Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Ode to Ze Germans

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full sized

Last weekend was Daisy's birthday. I took her on a surprise trip outside of Shanghai, which she will be blogging about sometime in the near (meaning hopefully before 2011) future. Daisy's birthday also always coincides with the first weekend of March Madness basketball. The Madness is no less appreciated over here in China (by me at least). That Kansas St/Xavier game was unreal. It had me giving Daisy gchat play-by-plays of what was happening that she most probably ignored. Anyway, TAKE THAT to everyone who questioned me picking Butler in the Final Four (oh, the rest of the brackets count too?)

Now, on to the subject of this post...Yesterday evening as we sat in a restaurant with some friends for dinner, I started doing a mental headcount. It turned out that there were an astounding nine different country passports among the eleven people at the table. Shanghai is the definition of an international city. As diverse as New York is, the different nationalities don't typically mix on more than a surface level. A nations culture really is made up of it's people and here in Shanghai, you get to know people from different backgrounds on a really personal level. This is a phenomenon that I wasn't fully aware of, but now appreciate and enjoy. My estimation (which in now way represents any official census) of population in Shanghai by country looks like this (not counting Chinese):

1. American
2. Canadian
3. German
4. Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia
5. Korean/Japanese
4. Italian
6. British
7. South American (mainly Brazil)
8. French (I've heard that there are tons of French here, but I haven't met quite so many)

Of all the different nationalities that make up our many friends, I don't think any has been as revealing to us as the Germans. We have a bunch of good friends here that are from Germany, and have met countless others. When I went to the China vs. Germany soccer match last year, thousands of Germans showed up in full force. My impressions of Germany from our friends here are that the people are really easy to make friends with, ask tons of questions, love to laugh and smile and don't take themselves too seriously. German is also a crazy sounding language. So Danke to Andreas, Yvonne, Mirjam, Dominic, Nina, Chris, Daniel, Seoul, Hannah and the rest of our German friends for sharing your lives and culture with us. You're giving your country a good name in my book.

In Malaysia with Dominic and Mirjam; a group of many nationalities

Andreas and Yvonne; German takeover of Shanghai Stadium; everyone's German friend Dirk Nowitzki (no, i don't know him personally)

We also recently went on a double date with our friends Grayson and Jessica (non-Germans from America). We went indoor Go-Karting up here in Shanghai. Whoever built this place must have just watched The Legend of Ricky Bobby because this place was more decked out than Talladega Nights. They went all out with the decorations, from genuine NASCAR racing suits to winners podiums and F1 cars. Really fun and really fast go-karts too. But the 70RMB ($10 USD) per 8-minute run price was a little steep.

In other news, Daisy's birthday also marks the first day of Spring. Meaning Scooter Riding Season (cheaper, but equally as much fun as Go-Karting) begins....

Response to comments:
Julia - You're welcome to come over anytime. XuHui is cooler than Jing'An anyway.
Johnny - It's gone by fast, but we've gone through and done so much in the past year, it feels like we've been here for ages.
Kristen - Thanks! By the way, I had some Thin Mints a couple weeks ago. Yes, in China. mmmm.
Corey - Rent is about $730 USD per month. Why, looking for a place?
Kev - No makeshift door this time. This apartment comes with a real one. We're moving on up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our New Apartment

posted by Alan
click on the pictures to see them full sized

As we come up on 1 year (April 16th) in Shanghai, the lease on our apartment was also coming to an end. It was a great starter apartment. We liked that the building was pretty old and has alot of old, local Shanghainese people that have been living here for a long time and all know each other and has a very community-like feel to it. It's also in an AWESOME location, very convenient and central to the rest of the city. But it was also a little small. Because of the location, alot of our friends liked to come over to hang out and it wasn't suitable to fit too many people at once.

So we let our real estate lady know we were interested in finding something bigger but in the SAME location. If it wasn't on the same corner that we lived on, we didn't want to move. She said she had some places to show us the next night in the building right next to ours. Well, here we are 2.5 weeks later all moved in to our new apartment. It's pretty amazing how spontaneous things can happen in China. This keeps life here pretty exciting.

Our new apartment now has an open dining/living room area which makes it much more comfortable for people to gather. It also has a true separate guestroom/study. In our old apartment, our living room doubled as our guestroom. It also comes with some really good furniture. Most rental apartments in Shanghai come furnished, but you're often stuck with the furniture that's in there, whether you like it or not. Our new landlord even let us pick out a new dining room table. The only thing I'll miss about the old place is the view. We were on the top floor (25) there and had an amazing view of the city. Now we're on the 8th floor and the view is far less spectacular. But at least we have a shorter elevator ride.

Thanks to our friends who helped us move, it went pretty easily. We wasted no time in using the new apartment, as my boy from high school, Jonlin, was in town and staying with us AS we moved. So our first night in the new apartment also featured our first houseguest.

110 in Shanghai. Jenny, Me, Daisy, Jonlin, Mike and Melissa

We're really thankful for the new apartment. Our hope and vision for this place is to provide a comfortable and warm place for our friends here in Shanghai who are all away from home. It's also to provide a great place to stay for all of you who come visit. We're ready to start taking reservations.

Click here to see some more pictures of our New Apartment: Pictures of New Apartment

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ma Bu Li = 马布里 = Marbury

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full sized

Some of you sports fans might know that former Olympian and NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury has joined the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association. He's had some off the court issues that has derailed his NBA career and signed to play in China in order to market his sneaker brand. He came about 3 weeks ago and instantly became the best player in the league and probably the best player to ever play in China.

The CBA is China's version of the NBA. Yao Ming got his start in the CBA playing for his hometown Shanghai Sharks. Each CBA team is allowed 2 foreigners and they are only allowed to play a maximum of 3 quarters per game. Europe is the most common destination for players who aren't good enough to make the NBA, because players can still make ALOT of money and live like superstars. BUT, there are some brave souls (or just less-skilled ones) that come to make a living playing basketball here in China. The level of basketball is VERY low here and the most a foreign player can make is only about $400K USD per year (still alot, but not for a pro baller). But the NBA IS wildly popular in China and the people here do appreciate having a player of that stature coming here to play.

Anyway, when my friends and I heard, we immediately looked up the Shanghai Sharks' schedule and got tickets for when Marbury was coming to town. 150RMB (about $21 USD) for court level seats. Marbury was definitely the main draw, but it turned out to be a good game as well. The skill and athleticism of the foreigners (Marbury and former-NBAer, Maurice Taylor for Shanxi vs. former college star, John Lucas Jr. and some 7-foot beast named Garret Silar for Shanghai) was way above the level of the Chinese players as you can see from the box scores below. Especially the ridiculous first quarter scores. Take a guess as to which numbers the foreigners are.

#33 Stephon Marbury & #2 Maurice Taylor

In the end, it ended up being a pretty close game, which means the last 6 minutes of the game became 2-on-2. It was really cool to see an NBA superstar playing up close and all the way over here in China. He's still really quick and his body control and strength were still there. The Chinese guys guarding him didn't stand a chance.I can't imagine he'll be playing here for very long. He's always been a bit of an outside the box thinker and more open to less conventional ways of doing things, but it can't be easy playing here after playing among the best in the world.

Click here to see some more pictures of Marbury in China and his game in Shanghai: Marbury Album

Response to comments:
E-Shyh - Glad ur comin back to China, but come back to Shanghai! Anna needs someone to crack up at her insanity.
Angela - I've tried the "special meat" before. Twice. And it's delicious.
Jen - Kids fly for free before 2 years old. Take advantage. haha. congrats to you and Will by the way if we didn't mention it before.
Uncle Willie and Aunt Ellen - Thanks for checking out the blog! The movie makers were really accurate with those mountains. We're ready for you guys to come visit anytime!
Calvin - China has incredible landscapes. We can't wait to see and share more of it.