Tag Archives: weather

Thoughts upon returning…

Have I really been back in the States for over 3 weeks?  My how time flies.  Culture shock is to be expected when you leave your homeland and travel abroad; yet, culture shock also works in reverse. After spending a significant amount of time in a culture different than your own, you return and are shocked at how strange things seem; things that are oh-so-familiar just seem odd.

Here are a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind in the last weeks of being home.

Wow.  There are SO MANY white people here!  And the words ‘so many’ are relative to other ethnicities because really there is hardly anyone here.

It is empty… the airports are empty, the streets are empty, the stores are empty.

Portland is SO quiet, peaceful, clean! The air smells so good! I’m so overwhelmed!

Shhh… you hear that?  NOTHING, oh wait, there is a bird… silence is amazing.

Everyone is so friendly!

There are so many conversations to eavesdrop on… Everyone is speaking English!  I can understand it all!

Where are all the Chinese characters?

Portland (which until 2011 was the biggest city I had ever lived in) is so SMALL & cute!  Look at those quaint little buildings downtown that think they are skyscrapers… how adorable.

Clouds are so cool.  I could spend hours staring at the clouds.  They are all different types, shapes, sizes, colors… they are magnificent and beautiful.  Some bring rain, some don’t… Some are wispy, white and whimsically float through the air.  Some are big, billowing, beastly and loom over the valleys.  In China, it was often cloudy… or just smoggy, but I realized I never really saw the clouds.  In Shanghai, you get one type of cloud – the monotone, all encompassing, sheet of gray – with a hint of brown.  There is no variation, no beauty, no personality in the clouds.  But here… oh, clouds are mind bogglingly fascinating.

Can’t I just swipe my Shanghai subway card? (When looking for cash to pay for a public bus ride in Portland. Fact, a ride on the bus in Portland is about the same as the starting fare for a taxi in Shanghai.)

The freedom to drive and the open road – LOVE IT!

Wow, us Americans spend a LOT of time in the car.

People are fat.

Does everyone in America always wear that much make-up?

Holy crap this place is expensive! (When I find myself converting everything back to RMB in my mind.)

Seeing Asian babies and children makes me happy… like, an “I feel at home” sort of happy.

Was I really in China for over a year?  Was that just a dream?

I hate small talk.  Small talk after returning from Asia sucks.

“Oh wow, you were in CHINA?  For HOW LONG?”

“Yup, 14 months.”

“Wow! How was CHINA?”

Seriously?  How does one respond to that?  We have 30 seconds for small talk and you want to know how China was?  Here’s an idea… read my 96 blog posts.  Then ask me a better question.

Bubble tea in Portland sucks.  I want to go back.

You say “Chinese food” but I don’t think you mean Chinese food… at every Chinese restaurant I go by… I know they are only there to disappoint me, so I don’t bother going in.

You are 3-D? (My response to seeing my boyfriend after 4 months of video-chatting online and not seeing each other in person.)

I’m BORED… Unemployment is no fun.

I watched more TV in 3 days than I did in the past year.

Grocery stores – AWESOME.  They are huge, they have so-so-sooo much selection.  They are neat, they are organized, they have so many familiar things.  It is sort of like heaven… but a grocery store.

Smile, say thank you.  Cashiers at grocery stores and other places here don’t just glare at you or completely ignore you, so you can be nice back.

What?  My ID?  Why do you want to see my ID?  Oh yea… we control who buys alcoholic beverages in this country.

Public restrooms – they have toilet paper, they have soap, many have paper towels, they don’t smell all that bad… and I even dare to sit on the seat occasionally.  Seriously, a girl could get used to this!

AHHH, I’m gonna die!  Oh wait, people STOP for pedestrians here.  Random… I mean, I know I do have the right of way, but you actually stopped for me?!?

Don’t run into people, don’t run into people… I know they are in your way, but you are in America, you need to be nice.  You can’t just bump people out of your way here.  Be polite, Julia.

Darnit… we have to tip.  The no tipping custom in China is an easy one to get used to.

Yes, I’m home.  Home in a place that sometimes seems so foreign, but only because something truly foreign became such a home.  It’s definitely an adventure, whether you are coming or going.


Wet and Miserable

So our dreaded typhoon Muifa came and went without making too much noise.  Luckily for me, the threat of the typhoon caused my school to decide Saturday afternoon that they would cancel all classes on Sunday.  A free Sunday followed by my normal Monday/Tuesday off??  Sure, I’ll take it!

The storm itself was rather disappointing.  Other than dropping buckets of rain on Shanghai, mostly during the night/early morning hours, and some wind, Muifa didn’t cause much disturbance for Shanghai residents.

On the inside looking out

I did manage to get on the wrong side of a police line surrounded by firemen though…

In the days before the storm, and Sunday afternoon there were actually some gorgeous blue skies and white fluffy clouds to be seen!  It was quite impressive and almost made me feel the air was clean!  We are back to smog now, and the residents of Shanghai can go back to being miserable.

Despite North Korea’s report a couple months back that China is number one on their “Global Happiness Index”, see my post Shanghai Seconds, China has recently let us know that Shanghai is far from the happiest place in China to live.  In fact, there are 96 cities in China that are “happier”.  Even Beijing beat us by a hair coming in as the 95th happiest city to live in within China.  That’s right, China put out a national city survey that ranked the major metropolitan areas and cities in China in terms of their “happiness”.

Apparently, having all the western amenities, a beautiful skyline (while not clothed in smog), the highest standard of living and the highest amount of disposable income in the country does nothing for those of us who call Shanghai home.  What is used to calculate happiness?  According to the authors of the survey: “The criteria for happiness include a sense of belonging, safety and satisfaction of a city’s residents, and how much outsiders appreciate the city…” Link: Shanghai Daily

I don’t see why outsiders wouldn’t appreciate Shanghai, personally I love when waitstaff in restaurant treat me like an unnecessary disturbance and burden, when I get pushed around in the subway, run down on the street by cab drivers, yelled at in Chinese by the lady in the train station who doesn’t really feel like selling me a ticket, cut in front of in any line anywhere, ripped off by vendors…  Oh, China… one thing is for sure, without a sense of humor I would certainly be miserable!

An uncommon site - a couple days before Typhoon Muifa

The Avocado Lady

I was out at dinner the other night at a little natural/healthy food restaurant in Tianzifang when I mentioned how much I missed avocados.  The restaurant (Origin) did have avocados on the menu and I actually ordered some to go on my delicious sandwich. When I mentioned missing them someone at the table said, “You need to go see the avocado lady!”

The avocado lady?  Oh yea, I think I had read something about her before. The 6 of us at the table then starting discussing the avocado lady, where she was located and what she sold.  Apparently, she has just about everything.  At 274 Wulumuqi Lu, it looks like your typical Chinese produce store, I was told, but it is packed with foreigners. When you go inside you realize the avocado lady is famous for much more than just her avocados.

Famous?  Really, Julia?  Can a little Chinese woman really be famous because she sells avocados in Shanghai?  Don’t believe me, do what I did and Google “Shanghai avocado lady” and see what comes up.  She indeed is famous.

So late this morning I headed over, I noticed the dark clouds in the sky but I was already out – it was only one subway stop out of my way and I really wanted to see what the avocado lady had to offer.  It was starting to rain as I walked a couple blocks from the subway (Changshu Lu) to her store, when I got there all the legends came true. Despite the rain, many foreigners were visiting her.  She had the best selection of produce I think I have ever seen in China and just about anything else a little foreign heart could desire.

Camera phone shot - I turned on my camera and realized the memory card was in my laptop. The Avocado Lady!

Once I was there, the downpour started.  I quickly decided on a few things to buy, I didn’t have much money on me and had to carry everything home.  But I was without an umbrella and it was POURING.  I hoped it would quickly blow over and the avocado lady was happy to let me hang out for awhile. Several foreigners came in and out while I was there.  One was ecstatic to learn there were dried lentils for sale. Another had moved to town 3 days earlier and already was a regular customer.

What does the avocado lady have, beside avocados and produce?  Well, I got some Campbells tomato soup, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, avocados, mangoes, and edamame.  She had olives, tuna in a can, olive oil, truffle oil, artichoke hearts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, fresh basil and rosemary, cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, kidney beans, soy milk, Tabasco sauce, REAL maple syrup, cereal, imported wine…. just to name a few things.

Lots of goodies!

The girl who had just moved to town said the lady even pulled Vegemite out of a back corner for her once. Not only does the avocado lady have it all, she speaks English and sells everything at a decent price – unlike the high end grocery stores in Shanghai cholk full of imported items. Above all, she is friendly!  After about 20 minutes of me waiting out the pouring rain, she handed me an umbrella and insisted I took it, saying in English, “I trust you.”

The avocado lady is a smart one too, not only does she know what us laowai want – but she knows we will keep coming back.  I will definitely be back to visit her, buy some treats and bring back her umbrella.

I was very thankful for that umbrella, as when I got off the subway by my apartment it was raining ever harder.  It helped keep me dry, at least from the waist up, as I walked down the creek street to my apartment.  Second storm in two days… and I have a feeling it will get worse:

Super typhoon to hit Shanghai.

Hot, Fat & Crowded

I know I have been posting mostly links to other articles lately (or not posting at all) instead of writing my own long detailed blogs.  But life is busy, not terribly exciting and I find other people’s rambling can at times be quite interesting and entertaining.  So today I will give you some more links to provide insight into my life (and the life of many others) in Shanghai – with my (rather extensive) commentary of course.  (And, yes, I am putting off my desperately needed study of the Chinese language just for your reading pleasure…)


I am hearing many complaints over facebook about the weather in Oregon this spring.  Apparently, it is a long cold spring with only a few days so far in 2011 even reaching above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The excessive rain has caused flood warnings, and there were cooler temperatures than there were in Alaska for Memorial Day weekend. (Link).

But we have had quite the opposite in China.  The spring was shorter than normal, the rain was minimal and the heat is coming on strong.  Despite the last week or two being relatively cool (relative to the 90-97 degree weather in the beginning of May), yesterday and today are in the 80’s and this summer is said to be a scorcher.  Plus – Shanghai has had the longest dry period it’s faced in the past 138 years!

“Rain, rain go away” was a common phrase when I was in Portland, but here I am delighted when I feel a drop or two of acid rain as I know it clears some of the muck from the skies.  Read about Shanghai’s lack of rain here: Link and notice the quote, “It is predicted that the city will face unusually high temperatures over the coming summer months, according to the report.”  Great… because I wasn’t already fearing the hot, muggy TYPICAL Shanghai summer.  Now, I get to experience the unusually hot Shanghai summer.

Not only will the summer temperatures be “unusually high” but so will the need for air conditioners.  Air conditioners that the city doesn’t have the capacity to generate electricity for, partially because of the effects the drought has had on hydro-power generation.  According to the Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company, Shanghai could face shortages of up to 1.1 Gigawatts of electricity.  That is (by the way) almost 4% of the expected peak electricity demand for our little city of 23 million.  What do electricity shortages mean for the fine residents of Shanghai?  Well, most likely turning off air conditioners during those unusually hot summer days and department stores and factories my be suspending operations during peak times over the summer.  Shanghai’s situation though is said to be better than neighboring provinces who face even greater shortages.  Links: Preparing for Summer Power Shortages, Grid forecasts.


It is old news that China has surpassed Japan and is now the second largest economy in the world following the United States; and it is speculated China will in the coming years be a threat to the United States’ first position as economic superpower.  What may not be as commonly known, however, is the other area in which China is taking on America.  Obesity.  China has gone from a famine stricken third world country to having one of the highest obesity rates among children in the world.  In the past decade, obesity rates in Chinese children have increased by 24.4 percent.  WOW!  (Link)

Quite frankly, this doesn’t surprise me.  I had wondered about this myself.  Not only have I noticed an increase in my waistline – but I see the way these people eat.  Grease and sugar are abundant in almost everything available and Shanghai is (in my opinion) snack food heaven.  (The snack food section, candies, chips, crackers, cookies, nuts, dried fruit, etc., of my grocery store takes up probably a fourth of space allocated for food.) Not only are the infiltration of soft drinks and fast food restaurants padding the waistlines of children.  But they are constantly being fed – and they are not (as the article points out) constantly active.

At my school we have fat kids, and a lot of chubby kids.  A couple are cute & chubby – when they are 3-5 they can get away with being cute & chubby – others are just plain disgustingly fat.  And these are higher income families – not the low social economic status families the article talks about as having the highest obesity rates.  But I observe all the parents and grandparents at my school running into the classroom during the break to shove food down the throats of their children.  Kids always have snacks in class and getting them to put away their cookies, candy, ice creams, sugary soft drinks and chips at the end of the break is nearly impossible.  The grandmothers will stay in the classroom after the bell has rung holding a bottle for their grandbabies to take that last long swig of a drink, or shove the last bit of food into their kids mouth. It is as if they may starve to death in the next 40 minutes of class if they aren’t adequately fed as much as humanly possible during the break.

I have seen it on subways, grandmothers literally shoving food into 3 year old’s mouths.  Snack food. The child will close his mouth, shake his head and turn away, but grandma can always get a little more in there.

These foods – they must be healthy, right?  I don’t know, take a look at the nutritional facts.  Oh WAIT… in China, while there are nutritional facts listed on many products, they DO NOT list sugar.  They aren’t required to list it and they just don’t.  I struggled for the longest time trying to figure out how much sugar was in stuff – then I realized I can’t, because it isn’t listed.  Buy a bottle of Coke – it will tell you calories, sodium, protein and fat but there is no mention of sugar.  On ANYTHING.  My box of corn flakes which has the nutritional facts listed in 20 languages – does not list sugar.  Although, it is the second ingredient after corn.

Speaking of food…  Food scandals are daily news here.  I saw an article about cucumbers making people sick on BBC and I rolled my eyes, then I was surprised to read it wasn’t in China but in Germany.  The milk – we all heard about it years ago – and we are still hearing about it today.  Chemicals, melamine in milk, pigs fed supplements to increase their lean body weight which also happen to cause cancer, grocery stores changing the expiration dates on food to keep it on the shelf longer, watermelons randomly exploding in the fields because they are juiced up with some many growth hormones. (Link) Now, I chuckle as I read this latest bit of news: Restaurants Face Official Test of Food Additives.  I think the first sentence of the article sums up the irony quite nicely, “SHANGHAI Food and Drug Administration said today that it will carry out a citywide campaign to ban local restaurants from using prohibited additives…

Banning prohibited additives.  What an unusual and unique concept… you know, that might just work.  Who are we kidding??

The best thing about hot pot restaurants are the bars of sauces, oils and ingredients where you can create your own special sauce.  My favorite is the big bowl of white powder labeled monosodium glutamate.  Yum, yum!


I live in a country with over 1.3 billion people.

I live in a city with over 23 million people.

I live in a district (that in 2002) had 600,000 people and was said to be one of the most densely populated districts in the world.

I live in an apartment complex with around 15 buildings.

I live in a 31 story building with around 125 apartments.

Every day I ride on one of the busiest subway system in the world that carries well over a billion passengers per year.

Do I really need to tell you that it is crowded here?


The quality of Portland air is one thing I miss most in China. I have jokingly asked for someone to bottle some up for me so I can keep it by my bed and take a big breath of clean air each night. It is something that is always on my mind, partially because I see it each and every day (yes, I do see the air), and partially because I breathe it every day.  Today, I don’t have a voice.  My first month in the country, I was stricken with head cold symptoms that only ebb and flow, but never completely go away.  I use almost as much tissue in Shanghai as I do in allergy season in Corvallis (which is unofficially the allergen capital of the world).  Today I read an article, found after reading another article recommended by my dad, about the air in China and it’s affects.  My favorite (perhaps most striking) quote:

“After stalling, the Chinese government recently accepted a World Bank estimate that some 750,000 of its people die prematurely each year just from air pollution.”

Read the whole article at:  How I Survived China by James Fallow

This article and the recent wide struck fear of radiation, motivated me to write about the air in China.  Today it rains, as it did yesterday and Saturday. As I left work Saturday, I was warned to be careful as the rain is dangerous. Of course the rain is acidic, the quality of the air should give that away.  But I think the comment was more inline with the (hoax) text message I received last Tuesday delivering the message so many in China received:

“Japanese government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24hrs. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with beta dine where thyroid air is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Philippines starting at 4pm today. Pls send to your loved ones.”

While those in other countries rushed the stores looking for iodine pills (article), those in China looked to a more commonly found source in table salt.  Wiping out supermarkets and convenient stores in a mad rush to buy pounds of salt. (Times article)

Apparently, the radiation rumors and the salt rush only caused scandal in China – which was, in one case, handled by the Chinese government.  See: Punishment for Rumors and Salt Refunds.

I often sit in my large window sill in my bedroom window of my 28th floor apartment.  I made it into a cozy seat with Ikea blankets and pillows.  A small desk, protrudes from a large entertainment center/wall unit and is to my right, handy for my laptop (when not on my lap), a cup of tea or my Chinese homework.  The window over looks the section of Puxi (the west side of the Huangpu river that divides Shanghai) between my apartments and the river, the Pudong skyline, and to the left the Nanpu bridge (which I got a closer view of one day while wandering).

My lovely view - on a very clear (despite being cloudy) day!

Nanpu Bridge - also visible from the comfort of my room

So what does this have to do with the Chinese air – well my window also serves as my pollution detector.  Occasionally, I actually see real true fog (although I’m sure it is not clean fog).  But most mornings, I can open my window and get a good glance at the air quality that day.  Some days I get a clear view, like above.  Some days, I can barely make out the outline of the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center in the brownish yellow haze.  You know it isn’t just cloudy and overcast when you look up and see bright blue skies, yet look out and see only gray.

Gray skies - with the sun brightly reflecting off the Pearl Tower

But remember, Shanghai has “clean air” compared to many places in the country.  Beijing had “unmeasurable” pollution a few weeks ago.  See Beijing Air.  Chongqing (the fastest growing city in China, located in the middle of the country), Guangzhou and Hong Kong also made a recently published report on the Top 10 Cities with the World’s Worst Air.

All this talk about air quality is making my throat hurt… off to get some more lemon-ginger tea with honey to nurse my voice back to life before I have to teach again.  Hopefully, the rain will wash away some of the grime in the air and give us a day or two of “fresh air”.

The Medical Exam

As part of the long, complex process to obtain a work visa and residence permit for China, foreigners are required to go through a medical exam upon entering the country. I knew this was part of the process but had no idea what would be done or what was expected. After arriving on Monday, January 17th, I was told that I had an appointment scheduled for Thursday at 2pm and that I was not allowed to eat anything after 8am that morning in order to be prepared for the exam. Uh… okay, I guess I can live with that.

I hadn’t eaten a sufficient amount on Wednesday, nothing seems to sound or look good when everything is completely foreign, but I had managed to get to the grocery store and pick up a box of cornflakes and some milk! I set my alarm for 7:30am Thursday morning and got up for a quick bowl of cereal & cup of instant coffee before 8am.

It was freezing cold outside, I’m suffering from a miserable cold and after 3 days of snowing continuously the snow finally started to stick. I was running about town to get to Kid Castle’s main office, meet someone, go to the police station (another requirement I had to meet within 72 hours of landing on mainland China) and find my way to the medical office. I was freezing, miserable and hungry when it was time to go. I managed to get a ride most of the way there, then caught a cab, handed the cab driver the address someone had scribbled down for me in Chinese and made it to the medical office. Building 1 of this complex, fenced, guarded by security, was the health inspection building. I paid 25 kuai (rmb) to get the required 4 photos taken and checked in at the front reception desk with my passport. I was concerned about being 5 minutes late to my appointment – but there were many others arriving at the same time and we were all given slip with a number and a quick form to fill out.

“Go to room 118, wait for you number.”

To room 118, waiting room, my form is filled out and I sit anxiously wondering how they will poke and prod me. I’m #131, they are on 128.

“131 to room 119.” That’s me!

I go to the small room attached and there are two women sitting across from one another at a long desk with an empty chair next to each of them. I am pointed to the first seat and sit down, handing girl #1 my form. She frantically types my information into the computer, gives my paper back and directs me to the next seat – where I hand girl #2 my paper. She staples a sheet of barcode stickers to my form and sticks one of them on my picture which is stapled to the form. I’ve been labeled. “Go to room 118.”

Across the hall I go, I have to make my 697rmb payment before I am subjected to the exam. “Go to room 113 for exam.”

Okay… just down the hall there is a door that is open and on the window next to it is labeled “Room 113 Clinic”. Past the door the hallway continues and there are chairs lining the hallway, a few people waiting and a few staff directing other people around. Right as I enter into the clinic area I am ushered into the first room.

“Take off shoes – stand there.” (pointing to scale.) My height and weight are digitally measured and recorded on the back of my form. “Put on shoes, go change, put this on” (handing me a folded robe) “take off shirt and top underclothes, put these over shoes” (handing me plastic footie things) “here is your key.”

I go back further into the room where there is a row of doors to little dressing rooms across from a row of lockers. Get changed, lock up my stuff and it’s time for the fun stuff…

“Go to room 109.” After changing I start at the end of the hallway, each little room on either side has a sign outside with the room number and a lovely description. 109 – Sample Collection. Two women are waiting with chairs next to them, ready to take samples. Just blood apparently, two vials full – both labeled with barcode stickers from my form. There are no pleasantries, no small talk to distract me as she pricks my arm, just a fat needle and quite the shove into my vein. I’m bandaged with a cotton-ball and band-aid and told to apply pressure for 3 minutes and go to room 110 (ENT).

An older woman waits at a desk where I sit down. Little colored dots with numbers written in them are taped to the table. She points at them and asks, “What number?” Then I am given what looks like a metal kitchen utensil and told to cover my right eye and look at the mirror. An eye chart with E’s facing in different directions is showing. She points randomly at some and I prove I know my left/right/up & down. “You wear contacts?” No. “You have nose or ear problem?” No. “Go to room 111.”

X-Ray. A quick x-ray of my chest is taken and I’m moving along to the next room, a fun one. I walk into the room and a curtain is set up in the middle of the room (good thing as they don’t shut the doors to the hallway). I walk around the curtain to see what awaits me and an older woman says, “open your top, lay down.” Yes, ma’am! I lay down on the pepto pink sheets (matching the pepto-pink walls in all the rooms) put my head on the pillow (as I wonder if anyone with lice has been in today) and pray that the metal clamps on the bed have nothing to do with me. Oh, but they do. She sticks one cold metal clamp on my ankle, another on each wrist, (hitting my knee once to check my reflex), with my top open she pours some sort of gel (antiseptic?) onto my chest and grabs a handful of this little balls all connected with wires. I probably had a look of terror on my face, but she didn’t mind as she used little, cold metal suction cups to stick these random medical instruments to my chest. Within a minute she was pulling them back off, clipped a printout of my heartbeat (I’m assuming) to my form I was still carrying around, and said. “Go!” I re-tie the front of my robe, wiping the gel off me with the robe and go out into the hallway. I have to sit and wait for once but it is only for a minute as they quickly have the next room ready for me.

Ultrasound. Really? You took a chest x-ray, my heart beats fine and I put on the form I’m not pregnant, do I REALLY need an ultrasound? But of course, a little Chinese man behind a blue curtain tells me to open my top this time. And he pours gel on my chest again and does his ultrasound. The very confused and concerned look on his face as he was moving around my ribs made me think that perhaps I was missing something. But he told me to breathe a couple times, poked me in the ribs and let me go. At least he was kind enough to hand me a paper towel to wipe off with before I left. I throw it in the overflowing trash bin full of other victim’s paper towels and move on. Thinking at this point, this whole thing might just be part of some cruel medical experiment the Chinese are putting on and they use foreigners as their subjects.

A staff member checks my form and sends me into the last room left in the hallway. Ahh, a woman at a desk with a blood pressure sleeve, this will be easy. She takes my blood pressure and then points to the bed behind the curtain – “sit down, open top.” Again!?! After she listens to my heart and breathing she looks over my form and says, “All finished!” with a smile. That’s it? No rectal exam, no peeing in a cup? Are you sure? But… I was starting to like the pepto-pink walls and 1920’s medical equipment.

Alas, my medical exam was over and I could change back into my 5 layers of warm clothes to face the Shanghai snow. In under an hour, I had been processed, poked, prodded, sampled, x-rayed and terrified for my life. 🙂 The Chinese may not be the most technically advanced in the world – or the most pleasant with their sharp, quick English demands, but they are most certainly efficient.

Before leaving – I must stop and turn in my form and address an envelope for them to send my results, directly to my employer. Isn’t that some-what illegal in the US? Well, if there is anything terribly wrong with me – I guess work will know about it.

A taxi and two subways later, I run into a store to pick up a bite to eat – shoving it in my mouth as I arrive a few minutes late to school.

18 things you might not know about Shanghai (上海 shàng hǎi)

1.       Shanghai literally means “on the sea”.

2.       Shanghai is the 10th largest city in the world by metropolitan-area population, but the 1st largest city in the world by proper city limits. (“A city proper is a locality defined according to legal or political boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status that is usually characterized by some form of local government.”)

3.       Shanghai is located at 31°12′N 121°30′E.  Other cities on or near the 31N line of latitude include:  Waco & El Paso, Texas; Alexandria, Egypt; Marrakech, Morocco; Jerusalem, Israel; and Shimla, India.

4.       The average altitude of Shanghai is 4m (13ft) above sea level, the highest point is on Dajinshan Island at 103.4m (339ft).

5.       The city of Shanghai covers 2,448 square miles (or 6,340.5 square kilometers)

6.       Shanghai is divided into 16 districts and 3 counties. There are 205 towns, 9 townships, 99 subdistrict committees, 3,278 neighborhood committees and 2,935 villagers’ committees in the city.

7.       As of 2009 there were 1.3 billion passenger rides on Shanghai subway in a year – making it the 9th busiest metro system in the world.

8.       Eight (bā or 八) is a lucky number in China as it sounds similar to the word for “wealth” or “prosper”.

9.       Shanghai is home to the third tallest building in the world, the Shanghai World Financial Centre at 492 meters or 1,614.2 feet.  The world’s tallest structure is the 828 m (2,717 ft) tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Despite being the 3rd tallest, the Shanghai World Financial Centre does have the world’s tallest observation center in the world at 474 meters above the ground.

Julia at World's Tallest Observation Center

Shanghai World Financial Center (March 2010)


10.   Shanghai hosted the 2010 World Expo from May 1, 2010 to October 31, 2010 with Haibao as the mascot and a theme of “Better City, Better Life”.

11.   In 2007, the estimated GDP per capita in China was $5,700.  The same year, in Shanghai, the estimated GDP per capita was $18,400, ranking 6th in the country.  Suzhou (a neighboring city) ranks first with an estimated GDP per capita of $25,500.

12.   The new high-speed train between Shanghai and Beijing should open in 2011.  At a speed of 300 km/hour or 186mph, the train will cut the travel time between the two cities from 14 hours to 5 hours.  In a recent test run, the train reached 486 km/hour – a new world record.

13.   Shanghainese, the local dialect of Shanghai, sounds like Japanese and unlike mandarin has no tones.

14.   The permanent residents of Shanghai come from China’s 44 ethnic groups. The han nationality accounts for 99.53% of the total.


16.   This one gives me second thoughts:

In Shanghai:

  • There are on average 1874 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 5.1 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Shanghai’s climate receives an average of 1144 mm (45.0 in) of rainfall per year, or 95 mm (3.8 in) per month.

In Portland, OR:

  • There are on average 1953 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 5.4 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Portland, Oregon’s climate receives an average of 1074 mm (42.3 in) of rainfall per year, or 90 mm (3.5 in) per month.

17.   The cuisine in Shanghai tends to be a bit sweet and it is said they use more sugar in Shanghai than in any other part of China.

18.   The entire country of China operates on one time zone and they do not recognize daylight savings time – make sure you calculate correctly when trying to get ahold of me…  I will be 16 hours ahead (of the west coast) in the winter and 15 hours ahead in the summer!

%d bloggers like this: