What Chinese New Year has taught me about life in Shanghai

life in Shanghai

Life in Shanghai is going pretty well.

We’re almost 6 months in to the adventure / life leap, and we’re all still smiling. That feels like a pretty great achievement.

We’re a few days in to the Chinese New Year holiday and I just keep on learning stuff in this amazing city.

Firstly, I had assumed (& hadn’t really bothered to ask around in any detail) that EVERYTHING would be shut for the 2 – 3 main days of the holidays.  Now that feels like a very long time with three small people to feed and entertain, so I had somewhat gone into disaster planning mode in advance.

Did we have enough supplies in the cupboards and freezer? (Supplies meaning mainly M&S food stuffs – teabags and breaded fish products being key…) Emergency M&S trip completed, and things felt a little better.

Muffins and bread were bought in bulk and the ever disappearing Australian Semi-Skimmed UHT milk that we like (see our hardships here!) had been stock piled.

Craft activities (of which I am no fan – OCD issue – too much mess) and DVD’s had been prepped.

Well, it appears I needn’t have worried.

Starbucks – open.  Carrefour – open (& still filled with FAR too many people with handheld mic’s shouting at me to do god only knows what.) Pizza Hut – open, and surprisingly busy! Though with less pizza options to eat that you might have thought.

Yes, it would appear that shopping options remain open here in just the same way as they do everywhere else I’ve ever called home.  And so far, we haven’t eaten a single one of the M&S fish options.  (But it’s good to know they are there…)

Secondly, everyone loves a child who can say Happy New Year in Chinese.  And if you have three of them, you might well stop pedestrian traffic should they break it out – which they do like to do, in song.  The amount of times I have heard people counting our kids (yi, er, san… 1,2,3…) as we walk anywhere – means that at least I can now count to three reliably.  Small blessings.

Thirdly, the official holiday days were rearranged round these parts a while ago – giving everyone an official 7 day holiday (a Golden Week), but making them work weekends either side of this as normal working days.  It was done to encourage tourism, to get local people to travel around China (& spend money).  It works.

We were going to go up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower today.  We didn’t.

The queues for the (much less space age) Aquarium next door were 4 lines deep and then snaked around the corner of the building. (When we had gone last week, we had just strolled in. And it had still felt pretty chocker inside.)

I have no idea where the lines started or ended for the Pearl Tower, but I know that the surrounding pavements were filled with more Tour Guides waving flags than I had even seen before.  They were mostly China flags.  I’m not sure how helpful they really were to any individual groups, but hey ho…

So, instead, we took the Hubby on the under river Sightseeing Tunnel, and the little people managed to convince him to allow them to go into the neighbouring Submarine Exhibition.  There was no queue here. None.

And the kids loved it. As they did the ferry ride back over from the Bund that we did.

So what did I learn here?

That life in Shanghai, just in itself, is enough for the kids.

In the same way that life back ‘at home‘ was.  We don’t need to constantly play tourist with them.  They’ll come and do what we take them to do, but if the plan changes, they’ll cope. They’ll moan the same amount. They’ll be fine as long as they get fed. And should you find a shopping centre that happens to have a pirate themed soft play, well you’ve hit the jackpot.

I’ve learnt that however big and odd the move out here might have seemed, it’s mostly just a case of same-same but different.

And that’s a good thing.

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