Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Introducing the Shanghai Diary

I'm not a good blogger, Jenny... But I know what love is. And I know that there's no way I should start a separate blog just for a three month stint. Though definitely not as film-centric as my old TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) diaries, I still wanted to keep a record of my trip and my thoughts about going to Shanghai, China.

The Frequently Asked Questions I get are as follows...

Are you going for vacation? No. This trip is a work trip, though I've never gone away for such an extended period. Most work trips I've taken over the years have been for conferences, training, and face-to-face meetings, but the longest of those has been a week, tops. This trip is over twelve weeks! I've never been away from home that long.

The longest I've ever been away from home occurred when I was 17 years old when I went to the UK. I am sure that I'm going to talk a lot about that trip as I talk about this trip.

Will you be going alone? The first week I'm in Shanghai, two of my co-workers from my office here around Detroit will be there with me. They'll be arriving a week beforehand and staying that first week I'm there. Then they depart and I'm on my own insofar as people I know already. No, Andrea isn't going with me. At least, that's how it seems. We're hoping that work will pay her way over. If that happens, then she may go. If not, she'll stick around the homestead, watching the kitten and dogs and we'll save that money for another day.

Will you be working all the time? Oddly, the second week I'm in Shanghai is "Golden Week", a week-long holiday. That means my office there will be shut down, however I'll still be working on some of my regular projects, albeit in a very different time zone. Shanghai is 12 hours ahead of Detroit. This means that midnight "my time" will be noon back in the office here. I don't see me working that late but still doing a lot of checking in.

Once Golden Week is over, I'll be back in the Shanghai office and working those hours as well as doing some checking in. I'm not quite sure how much I'll be working over my day schedule. Though this is a work trip so I think I should be disposed to the job whenever needed.

Do you speak Chinese? No, I don't speak Chinese. Not Mandarin, not Cantonese, not Shanghainese, none of the dialects. I have been listening to Pimsleur's "Speak and Learn Mandarin" over the past four weeks and picking up a little. I have a feeling that this isn't going to be a major issue but, again, we'll see. I at least know how to ask, "Do you speak English?" and say, "I don't speak Mandarin."

I've been prepping for over a month now: getting my inoculations, obtaining my work visa, reading up about Shanghai, watching any and all "reality" TV I can about it (Bourdain, "Bizarre Foods", "Culture Shock", etc), and countless blog articles. I've also been binging on Two White Chicks in China a podcast from an American and British ex-pat out of Chengdu. They've provided some valuable insights and, moreover, have made me feel a lot more comfortable about going over.

I've been on an eating program via Henry Ford hospital since March which has me eating pre-packaged shakes, bars, and other sundry items from Unfortunately, they don't ship to China which means that one of my bags is going to be packed with a ton of these powders which I know will run out a few weeks after I arrive. I feel like I'm going to be measuring out everything like Matt Damon in "The Martian." Fortunately, it's all high-protein and low-carb and I think I can find enough "real" food like that in Shanghai. I'm also hoping to find some kind of bulk food store where I can stock up on similar items.

I'm also going to be getting a lot more exercise than I do here in Metro Detroit where a car is a necessity. Meanwhile, Shanghai is one of those places that has embraced public transportation -- like all civilized places should. A real metro line (one that is longer then 3 miles long), regular buses and maybe even some trolleys. I plan on walking to my office every day which may be 2 miles away. I say "may" because my apartment and my office show up in different places depending on what map I view -- Apple or Google.

I'm working on loading up my iPad with some things to watch and read during my upcoming 14 hour 22 minute flight. I have to pack a stack of physical books because of studying up for the podcast (I still plan on podcasting while I'm there) but I'm also working to find electronic versions of as much of those as possible to save room. I'm also making sure that my computer has all of the files I need for watching movies and editing podcasts while there. The toughest part of that seems like it will be the 15 hour time difference between Shanghai and Pacific Standard Time.

I'm hoping that this trip will allow me some much needed time to catch up on some projects, do a lot of editing, reading, watching movies. However, I want to make sure that I take time every weekend to go out and explore. Being a movie nerd, I'll admit that I'm curious to attend some screenings there and seeing what some Shanghai theater are like. Plus, there are some movies coming out that I really want to see: Thor 3, Blade Runner 2, and Kingsmen 2. Fortunately, I'll be back in time for Jumanji 2.

Flashback: When I was 17 and preparing to go to the U.K., I had so many less toys and gizmos than I do now. No worrying about SIM cards, very little worry about conversion for plugs. When I was going there I went with a list of record albums that friends, mostly Andy Feudner, were looking for. Amazing that now it's the opposite -- so many gadgets and no need to worry about buying things for people. The world is such now that there aren't many books, albums, or objects that we can't order from any part of the world. With the exception of my diet food, I suppose.

Nerding Out: Going from around 40 degrees latitude to 30 degrees latitude will give me some different weather and throws off my idea of trying to figure out exactly what percentage of the circumference of the earth I'll be traveling. As best I can figure, I'll be going about a third of the way around the globe.

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