Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snow - xuě 雪

Snow in Shanghai is very rare. Especially the amount of snow that has been falling here this week. Some of my co-workers have said that Shanghai hasn't seen this much snow in over 50 years. Last Saturday it started to snow but it didn't stick to the ground much. By the next morning though, most of the grassy areas had a thin layer of snow which was just enough for the kids to make snowballs and snowmen. Here are some of the pictures.

Kid kicking snow. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Notice the kids made it here before I did.

Snowman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Snowman with long arms.

Family building a snowman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A confused bird. *&$#%

A very happy dog playing with kids.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shopping at Carrefour

As I mentioned in a previous post the Carrefour is pretty much the same as a Super Wal-Mart. The main floor contains all of the non-food items like clothes, sporting equiment, appliances, etc. The floor below is the supermarket. Shopping for groceries has been interesting. As expected I knew I wouldn't find a lot of the normal foods I have become accustomed to finding at my local H.E.B, but it is even more of a challenge here because everything is written in Chinese. If you find something you might like to try you just have to try it. I try to find the smallest bottle or bag to sample it. So far I've had pretty good luck.
The most challenging part of shopping here in China has been trying to ask someone where to find things. I didn't bring my alarm clock because I knew China used 220V for power and I could just buy one here. Well walking around Carrefour for almost 20minutes I still couldn't find the alarm clocks. At least not the kind I was expecting to find. I finally decided to try and ask someone and through the use of some carefully crafted sign language and me making an audible sound of an alarm the woman finally understood what I was looking for. After I was shown where to find the clocks, it was a location I had passed by a couple of times. It wasn't because I didn't notice it but it was because all of the clocks were either analog (with hands) or it ran on batteries. Hmm. I didn't bring mine because of the power difference and now I'm faced with buying one that doesn't even plug in. Oh well. I picked one that had a thermometer built in and speaks to you when you hit the snooze button. I still don't know what it's saying, but hopefully I will soon learn.
Another thing you have to consider when shopping is the amount of stuff you can carry. Since I don't have a car here most of my travels are either by taxi or just walking. Even with the taxi you still have to be able to carry your stuff in one trip. This really limits the amount of stuff one can carry. Maybe this is a good thing. So far I have only purchased things I really think I need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Impressions can happen twice

The flight to Shanghai was fairly uneventful. Mostly because I had stayed awake the night before and slept for most of it. I stayed up to try and help get over the jet lag early. It seems to have worked. I haven't felt sleepy yet during the day and feel pretty good overall. The title for this post is my challenge to the cliché of not being able to have a second impression. During the flight I was really nervous about what was ahead of me and thought a lot about the life I was leaving behind. After arriving in Shanghai and leaving the final check point of Customs, I finally found my colleagues from work. It was really great to see a familiar face again. 20+ hours of flying, stewards and terminals can feel like an eternity. As we left the warmth of the airport terminal I suddenly felt the chill of Shanghai winter. It was raining a little which just adds to the cold feeling. Even though I had experienced this kind of weather from my previous trip to Shanghai, this time it was different. This time I knew I would live here long enough to experience all four seasons. It is an impression I won't forget.

Ryan and Annie had the key to my apartment and took me there by way of Taxi, my second First impression. It's not so much the taxi itself but driving in Shanghai altogether. The only real way to experience it though, is in a taxi. Taxi drivers here drive like we would want to at home. Signs, lights and lanes are merely just suggestions. Horns are required to let the other guy know 'hey start moving' or just a polite tap to let someone know he is there. If the driver can sneak the nose of the car into a spot then it is yours to take. The taxi ride is a definite must for tourists. Along the way Ryan mentioned that there was a surprise waiting for me at my new home. Two other co-workers (Mo & Yushi) from my previous trip met us there and had setup dinner for me. They had ordered Papa Johns pizza with salad, bread sticks, chicken wings and apples. It was a lot of food, which was great, because I didn't have anything in the fridge yet, so the extra became lunch for the next day. They had also gone to the local Carrefour (similar to Wal-Mart) and purchased a few starter items for the apartment. They bought items like dish soap, laundry detergent, pens, toothpaste and even a pair of house slippers (they were too small for my feet but I really appreciated it). Now at home, eating pizza, I was ready to call it a night and start my first full day in Shanghai. My next post - shopping at the local Carrefour.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Packing my stuff

On Jan 11th the movers came and picked up my belongings that I wanted to ship to Shanghai. The shipment should arrive about a week or two after I get there which means I will have to live out of my suitcase for a little while. At least the apartment my company provided is ready for me to move into. Staying in a hotel is ok for short trips but having a place to call home will be really nice. Today is Jan 16th and the last day I have to pack the rest of my things . I have a feeling I will be buying another suitcase tomorrow to hold everything. My next post will be from Shanghai. Hopefully there will not be any stories about weather delays or missed flights. :) Catch you on the other side (of the world!).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dec 2007 Summary

To give everyone a recap of what led to this move, here is a brief summary. My company (AMD) opened a research and development center in Shanghai, China during 2005-2006. Without going into a bunch of boring details this new center is growing fast and they asked me if I would like to move to Shanghai for a year and help train and work with the team there.

It was a hard decision to make. Rachel is teaching at a high school and leaving early would leave them trying to find a replacement in the middle of the school year. We just couldn't do that to the students or the school. So we decided that I would go and she would join me later during the summer.

So far things are moving right along. The apartment is ready, my passport is updated and I have all my vacinations (total of 11 shots over a three week period) OUCH! We are still trying to decide what to bring or just buy in China but by next week all of the decisions will have been made.