Homelessness

Whatafuckingweek. I awoke the next day disoriented and confused. The previous evening I had taken a brief wander around Shanghai to get the vibes and to feel at one with my new city. I was staying in Jing’ An district and was keen to see what it was like but as it was late and I was exhausted I instead ran back to my room with a KFC and died. The next day was my first day at work so lots to take in and my colleagues seemed very nice. I am not making judgments one way or another anymore so there will be no light shed until I am well established at with my current employer. Got the MTR back which was an experience – my office is located next to the Peoples Square and the station situated here happens to be at an intersection of three lines so there is a huge swell of people changing from line to line. I have never seen so many people on a transportation system. A sea of black hair as far as the eye could see. Swept along with the tide I found my train and back to the grotty hotel. I had dropped some hints to my HR manager and they moved me back to the hotel I had first stayed in when I had my interview here and so this was my last night in this grotty hole. The next day I checked out into the JinMen hotel on the Peoples square carrying my suitcase around with me like a homeless fool.

As I started on a Thursday I had only to struggle through two days until the weekend arrived. A weekend filled with house hunting. Joy. My wife and I had pinned down a few areas we wanted to live and I saw around 15 properties in one day in the areas we wanted to see. Firstly the (expat) apartments are far bigger than those in HK. We could easily triple the space for what we could get for the same amount in Hong Kong. Three bedrooms and two toilets? No problem. The problem is that the expats are in ghettos surrounded by native residents slowly being edged out of their neighborhoods. It creates a weird kind of us and them vibe which I wasn’t too keen on besides the areas I was concentrating on that day were in Puxi and Puxi is very, very congested. Dynamic, busy and fascinating but congested. No comfortable strolls especially with a six month old baby. As you well know Shanghai is split into two parts – Puxi and Pudong which basically means west and east of the river. There is another part called Century Park which as far as I can make out is a DB wannabe without the facilities, landscape, boats and expats. To cut a long story short I picked PuDong. A very nice (if soulless) development bang next door to the JinMao Tower – kind of like living in docklands. This Docklands however is still being built so next to glistening towers there are migrant workers and pedestrians tip toeing around mud and hoardings. I found a place for us to re-nest (with river views) and moved in on Friday. I have two big bastard bathrooms, bedrooms, TV’s and a huge kitchen in a modern new building for less than I was paying for a 20 year old dive in Sheung Wan. However, I am not in Sheung Wan but a developing country and that, my friends, is the biggest difference between Hong Kong and China.

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