Tag Archives: Anniversary

Seven years!

1 Nov

Seven years ago today I arrived in China for the first time.  The date is forever fixed in my memory as I took off on Halloween and the flight attendants were all wearing Halloween costumes on the plane.  I landed the next day at Terminal 1 at Pudong Airport (terminal 2 did not exist yet) and looked for nearly twenty minutes before I found the representative of the English language training school who had been sent to pick me up.  We got on a bus and headed into the wilds of Shanghai.

I was scared and excited, spoke no Chinese, but figured I could do anything for a month if needed because I had booked a round trip ticket (just in case things didn’t work out.)


Seven years.

Shanghai has changed a lot in the last seven years.  Four subway lines have sprouted into 16; two airports with one terminal each have become four total terminals; the high speed train now connects many more places – only five hours to Beijing!  Visas are easier (and harder) to get and the amount of English language signage has increased exponentially.

Prices have gone up – this has not been a stagnant economy.  Lunch prices have close to doubled, rent has increased, plane tickets, clothing, necessities of daily living are all significantly more expensive.  However, more things are available now as well – and if I want to pay I can have an organic smoothie or imported milk or laundry detergent from another country.

I have changed as well.

From my first month on the ground, I put in the time with my Mandarin teachers and textbooks and didn’t really stop until nearly four years later.  I slowly got comfortable speaking in different situations – ordering food, bargaining, daily life, work, on the phone, in presentations until I can now state my case and even argue.  Humor still escapes me most of the time, but that has always been the hardest for me because of the cultural overtones and word play.

As I found my “Chinese voice” I became more aggressive, more likely to speak up for myself – physically louder and more confident.  I managed a cross-cultural team and discovered that to survive in business I could not be a perfectionist or I would go crazy. I visited most all of the skyscrapers (new and old) on the Lujiazui side of the river and consulted with their HR on what the future of their benefit plans could mean.

I am proud to say that I am still friends with at least four individuals I met within the first week or two upon arrival and have watched them get married and/or have kids and/or switch careers.  I have done the same, switching jobs, meeting my husband and continuing to morph in this magical city.

So, upon this seven year “China-versary” I wanted to thank you all for following my ride, for looking into my jumbled view of the world and hope you stay around for whatever comes next.

I promise you won’t be bored.


The Shanghai Postal Museum – finally!

31 Oct

I had tried to go to the Shanghai postal museum last year only to find out it was closed.  Recently I had a friend in town and so when he asked for things to do, the museum came to my mind again.

After a little bit of confusion – the museum is only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays – we headed out on a Saturday afternoon to see what was up.

Approaching the museum

Approaching the museum

This time the museum was open – at least the second floor, but the first floor was closed.  That was fine – it was an improvement from before when I couldn’t get in at all.

Posing by the mural at the entrance

Posing by the mural at the entrance

I was pretty impressed.  The museum was very informative and almost all bilingual.  The main exhibit was the history of the postal service in Shanghai which in some form is less than 150 years old.  Prior to the standardization of the service in the 1940s/1950s there were a lot of private delivery companies and no standard service.

The father of the Shanghai postal system - Zhu Xuefan

The father of the Shanghai postal system – Zhu Xuefan

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai - really beautiful.  Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time.  Also - the dragon - pretty special.

One of the first post boxes in Shanghai – really beautiful. Note that it is in English because of the concession system going on at the time. Also – the dragon – pretty special.

Because the post office is now a state owned enterprise in China, there were a lot of things that made me smile.  They had done a propaganda movie and were showing it – sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s about the valor and strength of post office workers.  There was also a postal song – which you could listen to over headphones.

The post office song

The post office song

And me listening to it - not Mozart, but pretty good

And me listening to it – not Mozart, but pretty good

In addition to the specific history there was also a collection of post boxes from around the world and of course lots and lots of stamps.  I also noticed a pretty decent children’s exhibit that explained what the post office did.

Any guesses on which countries?

Any guesses on which countries?

A few of the many stamps on display

A few of the many stamps on display

After going through, the only regret was that the third floor roof garden wasn’t open.  I had heard that there were beautiful views from there of Lujiazui.  Talking to the security guard he said that it has been closed since the Expo finished (back in 2010) because they believe it is too dangerous for visitors.  Makes me a little suspicious, but couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

Lujiazui - from behind!

Lujiazui – from behind!

The museum finished, we went and took a couple of shots looking back at Lujiazui from the edge of Suzhou Creek.  I am glad that I finally made it to the museum and would recommend it.

Happy Halloween to you all!  It was six years ago today that I got on the airplane for my first trip to China.  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and how much has happened in the last six years.  Keep reading and commenting and I’ll find the time to keep blogging!  Your support keeps me going.

Two years later – the 8th quarter review

21 Jul

Two years ago I started Zhongguo Jumble.  My goal was simple – notice what was going on around me – the wonderful and weird, the sad and thoughtful – the jumble of experiences that happen to me.

I am proud to say that two years later I am still capturing those moments both in China and during my travels.

Over the last two years I have published nearly 300 posts and covered topics from food to language to random shopping experiences.  For my most recent quarter I took some time off in the middle due to my punishing travel schedule, but still wanted to share some favorites.

I have noticed that my food posts tend to get a lot of comments and this quarter was no different.  I have started to share occasional home cooking adventures that I have and Expanding my Chinese cooking repertoire – the story of going to cooking school with my colleagues was one of my favorites.  Since I just returned to Shanghai I haven’t had the opportunity to cook much lately but am looking forward to cooking more soon.

Here's a dish I think I could do - bitter melon with bacon.  I've already tried bitter melon with fried egg so I'm on my way!

Here’s a dish I think I could do – bitter melon with bacon. I’ve already tried bitter melon with fried egg so I’m on my way!

Another post that I wanted to call out was team building trip to Wuzhen, one of the water villages around Shanghai.  Finding peace outside the city is always important and Wuzhen was a pleasant surprise during a very busy time.

Peaceful water with reflection of the trees

Peaceful water with reflection of the trees

Finally – I posted the rest of my Cambodia photos and stories.  It was a great trip and one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a unique vacation spot.

Angkor Wat - an aerial view

Angkor Wat – an aerial view

In addition to some favorites from the last quarter, I also wanted to give an update on two of my resolutions for this year.

One I can check off the list – I’ve completed it with plenty of time to spare.  That resolution is traveling to two new countries this year.  Between our trip to Cambodia (just mentioned) and my trip to Japan – I am covered.  In addition, depending on who you speak to, my visits to Taiwan also may or may not count as a third country.  We are debating if we will try to get to another country this year – if we do, I’m sure you’ll hear about it!

My search for Mt. Fuji in Japan - I finally found it - on the panel in the apartment we stayed in!

My search for Mt. Fuji in Japan – I finally found it – on the panel in the apartment we stayed in!

Another that I am still experimenting with is the different hair styles.  Here is one that I had for a special occasion recently.

A lovely up-do only possible with longer hair

A lovely up-do only possible with longer hair

How are you doing with any resolutions you’ve made?

Thank you to my loyal followers.  I know that there are some of you out there who have been following along since the very beginning.  Which type of posts do you like the best?  Any ideas for new things that you’d like to hear from me?  Please share so that I can make the third year even better.  Your comments and emails are what keep me going.  Please continue!

June 4th

11 Jun

I happened to be flying to Beijing on June 4th which I didn’t think much of at the time.

June 4th is the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

When the plane landed at noon the sky was an ominous, muddy gray.  Buildings were blurred and it looked like the sky would open up any minute.  Getting into a taxi it was literally black as night, I couldn’t see my colleague’s face.  The rain poured down.

We looked at each other, nervous in the dim light.

It was surreal.

When we finally got to the office, the sky had lightened and it seemed like day again.

I asked Beijing colleagues if they had seen the sky.  They said, “You know what day today is, right?”

We looked at each other, the unspoken question hanging over our heads.  “They couldn’t really control the weather, could they?”

No more was said.  It didn’t have to be.

If given a choice, I would avoid Beijing on June 4th.

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