Monday, August 08, 2005

Home or Away?

So I finally made it to Shanghai last week at 12.30AM Friday morning. Only 6.5 hours late.

Now I am trying to get re-adjusted to being in Asia again. Although some things are taking a while, it is actually easier than I thought it would be. On experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of Shanghai on Friday morning it strangely felt like home. Or home away from home, as of course I will always call Australia home. But I have come to realise in just a few days that at times this chaos feels more natural to me than the order of Sydney ever did in the last two years.

I have slipped surprisingly quickly into accepting the reality of 80% humidity, constant stares at my white skin, not being able to read any of the labels in the supermarket, a typhoon circling about the area bringing rain and gale force winds, and of course, the neighbours ringing the doorbell at 7AM.

Compared to my life in Nepal some things here are a breeze: flush toilets, double-glazing and air-conditioning. Just around the corner are three HUGE shopping complexes, KFC, Pizza Hut, MacDonalds and Starbucks. Of course, right now I can't afford to go there, and to be honest I don't really want to. Phil has set up this apartment already with TV, DVD and internet access, and we even have a washing machine (though I can't read any of the dials or settings on it).

On the other hand, the constant hustle and bustle of the city is a new shock. Never-ending horns blasting, construction work 24/7, and people EVERYWHERE. Goodbye personal space. I certainly never had anything like that in my little village in Nepal, where come night time I would sit on my roof to cool down, the only sounds were the cicadas in the corn fields and only the lightning streaking somewhere over India would illuminate the sky. As a girl from the regional Blue Mountains (the City within a National Park!), even though I have lived in Sydney on and off for years, nothing has ever prepared me for life on the 13th floor.

Yet once again, I am struck by how it is not the big things that really put you off, but that culture shock strikes in the smallest of details. I am slowly getting used to checking over my LEFT shoulder for on-coming traffic when crossing the road, though I tend to cling on to Phil when he is there like a three year old clinging on to their mother for dear life. However, the fact that they drive on the right side of the road here means that the escalators are reversed. I keep walking on auto-pilot towards the escalator on the left side of the pair, which of course has the stairs coming TOWARDS me and thus trip me over instead of carrying me away.

This week will be filled with searching for a job (teaching English) and acclimatising, to both the weather and the culture.

And of course this blog entry only barely scratches the surface, there will be more plenty more to come.

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