|Photo Credit: cramasie.com|
I have to say that my second year of China was better than my first year. I got a new job which paid more and allowed more vacation/holiday time. I was able to use my time off and higher salary to travel to Southeast Asia: specifically Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei. I fell in love with Singapore and I really enjoyed Malaysia. I reveled in the tranquility of Brunei where I had a real "adult" vacation complete with four star accommodations, driver and delicious meals.
|Hong Kong by Day|
|Hong Kong by Night|
|A warm, beautiful day in January...I would take this anytime Singapore!|
|The beautiful Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.|
I was able to go back home to the U.S.A. for the first time in almost two years! I wouldn't be lying if I said I enjoyed/appreciated every minute of it. I loved having random strangers engage me in conversation with a warmth and friendliness that's rare in Shanghai. I walked down the aisles of my local grocery stores with glee at all the choices, products and cheaper prices ("Almond milk for $2.99??? I'll take three boxes please!!") The best part was going shopping for clothes and shoes and seeing such a variety of things in my size, while simultaneously not being laughed at out of the store (happens a lot when I try to buy shoes in China).
Now, before anyone starts commenting that I live in China so why should I expect them to cater to my western needs; I completely understand your sentiment. But, I will say that it feels good sometimes just to do things without a hassle/breaking your budget reason behind it.
My second year in Shanghai allowed for more deeper reflection about the things that I like about Shanghai, and things that I absolutely hate (I will write about these things in a later post). I won't say "love" since I don't have a deep love for this place. It's not the love that I have for London or even Paris, places that I think about constantly, or I would gladly return to if money and visa/immigration were no issues (I guess the later could be solved by the former...but I digress). Maybe it's because I haven't officially left China in a permanent/repatriate capacity. I've only been back to America once since I came here.
|A rarity...a clear, blue sky in Shanghai.|
I understand why people really like/love Shanghai, it's a cosmopolitan city that's considerably cheaper than it's other worldwide counterparts such as: New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow and even Hong Kong. You can hire a domestic helper (or maid) for as little as $5 USD/per hour to cook, clean and do your laundry (something unheard of in America and even Europe). Local food is cheap and plentiful, most importantly, fruit and vegetables. There are loads of western restaurants, serve every cuisine you can think of and bars and clubs that are constantly changing. Robberies, assaults and other criminal acts are not as high as they are in the west since most people tend to keep to themselves and mind there own.
But in all truthfulness, after some soul searching and deep reflection, I finally realized that even with that great list I mentioned above; life here is not inspiring to me. In fact, I feel like I'm just living/existing here and I realized that this was no way to live. Call me selfish, but I can't see myself staying someplace feeling "meh" and content. Going through the motions of life and waiting for the golden years of retirement. I feel that this time of my life is full of the most opportunities in term of career and romance possibilities and I hate to squander them in a place that I have no love/attachment to.
So with that said, I don't see myself staying in Shanghai long term and making myself a permanent expat. In fact, I'm in the midst of making my exit plan for the next year (or at the very, very, very latest two years from now...and there would have to be a damn excellent reason for being here a fourth year). I have some plans that I'm researching now that may shock and wow those close to me. I guess all will reveal itself in the not to distant future.
Well, thanks for reading this far and have a great day!