Men in Fur Coats and Other Fun Things to See in Shanghai

I hate when people ask, “so what’s it like living in Shanghai?” I suppose it’s a fair question but I feel like I don’t know how to answer it.   If you’ve ever asked (or wondered) and I’ve given you some equally vague response. Today is your lucky day. I’m transporting you through space and time and taking you on a virtual walk around Shanghai. All of the following have happened in the past couple of weeks and were note worthy enough for me to jot down, but not interesting enough to write an entire post about.

1. Our first stop, is a high end (Prada, Gucci, Chanel) mall a couple of blocks from our apartment because, what’s more urban-Asian than a mall?

We were having dinner at a restaurant attached to, but not in the mall. Our three year old says, “Mommy, pee-pees.” Although he’s really taken to potty training (at least with #1) , my heart starts to race just a little when he says this as it could be 30 seconds or 3 minutes until we’re in the line of fire. It’s like blitzkrieg – it’s going to happen fast but you’re not exactly sure when. And the problem with Shanghai is that restaurants don’t have to have a public restroom. I knew at this place in particular, we needed to go back into the mall and down the long hall to get to the toilet. I can’t think of many positives to living in an overly litigious society but ensuring their is a restroom in restaurants is definitely one.

Same mall, different day, we passed this scene.

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Links of London – a fancy jewelry store. Exactly where you’d expect to find 10 Buddhist monks browsing around, no?

2.  Next stop, our neighborhood park.

IMG_2519 IMG_2520 IMG_2527These pictures were taken a couple of weeks before the New Year. The display seemed sturdy enough to withstand a bright sunny day but I’m not sure I’d want to be walking through in any kind of wind. It was up for a week or two but one morning, before the actual New Year’s, this was the scene.  IMG_2563 IMG_2565

IMG_2564It actually looked like it had been vandalized. There was no order to the dissembling of the displays and cut open wires we’re all over the ground. I know they weren’t live but still, as my kids tried to climb all over the metal braces and strangle one another with the strewn wires, I couldn’t help but think being able to sue the pants off someone if they got hurt would be way more satisfying then blaming myself.

3. On our way to a playdate in the complex next door, we walked by this scene. IMG_2581

Four guys, one bike with lock still attached and a set of make-shift pliers. Lots of animated, loud (angry?) discussion. The “pliers” shifted hands a couple of times before we were across the street but the bike lock did not budge. Draw your own conclusions.

4. At my local wet market, some of the shelves normally full of cereals, salad dressings, salsa shelves (in the back of the picture and on wall not pictured) were mysteriously empty.

IMG_2566This team of officials “police” stopped to chat with my cereal guy. He appeared nervous and like he was trying to make them laugh. They were not laughing. They didn’t chat long but one of the officers did pick up and toss a few items as if to send some kind of message. The officials did immediately soften when they saw my boys, enough so, so that I thought it was safe to keep shopping. They walked out soon after into a police vehicle that we call the golf cart. We often pass these open air, slow moving vehicles with police lights on top. They ride in traffic with cars but can’t be terribly effective in a high speed chase. Reminded me of malls cops on their segways.

And because it is the Lunar New Year a couple of special stops.

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The giraffe outside the Insect Kingdom makes perfect sense, kid.

6. Shanghai’s Insect Kingdom

This small museum/zoo/pet shop had all sorts of local “charm”. We were greeted by large fish tanks and quickly moved through a faux “forest” into a room with snakes and some small monkeys (the crowd favorite). Here I had the opportunity to have a circle of life conversation: “Look at how cute the little mice are in the snake tanks! They are so little and furry!” “Yes, and they are about to get strangled and swallowed.” I just couldn’t so I opted to cowardly walk away with a “yeah, they sure are cute. Let’s keep going.” We saw lots of spiders, lizards and turtles and even a few insects! As we walked into the depressing concrete basement, we were greeted by a glassed in squirrel (I have yet to see one outside), lots of ginea pigs and rabbits in an open pen, well within a two year old’s arms reach, and two goats. There was even a little “gift shop” where even the least discriminating children struggled to find something they might want. (They did of course find something – “but please, we have to have these plastic wand things.”) The place totally gave me the creeps but the boys had fun.

7. Jade Buddha Temple

The pictures below are of the grounds outside the actual temple.

IMG_2588 IMG_2589 IMG_2590 IMG_2591 IMG_2595As the name suggests, there is a giant Buddha carved out of jade inside. It was beautiful and amazing and impressive. But for me, almost equally impressive is that there were signs everywhere saying no pictures and people actually obeyed! Mona Lisa must be pissed.

8. Yu Gardens

If you’re going to stay in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year, you might as well go see the lanterns at Yu Gardens. Not that they weren’t remarkable, but I was surprised how similar it was to last year’s displayIMG_2539 IMG_2541 IMG_2547 IMG_2548 IMG_2549 IMG_2550 IMG_2551 IMG_2553 IMG_2555 IMG_2556 IMG_2557

Favorite scene: Adam and Eve in Shanghai. IMG_2552

Next favorite scene:IMG_2554 See that black fur coat with the feminine collar on the woman? Her male companion next to her is wearing the same thing. A black fur coat with a feminine collar. Seeing coupes dress alike is nothing new here and I get that older couples may sometimes begin to take on the traits of their partners. And I hate to admit it, but seeing couples wearing the same coat is not something new to me. (Oops, I think I just outed my parents! Sorry, guys.) But a man in black fur? I chalked it up to a quirky one off. But then, today, I saw another man, about the same age, wearing the exact color and type of fur only in a vest. That’s right, a man in a black fur vest. Fashion mavens.

So this is pretty much, mostly, sort of, sometimes what’s it’s like living in Shanghai.

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