Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crusin’ on Crutches… How to Get Around Shanghai with Semi Mobility (Part 1)

Hello All! I’m pleased to report that I’m in more positive spirits for a few reasons. Firstly, we are officially two days away from Halloween, by far one of my favorite holidays! This year, I have not one, but two good costumes! I plan on wearing a cute and comical costume for my party at work, and then I’m getting things a little grown and sexy for the evening time. I’m really proud of my costumes because I’ve decided to get creative and make things myself. Sit tight for a future post about how things came out!

Now the best news has got to be the fact that I no longer need my crutches! As you read about in this post, I had surgery in China exactly five weeks ago. While the process wasn’t difficult, the recovery proved to be the opposite. I never realized how much time, energy and effort things would be after my procedure.

My extra "legs" during my recovery.

In fact, this is the reason why I’ve decided to write these blog posts. If you plan on getting around Shanghai on crutches, or with another leg disability, there are a few things you should keep in mind….

       1. You will need extra time for everything.
While this one seems to be a no brainer, I never fully realized how much extra time I would need to get myself around. I would estimate that you double or even triple the time it takes for you to do things. For example, walking down a street that took 5 minutes turned into 15 minutes and going from one floor to another could take 7 minutes. In terms of my morning routine, I would wake up an extra 20 minutes in advance in order to catch a taxi cab to get to work. Which leads me to my next point…

    .   2.Taxis Will Be Your Saving Grace, but…
I fully depended on taxis in order to get myself around since walking and buses (at first) were not a viable option. To hail a cab in Shanghai, all you need to do is go out to the street and wait for one with a green light on. A red light means that the cab is occupied or the driver is off duty/can’t be bothered to stop. The driver will flip on the meter (Which begins at the flat rate of 14 RMBs) and away you go in the city. Luckily for me, I live near work so my rides stayed at the flat rate or only a few kuais above. 

While it may seem easy enough, I’ve noticed over the past few months that it has become a bit difficult to hail a taxi. With the rise of taxi apps such as 滴滴打车 - dīdī dǎchē, 快的打车 - kuàidi dǎchē , Uber, and even Wechat, many people are ordering a taxi with a few taps of their smartphone. Not only are you winning, the taxi driver is the biggest winner since there is an option on some of the apps to “Tip the driver.” This means that you can pay an extra 5, 10 or even 20 RMB on top of your metered fare. This pretty much acts as an incentive for the driver to pick you up as quickly as possible. 

 So, after reading the above, I suggest that you get one of these apps for your phone. Even though they are in Chinese, there are step-by-step English guides on the internet that show how to navigate the apps.

Since I have an old phone that no longer allowed me to download apps, I was stuck waiting for a cab the old-fashioned way; hence one of the reasons why I woke up extra early to allow myself enough time to get to work. On my street, I could hail a cab with relatively little problems before rush hour. After that, I was basically SOL.   The same also applied on the way home from work. 

If this taxi stuff doesn’t appeal to you, you could always…

       3. Hire Help
Remember, you are Asia so hiring help is cheap and plentiful.  If you don’t feel like doing the taxi dance, you could always hire a driver for all of your transportation needs. While you may pay more than a taxi, you get the piece of mind of having someone to cart you around at your beck and call. I will mention that if the driver speaks English, you will in most cases pay more. I suggest that you find a Chinese speaker to assist you in getting a driver and pretty much have the address of all the places you need in Chinese characters.

 I never lucked out on finding a driver, but a few weeks ago, I found this nice gent who had a tricycle that would bring me to work for only 8 RMB ($1.35 USD).
My carriage awaits...

The man that makes all the magic happen!

Besides a driver, you can also think about hiring a domestic helper/cleaner or an ayi as they are called in China. This person (usually female) can come to your home and clean (and in some cases) cook your meals for you. You can hire them to come once a week or more if need be.
 I noticed that since I was unable to get around much, my place became dirty very quickly. While it wasn’t unbearable, it did make things a bit more uncomfortable. If the thought of piles of dishes or mountains of laundry scare you, hire some temporary help. Also just as I mentioned above with the driver, if the cleaner/ayi speaks English, expect to pay more.

      4. Food Delivery Will Be Your Best Friend
So, now that you have your cleaning and transport needs met, you need to satisfy your hunger after a good day of ass sitting. This is where a food delivery service comes in handy. 

When it comes to prepared meals, there are different options in Shanghai. You can go old school and get pizza, or even McDonald's delivered right to your door. Or, you can have a variety of options (even healthier than pizza and burgers) on one website. In Shanghai, one popular website is called Sherpa’s and it delivers to most places in the city. You pretty much type in your address and the website gives you a list of all of the restaurants in your area. Delivery starts at 15 RMB ($2.40 USD) but, if you order between 11am to 6pm, delivery is free! After finding the restaurant of your choice, you select what you want and wait for the delivery man to bring your goods in 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mealbay is another popular option that works just like Sherpa’s albeit with less choices. 

They make food magic happen! (Photo Credit: City Weekend)

If the thought of prepared food doesn’t excite you, or your wallet for that matter (trust me, it could get expensive); you can order your groceries online and have them delivered. There are several major places that can deliver all of your food needs right to your door step. Whether you are craving grapefruits or gherkins, you can count on the following to fulfill your needs:

*City Shop



*Kate and Kimi

While the above list services the expat population (which is a keyword for more expensive), you can go the local route and try:

*Taobao (home to everything)

*Yi Hao Dian



I used City Shop for all of my grocery needs and I had only positive experiences. A customer service rep would call me to let me know about my order and the time it was expected to arrive. They would also call me if they were out of stock on a certain item. My food was delivered on time by a courteous driver who patiently helped me get everything in my little apartment.

Well folks, that's the end of Part 1. I hope I made you a bit more comfortable than those crutches you're dragging along. Tune in next week for Part 2!

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