It seems I’ve taken a small hiatus from posting doesn’t it? Regular life interfered this week I’m afraid–things like filing insurance and flexible spending and paying the credit card bill.

Paying the credit card bill here is a multi hour task. I have to admit that in the States I would only do a visual run through of the bill to see if anything jumped out at me as being wrong. I didn’t keep receipts and match them one by one to the bill. Here in China, we’ve felt the need to do that because you can’t really read the bill:

It was a bit of a shock to get the first bill to see that all the merchant's names would be in pinyin, not translated in to English!

And if you turn your head (sorry wordpress wouldn't flip the picture) you can see that the receipts are entirely in Chinese Characters!

The online bill only lists the dollar amount, not the rmb amount (I could wait for the paper bill to come snail mail which does show the rmb amount, but that barely gives me enough lead time to pay it). So that means if I am going to link up the receipts to the bills the only way I can do that is to convert the rmb amount to dollars and try to match those numbers and the dates. But of course the conversion rate changes daily and so the dollar values are never spot on. Do you see where I’m going here?

This takes a long time. And if anything doesn’t make sense (for boring reasons I won’t go in to), like it did this week, I actually end up going to the store and performing my best pantomine to get the matter resolved. It’s always been a misunderstanding on my part. I can’t imagine why 🙂

As I’ve said before, the best part of getting our mail from the States is the colorfully decorated envelopes that Kelly sends them in:

This just makes me smile whenever I come across it sitting on the table.

Last weekend was Halloween of course and there was a token nod to the holiday here at Shanghai Centre. They had a party for the kids and we designated ourselves as a “trick or treat” apartment.

Handing out the candy

Finding candy to give out was not that easy actually. Since people don’t trick or treat here, there aren’t those handy bags of small candy bars to buy. Although a lot of chocolate is available here, it is generally imported from Europe and Japan. Typical American candy bars aren’t easy to find and would be the large bars and cost too much. So we went to a candy store, or children’s shop as they tend to call them, to see what we could find. Well, it’s China and as you’d expect there were a lot of unrecognizable and questionably candy-like items in the store, but we did find some Hershey’s kisses and small Dove chocolates and little snack cakes that were individually wrapped.

Most of which we have left. We were told to plan for 30, but only half that many showed up and some of the kids were down-right rude and didn’t want what I had! I don’t know whether it’s because we live in a ritzy apartment and there’s a lot of spoiled rich kids here or what, but some of the kids I’ve come across while waiting for the elevator are just beastly. Truly some of the most obnoxious kids I’ve ever seen.

She wasn't rude, just adorable

The elevator flowers also got in the spirit of Halloween. At a later point someone added a big black hairy spider

The west elevator flowers weren't quite so playful

Another reason I haven’t posted is because I had my mid-term exam in Chinese this week. Yes, as Meredith pointedly made clear to me, it doesn’t matter what I get on it, but old patterns of behavior die hard and the thought of doing badly on a test is just more than I can stand. So I studied really diligently for it which was good, because it brought everything I’ve learned so far together in a nice cohesive manner. Which, I guess is the purpose of tests. And I seemed to be struggling with it less than the other people who were taking it, so that’s also good.

Next week I have two trips planned, so I’ll have lots to blog about. I may get another post off this weekend with some pictures we took of a shopping trip a couple of weekends ago. (If I write it here, then I’ll do it!)

Till next time…


About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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