A new place, a new year... two weeks after moving in, everything is unpacked (almost) and my DSL is finally up and running somewhat stable, so I don't have to do all my surfing from my office or (yikes!) my cell phone.
It's amazing how a year of hindsight and familiarity benefits the apartment search, particularly in a foreign country. This time, I went through a local Chinese agent, rather than the "consulting firm" my company uses for the laowai wanting to be insulated from the hassle as much as possible (read: tacking on mega-commission). Secondly, rather than smack dab in "expat central" I searched in the nearby vicinity -- maybe 10 minutes walk from there.
This translated to me getting -- for the same amount of rent -- a place that was nearly twice the size, much newer (actually built this millenium for a change...), with onsite gym, pool, and a convenient commute by bus or walking.
My landlord (actually landlady) is also a vast improvement over the old one who wasn't even in Shanghai half the time. She's also a rather interesting character -- chock full of interesting stories like how she spent several years in a labor camp in Heilongjiang province (the Siberia of China) during the Cultural Revolution -- indeed, a link to another China that still lies in the conciousness of many here.
All in all, I feel very blessed to be living here during my "sophomore" year...
For now, a few pics for folks wondering what typical middle-class living in Shanghai is like:
Where "business" gets done... ;)
Who wants to be my first guest?
Nice warm bed -- with electric heated blanket underneath! =)
A slipper from a hotel -- a rather unique hotel. ;)
For a better cook than I to take advantage of...
Speaking of which, it just so happens that a whole bevy of my friends old and new from the US and Asia: dreyersice, chunggis, cndbanana, lindajchoi, malinglew, ShanghaiRon, nerdjenni729, Bryant, Min, and about seven or eight more will be descending on Shanghai come next month, so they'll be the first out-of-town/international folks to hopefully experience this...
It'll definitely be a time of refreshing encouragement and koinonia...
...if I don't go crazy with all the planning and logistics first. =P
Oh and preparing to exit this decade wasn't too bad either. =) Thanks for a great time, and here's to many more to come in this city and country...