The first 24 hours in China have been good. Our 14.5 hour direct flight went well, although neither of us got more than about 1 hour of sleep on the plane. It’s likely because we landed shortly after midnight in our (previous) home time zone, and we’re both night owls. Immigration went well, and much to my surprise, our bags were not inspected in customs. This was quite a relief, as I didn’t have to explain the hard drives filled with movies and TV shows that were likely against their censorship policies, not to mention their copyright policies (oh, wait).
We landed in Shanghai, but our new home is in Wuxi, about a 3 hour car drive away. Depending upon the definition of “largest city“, Shanghai qualifies as #1 with it’s 24 MILLION people, which is three times bigger than USA’s largest city, New York. I thought it would be good to show my daughter the world famous Shanghai skyline before continuing on to Wuxi.
We are already famous (infamous)
We strolled along the famous “Bund” area in Shanghai, taking photos and doing a little people watching. At one point, a young 20-something’s family and toddler motioned to me for a photograph. I stowed my own camera and went to reach for theirs, as I thought they wanted me to take a photo of the 3 of them and the skyline. Boy, was I wrong. The young lady wanted a photograph of us with her husband and child! I knew that eventually, some time in the coming months, that someone would want photographs with the foreigners. But I didn’t think it was going to happen within an hour of landing, in such a relatively diverse, huge city as Shanghai! I kept laughing for hours that I assumed they wanted me to take their photo.
After taking in the sights, we went back to our car & driver to continue the rest of our trip to Wuxi. Unfortunately, it was now very crowded in the city, and it took us nearly 2 hours to travel just a couple miles, before getting to a highway. We were able to take a 1-2 hour nap in the car, which helped us feel better, but I feared it would delay adjusting to our new time zone, 13 hours ahead of home.
We are starting our stay at a nice hotel, and will soon look for an apartment. Our hotel is a typical 4/5-star international hotel. Fairly fancy compared to a hotel with the same name in the USA. We’re staying on the executive floor, where we have a slightly larger room (500 square feet), two 32″ TVs, and most importantly, access to the Executive Lounge. This is nice for the daily free booze (and soda), snacks, and warm appetizers in the evening.
Cool timelapse of boat traffic
We both forced ourselves to stay up to 10pm local to help adjust to the time. Priya slept well, but I woke up at 4am and was done. So I worked on some computer stuff, setting up the VPN WiFi router I brought and messing with camera stuff. After Priya woke up, we went for a late breakfast, which is the typical large buffet served at these large international hotels. Lots of choices for both local cuisine as well as typical western food. I tried working on my Mandarin (the Chinese language) to ask for a coffee (“kaa fay”).
After allowing breakfast to settle, we went for a walk in our new surroundings. I knew there was a supermarket in the area, and I wanted to scope out some places to eat as well. The shopping area was about 1 mile from our hotel. The weather was nice, about 77°F (25°C) with a nice breeze, but humidity was near 100% and I still was pouring sweat. (It’s supposed to be 92F/33C later this week.) We did manage to find the supermarket. It was packed full of people on this Saturday afternoon. I’ve been to Chinese supermarkets before, but it was definitely an eye opening experience for Priya. If you haven’t seen one, it’s likely to have a few things to surprise you as well. Such as…
There will be at least two things that will take me a long time to get used to (if at all). The first is the heat, which hasn’t been bad YET. The second is the “fog”, which the rest of us call air pollution. Some of my fellow coworker travelers have gotten throat irritations from it. I haven’t in my previous travels, but who knows what will happen after 6 months. I hope my daughter doesn’t have any issues either. Here’s an example looking out our hotel window:
Overall, our first 24 hours was very good. Nothing unexpected (other than asking to be photographed) and everything went well. Priya’s first impressions are all good. She’s in awe of all of the fashion here. A lot different than at home. Of course, we are staying in a very nice hotel, but she also understands that there’s less fancy areas around. She’s been to India and has seen far worse living conditions and understands there’s going to be that here too.