Three Months in Shanghai: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Disgusting

Three months. Wow. I can hardly believe it. Here we are now one-eighth of the way through my two year tour. All of my Household Effects (HHE) have been delivered. The apartment is set up. C is in swim lessons. The nanny is working out great. I got the visa interviewing thing down.

When I started to think about this post, I wanted to write about all the great things C and I have seen and done since our arrival. Shanghai is a city chock full of things to do, places to visit, activities to experience.

Then it happened, that magical time in the cultural adaptation cycle when the honeymoon is over and you start to kinda, sorta, really, really, become bothered by little things. Sometimes Every. Little. Thing.  Culture Shock.

Culture shock graph

Yeah, there I am, right there in that trough.

Early this week I was walking to work the “short cut” way. It is not really a short cut in the true sense of the word. It is basically the same number of blocks, just less traffic on the “back way” allows for opportunities to jaywalk and thus arrive at one’s destination faster.

Anyway, I am walking along that road and get to this section of sidewalk that is just so disgustingly dirty that sometimes when I walk on it I slide. This section of sidewalk is only for half a block. It is caked with filth and for whatever reason a bulldozer is parked on one part of it. That morning I saw another person approaching me on the road rather than the grimy segment, and I too decided I would prefer the street.Of course I do not believe the street any cleaner however I do not expect a street to be clean and the sidewalk is an affront to my sense of order.

I thought to myself: I have been here for three whole months and no one has even attempted to clean this sidewalk. It is in a nice section of town and there it sits all mucky. Someone should power wash this sidewalk! I generally dislike power washing sidewalks because it seems like such a waste of water, but this here sludgy, slimy sidewalk screams “power wash me!” And I will probably walk this way on my last day to work in two years and it will STILL be sickening slick and revolting. It will never, ever, ever be cleaned.

I hate that sidewalk.

And the “work in progress” site that is directly in front of the Cartier store that has been in progress for three whole months without any visible work being done EVER.

2015-04-29 16.32.47

Art installation or social experiment maybe, but certainly not a work in progress.

And then while buying a salad in the swank Isetan department store the cashier, before giving me my change, turned back from the register, cleared her throat in the classic Chinese style, and hocked a loogie into the trashcan in front of me. Nice one lady. That sound may haunt me for weeks.

And there is the pollution. It makes me crazy that my top used bookmark for Shanghai is the Consulate’s Air Quality Monitor. Is it a face mask worthy day? Or a just don’t bother going outside at all kind of day?

First bad smog day Feb 4 2015

Hey, wanna play outside? Hang on, let me just get my air pollution mask with exhale valve.

And those people who ride the elevator in in our work building. Those ones, who even when they see you coming or even that you are right behind them, start pushing the door close button as soon as they can; I got hit with the doors pretty hard on Monday. Thanks a million lady. I hope one day you need a visa and you happen to get in my line… (I know, I know, undiplomatic thoughts, bad)

And as I predicted in my post Lap of Luxury, I have grown irritated running the luxury brand gauntlet to and from work. Or basically whenever I leave my apartment. After three months of passing a window display of a sweet pair of Ferragamo shoes on my daily commute, I finally went in to ask the price. Big mistake.

2015-04-30 02.37.01

See that lovely pale blue shoe on the left? Only 7,200 RMB or $1150. I hope it comes with a second one for free.

So, this is actually a really, really, really good time to remind myself of the many good things we have already experienced

I have a long list of things I want to see and do in Shanghai and I have most certainly not been remiss is getting out and about. In the category of temples we have visited touristy Jing’An Temple and the quiet, reserved Temple of the Jade Buddha.

17 almost closing

Temple of the Jade Buddha

We went to the top of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower and even sauntered out on the glass bottom walkway. Especially for C we visited the Shanghai Aquarium and M&Ms World.


C and her stuffed cat contemplate Shanghai from the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower.

I have also dragged her to the Shanghai City Museum, the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, the Shanghai Postal Museum, and the Propaganda Poster Museum. To C’s credit she usually promptly drops off to sleep to give me time to enjoy the exhibits.

2015-02-22 00.02.32

The incredible scale model of the city at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum.

I have been through the culture shock rigmarole quite a few times and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That sidewalk might bother me for awhile (especially if it is never, ever cleaned and/or that bulldozer never, ever moved) but the bright side is we have sidewalks, right? Not every place does. Just trying to keep things in perspective.


2 thoughts on “Three Months in Shanghai: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Disgusting

  1. Pingback: From Sheep to Monkey: Shanghai Year One in Review – The Wanderlust Diaries

  2. Pingback: Farewell, Shanghai – The Wanderlust Diaries

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