Sunday, November 4, 2007

On the way there...

(This is from late October, but just posted!)
Now that I finally have the time to reflect on our upcoming adventures in Shanghai, it still hasn’t sunk in that we’re going to be living in Shanghai and what this means for us. With seven hours to go on this flight, my thoughts have been preoccupied with our precious kitties – Valeri and Chloe – and how they’re doing. Shanghai kitties! I dread to think about how they’ve been feeling on this flight and their boredom in quarantine for seven days at a government facility.

My thoughts are scattered from the minute details of our first shopping trip to brain storming ideas for future freelance articles in the U.S.

Oh yeah, the big picture of this all. People have asked: Am I nervous? Excited? Worried? Anxious? This is all I know: Life will be a challenge. Something that I look forward to, but something I’m sure will frustrate me some days. Those days of not wanting to figure out what I’m trying to say at the market, order at the restaurant, or bargaining with a street vendor.

Shanghai, an endless sea of skyscrapers and high rise apartments, boasts statistics that can floor you. Given economic freedoms in the late 80s, it has more skyscrapers than the entire West Coast. A building of 30 stories or more has been completed every 12 days for the last six years.

It’s a place to go to be awed by LCD lit screens and neon lights on busy avenues by night or take in quiet stroll around the lake in its largest park (next to my place!). A place you need to dig deeper to see its history and charm amongst the chaotic way of life. Whether it’s stopping to watch a meijong match unfold in the park, a sunrise walk on the Bund to watch the soothing movements of tai chi, or finding a favorite food vendor off the beaten path.

The city is divided into two areas by the Huangpu River. The more historic Puxi (west of river) is the more desired place to live with its historic architecture, bustling shopping avenues, and close knit housing communities.

Pudong (east of the river), once fields of farmland in the 90s, has quickly transformed with skyscapers lining the river and a vast network of streets and highways. More locals find themselves moving to Pudong priced out or pushed out of the desired Puxi area of the city. Major demolitions are taking place for newer buildings with the World Expo approaching in 2010.

With over 18 million people, it’s more than double the size of New York. Unruly economic progress has its consequences. It’s also double the air pollution of Los Angeles. You can see the layer of smog rising above the city. Look up some more to see the clear blue sky. There’s no rush hour, major arteries are always clogged up.

With all this ahead of me, I can only hope to make the best of it all. Take in a new language, appreciate another culture, and of course, enjoy it with Josh!

1 comment:

gretchen said...

Anna, what a great description of the city! Nice details ... I can almost see it. :)