Wednesday was an unpacking day and shopping. We contacted the Art teacher Marjo to see if her family wanted to join us for a Chinese Dinner. They ended up taking us to TallGrasss at Four Seasons which was a traditional Chinese Dinner. We had over 14 dishes and it was $75. Most of the dishes were tasty, some were really fatty. The tofu appetizer and the green beans dish were incredible. There also was a noodle dish. Our bellies were full and we were exhausted, so we went to bed.
Thursday was the first day of our orientation at Shanghai Community International School. We were picked up at our apartments around 8:30 and driven to Wagas, a Western Style breakfast restaurant. We came back to our Upper School for a meeting with the Head of School, tours and lunch. After lunch we went tot he Lower School for atoner and arranged internet access for home which gave us WiFi. After work, we took the optional trip to Jinqiao Carrefour with the Middle School Principal. Carrefour is a WalMart type store where we got phones. We also went to the Starbucks there and Decathlon (which is a large Sporting Goods store). This area has many Western restaurants, so we decided to eat at the Blue Frog. Frank got Chicken Fingers, Matt got sliders, and Margaret and I ate salads. It was pricey but fun to know where to get the Western food.
On Friday, we left for our respective schools. The kids went with Matt since the upper school has a workout room and basketball court. We had meetings and time in our room to settle in. I was finding computers to pass out and meeting the tech, whose name is Rambo. After lunch, there was an optional trip to IKEA, which we all went to find furniture. We were looking for many things, but we found Frank’s dresser, our dresser, two folding outside chairs, a book shelf, a chair and a mattress pad for our bed. We had so much stuff so we had to have most of it delivered. We also found some candles, pillows, and place mats. That evening we had dinner at Cantina Agave in the Jinqiao area. Good fish tacos and margaritas.
On Saturday we had another optional tripand we took it. The trip included long bus ride to our sister school in Hangqiao, then to the Bund, the French Concession, Starbucks, and a great Turkish restaurant where we ate too much food and had lots of left overs. It was a quick excursion where we didn’t have a lot of time to explore on our own, so we are excited to go back and explore. We came back home to relax before our Saturday night trip to a fancy restaurant, called “1221”. Our first long trip out of the house without the kids. They were very eager for us to go, but with a typhoon on the way, we wanted to make sure they were safe. The kids were fine. We met the teachers from our sister school and all new teachers got a stamp with their Chinese name on it. Again it was a traditional Chinese dinner, so there was an abundance of food. I sat next to Kevin who has lived in China for a while and answered lots of questions. Matt sat with someone from Colorado who happened to be best friends with one of Matt’s former Manitou students- small world. After dinner, we went to an Australian Rugby bar called “The Camel” in the French Concession. That bar felt like we were in America. Of course all the workers were Asian, but the majority of all customers were English speakers. After a few drinks we were eager to find our bed and went home.
On Sunday, we had a wake up call in Chinese to have our IKEA buys delivered. So instead of having a relaxing Sunday, which was our plan, we had a very productive day with Matt putting together furniture and organizing the apartment. We still haven’t assembled our dresser but everything else has a place. Sunday afternoon we went out in the rain to find trees and playgrounds blown right over, but we made our way to the grocery store getting soaked. We ate at the Mall Sushi restaurant. They had pictures and a conveyor belt for the Sushi. The sushi was on different color plates and each color represented a different cost. The wonderful thing was that one of the waitresses was a student and she spoke great English, so we didn’t have to translate too much. Learning Chinese is hard. Frank ordered some breaded pork and the rest of us nibbled on a lot of Sushi for $15. We went to pick out bikes but realized the bike shop would not take our credit card and we do not have enough Chinese yuan to spend on bikes. It was a sad day for us.
On Monday, we were back at work with meetings and time to work in the rooms. Someone ordered pizza. At 1:00 pm, the lower school vice-principal gave an optional trip to navigate the Metro and go to the fake market. We bought three soccer jerseys, Chelsea, Barcelona, and USA for $33 which I thought was good, but Matt was upset he could not haggle lower. The Fake Market is where everything is fake but you can usually get great prices on stuff. We also found a backpack for Matt and a purse for me. Matt bought 2 polo shirts also. The middle school principal then met us at Decathlon closest to home so that we could buy bikes and ride them home. It was a 30 minute bike ride but it wasn’t as crazy as walking. I truly enjoying biking in Shanghai. Most people are on scooters, tuk tuk or bikes so being on wheels is helpful. We all are wearing helmets and we love our bikes.
On Tuesday, we had the most amusing day, the Health Check at the Shanghai Health Bureau. They draw blood, sonogram your lungs and kidneys, performed an ECG, chest x-ray, and took our blood pressure. It was very strange but very efficient. I had pizza for lunch. The rest of the day we worked in our room. We went to find an authentic Chinese dinner and ended up finding a Taiwanese restaurant. The owner was there and had studied in San Francisco so we were able to order stuff we liked. The menu was completely Chinese. The food was great, but Margaret ate peanuts. We had biked over and we are somewhat of a parade since we are the only Westerners around. The kids biked home so Matt and I could get groceries.
On Wednesday, tech training, Admin introductions, Chinese Culture/Language Session, and Banking Presentation occupied our day. Then on Thursday we had all staff back. A bus was broken so we started the day by having to find taxis to work. Breakfast was provided and we met lots of new people. Meetings for most of the days, lunch provided and more work time in the room. On Friday, I asked Kevin (who has lived here a while) if he wanted to go somewhere for lunch and he took a bunch of us to a noodle place where they made the noodles fresh in front of us. It was GREAT. I hope I can find other places to go to because I will eat there every day. In the afternoon, we had an insurance meeting at the Hongqiao campus and 1.5 hours to kill. Matt and I took a walk, then came back to find some other teachers wanting to buy beer, so we drank beer walking down Shanghai. In the evening we went to the Garden Hotel in the French Concession for dinner, lots of fish dishes, great desserts and loads of socializing.
On Saturday, Matt and I tried to go to an Orientation for Westerners, but we got lost, so we just went back to Carrefour and found breakfast and went shopping. We then found the Media Mart to buy air purifiers. We splurged and got one for each room. We have heard air quality gets worse in the winter. Matt and I went to pick up Margaret’s and my bike at the lower school and then went shopping. We needed some wine to bring to Paolo and Karin’s house. They have a 2 and 4 year old who are still dealing with jet lag, but they had a bbq with burgers and chicken. Paolo is the upper school tech teacher so it was fun talking geek. Karin is Frank’s advisory and a sweetie. It was nice to meet some new friends and just hang out.
Today is Sunday and I am trying to catch up on everything. Matt and Frank went to pick up their bikes at the upper school and get Frank a hair cut. We like the hair cut, he does not. He spent 48 yuan ($7.25) for a shampoo, cut and blow dry. We walked to a local fruit market and bought dragon fruit, mangos, apples, and bananas. Then we walked to RT Mart, which is their version of WalMart. We saw my principal who said we were brave to come on a Sunday. We said it was our cultural experience for the week. We liked the grocery shopping there better too.
Notes: I love biking everywhere but it is hot and rainy. Tuk Tuk’s are bike carts which are usually less than $1, but only fits 2-3 people. Taxis are cheap $2 anywhere in our neighbor hood we need to go. I like the bikes more since sometimes we can’t find tuk tuk or taxis.
We are on Skype a lot, and have video chatting with our moms and other family members. If you have a Skype account look us up. All four of us have accounts, although I am usually on the most. It makes us feel like we are close by.