Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences

Its been 4 weeks since we arrived, and today is thanksgiving. So I thought I would take sometime out from regular posts about Amber or with pictures of silly things around Shanghai and spend some time focusing on describing in words what it's like here...

I thought I knew what to expect, and what I would learn about. Much of those expectations have been on the right track, but the shocking contrasts here are so astonishing. One aspect is that these contrasts exist at all, but the way that the differences exist in pure harmony is truly an amazing thing to experience. There is no segregation of affluence or architecture. 5 star restaurants in brand new high tech buildings are next door to crumbling ancient row houses with occupants selling additional servings of their noodle dinner from their doorstep. From culture to restrooms, beer prices to transportation methods, and fashion to cuisine. Everything that I do, everything that anyone can do here is one extreme or another, and there really is not much in between. I have had dinner with billionaires tasting dishes that cost more than most of the country's weekly pay, and I have lunch with the true working class on buns that I could buy with a US dime. I have ridden in luxury cars with private drivers and walked down streets dodging bikes, carts, mopeds and construction debris (i have considered riding a bike, but its really not going to happen). I sit in my multimillion dollar serviced apartment surfing the Internet while my neighbors across the street don't have running water or heat. I have browsed for belts costing hundreds of $ and walked past blankets on the corner with belts for 1rmb. I have bought bok choy down the street for 3rmb and bought the same boy choy with an organic sticker for 10x the first. I buy a bottle of shanghai beer for 2rmb one day and a belgian for 32rmb the next. I have used restrooms so fancy you can't tell the toilet from the sink and others that are simply a hole in the ground (that flushes). It's not that these differences don't exist in other cities. It's just that here they seem to stare each other in the face. Maybe it's the sheer number of people who live here that both creates the contrast and forces its coexistence, or maybe it's the history of the country and way of life of the past that allows it....

I am quite thankful to have the opportunity to be here and experience it all. I am also very thankful for all of my friends and family who have been so supportive especially in all the skyping, IMing, emailing and reading of this blog. And I am so so thankful for all of you who read and write comments :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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