Sunday, May 2, 2010
Many of you may be wondering what attending church will be like for us in Shanghai. I am happy to say there are 2 thriving branches of the LDS church in Shanghai. Unlike the city we were originally going to move to, Chengdu, where there is only 1 other Mormon family, and so they just tele-conference into the church meetings in Beijing!
We meet on the second floor of a conference building. So there is a nice big conference room for Sacrament Meeting, and then smaller rooms for classes. On the Sunday we attended, I'd say there were about 100 people at church. Most of the people are American, but the main speaker was Japanese, and I will say, his English was not strong, although his talk was lovely. Foreigners are not allowed to meet with native Chinese citizens for church. The natives attend their own branch of the church (with their Communist Party overseer, I'm sure!) So it's just internationals in our branch, which gives everyone something in common besides our faith: everyone is far from home. That means everyone is super supportive and kind to each other.
I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I went to lunch with some of the ladies during the week, and got lots of tips and advice. I'm excited for the budding friendships I made. They put me on their email list as well, and from the emails I've received, I learned that they have several activities planned during the week. They do exercise groups, lunch groups, scripture study groups, Shanghai walks (where they visit various historic sites or other places of interest around the city), and birthday get togethers.
Hopefully that answers your questions and gives you a better picture of what church looks like in a place where there are no missionaries and no proselyting allowed!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The other night, as I tried to fall asleep without a sleeping pill (stupid jet lag!), I couldn't get this house we visited out of my head. I had been thinking about it since I got back from Shanghai. So finally around midnight, I got up and called Neil (don't worry, it was 2 in the afternoon in China....I'm not that mean!) I told him I couldn't get this place out of my head. It was one of 4 villas we looked at in the Thomson Golf Villas complex. This complex in and of itself doesn't stand out above the rest in any way, although it is nice. But this particular villa's location within the complex makes in unique to pretty much every other property we looked at across 3 days of house hunting. It is located on a road that dead-ends into the golf course, so the children would be able to walk out the front door and ride bikes or scooters any time, without worrying about traffic. Then, across the road, there's a gap in the hedges that leads into the complex's enormous park/playground. And right behind the playground is the clubhouse with the gym and swimming pool. I feel like this property would afford the children the autonomy that they have come to know at our house in Orem. Here, they can come and go in and out as they please, as long as they stay on our little street. That's something that I was thinking we would sacrifice, living in China. But not at this villa's unique location. That is HUGE to me! Plus, at this complex, there isn't a pond or a river every time you turn around, so they really would be safe to play outside on their own :)
So Neil called me today to tell me he thought about it, and thinks we should try to negotiate a deal on this place. I am excited. It is about a 15 minute drive to the schools, and that is acceptable (some places would be 45-50 minutes each way!) So hopefully we can arrange something. In the one of the road's dead-end, you can see the gap that leads into the park (look right above the black car's bumper). That picture is taken from the villa's front steps. The inside is nice and big, too! No one is sacrificing today :)
After much deliberation, I think we have decided on a school for our children to attend in Shanghai. This was a difficult decision, more difficult than I anticipated. Schools in Shanghai are like housing in Shanghai. Your options extend pretty much as far as your budget will! You can stick your kids in local school (not recommended!) or pay $30,000+ EACH! for the straight-up American school. And then there's everything in between. We have decided to go as authentic as possible without actually enrolling in local school. The school Braden will be attending is called Shanghai United Bi-lingual School (SUBS). It is more British than American. The international children have an English speaking teacher and a Chinese speaking teacher. And there is also a section of the school that is for local children, and they do interact quite a bit with the international children. There is one family from church who's children attend this school, and the mom is an English teacher there (3rd grade). They love it, and after 3 years, all her children speak Chinese.
SUBS has a sister school, Fortune Kindergarten, where Wilson and Lydia will attend. Same basic set-up, but for international children only. My biggest educational priority for the kids while we are living in Shanghai is for them to learn Chinese. They are young enough that I don't worry about them falling behind academically. I am really excited about these schools, and think we have made the best choice for them, language-wise. Feel free to visit their websites (although I will warn you, they are not the greatest websites on earth....but worth a look anyway!)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The housing options for Shanghai expatriates is quite extensive. It extends as far as your budget will, really :) We didn't find a house while we were on this trip, as it's still too early to make offers on apartments or villas that are available right now. It was good to get a feel of the layout of different complexes, though, and what amenities they offer. We also got to know where a lot of the members of the Church live, so they could give us their feedback. But I know everyone is simply dying to see what the houses there look like! So I will post some pictures of some different complexes we liked. Going on the house only (not location or price, etc.) I would choose the San Marino Bridge villas, seen here. It's a little further East, and at the top of our price range. But it's gorgeous, obviously, with stone patio and small yard.
Okay, those of you who know me well will indulge me here. I have to explain why I look like an elephant in these pictures, because I am beyond embarrassed! By the time we had time for sight seeing in Shanghai, we had been there almost a week. I hadn't had a green smoothie in 8 days, much less fruits and veggies of any kind, all I'd eaten was rice and meat. So I am retaining about 7 pounds of water and a week's worth of Chinese cuisine in these photos. Thanks, and back to the real posts....
So, Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu River, which runs North to South. The West side of the river is older and much more dense. That's where Old Shanghai Town is located, where we went shopping. It is referred to as the Puxi (pronounced pooh-shee, not puck-see) area, and then even further west is the Hongqiao area (hong-chee-ow). The East side of the river, between the river and the China Sea, is the Pudong area. It pretty much didn't exist 20 years ago. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower was built in 1994, in what is now the Lujiazui (loo-jee-aw-zway) Financial District, and there wasn't another building in sight. So everything in Pudong has gone up since then. It is much less dense, and has a slightly more suburban feel, especially the further you get from the river. Not Orem, but not claustrophobic Puxi either! We will be living in the New Pudong area.
All these photos are from the TV tower, on the Pudong side. Neil served his mission in Gaoxiong, Taiwan, so that is why that picture here is special :)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So after visiting Old Shanghai, on the other side of the river from where we were staying, we couldn't find a taxi driver to take us to the hotel. They were all just mad that we didn't want a ride to the airport. They were all standing around, smoking, doing nothing, earning no money, but they sure didn't want to take us to our hotel. I'm not sure what in our appearance said to them, "We need to get to the airport." Our passports in hand, or mountains of luggage? Wait, we didn't have any of those things with us. Just a few shopping bags. But they sure were mad at Neil when he didn't want a ride to the airport! So this scooter guy offered us a ride to the nearest subway station, about 2 miles away, so we could get home. I was laughing uncontrollably!! Looking back, I think it was more of a defense mechanism than anything else. The post title says it all! And it rhymes, to boot :)
This enormous glass building with the square in the top is the Shanghai World Financial Building. I took pictures of it at varying degrees of scariness (different heights, in other words). So the first one is me, outside of Neil's office, with the Shanghai financial district behind me. The next one is from the base of the Oriental Pearl TV tower. Then from the middle tier of the tower, then from the top tier of the tower (350 meters, may I remind you). Look closely at that last picture. See those little white dots on the tower? Yeah, those are window washers. Yes....Real, Live Humans. Level with me, only on the outside of the building. And it was windy! Part of China's population control plan, I suppose.
I have never made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and I have been to Paris twice! The first time, we took the elevator to the first level, which took forever, and we realized if we didn't head back to the hostel we were staying in, the nuns would lock us out (and they would have, too!) So I payed for a ticket to the top, but didn't get there. The second time, I don't remember what happened. Anyway, none of that matters now. Because the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is over 100 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower, and I have been to the top of that baby! The photo of me with the sign "350 meters" proves it!
Hi, friends, and welcome to my blog. The one you have all been waiting with baited breath for! But enough with the fishy puns. Although the title of my blog was probably funnier to you if you already knew that a "haddock" is a type of fish. But this blog is meant to keep you all informed about our adventures while we live in Shanghai, China. And, having just returned from my inaugural trip, I thought this was the perfect time to get my blog up and running! Shanghai is lovely, as you will soon see, and the home of the 2010 World Expo! Get excited!