Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My First Day in China

When I began my teaching career, DD2 provided all new teachers a copy of The First Day of School.  The author of the book, Harry Wong, in so many words states that to be successful, a new teacher has to survive his or her first day of school.  Afterwards, all will be okay.  I have elected to adopt this mindset for my first days as a Chinese resident.

After our 36+ hour yesterday(s), we were too exhausted to shop for pillows and sheets so we slept on our couch with the promise of visiting Ikea in the morning. 
Lesson #14: Make sure you pack a suitcase with a towel, pillow, blanket, and sheets if you are moving directly into an apartment.  If you have jet lag issues, I would suggest scheduling a night in a hotel and then moving into your new place the next day.  Otherwise, you will spend then night on the couch like we did. J

I began my day by waking up on my couch wrapped up in a comforter that I had stowed in one of my suitcases.  I was rested and ready to take on the world…or at least my new neighborhood.

Chris and I started the day by throwing on some clothes and foraging for breakfast.  In the process of looking for food, we ran into our first authentic Chinese market.  We decided to take a peek inside.  I am going to save the details of the market for a later post on Chinese grocery shopping, but I will tease you by saying I have NEVER seen a cucumber that large, or a grocery fish voluntarily jump out of a tank. 

This is the outside market down our street.  So many fresh fruits, veggies, and more!

A young girl feeds some bunnies outside the market.  It has yet to be determined if the bunnies were pets or food.

We decided to keep moving in search of coffee when we ran into a street food vendor that was selling the most AMAZING street food: a scallion and sesame pancake made out of phylo dough. 

Sesame scallion pancakes for breakfast!  YUM!

Chris was in desperate need of coffee, so we landed at Starbucks. 

A very kind English speaking gentleman helps us get oriented.
After he was caffeinated and fed, we decided it was time to head to the ultimate let’s furnish your apartment store: Ikea.  I got cab directions to Ikea from the Smart Shanghai App and we were off. Lesson #15: If you are planning to live or visit Shanghai, download the Smart Shanghai App from the iTunes store.  This app provides venue ratings, maps, and directions for taxis.  

 I showed the address on my iPhone to our driver, and he sped towards Ikea. 

This is the Puxi Ikea.  (I ripped this image off the web because I was too preoccupied to take my own pic.)
As the blue and yellow furnishing land came into sight, the driver made a sharp left.    He sped away from Ikea.  Chris and I immediately looked at each other…where was this guy going???

I piped up,
“We are going to Ikea.”
The driver gestured for my cell phone again.
He got frustrated, whipped the taxi around in a U turn and yelled,
Chris said,
The Driver barked,
He continued to argue with himself,  “NO NO NO HOW SHE LOO! NOT HOW SHE BAY LOO!” for a good five minutes, until Ikea came into view.

Chris and I point at the building and I squawked,
“Ikea…we want to go to Ikea.”
The driver barked back,
“EEEECHEEEEAAAAHHH!  No Ikea.  EEEECHEEEEAAAAHHHHH!”  He sounded like Godzilla.  We finally reached “Eeeecheeeaaahhh” and paid our driver the 30 rmb ($5) he earned. 

After laughing about how we had been scammed, we entered the yellow and blue Swedish furniture mart and rode the escalator up to the second floor in search of sheets, pillows, and a comforter for our new digs.  I hate to disappoint those who thought that people sleep in the Ikea beds in the Shanghai store, but at that time all of the beds were vacant or being appropriately tested.  

After 1 hr of weaving through the merchandise maze, we were ready for lunch!  Luckily all Ikeas have a spacious cafeteria.  We decided to take a break and get some grub.

Since the first time I visited Eeecheeeaahhh,  I have wanted to try their meatballs.  Since I was now a Chinese resident, I thought I would make my first attempt at ordering my own lunch…in Chinese.  As we approached the counter, I pointed to the meatballs and said “Ershiwu”.  The server loaded a mountain of meatballs onto my plate and passed it down to the other servers so they could add mashed potatoes, gravy, and the signature cranberry sauce on the side. 

Well, I got what I asked for. :)

Yes, I accidentally confused my numbers and ordered 25 meatballs instead of 15. Luckily, Ikea sells doggie bags so I could store my leftovers in my American Sized fridge.

After $364 worth of towels, bedding, hangers, bathroom goodies, kitchen accessories and more we were ready to head home.  It was time to settle in, finally unpack our suitcases and make our bed!

Ikea totes are the best...we use them for everything!

I was in the middle of hanging my 2 suitcases of clothing when I realized most of my hangers were in our air shipment.  I knew Chris was heading out to the grocery store so I gave him some marching orders.  We needed trash bags, more hangers, water and Diet Coke. 

After the clothes were hung and the bed was made, I decided to relax, have a glass of wine and do a little blogging.   Chris came home from the market with the items on the list.  At that moment, I witnessed a scene that was similar to the Stonehenge scene of Spinal Tap. (For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, click here.  Please pardon the language.)  Chris brought home miniature trash bags, not quite Coke Zero, and a laundry bag that was fit for a Barbie Doll. It was not his fault.  He was lost in translation.

Guess which bottle is the real Coke Zero!

Yeah, it's a little small...but it works!

Barbie's dream laundry bag

I erupted in another lost in translation belly laugh, and decided to take a disco nap before we walked to dinner.  Unfortunately, I woke up at 11:30 PM.  I immediately knew what happened.  Jetlag had gotten the best of me.  I stumbled out of bed, poured myself a glass of not quite Coke Zero (that oddly tasted like RC Cola) and forced myself back to sleep. 

Around 5:00 am, Chris woke me up with,
“Honey…honey….you have to see the view from your office.”

This is the view from my new home office.

I think this China thing will be fun…as soon as I learn the language. J