25 July 2006

Of flying spit and splinters: Shanghai episode one

Day 4 in Shanghai.

For those who haven't heard, I have just moved to Shanghai a few days ago to work for the next two years. That is also why I have been leaving this blog patch of mine in dilapidation for the past few weeks. (Sorry folks - there was just a gazillion and one thing to move and do before leaving.)

It is now Day 4 in Shanghai and I still like it - despite the crowd, the traffic, the flying spit and splinters. (You've gotta love a multi-tasking cyclist - cycling past me and spitting at the same time. The flying splinter story is less exciting - just some carpenter trying to axe some wood and whooola, a visible chunk of splinter comes flying out onto the walkway in front of me. Anyone considering sending me a helmet for my birthday?)

Shanghai reminds me of Tokyo, which is probably why I take to it very well. Not as civilized and clean as Tokyo, but the old-world-meet-new-world charm is equally alluring. Colonial amidst Chinoise amidst Ikea - that is more than enough to redeem Shanghai from any flying spit and splinters. Did I mention that I really like the sound of Shanghainese too? I wonder where I can learn it.

People-wise, drivers and waitresses have been friendly, and friends have been selflessly helpful. Ms C, a local Shanghainese, has been fully involved in my apartment hunt to ensure I am not fleeced while Mr C came to my rescue yesterday after hearing my bank draft sob story. (Never bring a bank draft to China - it takes 1 WHOLE MONTH to clear.)

My only real lament is the internet here. Now, the access is wonderful - I have free LAN in my hotel room, and the content is excellent - see this amazing 3D map of Shanghai. But, and that is a big but, blogspot, wikipedia and goodness knows what else are banned. It's funny how you take the concept of free internet as an entitlement until one day you realize that it is a privilege elsewhere.

So for those of you whose blogs I read, please email me if you wanna share your joy with me. I can still post, receive your comments, but can't view my own talljoanne.blogspot.com, so pardon me if photo layout etc look haywire. For the next two years, I will be a blind blogger groping in the dark...

More upbeat news about Shanghai soon - my new apartment for one!

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