Services in China are ridiculously affordable. In other words, labor is cheap. We pay our ayi (nanny, maid, cook all in one) double the going rate, and it’s still a great deal, at least half to a quarter of US costs. We get massages all the time, not just because we invested in Diva Life. And haircuts include a long massage and hairwash. Here’s Kyle at our favorite hair salon:
Taxi rides start at 11 RMB. I still think that’s only slightly more than a dollar, but with the dollar is devaluing so quickly, it’s $1.50 now. Rides in town center only add a few “kuai” to the bill, so we never worry about bar hopping or visiting friends after we’ve sent our driver home - yes, we have a driver, but it’s really like leasing a car and the driver comes with it. The great side benefit of cabs is that you can drink and not drive.
Also, there’s no tipping, except included service charges at hotels and fine restaurants. It’s galling to go back to the US and have to add another 15% onto restaurant bill. If you try to tip here, half the time they want to give it back to you. There’s one time when a waiter ran after our party for a block to give the tip back.
Yes we feel spoiled and pampered here. But it makes up for all the annoyances of living in China, well-documented in the government’s attempt to teach the whole country manners before the Olympics.
Cool new place for kids, like mini-exploratorium. Kyle, Keaton and Matthew had a great time here.
And my favorite picture. Kind of fitting with Shanghai snowing…
ML got me a “cracked” iPhone for Xmas. Probably the best Xmas gift I’ve ever gotten. After almost 10 years of marriage, she learns that guys really like electronics for presents (and I have learned that women don’t). What’s great is that I actually use the phone camera, not because it takes better pics, but because I can figure out how to download it (I could never figure out how to get the pics off my Motorola Pebl).
So, isn’t gambling illegal in China? So what are these slot machines doing in Shanghai? I saw this store while walking back from the Bund, where I had to go to get my drivers license translated at only 1 of 2 approved places so that I could get my Chinese drivers license (yes, another story about all the bureaucracy to get basic things done).
Or how about this shot? Literally 2 stores down from our apartment, this woman is burning something on the sidewalk. I thought it contrasted nicely with the snow.
It’s big news that it’s snowing in China. Our ayi tells us the last time it snowed like this in Shanghai was 17 years ago. There’s been snow on the ground for a week.
Here are the beautiful views from my office overlooking Jing’An Park:
But of course, that’s the fun stuff. It’s quite cold here obviously. People say that the “damp air” makes it feel colder. What’s really bad is that the housing insulation is horrible, and the space heaters are kind of like heating up a room with a hair dryer.
But the really bad news is that the snow is hitting inner China something terrible.
We also donated to Half the Sky Foundation to help China’s orphanages.
We’re still trying to get through to a few orphanages. We’ll provide information regarding those and other orphanages needing help just as soon as we have it. In general the needs are for fuel, food, disposable diapers, warm clothing and bedding. Prices are soaring because no goods can be shipped and cold weather has destroyed all winter crops. Half the Sky is responding to the emergency by getting funds directly to the institutions in a variety of ways.