Zài Jiàn China

Never this way again

“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people, but you’ll miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Square Melons, the journal and the photos we’ve shared over the last two years as we stepped way outside our comfort zone to celebrate the things that are the same and explore the things that are different.

As we pack up and prepare to return to Portland, I wanted to share with you a few pictures of the things we will miss and the memories we will have forever.

Zài Jiàn (See you again) China.

This and That

Always been a big fan of the variety shows from the ’70s. Loved Sony and Cher and Tony Orlando and Dawn but my all time favorite was The Carol Burnett Show. Best team of 4 comedians ever put together to entertain us with quick, vignettes of comedy, never lasting more than a couple minutes.

Consider this Square Melons as just that – quick vignettes of observations I’ve been noting during our time here but not quite enough content to dedicate an entire blog.

Act 1. Warm Feet

The Look of Summer

The Look of Summer

As we move from Spring into early summer in Shanghai I cannot help but notice the return of the crew length, nylon sock for women. An interesting fashion statement that caught my eye from the very first time I saw it, mostly sported by the elderly women of China.

After doing a little investigating, turns out in Chinese medicine it is believed that keeping your feet warm, wards of illness. Even when the temperature hits 30 degrees celsius or 80 degrees fahrenheit, on go the nylon socks.

Hot

Hot

Act 2. The Beijing Bikini

As for the men of China, when it’s hot, apparently rolling up your shirt and exposing your stomach and “abs” keeps you cool, and helps to make you stand out among your friends when trying impress the ladies. Very sexy.

Act 3. Red Underwear

Airing them out

Airing them out

During the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year the sale of red underwear skyrockets. The belief is that the color red means good luck and wearing red underwear can make your day go all that much better.

It’s not just at Chinese New Year that red underthings are given as gifts, turns out women receive bras and matching underoos on their “12th” birthdays. 12, 24, 36, etc.

Curious how I received this informaton? While on our walks around the city, each block we pass, I notice at least one pair of red underwear (never thongs by the way) hanging out to dry. So, not shy, I asked a co-worker over brunch one Sunday, “hey, what’s up with all the red underwear?”

Act 4. Childbirth

So much to share here but let me see if I can keep it at a level that won’t lose the male readers.

Seems that the 30 days after childbirth is a critical time for women of China. For those that have the resources, they are put up at a medical facility/resort for a month recovery and help with the baby. For those that don’t, the family takes care with most times the mother-in-law taking the lead.

New mothers are not allowed to shower, go outside or drink cold water. There are a lot of rules. No exposure to cold air. No air conditioning as it is believed that your joints expand during pregnancy and they need the time to contract. If you are exposed to cold air, it will settle in your joints and cause arthritis as you age.

New mothers are not allowed to read or watch TV and have limited “screen” time as it is believed that you need this time for even your eyes to heal otherwise you may have vision problems later in life.

No chocolate or coffee. Oh, and no makeup during the pregnancy or for the 30 days after. Seems the chemicals can effect the baby.

Try not to judge people. The Chinese believe that “sitting the month” brings your yin and yang back into balance. Our youngest just turned 22 and I’m pretty sure my yin and yang are still out of balance.

Final Act. Potty Training

Oops. I split my pants

Oops. I split my pants

China is a diaper free zone. As soon as a child is old enough to hold his or her head up, they are ready to be potty trained. The children wear crotchless garments that make it easy for the Ayi (nanny), grandparents or parents to train the child to tinkle or go big potty (my words not the Chinese.)

A “shushing” noise is made, like the sound of running water while holding the baby over a toilet, or really, any open area. Once the child “goes” they are rewarded with praise, hugs and kisses.

This is all great. Really like the idea of not having to deal with disposable

Shush

Shush

diapers in a country of a billion+ people, but we’ve witnessed some questionable acts like a child going on the floor at the airport and the grandparents just walking away, leaving it for the cleaning people. Or a mother holding her baby over the trash can near where we were sitting while waiting for a train.

I’ve had some fun with this. I’ve tried making the “shushing” sound when there’s a long line at Starbucks to see if it would make half the people leave to use the restroom and shorten the line.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode of Square Melons and the vignettes of life in China.

Stay tuned for your local news.

Trailing Spouse

Working at NIKE can, at times, kick your ass. It’s competitive, stressful, and full of pressure. After all, the statement “There Is No Finish Line” has been our mantra forever. But so has “Just Do It.” So if you’re energized by delivering results when someone says you can’t, thriving on challenges as opportunities and winning, then NIKE is the perfect place to work.

NIKE is not for everyone but it works for me. It works for me because for the 28 years I’ve been an employee I’ve had a very supportive spouse. Greg has been by my side through all of it – together.

I tried to think of a sports term that might best describe the Greg and Rosemary partnership but that only led me down the path of a few infamous examples like the George Hincapie to Lance Armstrong, the Jeff Gilloly to Tanya Harding or most recently, the Patriots Equipment Manager to Tom Brady. That’s not us, although I think Greg would have liked to have gone “Gilloly” a couple of times on a few folks over the years.

The term I really don’t care for is the term used and given to spouses of expat employees traveling overseas. The term “trailing spouse” is terrible. No one likes to think of themselves as “trailing.”

No, for us, I had to look to the military for the right term. Wingman. Greg is my wingman.

A wingman as defined by the military is the role of protecting the lead pilot by watching out for his or her back. Critical to the mission, they are there to add an element of support. The presence of the wingman makes the mission both offensively and defensively more capable by increasing firepower. They provide situational awareness as well as increasing the ability to employ more dynamic tactics. Perfect.

During our time in China, Greg has been the perfect wingman. Accompany me on critical missions, adding support, providing the right level of advice and when needed, a voice of reason. All in an effort to employ more dynamic tactics to succeed.

You might not be aware of this, but I’m not the easiest person to live with. I know, shocking.

I was something when we lived and worked out of Portland, but you add the additional stress of a foreign country, big city living, my germ issues, loss of control, living in a small apartment. the fact that I make everything about me and well, this personality, well, it gets elevated. Greg, my wingman, has been solid through the entire venture. Steady and calm.

Pretending to sleep to avoid my complaining about the flight delay.

Pretending to sleep to avoid my complaining about another flight delay.

As our adventure in China comes to a close, (yes, it’s been 2 years) and we look to transition back to the U.S.of A. this summer, I give a shout out to my wingman and I ask each of you, when you see Greg, shake his hand, give him a pat on the back, maybe a hug depending on who you are, and for sure buy him a drink, because that guy has been the success behind me and this critical mission.

The Parent Trap

“Just how long is the Chinese New Year holiday?” I had to ask after last year, when I was surprised as I came back after the week long, NIKE paid holiday, and found the office mostly empty.

This year I had it all figured out. The NIKE paid holiday begins on a Thursday and ends the following Tuesday. The holiday runs through the weekend. With the break in the middle of the week and the fact that a billion people are traveling throughout China, many people make this a 2 – 3 week holiday and wrap their vacation time around the paid holidays.  Fair. We do the same in the U.S. around Christmas and New Years.

So when the office reopened and we got back together it was the first time we had seen each other for a couple weeks. When I asked a couple co-workers how their holiday was the both replied that they were exhausted. They had to be the “babysitter” the entire time. When I dug in with questions, they shared that due to the holidays, each of their Ayis (nanny, cook, maid) was on holiday and went home to see their familes so they had to take care of their kids. I don’t think I let the sentence finish for more then a second or two and I blurted out “Uh. Yes. It’s called parenting.”

Later in the day, I shared the conversation about “parenting” in our staff meeting and immediately, one person piped up that he checked his family into a hotel for the time their Ayi was away. “Who would cook for us?” I love this. We spent the first half of our meeting comparing the differences between our cultures.

Not one of the Chinese in the room, can or has ever cooked. They eat out, get “take away” or have their Ayi prepare meals. Most of their parents live with them and for a few of them, their mothers cook for them everyday. The folks from the U.S. and the one Australian in the meeting were loving the conversation and glancing at each other as this all seemed so foreign.

A week later, I received a call on my cell from a U.S. number. It was the company I had signed up with as a medical alert system for my mom who lives alone in Portland.

I’m the first point of contact if they are alerted by the necklace my mom wears or if they detect something wrong with the system. They were calling to let me know they detected a power outage at her house. I immediately called my brother who is the second contact on the list and he was already aware and in fact had my mom at his home. First time in 2 years it had been tested and we were both impressed with how well the system worked.

I shared this experience with some of my co-workers and how impressed I was at the efficency of it all and the look on their faces must have mirrored mine as they described not being able to cook or having to take care of their kids while their Ayi was away.

“You take care of your mom with technology?” “She doesn’t live with your brother?” “She lives alone?” They glanced around the room, giving each other a look as this all sounded so foreign to them.

Touche China. Touche.

My kids, my mom and my brother - photo bombing the family portrait.

Bryan, Katie’s boyfriend. Our daughter Katie. My Mom. Matt, our son. His wife, Leanne. Me. My brother Ray, the photo bomber. Our daughter, Meredith. Greg.

Turns Out You Can Polish a Turd

I’ve decided that through our adventures in travel and living in China, Greg and I are living in a cross between the British travel show, Idiot Abroad and Anthony Bourdain’s television show, Parts Unknown. We love exploring parts unknown but often feel like idiots when exposed to other cultures and we realize how narrow our view of the rest of world has been all these years.

But here’s what we’ve learned. The world is huge. People are local. And local people are proud of their place in the world.

This last week we chose to spend the Chinese New Year holiday week in the relaxed setting of Bali, Indonesia. Beautiful, fantastic, peaceful setting and wonderful people filled with pride of all the island of Bali has to offer.

On our way to the hotel, the driver visited with us and suggested we take in 4 things while in Bali. See the temples, visit the active volcano, see the rice fields and try the kopi luwak coffee.

“Kopi luwak?” “is that the poop coffee?” I asked. I had seen it on Parts Unknown. Full of pride, the driver shared with us that yes it is, and it originated from Indonesia. He explained that the luwak is an animal that looks like a cross between a cat and a raccoon. That combination made my mind wander. I’ve heard the nighttime call of a cat who’s “on the prowl” and I’ve seen a raccoon in our backyard in Portland – I can only imagine what that mating scene must be like.

The driver gave us his card and offered to take us out for a day, so like idiots, Greg and I set out to parts unknown and a day of sight seeing around the island of Bali.

We visited the Pura Puseh Hindu temple built in the 11th century. Please note item #3 on the photo of the visitor information posted outside the temple.

We drove up into the mountains for a view of Mount Batur, an active volcano that last erupted in 2000. The sight was surrounded by local vendors selling fresh fruits, jewelry and clothing items.

On the drive down the mountain we stopped to see the rice fields all of which had Hindu shrines in place to ensure a good harvest.

Our final stop was at a coffee house that overlooked the natural rain forest. This coffee house offered a tasting, much like a beer or wine tasting and of course the grand finale was a “fresh” cup of kopi luwak coffee.

A guide met us at the entrance and walked us through the tropical setting explaining to us the process of the Kopi Luwak cup of coffee. The luwak animal, chooses the best of the coffee beans to eat but does not chew. It digest the bean whole and after it ferments for the right amount of time in the digestive system, the luwak “expels” the product for the farmer to gather, wash and roast to make a delicious cup of coffee.

So there you have it. Two idiots abroad, discovering parts unknown and saying “cheers” to you Bali for proving to the world, you actually can polish a turd and proudly serve it up as a cup of coffee.

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Go To Hell

This past weekend, Greg and I walked over to the local bar, The Big Bamboo to watch the Duck game. Nothing like Saturday morning, 9am, in a sports bar.

The bar stools were still up on the tables and the staff was just arriving. We approached someone and asked which screen would be showing the Duck game. “Duck?” Oh right. Sorry. I forgot where I was. “Which TV will be showing the Pac12 Championship game?” Nothing. Okay. Let’s take it up another level. “A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L.” With a smile, he nodded and pointed to the main screen on the first floor of the bar.

We took the stools off the table and positioned ourselves at the prime viewing location. I glanced around and saw only 2 other “westerners” at the bar and they were both watching a hockey game. Must be Canadian, I thought to myself

The staff was busy taking out Xmas decorations to put up for the season. Side note. Attending Catholic School in my youth, we were never allowed to use Xmas in any format. I was taught that it was taking the “Christ” out of Christmas. The Big Bamboo StaffThe word Xmas is used everywhere in Shanghai and I get a little nervous every time I see it and look over my shoulder for Sister Rose Delores and a ruler.

As the game started, a couple more groups of people came in to the bar. The first two guys asked where they could watch the Arizona game. I directed them to the back room.

One guy from the next group that came in asked about the Duck game so Greg threw up an “O” and I yelled out, “Scooo Ducks.” He and his friends moved around us and grabbed 3 chairs from the bar. His buddy, shared with me that he was from USC and his other friend was from UCLA to which I said “I’m sorry.”

Facebook Post I was excited about the game so I sent out a picture on Facebook and started a banter with my family on Group Me. I included the Chinese phrase 去鴨
Qù yā, from Google Translate meaning “Go Ducks.”

We were having so much fun. Great coverage. No broken up plays due to the lack of broadband we often experience back at the apartment when watching from Slingbox, Xfinitity or ESPN to go. The guys from Arizona took to playing billiards. The staff continued to decorate and I could over hear Mr. USC talking about how they almost beat Utah.

I chased this guy down right away as he entered the bar with this killer, UofO blazer.


Turns out he’s the son of a ex-NIKE employee, an employee who worked for NIKE for 30+ years. I found out he lives in Shanghai working for Apple. His friend makes this fan wear suit for any team, any league, any program. As I’ve worked in the licensing business for years, I could have got all “legal” on him but didn’t. I did find out the location of the “tailor” so let me know your size and team and we’ll see what we can do!

We ordered up more drinks and closer to halftime we ordered up some appetizers. Note to self, or anyone else planning to go to The Big Bamboo,  stick with the sliders and fries. Not sure what part of the chicken is used when making the “chicken tenders.” Another note to self. Go easy on the Bloody Mary’s when starting at 10 in the morning. I went home and slept all afternoon.

Great Saturday morning out on the town. Great win for the Ducks. Great fun trash talking the USC guy. By the way, the Arizona guys left the bar early, as did their team. Boom.

When I got in the office on Monday morning, one of my Chinese co-workers who is also one of my Facebook friends, asked me where I got the Chinese characters for “Go Ducks.” I very proudly said “I typed it into Google Translate” He laughed and said it says “Go to hell. There is no translation for Go Ducks.” I sheepishly went back to my office to delete my post on Facebook. Clearly the programmer for Google Translate is a USC grad.

Go Ducks.

Giving Thanks

A year ago, as I got into the car on Thanksgiving morning to drive to a meeting I was feeling a bit blue. I started up a conversation with Kenny explaining that today, in the U.S., is a day where we give thanks. I asked him what he is thankful for and he raised his hand, waved me off and stated “that is a Western thing.” “I am thankful everyday.” Ouch. This year when I got in the car to drive to the office on Thanksgiving morning, I didn’t bring it up. Instead, Kenny asked me about Ferguson, Missouri and why Americans own guns. Oh boy. Talk about a “Western thing.” I like the tradition of Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Our family tradition is to start the day with a friendly game of football. American football of course. Rain or shine, we’ve been hosting the Brock Bowl (Brock is my family name) for the last 10 years.

The game is followed by dinner at my sister’s house. Always delicious. We woke up on Friday morning, China time, to Thanksgiving, Thursday afternoon, U.S. time, to loads of pictures and videos of Brock Bowl, family photos of different gatherings and friends photos from around the U.S., hosting their own traditions. All posted on various social media outlets. Nice. Great to see you with your loved ones. But what really got to me was the images of the food – the turkeys fresh out of the oven or deep fryer, the plates overloaded with dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and of course the photos of the desserts. Stop it. Enough already. It’s torture to those who love their comfort foods from home and don’t have access to it while abroad. Time for a Square Melons moment of exploring the things that are different. Shopping for fresh food in Shanghai is not the same as ordering your fresh turkey from Zupan’s Market. Let me share with you images from the local wet market located a mile or so from our apartment. What is a wet market you ask? A wet market is stocked with fresh produce and live animals. The markets got their name due to the fact that the floors are wet from the live fish flopping around and because the vendors throw buckets of water to keep the area “clean” after butchering the desired cut of meat for each customer.

A post on Facebook from an Argentinian friend who now lives in the U.S., simply states Give Thanks with a question poised, Behavior vs. Tradition. I thought about this all week and have come to realize, for me, it’s a bit of both. I’m thankful and grateful everyday for those I have in my life. I believe my actions and words are examples of that behavior. I like traditions. I like the traditions and customs our family has passed on through the generations. I have loved learning about the behaviors, traditions and cultures of my new friends in China. It’s been great to call out the things that are different and more often than not, the things that are the same. But for me and my traditional, one day of giving thanks, and eating too much food, I prefer shopping at Zupan’s.

Thanksgiving Dinner Expat Style

Thanksgiving Dinner Expat Style

And don’t worry Mom, Greg and I had a wonderful, traditional Thanksgiving dinner at The Waldorf Astoria hotel. Not quite the same as home, but not a bad option.

Lost In Translation

I once worked for a guy, well technically I still do, we all do if you work for NIKE, who used to make the statement “let me be clear.” The delivery of the statement “let me be clear” usually came into play after and sometimes during a pitch or presentation where the presenter clearly misunderstood the assignment.

I never really adopted the line until I moved to China.

I haven’t learned to say it, I’ve learned to practice it.  I’ve learned to try to make my statements or requests as simple as possible, as clear as can be, said slowly and deliberately.

Let me give you a few examples.

When we go to one of our favorite places for breakfast, Baker and Spice, I’m now very clear on my order. The first two times, I stood at the counter and nicely asked for 2 eggs scrambled. When the food arrived at our table, I received 2 orders of the egg platter inclusive of bacon, toast and potatoes. Okay. I see how this works. I got exactly what they heard.

A friend of mine ordered a toasted bagel. When the food arrived she received toast and a bagel. Understandable. I can see where this request was lost in translation.

At work, we have a temp who is filling in for someone out on maternity leave. My mandarin is nonexistent and her english is scripted, memorized and limited. I asked her to complete an organization chart for me. I provided an emailed version of the template for her to complete. It took a couple days of me acting out my request and a significant amount of patience as her response to my “coaching” was “It’s okay” while she was rubbing my arm in comfort.

On day 3, of this back and forth, we finally had all the right boxes and names in place on the document but because it now included so many names, the font, or size of the print, was super small and almost unreadable. I asked her if she could make it bigger. She stated “It’s okay” and rubbed my arm.

That afternoon, she presented me with the largest piece of paper I’ve ever seen with the organization chart still the same size. The small chart with tiny, illegible, font was smack dab in the middle of the poster size paper. Exactly what I had asked for when acting out “can you make it bigger” while holding the 8.5×11 piece of paper.

I’m learning. I’m the one in a foreign land and I’m the one who doesn’t speak the language. I think I’ve slowed down my talking. I’ve back up conversations in meetings to make sure everyone is on board with the thinking and I’m trying to be a good coach all the while trying to be coachable. I did however, laugh out loud when at the grocery store Greg pointed out the misunderstanding of this American classic.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa. You get what you ask for.

From Farmington to Factories

I grew up in a house that was located near the corner of 160th and Farmington Road in Beaverton, Oregon. One of our many neighbors was the Hauth family. A family of 7 boys.

With 8 kids in our family and the Hauth boys, there was plenty of trouble and some great memories to share, but I’ll save that for my memoir.

One of the Hauth boys, Jerry has worked at NIKE forever. His 35+ years includes opening most of NIKE’s footwear factories around the world. Jerry has lived and worked in Yugoslavia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Taiwan and India.

I’ve known Jerry my entire life. I grew up with him and his brothers. I was the babysitter for his kids when he was first married, and of course we’ve stayed in touch while working at NIKE. So when Jerry emailed me to say he was coming to China for some factory visits and would I like to meet up with him and his team, I, of course, jumped at the chance.

Meredith, our youngest daughter was spending July with us in Shanghai. This fall she enters her final year at the University of Oregon School of Journalism. She’s writing her thesis on sustainable manufacturing so with Jerry’s offer I made it a family trip and Greg, Meredith and I headed to the cities of Qingdao and Ningbo, China to meet up with a friend from the old neighborhood.

We flew from Shanghai to Qingdao where we were met by a van that took us directly to the first factory where NIKE footwear has been manufactured for close to 20 years. Jerry met us at the door and introduced us to his team who traveled with him from NIKE and the team from the factory.  We learned about the running products produced at that location and took a tour of the facilities.  Always impressive to see, as I’ve been to factories before, but it was really exciting to see it with Greg and Meredith and to have Jerry as our expert tour guide. We learned and witness how the manufacturing process has evolved and changed over the years and the team in Qingdao continues to look for ways to make improvements in the process.

After the tour we were led back to the conference room where lunch had been set out. Big Macs and Pizza for the Americans and bento, boxed lunches for the locals. Not feeling all that adventurous and concerned after reading recently that McDonald’s in China was using questionable meat products and not sure what the “pepperoni” was, I chose the bento box. I picked out and ate the rice and the cooked, green vegetable, bok choy. Greg went with the Big Mac and I think Meredith had a bottled water.

IMG_2080Before getting into the van, Meredith and I headed to use the facilities. As we entered, I was quickly reminded that I’m not in Shanghai anymore. In Shanghai, I’ve identified all the best bathrooms in the city and have scheduled any market travel around always using the bathrooms at the IAPM mall. They’re fabulous.

Meredith and I both stopped and stared into the open stalls in the bathrooms at the factory. Staring back at us was the common bathroom fixture of China. We both stood there and flashing through my mind was the fact that we had not used the “facilities” since leaving our apartment some six hours earlier and we would be in a van for 2 hours before arriving at our hotel.

Meredith, with all her confidence says “let’s do this.” So I rolled up my pant legs and headed in. I asked over the wall, “do we face the door or the back wall?” Meredith, not knowing the answer but having spent a lot her childhood camping with family and friends, coached me by stating, “face the door, squat like you’re in a NIKE Training Club class and just go.” All good. I left that pair of shoes in the hotel room.

The next morning we flew to Ningbo, China to see our flyknit manufacturing process. The drive to the factory was beautiful as the factory is located in the rolling hills and green countryside. The manufacturing process? IMPRESSIVE. And for reasons I’m sure you can understand, I was not allowed to take any photos.

The van took us back to the city of Ningbo where Greg, Meredith and I took China’s own, innovative fast speed, “bullet” train to Shanghai. A great way to travel. Easy, clean and more room than an airplane seat. I highly recommend it.

A quick trip to meet up with a friend from the old neighborhood. A long time NIKE employee. A historian of footwear manufacturing. Sharing his knowledge with a college student looking to the future.

We’ve come along way from Farmington Road. Thanks Jerry.

Problem Solved

We all have problems in our daily lives and we all have our own way of solving them.

I laughed when I first saw this set of International Guidelines for how different cultures go about solving problems. You can decide for yourself based on your own experiences but let me tell you what I’ve learned after living in China for a year.

There are no problems in China. It’s a very low drama kind of culture. “They” approach things with a very, lets not get all worked up kind of attitude. Let’s deal with what we actually have control over and leave the rest to… well, let’s just not talk about it.

There is no national 24 hour news feed that fuels people’s anxieties or opinions. There is access to western news channels like CNN and BBC but if they broadcast anything that may cause or stir up any “drama” the TV just goes black. No problem.

Air quality issues? Not a problem. We have an app on our phone that we check each day to see what the air quality index is in Shanghai. Most days you can see the pollution. Some days you can taste it. And other days, you should just stay inside.

The app shows 2 updates – one posted by the U.S. Consulate and the other from the City of Shanghai government. Almost daily, the Consulate post 20 to 30 points higher, using language like Very Unhealthy where the local government post Moderately Polluted. No problem.

I’ve noticed when talking with people who have limited english in their vocabulary, that they have standard, scripted responses to any of my questions. “No problem.” “It’s Okay.” and “I know.” Here’s an example, “Do you have tonic water?” response, “No problem.” The store clerk will point to sparkling water on the shelf, in the aisle where I’m standing. I try again, where they state “it’s okay.” I explain in my most obnoxious, American, let’s send in the drones, way of louder and slower “T-O-N-I-C  W-A-T-E-R” to which they respond “I know. No problem. It’s okay.” And you know what? They’re right. They do know. It’s not a problem and it will be okay. We’ll drink the gin straight.

There’s nothing more evident in the No Problem zone than transportation. This country has it nailed. IMG_1874You need to move your furniture from one apartment to another? No problem. My buddies got a bike and we can just stack it high and he can ride it through the streets of Shanghai during rush hour.

IMG_2053“What’s that?” “You have an antique piece that’s been in your family for centuries?” “No problem.” “I’ll load it on top of the mattress for protection.”

You want some house plants for your apartment? “No problem.” Don’t have a way of getting them from the store? “I know.” Not sure which one will fit and I may want some smaller ones as well. “It’s okay.” “I’ll bring the entire store on the back of my bike.”

And before you go getting all high and mighty while gnawing on that strip of IMG_2067bacon, these little piggies are indeed headed to market. We do, in the good old U. S. of A, also transport pigs. Ever been to Arkansas? It’s just here in China the truck is an open trailer where in Little Rock, the product is in an enclosed container with holes drilled in the side for ventilation. Square Melons, but I’ll move on.

But there’s nothing better and more brilliant than the restaurant home delivery service known as Sherpa’s. One can login to Sherpa’s, view take out menus from hundreds of restaurants from all around the city, place an order and within 30 to 45 minutes the food shows up at your door. Motor scooters with bright orange boxes fly around the city picking up food and delivering to your apartment. Same price as ordering at the restauranIMG_2108t and remember there’s no tipping here.

Oh and by the way, they’ll deliver beers as well, with or without your food order. I wonder if they have tonic water? I’ll need to check.

 

 

So whatever your need. No problem. Whatever you perceive as a problem. It’s okay. China’s got you covered. I know.

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