Monday, February 08, 2010

wrapping up the trip

So, for some reason there's a warm spell in Shanghai and it's ~55-60 degrees F during the day (12-15 degrees C, for those that bother).

That's not expected to last  - it will get back to normal (38 - 48 degrees F; 3 - 9 degrees C) at the end of the week.

But I'm headed back stateside on Thursday.

It's been a pretty good trip. Here's a list of the things I'll miss, things I won't miss, and stuff that I'm really looking forward to when I'm back in the US.

Will miss:
1. The food - I love Chinese food, and I also love that (even in Shanghai) it's possible to go out to eat every day on a modest budget. Being in such a big city, there's lots of new things to try, and a diverse range of Chinese food (from all regions of the country) are available...I'm not really into a lot of Shanghai-specific cuisine yet, but everything else that I like (Hunan food, Sichuan food, Dongbei food, Xinjiang food, Guangdong food, Japanese food, and Korean food) is all readily available. You can get Chinese food in the US (or Canada), but it just takes more effort, and it's rarely priced as well as it is here.

1.5 - food portions - While there's a ton of good food here, it's also portioned reasonably..while I get full, I'm rarely urged to stuff myself. So in this way, it's probably healthier.

2. Pace of life - things change fast here; it's exciting and people are on the whole fairly optimistic (despite some grumblings about the government and not making enough money).

3. Work - I get to be a training expert/manager while I'm here. When I go back home I'm back to being Joe Schmo at the bottom of the totem pole. I knew that this position/role was temporary from the get-go, but it will still be a come down of sorts.

4. Conversations with new people in China - I guess during this trip I've spent more time hanging out with Chinese people than I often did when I was living in Shenzhen (that was probably due to the pace of life in Shenzhen and that I worked in a foreign company where my foreign peers and I would frequently get together after work too). Anyway, it's been fascinating getting the Chinese perspective on things we talk about's also easier to communicate as it seems like I have a lot in common with Chinese people working here too. The foreigners I've met this trip have been pretty interesting for the most part as well...have been meeting a lot of the "career-expat over achiever" types, a few "FOBs", and then some of the dregs of humanity (see my last post). Chatting with friends in the US is okay too, but it's often different - without the unifying pull of being in China & trying to figure things out, then one has to come up with other topics of conversation (mundane topics like sports & what was on TV seem so trivial).

Will not miss:

1. The shredding of my immune system - back in Seattle/Bellevue my social circles are fairly restricted and probably the worst things (health-wise) that I'm regularly subject to are cat hair and dust. Here, I'm dealing with: jet-lag/sleep, touching things that are on public transit (touched by thousands of people daily), being around thousands of strangers daily on public transit, constantly sharing food at lunch dinners, maybe a modest uptick in the amount of drinking I do, the smog/pollution, and the damp/cold weather + often unheated workspace - it feels like I've been sick a lot this trip; way more than ever when I was living in China before and way more than when

2. Scooters & bicyclists - Due to the high price of obtaining & maintaining a car here, scooters are more prevalent than in other large Chinese cities. Shanghai is by no means a "scooter city" like I hear that Taipei is or like you might see in Thailand  However, there are enough of them to be an annoyance - most scooter drivers couldn't give a rat's ass about following traffic rules/guidelines, and so they often drive in the middle of the sidewalk and are loose & fast with any inhibitions related to traffic lights. I'm usually listening to my ipod so I don't hear them coming behind me, and at night most don't ever bother to turn their lights on (this apparently could be related to the fact that the headlights are reportedly one of the first parts on the scooter to break, usually within a few months of purchase).

3. Lack of privacy / quiet - While my friend's living space is pretty nice, the walls must be made out of paper or something, as every sound from outside and upstairs carries in. Likewise, I assume that if one was super noisy inside, the sound would carry out.

4. Big city can be tiring - The flip side of living in such a dynamic environment is that it can be exhausting. Commute to work (in my case) is fairly long. I cannot say I've ever felt really full rested this trip. It feels that my life in the US is comparatively much more relaxed.

5. blocked internet - not that internet access is the only thing that matters in life, it's still jarring & irritating to have a wide swath of the internet simply not function. While broadband access is pretty well distributed here, a high-speed quality connection is really hit or miss.

Definitely looking forward to:

1. Seeing the wife
2. Seeing the cats
3. Seeing USA friends
4. Being back in an apartment that is relatively quiet
5. Having space in my apartment (even while my friend's place is fairly spacious, by Chinese standards, the layout still feels cramped.
6. Driving
7. Having relatively quiet apartment (even considering we're on the ground floor in a high traffic area, it's way more quiet than it is where I'm staying now)
8. Clean-ish air & clear skies, at least when it's not raining (do not want to hear Seattle people whine about the pollution there...ever. Things could be so much worse. That being said, as far as pollution goes, there are worse places to be in China than Shanghai).

No comments: