It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a week! Apologies for the delay since our last update, as we have traveled from Guangzhou to Shanghai and back, and our schedule there has pretty much been non-stop from the moment we open our eyes to when our heads touch the pillow (when we’d immediatley zonk out).
Here we are at the new Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, where you can find a traditional tea shop next to a Keng De Ji (Chinese for KFC) alongside a news stand that sells a complete Elmo collection in Chinese with a Porsche parked right next to it. Weird, I know, but that's a fairly representative portrait of the mix of new and old, east and west that is Shanghai today.
Well, for one, I finally started working officially! After all these months of preparation and anticipation (we even had training on how to eat Chinese food properly), it feels a bit surreal to finally set foot in our office in the heart of the pharma hub in the Pudong district, filled with futuristic skyscrapers in all kinds of shapes and colors (including one that looks just like an enormous bottle opener) you’d think you’re in a elaborate sci-fi movie set.
But after walking into our office, meeting with our Chinese colleagues, having lunch with them, chatting about our work, lives, families, and comparing iPad apps (yes, the iPad 2 just launched here in China and we're all equally obsessed), I have a feeling that we may come in different packaging, but inside we're pretty much made of the same human ingredients.
And you’ll be right to guess that outside of work, sightseeing and shopping are other activities that have been keeping us busy, but a bonus for us is that my cousin’s family also lives here in Shanghai. We stayed with them in their nice surburban Shanghai house for a few days, and got to experience “local” lives outside of hotels and avoid stuck in tourist traps...
Speaking of tourist traps, did I mention a fake Marc Jacobs bag marked 2800 yuan in the underground mall will be sold after much bargaining to a foreigner for 600 yuan which can be had by a local for 250 yuan?
Anyway, I digressed... here is Eva hanging out with her new bff, Cousin Stephanie, who’s taken Eva under her wings and acted as her dai jie jie (big sister), always holding her hand on the street and feeding her during meals. These days Eva would wake up from her nap saying “Sephi.... Sephi....”
And you know where these last 2 pictures were taken? I know it sounds kinda crazy, but it's the childhood home my paternal grandma grew up in, which is now a designated historic site in Shanghai that's under restoration.
We found this sign there that describes the restoration process of the "Yin Family Home". Apparently they were a wealthy family of landowners who's also involved in the printing industry. The house was locked from the front, but the resourceful and determined descendants of the Yin family found a way to visit our ancestral home...
Another highlight of our Shanghai trip was visiting one of the famous water villages near Shanghai. The one we went to is called Zhu Jia Jiao (朱家角).
The many bridges and historic buildings seem nicely restored and cared for, and even though 9 out of 10 people you see are tourists like us and most stores sell the same things that they think tourists like to buy, we found the people who live/ work there genuinely charming and hospitable, like this restaurant owner lady below who couldn't put Eva down and kept coming out of the kitchen to give her an extra piece of cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, and way too many pieces of candies.
Eva couldn't resist the purple clay tea set next to our table, guess its minute stature reminds her of her play tea set at home. And so she helped herself...
In case you're wondering, this is pork belly wrapped in lotus leaves, a local specialty, and the orange baggies are attached to the mechanical part of a fan, serving as scare-flies. Smart people.
It's a real pity that I didn't even had time to see the "real" Shanghai- the downtown, the bund, and all that good stuff. Oh well, guess that gives me an excuse to come back some time this summer. Bye, Shanghai (for now)!