Shanghai bikinis, crazy taxis and Mons, oh my!

A little over one year ago, I moved to Shanghai with my then-boyfriend (he is now my fiancé). We decided to give up the island lifestyle we were living in Hawai’i, and trade it for the oceans of automobiles and humans in Shanghai. We sold nearly everything we owned, packed up our clothes, important papers, and chihuahua and began the journey.

Leaving the Big Island was hard. I loved my friends, the culture, and the weather, but I felt like something was missing. I wasn’t ready to live the slow life quite yet. Luckily, my boyfriend (B) wasn’t either. We attended a Search Associates job fair in San Francisco, and signed a contract to go to China. I never though in my life I would be going to China, but life is funny that way.

We came here, in part, because of B’s family history here. During World War II Shanghai was one of the only places in the world accepting Jewish refugees. Thankfully, B’s grandmother made it out of Germany and into Hongkou. There she met B’s grandfather, an American soldier. They married, and later they and his grandmother’s family made it to America. So, to commemorate his family, we will get married here as well, in April!

So, let me quickly explain me experience of moving here in a nutshell, and I will do this by using the title of this post.

I had heard that the Chinese were very conservative, so it surprised me a bit to see women wearing see-through blouses and short skirts in the doorways of massage parlors and men walking around shown off their belly buttons, or what I affectionately call the Shanghai bikini. See the photo below for an example of this phenomenon. I still am not quite sure what it is all about, but I have heard a couple of theories. 1. It cools them off. 2. It is to allow the man’s chi to flow more freely. Now, I don’t know much about chi, but I do know Shangahi is bloody hot, so I am more inclined to believe number 1. Now about the massage parlors. Yes, it is true that in China you can get almost any type of massage imaginable, including female happy endings (unfortunately, I found this out during my first week here). There are the good, the inside Pearl City Mall is my favorite, and there are the bad. It is usually easy to tell the legit from the seedy. For instance, if the lights are pink and everything else is dark, it is probably seedy. If that isn’t enough to give it away, the menu with a lot of items containing “sex” will probably give it away. My advice, find one you like and stick to it.

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Now, on to the driving. When I first moved here I didn’t think I would live to see the next month. The driving here is different, the main reason being because no one follows the traffic rules. Drivers will go the wrong way on a one way, swerve severely, slam on the breaks, almost hit a pedestrian/bicycle/scooter, etc., and of course lay on the horn for no apperant reason. However, I can assure you that even though it looks completely chaotic to a newcomer, there is in fact a method to what’s going on. I seldom see accidents, and that is pretty good considering the fact that there are 25 million people in the city who are always trying to get somewhere. So, don’t worry, you won’t die, you will just feel like you are going to die.

And finally, on to beer in Shanghai. It isn’t easy to find a good brew in this city. I am used to the microbrews of America, much different than the watery pijo (beer) served in the bars and Family Marts of Shanghai. One of my personal unfaves is Snow. They say don’t eat yellow snow and I say don’t drink it either. I thought there were two terrible beers served frequently here, Snow and Mons. One night, while out to dinner with my friends, I was informed that Snow and Mons are actually the same beer (Snow) if unlike me, you read the label correctly. So, after that embarrassment I spontaneously competed in a pretzel eating contest where I won second place. I love this city. It can be confusing, embarrassing, entertaining, and sickening all at the same time (Note to self: do not eat a giant pretzel quickly after going to an all you can eat and drink Indian buffet).

So, that’s what brings me here, to my first day of blogging about my life. It feels weird, but we’ll see what happens. More adventures in teaching, volunteering, traveling, planning a wedding, and livin’ life to come.

P.S. If you have any questions about moving to, or living in, Shanghai, let me know!

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