Wednesday, December 17, 2008 ;
8:54 AM
9 Dec

We left for the airport right after ds1 came off his school bus at 3.45pm. Our flight was leaving at 5pm. We reached the airport at 4.25pm, checked in at 4.35pm, rushed through security. Just in time! No space left for our carry-on bag though, flight was full.

Reached Shanghai at 7pm, took a shuttle bus from the Hongqiao Airport to the Pudong airport where our friend would pick us up. That shuttle bus left only at 7.30pm so we waited for 30min. It took 45min to reach Pudong. Kids were asking, why is Shanghai so big?

When we reached Pudong and our friend drove us to his apartment, it took another 45min.

When we reached his apt, his ayi was still there and cooked a simply irresistable Cantonese meal for us. She fried the fresh prawns on the spot after we entered the door! All the dishes had ingredients we cannot easily find in Tianjin so it has been quite awhile since we ate those stuff. We were so grateful. (His ayi left his house at 10pm!)

The kids therefore had an extremely late bedtime that day, because during dinner, we had a long chat. That friend was my dad's student. And he invited other friends over to chat with us too. We slept when it was past midnight.

And it was so cold in the house. We had to walk around in our winter jackets because southern China does not have the water heating system like in northern China. Fortunately the bedroom they housed us in had an electric blanket so the 4 of us snuggled up on the same bed for warmth.

10 Dec

We woke at 7.30am to eat breakfast, because we had to rush to the 出入境管理局。Our kind friend woke earlier than that to buy us McDonalds' breakfast! He and his wife wanted our kids to have a "happy meal" but our cranky kids had slept too little and didn't eat much. ds1 was much better behaved because he still thanked his host. The younger one just fussed and whined and wanted to get back to bed.

But we still had to haul both to the Immigration. Our kind host drove us there, and it was quite a distance. He dropped his wife off at her workplace first. She's works at Hewlett Packard, Shanghai. Apparently headhunted over to Shanghai from Singapore quite some time back.

When we were there, we were met by a contact and the company representative who had to bring the company stamp in order for Dh to get his work permit and then apply for the residence permit.

In China, everything requires connections. We have realised that without these contacts, we would never be able to get our things done. Because of N's help with getting us the contacts, we won't be able to get a lot of the red tape settled and then not be able to get express service too.

After the application was processed, it was 10.30am and the contact offered to give us a lift to wherever we wanted to go. With the serious work settled, it was time to let the kids enjoy a bit, so we headed to the Century Park.

It was very near the immigration bldg, so the guy dropped us off there.

The kids had been very patient with our adult matters, and had waited nicely throughout the process. So we let them run around the park, climb rocks and feed the fish.

Daytime is nice. It is cool, around 10 to 15 deg C. Warmer than Tianjin, and not as dry.

Some pics of the park.

Lovely swings all around the lake.

Lots of rocks for the kids to climb. We climbed many throughout the park before seeing a sign (nearer the main lake) that said "No climbing". Oops!

There were many kids feeding the living things in the lake, so I let the kids feed them too, using their steam cake. I told the kids to be easy on the cake crumbs though, cos I am not so sure carp can take so much sugar (even thought steamed cake has less sugar content than most cakes??).

After that, we walked to a nearby Japanese eatery that was very crowded with the working execs, and had lunch there. It was pretty good.

Then we took a cab back to our friend's place for the kids to get the much-needed nap.

That evening, we had a wonderful Hong-Kong style dinner again. The ayi was at home when we went back. She's very nice, offered to wash all the kids clothes for us too. Our hosts were all not at home, so I watched her cook too. Learnt the Chinese names of some veggies I seldom cook too.

I had a good learning experience in their kitchen too. Our host had a very special kitchen stove. It doesn't have a fume hood above, but has suction around the rim of the sunken pits where you place the frying pan. I don't know how to describe, but the fumes from the pots and pans get sucked up right above where you are frying, so it doesn't even travel up to your arms or face. Very little oil or mess or smell pervading the living room. Interesting.

Our host learnt pastry making before too, and had a huge huge industrial oven in the kitchen as well. Very impressive. I saw many different types of usually commercial-type baking kitchenware and appliances too.

After dinner, we had Bible study together as they had an American friend here with them during this period and he shared lessons with us every night.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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