We hadn’t yet taken 15 steps out of the hotel when Meredith said, “I want to be carried.” At a little after 10am Friday morning, it was already in the 90s, and the humidity was its usual sticky thick consistency. This first week I’ve often felt like I’m constantly covered in a glaze of sweat. So I’m sympathetic to my daughter’s pleas. But she’s four years old and tall for her age. If I’m covered in sweat, the last thing I want to do is carry anyone who weighs nearly 40 pounds and is fully capable of walking.
Our kids are Midwestern kids. This means that in January we can put them in snow clothes and send them outside where they’ll be happy for hours at a time building snow forts, sliding down hills on sleds, and throwing snow balls. We can also put them in T-shirts, shorts, and sandals once the temperature rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. But once the temperature gets into the 90s…they…slow…down.
It took a lot of encouragement and cajoling to get Meredith to walk that first block in the heat. Then I carried her the rest of the way to the Metro station where we rode the subway down to People’s Park.
People’s Park (People’s Square) is one very large park that has several museums located on the grounds. We went to see the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. This sounds like it would be a boring place. But it’s not. It’s filled with the bold ambitious plans the Chinese government has for the city of Shanghai. As a bonus, it cost all of 30 Yuan (less than 5 dollars) to enter and the kids were free. Henry and Meredith had a fun time inside gazing at all the models in the air conditioned building. Meredith was much revived by the air conditioning and ran from display to display, leading the way.
Covering almost all of the third floor is a replica of the Masterplan for the city, containing current buildings, buildings under construction, and planned buildings.
Also on display were the plans to clean up Suzhou Creek (a full-blown river in reality), which feeds into the Huangpu River, the river that bisects Shanghai. The government wants to “green” the Suzhou, making it a water playground within the city.
In the lobby of the Center was a giant plastic statue of Haibao, the mascot for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. The kids insisted I take their picture with the Big Puffy Blue Dude. So I obliged.
Afterwards, the we rode the subway back to Hongkou Plaza, the mall near our hotel, and had some lunch.
(I will write more about this later, but eating at a mall here is not like eating at a U.S. mall. At U.S. malls, the food is often the usual cheap fast food chain variety. Those kinds of restaurants, like say Burger King, are there at Shanghai shopping malls. But most of the restaurants are not like that. The other night my wife and I took her two TAs out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Hongkou Plaza, where we had some fantastic high quality sushi. We are definitely going to eat again at that place.)
We walked back to our room at the hotel and I plugged my laptop into the plug adapter/converter and began to work on a few blog posts. Within 10 minutes I smelled that patented rancid smell of burning electrical wires.
The voltage/plug adapter that I bought from Radio Shack years ago was fried. So the smell of burned out electrical elements wafted through the room. Yuck. But more importantly, it left me without a way to charge my MacBook.
Fortunately, one of my wife’s TAs was able to get an adapter for me (at a cost of $3) and now I should be good to go for the remainder of our time here in Shanghai.