because he appreciates me supporting a local craftsman=priceless.
*beautiful flowers and colored lights to prettify the highways that are choked with traffic.
*the Great Wall-got to go 4x and loved every trip especially the toboggan to go down
*warm egg tarts from KFC–yum,yum,yum!
*various colors light up Pearl Tower depending on the holiday aka Empire State Building but with more gov’t. control
*$2 DVD’s-you get used to seeing movies in the comfort of your own home while they are in the theaters and the subtitles go unnoticed after awhile
*unexpected bursts of loud bangs as businesses attract the gods of good fortune with firecrackers
*Our ayi, Pink, smiling and wearing my NYC taxi apron while taking care of us and our gorgeous apartment
*large rooms and square footage–Seattle teeny tiny spaces with no closet space not so much
*Strictly Cookies, English muffins, Taiwan crackers-carbs galore
*surprises around every corner at every moment
*bargaining like a mule at the fake markets and getting bargains
*collecting pillow covers of every type and color–it has become an obsession
*my plants-they made our apartment beautiful and they lived despite me and my plant guy who would deliver even the heaviest banana tree right to the exact spot I wanted it..glad that Fiona’s friend took them all
*sense of delight when I found food I could eat that wouldn’t make me sick-thanks Fresh Elements
*our support team-Fiona who tried hard to teach us Chinese and bought stuff for us on Taobao, watched Thor, and did everything we needed to make life possible here; Robert and Billy who ensured we had car service fast and reliable; smiling fruit lady on the corner adding extra fruit in our bag because we always overpaid
*neon lights, flashing lights on every thing for any reason
*watching the ferries dodge the coal boats-reflexes extraordinaire
WHAT I WON’T MISS…all that much but maybe a little
*killer elevator in our building with doors that would either maim or kill you–I got some serious bruises from being stupid and not realizing that the doors would close on my flesh vs. the U.S. version that had safety features
*spotty at best internet, TV that doesn’t work most of the time though it’s good to live without it
*those damn bumps on the sidewalks making it difficult to walk–for the blind? Really?
*avoiding sitting directly behind the taxi driver so I won’t get hit with backwash from him hocking his lungs out the window and bracing for impact because there are never seat belts that work
*worrying that I’ll get sick or crack a tooth and have to submit myself to the China medical system, which is scary even at the best ex-pat places. Got great insurance but don’t want to use it.
*gov’t. Control of all media including blocking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to keep the peace. It’s just scary not really knowing what the hell is going on in your city.
*public pissing. nuf said
*toxic water, no food safety, chunky air that makes me cough, cough, cough…lungs can heal, right?
*cars, buses, bikes, scooters all trying to kill me daily…thus, the mottos below
*I’d really like to not die today–repeat daily
*you can die fast or you can die slow–a Fionaism
*it’s China (as answers to almost everything, i.e. why is this happening??)
*be nimble or die–use when dodging traffic