Saturday, September 29, 2007


Today Renee and Sage left for a week long trip to Hawaii. They have a friend that is getting married in Kuai so they are going to that and making the most of the trip by staying a week. I will be here alone with Bailey. I hope that we are able to get along, so far she seems pretty upset, but I'm hoping that as the week goes on this gets better. This guard guy downstairs also just told me that she couldn't go out downstairs, but she does everyday, as do like 20 other dogs so I'm not sure what he's getting at. Oh well.

Being left here alone wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that this is a holiday week, and everything is shut down for the week. Meaning, no work, no Chinese lessons, and I don't know what will be open and what won't! I need to go grocery shopping today just in case. Renee gave a few people my number so they could invite me out while I'm here alone, so I will probably try and do that at least once.

Yesterday I went into eno at about 10 and tried to keep myself busy. Hisako keeps giving me little projects but they don't take me very long, and she's not very clear on what she wants out of them. It's sort of difficult to make myself do some of them because I don't agree with what she's doing, but I try my best to do it anyway! Then I get to tell her that I don't like it, but here's the research you wanted. I have enjoyed some of the projects, and I get to do little editing jobs. Yesterday I rewrote the email that is getting sent out to everyone announcing their new autumn gear and that was kind of cool to know that everyone on their mailing list is reading that... haha even though I basically just took a terrible draft from someone else and completely reworked it, with a few words added by Renee. Still...

I left around 6:15 again so that I could make it to my Chinese class on time, and when I left it started to rain. Now, rain doesn't normally bother me much, but here it is so disgusting. The fact that it's highly acidic due to all the pollution is one concern, but there are many factors that make it annoying. I was wearing jeans, and so the bottom of my jeans were getting soaked and mud splattered. The disgusting part is what they were getting soaked with. The rain makes everything thats already nasty, nasty and wet so that whatever it is, is spread all over the sidewalk and the smell is more potent. For example, on the walk to my Chinese lesson there are several places that sell seafood, raw seafood. How they sell them is they place the dead fish and other sea creatures in these shallow plastic bins and place those on the sidewalk (sanitary, huh? what do you mean refrigeration?). Then once the fish sells, they usually empty the remainder of the containers on the sidewalk. This is one example of how there gets to be all sorts of nasty shit everywhere. Then, when it rains, it's a thousand times worse because it just goes EVERYWHERE, so you have to walk through it instead of carefully around it. So, by the time I got to my Chinese class, my jeans were soaked with foul smelling runoff, and I was pretty sweaty because it's been rather hot here lately. Basically I was completely gross. After my Chinese lesson was over I was supposed to meet up with Renee and Sage but my phone had died during my lesson, so I had to walk all the way home to charge it up and find out that they were a block from where I just was. I didn't mind this so much though because I got to go home and shower and wash the nasty off of me.

I met up with them and a few people and got some food and drinks at this place called Malone's. The margaritas there were excellent, but that's beside the point. This guy Griff, who is an investor in eno at the age of 27 or so (crazy... to be a VC that young), wanted for us to all go out together so that I wouldn't feel awkward calling him while they are gone, and vice versa I assume. He's a nice enough guy, if he calls me I will probably make myself go out, and if not, eh. Last night was pretty fun though. Renee and Sage were there obviously, and then there was Griff, Walker (one of Sage's old friends from UNC who is currently doing a 6 month trip around the world), another guy who I think is named Alex who is visiting from Hong Kong, and Hisako, the woman who I work under at eno. We sat outside and people watched and talked while we drank and it was a nice time.

In other news, I have decided not to do the Special Olympics due to the fact that when I went to the "training session" I discovered that they are completely unorganized, and there is no guarantee that I will have something to do at the opening ceremony, despite having had to suffer through the "training session" and the promise of an equally depressing "rehearsal" on Sunday. So I quit. The job that I might have done, was to meet a VIP at point A and walk them to point B. Wow. They had more than enough volunteers so I can't say I feel bad about not doing it.

There is basically no food left in the house at this point, so I have to go grocery shopping today, and am hoping that the ayi will pick up some eggs and milk, since I don't really know where to get those. I'm sure I could figure it out if I had to, but she usually buys them so hopefully that will stay true! I need to spend some more time in the store today than I usually do and actually buy things to make as meals here. Stupid self... requiring food and care. Well I'm sure I'll update out of sheer boredom sometime soon... Adieu.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


First of all, I fixed my blog so that if you want you can leave comments now, I think. Now for the actual update...
Tuesday, in addition to it being my first day at eno, I went with my sister while she spoke at a NYU class here. NYU has a study abroad program here and there were about 30 kids in the class and she did a powerpoint and talked to them about herself and eno and what it's like to do business in China. I got to learn a lot about eno and got to meet suitman. Don't ask. ( if you really want to know.) After that we went to Moon River Diner for dinner, which is a diner here that has basically american food. Their milkshakes are awesome. I totally got one.

Yesterday was a very long day. I got up and went into eno at around 10:30 and then left around 6:20 to walk to my Chinese lesson. I actually found it on my first try, which was awesome since I left myself just enough time to walk straight there. I got there at about 6:55 so I had time to drink some water and find the new classroom. There were actually two new guys in my lesson this time. One named Manuel from Spain, and Paul from Britain. Manuel talks A LOT and really loudly. He's nice and all... but he doesn't care that the other people in the class need to practice as well. Then there's Paul, who doesn't want to try at all. They're total opposites and it's sort of amusing. Our teacher is soo nice but I think that she's getting frustrated with us. Haha, hopefully we can lift her spirits next time. I need to actually listen to the CD and practice. Hopefully I use my time wisely today.

Today I have a 2:30 interview with some hospitality agency for part time work. I have no idea what exactly it is that I would be doing with them, so I guess that I will just go and see what happens! I also have a 5:30 meeting with the Special Olympics crew for training for the ceremony. Hopefully I have something semi-interesting to do there. The tough part of today will be to get to these places. I have no idea how I am going to do that... Renee was like oh just take a cab to this one! Uh... right. It sounds so easy! I am sure I will figure it out. I also have to find food today. Why is it that living abroad always turns into a constant search for food for me? Probably because I am so damn picky. That was the excellent part about Argentina, there were a hundred places I could eat. Though I never found anything appealing in any of the local grocery stores! Oh well. I guess I should go shower and get ready to go. That means busting out my map and searching the possible walking routes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Today was my first day of work at eno. I actually wasn't really planning on working at eno, but Renee offered and said that they had some marketing projects for me to work on. Turns out I am getting paid for it too. I can't imagine that it will be much but every little bit helps. I appreciate the help from Renee as always. Hisako, their marketing director, has given me a few things to work on. A lot of it is actually just surfing the web and looking at competitors sites and comparing/contrasting. I'm supposed to help design this new component of their website by looking at competitors' sites and seeing what they offer and what is good/bad about their sites. Basically I am doing marketing research. So far it's not anything that I am insanely interested in, but it's good experience and a bit of exposure to what marketing is all about. I do like the brainstorming and the research, I just don't like having to type it all up into reports. I feel like that's useless since I could just talk about it from my notes and we could play with the website, but I have to follow their rules!!

I'm still sending out a bunch of emails and resumes and stuff and waiting/hoping to hear back from a bunch of people. I am volunteering at the Special Olympics soon. I will be helping the VVIPs to their seats and helping out at the event somehow. VVIPs are Very Very Important People. These aren't quite the celebs, as those are the VVVIPs. They are very big on VIPs here.

Well, I'm actually pretty tired and am going to go and watch more episodes of Entourage with Renee and Sage before bedtime. I will finish updating about my day today and some other random things, tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Beginning...

So now that I have given you my impressions of Shanghai, at least some of them, I will start with some personal experiences.

The actual trip to China was relatively painless, despite a three hour delay in San Francisco. I got a window seat, and the seat next to me was empty, which enabled me to sleep at least a little bit. I usually can't sleep, but the past few trips that I have been on I have been able to. Maybe I'm just getting old.

The first few days that I was here, I didn't do much of anything, as I knew that I would have the next six months or so to explore the city and get everything done. The one thing that I did do was go and check out a few places that I could possibly take Chinese lessons. I ended up deciding on this place called MandarinHouse. I chose it mostly because Renee knew someone who took classes there and he liked them. Tonight was my first actual lesson, and turns out that my "small group" lesson is just me so far! I guess it's good because I'm essentially getting private lessons at a group price, but I would actually really love someone else in the class!! Having someone else there takes some of the pressure off of me and makes it more entertaining.

Friday was my most exciting day so far, I am just going to copy and paste what I wrote to Amy because it's easier (sorry Amy! I have changed a little bit though): I was just sort of walking around trying to explore the touristy shopping area, and maybe heading toward one of the other touristy areas, when this small group of Chinese people were like Hello!! So I responded, Hi. Then they kept talking to me, so I was like ok whatever, I'll talk to them. They were four students from Nanjing, a city sort of close to here, and they were visiting Shanghai. They saw me and saw an opportunity to practice their English. They said that they never got to practice with people who actually spoke English, just with each other. Their accents sort of showed this and I had a hard time understanding them, especially at first. So we're talking and they were like well what are your plans now?! I didn't really have any so they were like oh come to this tea ceremony with us!! This is a classic ploy here to get me to spend money, so I was hesitant but I was finally like ok whatever let's go. Turns out they really were just four students from Nanjing that wanted to practice their English. They spent more money at the tea ceremony than I did, and they translated everything for me into English. It was really sort of awkward at points because here I am in the middle of four friends, and the center of attention sort of. It was still fun though. I'm glad I went because it was something totally different. They were pretty funny and asked a lot of questions. Really nice and friendly though.

Then I got lost trying to find my way back from the random tea place. It was excellent. I was looking up at the sky, like now that skyscraper should be behind me and to my left if I were home... I found it after two hours of walking. Though, in all fairness, it was probably a little over an hour's walk anyway. So I got home, changed clothes and cooled off a little, then went to dinner with some of Renee's friends. We went to this Hunan place, which was nice. Hunan province has nothing but spicy food though so I didn't eat much, but it was still sort of entertaining to go. I am so terrible at socializing when I am in a room full of people I don't know. I had one of those terribly awkward moments where the girl next to me asked me a question to open up a conversation and I just answered it and then couldn't think of anything else to say. Awkward....

I also got to try bin jao or whatever... which is a Chinese wine that tastes absolutely nasty. They bought a $100 bottle of it... and it was still fucking disgusting. At least I can say that I had some. I also drank a lot of beer at dinner, which was better than I remember it. Apparently I had not acquired the taste of beer last time I was in China because I remember it being totally gross. (I was 15 last time so this makes total sense..) After dinner we went to this bar on the Bund called Glamour Bar. The Bund is the waterfront strip that was built up by the British in like the late 1800s and still sort of has some of its glory from those day as being touristy and high class. Of course, now it's so old that a lot of other places are nicer in town, but it's still crazy expensive and touristy. So.. there were like 11 dollar drinks at this bar, which is insane for China, so I had just one little drink... We were meeting up with Sage's "best friend" in town, Charles. A now 24 year old UNC grad that runs his own business here with his friend Kevin. So many young guys here that are fucking successful and it's ridiculous.

Renee and I left sort of early because she knew almost as few of people as I did, and had to work in the morning anyway, so we went home while Sage stayed out. Man, all the expats here party hard. No matter the age. The place was jammed with people of all ages. There were like 50 year old couples getting smashed at 1 am. Weird...

That was my Friday. Saturday I didn't do much of anything, and Sunday Renee, Sage and I wandered around. We went to the Expat Show, which we're not entirely sure what it was for other than to advertise insurance, health care and schools. Probably something that would be of use to people who had families or were completely new to Shanghai with no connections. We left pretty quickly, but it was interesting to go see. After that we went to one of the eno stores. I must say, I am pretty impressed. I really really like their stuff and will probably come home with a whole wardrobe full of eno shirts and possibly shoes. They're not that expensive, and even though I have to wear XLs because the sizing is so crazy, I like the stuff. After that we went to the DVD store, which I sort of covered last time, and then just went back home.

So far, I like things. I am still hoping to find something to do as far as work is concerned. I was supposed to go to eno today to start work on marketing projects, but it was put off until tomorrow. I am expected at the office at 9:30 am, so hopefully I will like Hisako, the marketing director, and will like the work!! I sent out a bunch of emails today for other job postings and am really hoping that I hear something back soon. I would love to get an income source.
Well, thanks for listening... Chau chau.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Welcome to Shanghai.

I am officially in Shanghai. A city with over 21 million people in it, at least half a million of which are foreign. Of course, when put into perspective, half a million is really not that many. It's pretty amazing to see so many people in one place. In a lot of ways, it could be just like any other major city where you have to constantly climb over warm bodies to get into the subway car or cross the street. However, that usually tends to be at rush hour and in the busiest parts of the city. Here, it's everywhere. A neighborhood side street is teeming with people at all hours of the day and much of the night. The traffic is cluttered by literally millions of people riding their bicycles and mopeds, not to mention the millions of cars, and millions of pedestrian. (I know it sounds exaggerated with the seemingly excessive use of millions, but here it's true.)

It is extremely hard to escape here. To be alone is something that few here understand. In China, it used to be considered the highest honor to have the highest number of generations living under one roof. This is a tradition that has yet to be entirely broken.

Shanghai is a very modern city. I visited it about six years ago now, and it is almost unrecognizable. There are many high rises mixed in with the one to three story traditional family homes made of concrete, brick and mud. Chinese lanterns are strung between these buildings and these areas, strangely enough, often seem to house more people than the 20 story apartment buildings. Before, there were a few western chains in the touristy areas, and a few designer shops on the Bund, the once very upscale riverfront area that was built up by the British in the late 1800's. Now, there are more Starbucks in Shanghai than in Miami, FL, and I have never seen so many designer brands in a mall. In the nearby Plaza 66 building, there are four stories of designer shops. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Escada, Prada, Mont Blanc, Hermes, and probably any other designer you could hope for, all under the same roof. I find it interesting that the first time I have laid eyes on some of these brands in person is in Shanghai, China. Once infamous for its knock offs, it's now famous for its designer shops.

The clash between the traditional and the modern, and the rich and the poor, is ever present here. In front of a 70-story building with gorgeous Western architecture and beautiful glass all the way up, there is bamboo scaffolding. A small run-down brick and mud house sits behind it and a little to the left, with an old woman sweeping her stoop with a broom made of the brush that grows beside her house. There are thousands of internet gaming places where the younger generations gather to gamble away their newfound wealth, or to just spend a few hours relaxing. Outside, the older generations play mah-jong and other traditional games on wooden planks lain over old crates, while sitting on their stoops and boxes.

It's not as hard to get around without Chinese anymore. There are still problems getting around the city because the overwhelming majority of the 60,000 or so taxi drivers do not speak anything but Mandarin, the subway directions are mostly in Chinese or Pin-yin, and the buses are nearly impossible to understand. There are, however, an increasing amount of foreign-friendly places to visit. Most of the bars on the Bund have people that speak enough English to get a drink out of it, and many of the restaurants around town have English on their menus. I wouldn't say that the menus are in English, but there are English words on them. I say this because you can stare at the phrases for days and still have no idea what it is supposed to mean. This happens a lot here. Even 20 story high advertisements will have such bad English on them that they are almost impossible to understand. It would probably be more amusing if you didn't think of all the money wasted on those stupid ads that the intended audience is missing because they don't understand what it says, despite it being in their native tongue.

A good example of the lack of understanding of the English language is when you look at the backs of the DVDs here. Or the fronts really. I just bought the Entourage- Complete Entirety Season. I think it's actually just the first and second, but complete entirety works too... There are also the ones that advertise it as "The worst movie ever!!!" or "Do not buy this movie under any circumstance!!!". These are printed in big print on the front, as if this is something to advertise. They take online reviews and put them on the front of the DVDs, or the backs, with no idea what they say. Often, the reviews are for the wrong movie, and there are lots of cases where the wrong movie is in the case... or you get halfway through the movie and it switches to another one... or it just doesn't work at all. The upside is I bought the Entourage season, and three other DVDs for just under $11 today, if that helps to show how cheap the DVDs are here.

I'm still adjusting to things here, and will post some more personal stuff later. So far, I can't complain too much. Tomorrow I start more of my actual life here, as I think I might be starting a project with my sister's company, and will definitely be starting Chinese lessons. Here's hoping that everything goes well... Until I write again... Adieu