Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What Not To Expect...

We're into our third week in Shanghai so thought it time to share some of the nuggets of information that we've gleamed from our time here so far.  

Here's a list of things not to expect when you arrive...

1. Green lights to be safe at a pedestrian crossing... It has all the indications that you're going to be fine - zebra stripes on the road, a green man which everyone waits patiently for and even an official to tell you when it's safe, but cars turning right are still allowed to go, and most think they have the right of way!

2. Western social norms to apply... Walking down the street it is not uncommon to see a whole variety of things we might consider slightly vulgar! Expect (noisy) public spitting, burping and kids weeing in the middle of the pavement forcing everyone else to walk in the road. 

3. Officials to be very 'official'... Sam has talked about this a bit already, but there is very little attention paid to people who look very official (sometimes even despite them holding a gun!). As you enter the tube, there's airport style baggage control complete with x-ray machines and attendants ordering you to put your bag onto the conveyor belt, but noone takes any notice and they end up sat there with nothing to do while people walk around them!

4. Things to continue as normal in the rain... Maybe the Shanghainese aren't as used to rain as we Brits, but life comes to a near standstill at the slightest hint of the wet stuff. You'll find it difficult to catch a cab (because they don't like driving in the rain), the streets become deserted, and those cyclists/motorcyclists that are around sport a very on trend blue or red poncho that covers not only their body, but also their entire arm and hand holding the handle bars..!

5. All street food to be bad... We'd heard all the horror stories, but are pleased to report that we have eaten a fair amount of delicious street food and lived to tell the tale. More to follow in the upcoming food post!

6. The insatiable appetite for designer brands to be an indication of money... An obvious one, perhaps. Still, we have heard that it's not uncommon for people to live in near poverty and put all their money towards saving for a Louis Vuitton handbag. Plus, there's so many (good) fake markets, that it would take an experienced eye to work out if all the ones you see in the street are real.

7. London tube etiquette to exist... Probably one of the most frustrating things here - there's no comprehension that people will be able to get ON the tube a lot easier if they let the people wanting to get OFF the tube go first. There's also no 'standing on right, walking on the left' system either!

8. People to stay awake during the day... One of the first things Sam noticed (with some amusement!) when working in the office was that it's very common for people to have a little snooze at their desk after lunch. A mixture of tiredness, combined with the fact that local people get paid for working afternoon post 6pm. I might try it - all in the name of fitting in, of course! 

9. English to be widely spoken... I was definitely surprised at the number of people who didn't have any level of English. You can work around it by restricting where you visit/how you get around, but to get a taxi or even order in some fairly Western-style restaurants you really need some to be able to read Pinyin/speak a little Mandarin (we're working on it!).

10. Karaoke to be saved for a special occasion/only popular in Japan... Everyone loves it! It's not uncommon for a couple to spend their Friday night going to a Karaoke bar instead of going out for dinner... just the two of them! Impromptu sessions in the park, boothes in the shopping centres or at many of the karaoke bars... they just can't get enough of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment