Seattle To Shanghai And Back Again

We did it! After a little bit more than a year back in the United States, we culled through the combined posts from this blog and my wife’s blog, as well as a few thousand photographs, and have published a book documenting our time living in Shanghai. It is available from Blurb as both an eBook for the iPad, or as a 6″ x 9″ softcover book.

Seattle To Shanghai, And Back Again
Seattle To Sha…
Our Year As Expats
By Melinda L. Hoyt, T…
Photo book

Day 299: The Pajama Game

Man washes his car on a Sunday afternoon.

Man washes his car on a Sunday afternoon.

Shanghai has a long tradition of wearing pajamas in public and despite an official government program to eliminate this comfort trend during the 2010 World Expo, some folks still persist in exercising their right to be comfortable, like this man washing his car on Sunday afternoon. Although not as popular as it once was, you still see a number of (mostly) men strolling the streets in their sleepwear, particularly on Sundays, a day many have off from work.

Day 241: Chengguan

China’s “chengguan,” the para-police agency tasked with enforcing non-criminal urban administrative regulations, remove store fixtures blocking a sidewalk.

Shanghai’sm“chengguan,” the para-police agency tasked with enforcing non-criminal urban administrative regulations, remove store fixtures blocking a sidewalk.

This group of nine officers behaved more like a street gang, roughly pushing and shoving bikes and scooters, and other things out of their way as they swarmed down the street. The people just stepped out of the way, silently watching and not interfering. It was a display of the worst type of “policing” imaginable.

Day 230: Car Park

An underground parking garage near the Times Square shopping center, Pudong, Shanghai

An underground parking garage near the Times Square shopping center, Pudong, Shanghai

It took my a while to get used to the fact that Shanghai has millions of cars, but virtually no parking, at least no visible parking. There is little on the street parking, although some people feel entitled to on the sidewalk parking, and virtually no large, surface parking lots. Unlike the sprawling shopping malls in the USA that feature acres upon acres of paved surface parking, Shanghai shopping centers tend to be of the high-rise variety with the parking conveniently out-of-sight underground. As someone who travels by taxi and metro I don’t ever see those lots.

Day 229: Wrong Turn?

Day 229 Traffic rules are different in China, you might say, almost non-existent. People park and, yes, drive on the sidewalk, driving straight yields to left-turns, passing on the right, as well as left, is common, a three lane highway often has 4, or 5 cars travelling abreast, and drivers accelerate prior right turn on red, they don’t stop. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way even in a crosswalk with a green light. A van on the sidewalk, in between two fences?  Sure, just be careful walking behind him, he won’t look back when he’s in reverse.

Day 212: Mellow Yellow

Scooter drives by a flowering construction wall; on the sidewalk, of course.

Scooter drives by a flowering construction wall; on the sidewalk, of course.

One of the things I enjoy most about Shanghai is the way they enclose many of the myriad construction sites with living walls of vegetation; these enclosures are planted with thousands of individual plants and kept alive for the duration of the project, helping to soften the impact of yet another steel and cement tower rising in this city of 24 million people. And, yes, the scooter rider is driving his vehicle on the sidewalk, a common practice in Shanghai. Pedestrians beware.

Day 211: Naptime

Catching a nap during a brutally hot (Heat Index 109 F / 43C) afternoon

Catching a nap during a brutally hot (Heat Index 109 F / 43C) afternoon

After a visit to the chiropractor I like to walk around the People’s Park area of Shanghai even on days when the temperature and humidity combine to smother most signs of life. Climbing a staircase I stumbled upon what appeared to be an encampment of homeless, young men napping, washing in a bucket, drying clothes on a fence and burning a foul, toxic smelling fire in a tree ring (the odor of burning plastic, complete with black smoke). Homelessness is not visible in Shanghai, like it is in Seattle, or NYC, but in a city of 24 million it obviously exists. A recent article in the Shanghai Daily said that there are 5.5 million migrants living in the city without proper, legal paperwork (think undocumented migrant) thus denying them schooling, medical care and legal employment.