A first taste of China

IMG_1406One of my favourite things about being in a new place is all the new sounds and smells. The night time silence outside my window at home has been replaced with the sound of loud voices I don’t understand, dogs barking, fireworks, cars beeping and cats fighting. Everything tells me I am somewhere new. The air smells different and so does the rain. The buildings are different and the people are different. Nobody speaks English. Everyone has black straight hair, they are shorter, their posture is different and their torsos are boxy. 

We enter a cafe and ‘Last Christmas’ is playing loudly. Jared and I can’t help laughing out loud. We spot a maglev train. In the street a lady is wearing a sandwich bag on her head. A man rides around on a pink Hello Kitty scooter and another a bright purple push bike. We see buckets of live lobsters on the street, a snake tincture, a shop selling live fish and fish heads, a man carrying two washing machines in his bike trailer and another filled with huge canisters, with his friend sitting on top. It’s difficult to know when to cross a road and there are bikes of every description riding everywhere. A baby is bundled up in fluffy socks and sleepsuits – mine is wearing just shorts. There are people cycling in hard hats rather than cycle helmets and a group of older ladies dance in sync to a radio in the street. 

There is so much to soak up and appreciate.  

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IMG_1551I have to explain to Winston why people are touching his face and hair. Why they are staring at him and why people want a photograph of him. There is a flurry of excitement whenever we pass a crowd of people. They’re not looking at me, they’re looking at my boys. Some even run ahead so they can get a head shot.

Our journey to this strange and beautiful place lasted 17 hours. A seven hour flight, a two hour lay over followed by another seven hour flight. We all managed to get a big chunk of sleep on the second flight, but the first flight was not so smooth.

IMAG0045Rufus was overtired and lots of tears were shed before he finally went to sleep. We had to remove him from the bassinet each time the fasten seat belt sign went on – which we always seemed to time terribly!

Jared and I were a bit naive in thinking that Winston would go wild with the games and films as he doesn’t get to watch much at home – turns out he is not at all interested in any films other than Cars and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We discovered Chitty Chitty Bang Bang too late in the day and Cars wasn’t available. Games don’t hold his attention for more than 5-10 minutes. It was a constant battle to hold his interest with books, games, films, drawing and food. He dropped off 10 minutes before we landed (typical) and sadly we left his beloved teddy ‘Stuffy Hind Pudding’ (named by him) on the second aeroplane. Major parenting points lost for that one.IMAG0058We land in Shanghai around 4pm local time. We jump into a prebooked taxi that takes us to our Air bnb apartment. The apartment block is 34 storeys high. We get out, pay our driver in RMB and watch a lady drive her moped up the slope and into the lift. Our host ‘Lisa’ arrives on a micro scooter soon after and we all get into the lift. After a quick look around we are left alone to wait for family – they arrive 10 minutes later.

The nine of us go out for a meal and order by pointing to various things on the menu. We get a variety of fish, beef, vegetables and egg. We wait for our food to come. The waitress forgets to bring us one of dishes but none of us are able to explain this to her – we pay for the forgotten dish. The meal for the nine of us costs around £20.

That night jetlag robs us of much needed sleep – the boys aren’t tired and we are. I finally get to have a few hours and I wake up around 10am feeling hot, sticky and grimey. The boys and I have a shower, but I can’t get the angle quite right, so we sit at the bottom and use the foot tap as a make shift shower.

Wandering around Shanghai we feel safe. We are obvious to spot and even more so on the metro – a family with two blonde haired children, and Jared’s brother with his Ghanian wife and their three children. It’s not like London – almost everyone is Chinese and it’s unusual to have more than one child. 

Due to media restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, Instagram, WordPress, Twitter, Gmail and Facebook are all blocked…unless you know how to get around it. Something else that is different.

China – we like you. Very much.

E xx

Whilst we were away I discovered that I have been nominated for two awards in the MAD blog awards 2015. Can you believe it? My humble blog! Best Craft Blog and Best Pre-School Blog. Whatever reason you come to my little corner of the internet, it would make my day, week, month and year if you would consider nominating me in one or both of these categories. Anyone can vote (blogger or not) – here is the link. Thank you so much for reading! x

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13 Comments

  1. 26th May 2015 / 7:53 am

    Esther GET IN! A massive congratulations on the nominations, thats brilliant and deserving too.
    And this post made me laugh so much, I love it. What an adventure, so fascinating and so many great insights. What a fab opportunity to go and how amazing to see so much. Glad its been fun and hope Win finds a replacement fave teddie! Xx

    • 29th May 2015 / 10:54 pm

      Thanks M! Such a different place – I loved it! We bought Win a little panda in China and he seems pretty pleased with it 😉 xx

  2. 28th May 2015 / 7:30 am

    This sounds so interesting. It will be fist time in Asia (Thailand) next month so I’m excited to see just how very different it all is. I also wanted to hear how the flights with the kids were for you as I’m dreading that part!! x

    • 29th May 2015 / 10:58 pm

      Thailand is beautiful – whereabouts are you going and how long for? The flights back were fine. Win’s cousins introduced him to Big Hero 6 so he watched it 3 times on the way back and I think the time of the flights seems fitted in better. There was also no turbulence on the way back so we didn’t have to get Ru in and our of the bed all the time! The last hour they were fed up. It was just one flight out of the four that was pretty rough! Eeeep. Good luck! xx

  3. mummydaddyme
    28th May 2015 / 3:45 pm

    Oh wow this sounds so interesting Esther, I cannot wait to read more. I was transfixed by your words having never been anywhere like China. (the closest is Thailand which is obviously a very different kettle of fish) Write more soon please! x

    • 29th May 2015 / 10:59 pm

      I can’t face sorting through all the photos – it is taking ages, but I want to do it before I forget what we did. Thank goodness for Instagram so I can keep track of what we did when. I’ve been to Thailand too and yes it is so different! China is just completely mad! x

  4. Innocent Charmer
    29th May 2015 / 9:03 am

    I am excited to read more of your journey. What an amazing one to take sigh your children.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Innocent Charmer
    29th May 2015 / 9:04 am

    Wow what a post. So interesting to read. What an exciting place to experience with your children.

    I look forward to hearing more.

    • 11th June 2015 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you so much! We had such a fantastic time. It’s so amazing how different people are and how we live. Fascinating xx

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