Saturday, May 31, 2008

Safe Arrival

Jim and I arrived safely on Saturday in Shanghai around 2:30pm. The flight to Shanghai went as well as any 14 hour flight can go. I really wanted to call some friends and family to let them know we arrived, but since it was 1:30am Texas Time, I decided to hold off on the phone calls. (Texas Time is equivalent to Central Standard Time, but I like the ring of Texas Time better.)

A special shout out to Bobby Kneifel for taking us at 2:30am on Friday to the Austin-Bergstrom Airport so we could catch our 6am connecting flight to Chicago's O'Hare.

My first 20+ hours in China have actually been very western-like. Last night, since there wasn't much food at the apartment and neither of us felt like cooking, we walked to Thumb Plaza, a local market place, and had Papa John's for dinner. We shared half of a large pepperoni pizza and brought the other half home. The pizza was good and very similar to the what we have in the states, although I think it might be greasier.

This morning we went back to Thumb Plaza for breakfast and to do some grocery shopping. We at a Cafe du Monde, a restaurant/coffee shop that originally started in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I thought it was interesting that they have Happy Hour every night. :)

We did our grocery shopping at the Carrefour, which is a French version of a Super Wal-Mart. We did a lot of our shopping in the 'international foods' section, which included items from the U.S., France, Italy, Japan, etc. The annoying part is that they cover the nutritional information on the packages with stickers in Chinese, so I guess I won't be watching labels that closely. Jim had told me that there was a wide array of toilitres available here before we left, and sure enough, I was able to find Pantene shampoo and conditioner, Neutrogena face wash, and Oil of Olay body wash. Yeah!

The hard part too is that everything we buy we have to carry back to the apartment. It's only about 0.5 mile away, so the distance isn't bad. It is just different than throwing all the bags in your trunk. We have some cloth shopping bags for carrying the items back, and Jim usually takes his super duper Swiss Army backpack to carry the heavier items like milk, juice and larger canned goods.

We are going to take the bus or the subway to go to the Ikea in Shanghai in a little bit to see about finding some hangers, storage bins, etc. The bathrooms in the apartment don't have much for storage, and anyone who knows me knows I need storage. After that, we are going to go to a different market that is in the opposite direction of Thumb Plaza. Apparently it is very westernized also. I really want to post what stores are at the plazas, but I figure if I don't, they can be topics of posts when I go exploring when Jim goes to work.

I think it will be a wise investment for me to get a collapsible push cart for when I go shopping by myself. Truthfully, I was scared about the idea of shopping by myself, but even after our first trip, I'm feeling more confident about the process.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Xicen Bike Ride

Xicen Bike Ride
Originally uploaded by jimwink

Over the May 1st holiday (Chinese Labor Day) I joined a group for a nice 35-40km bike ride next to the Xicen canal. It is about a 45 minute drive west of Shanghai. The ride was mostly flat but it was a great day for a relaxing ride. And it provided many photo opportunities as you can see from the photos. Click on the photo to see the others in the set.

The exciting part of the trip came when it was time to go home. We arrived back at the bike ship around 6:00p.m. and I decided to ride my bike back home. The trip home included a trip across the river which I had not done by bicycle yet. I was told that I would need to find the ferry stops and take the ferry across. To make a long story short - I spent three hours trying to find the ferry stops or finding a taxi that would take me and the bike back across the river. I was ready to give up and find a hotel for the night, but finally, one taxi driver agreed to take me and the bike.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Hi everyone. Just wanted to let everyone know that I am OK here in Shanghai. The earthquake hit near the center of China around 2:30 in the afternoon. I was at work and my co-workers and I never felt it. Our building is only 3 stories high but people in high rise buildings reported they could feel the building swaying. I found this map on-line which shows where the epicenter was and I marked where Shanghai is located with the arrow.