China Trip-Day 5

This morning Ashlyn and I went down to breakfast then waited for my Aunt's chauffer in the lobby. Ashlyn is really popular with the hostess and all the waitresses at breakfast. Actually, she's become quite popular with everyone here. Customer service is not a strong suit for the people in China, and sales people are not very friendly in general. But having Ashlyn with me has brought out a side of people you normally wouldn't see. I get smiles, inquiries, better service, and even a better price. *gasp* Oh yeah! =D Ashlyn's become my lil' bargaining chip! hehehe

I waited and waited for my Aunt's chauffer. Finally a gentleman, who was eyeing me for a while, approached me. He asked me for my last name was. I instinctively gave him my married name, and he was like, "Oh" and walked away. Then I thought a moment and chased him down. I gave him my maiden name, and he was like, "Huh?...okay". I forget that in Asia, you're still referred to by your maiden name. So he pulled the car around and we headed to my Aunt and Uncle's factory. When I say Shanghai is BIG, I'm not kidding. The drive was 40 minutes to the factory (in the opposite direction of PuDong). That's like me driving for 2 hours and still being in the same city!

Aunt Judy and Uncle Eric are not relatives, but close family friends. Wil and I grew up playing with their sons, Jason and Todd. Both Jason and Todd head up the company now. It was great seeing Todd and his wife, Emily, at the factory. The last time I saw Todd and Emily, it was at my wedding, and they were expecting their first child at the time. As for Jason...well, it's been years and years since I last saw him. Moving right along...
Since they spend so much time at the factory, they built living quarters on the second story. They have a huge kitchen, dining room, living room, gym, spacious bedrooms, and a nursery for Todd and Emily's daughter, Nicole. Ashlyn and I played with Nicole and her nanny upstairs until lunch. The nanny took both babies and allowed me to eat with Aunt Judy, Uncle Eric, Todd, and some of their relatives and friends. After lunch, my Aunt had one of her chauffers escort me to preview one of the popular street markets for some shopping. Aunt Judy was like, "You leave the baby here and we'll take care of her. You just go and have a good time." I was really hesitant about leaving Ashlyn, but she was having so much fun. The street market was close to our hotel...which meant we drove another 40 minutes back into the city.

The street markets were packed! I was relieved that I didn't bring the baby. It was terribly hot today...and unlike other days, today was dry heat. You could have scrambled an egg on the top of my head, it was just that hot! The chauffer followed as I quickly walked around. He must have thought I was weird for walking so fast, but we had a lot of area to cover and I wanted to make sure I caught a glimpse of everything before shopping. I'd hate to buy something, only to find a better item for half the cost at another stand. I saw a lot of purses my friends wanted, but decided to hold off on those purchases until I had a chance to grab my list and shop with Aric. I just bought a ton of cute baby clothes for Ashlyn. A bunch of Hello Kitty rompers and onesies, shirts, hooded shirts, and pjs. The Hello Kitty clothes were legit...not like the knock off Hello Kat you might frequently see in Taiwan. All of the items of clothing were less than two bucks a piece. Cheap! After a couple of hours of weaving in an out of the crowded market, the chauffer and I headed back to the factory. I was so drained that I fell asleep on the way back.

We pulled into the factory around the time everyone got off work. I was really surprised to see the young girls that worked there. I inquired about it to the chauffer, and he said that girls nowadays rather earn money than finish high school...apparently a growing problem in China. Anyhow, I was happy to see Ashlyn. Ashlyn had a great time with Nicole and her nanny. I asked Emily how much the nanny costed them, and she said about $500 RMB a month ...which comes out to be like $60 US a month! GAT DAMN!....for $60, I'd get a nanny too! Shoo...I'd get two! HAHAHA Seriously though, I couldn't believe it. No wonder everyone kept asking if I hired "help" or raised Ashlyn myself. I kept thinking, "Hire help?!...I can't afford to hire help." I was green with envy, and thought how nice it would be to have a nanny. But after much thought, I think raising Ashlyn myself is a joy. Yeah, it would be nice to get a break once in a while, but I see how attached Nicole is to her nanny, and I don't know how I would feel about someone else raising my child. Nicole cries when her nanny leaves the room...even when Emily is there. I don't think Emily minds much, since she's expecting her second child in September. The family will be moving back to the States for the birth...and Emily will definitely have her hands full then (since the nanny won't be able to go with them).

The chauffer drove Ashlyn and I back to the hotel in time for me to meet Aric and his coworker, Julie, for dinner. Julie took us to a Shanghainese restaurant...I forgot the name. We had some really yummy food with some local beer. The FIFA World Cup is HUGE in China. Every restaurant has a TV tuned to soccer, and I noticed everyone ate with one eye glued to the television. I'm not that big of a soccer fan, so...whatever. After dinner, Aric, Julie, Ashlyn, and I walked around and window shopped. We walked Julie to her apartment, then Aric and I made the long trek back to the hotel. We really enjoy the night time strolls. The streets are alive with people, lights, sounds, smells, etc... I know Shanghai must have an incredible nightlife...pubs and clubs. But Aric and I don't see ourselves checking those places out. Our hotel offers babysitting, but I've heard all the shady stories of China, that I rather not. Well Aunt Judy, Uncle Eric, and Todd kept offering nanny services to me. But...*nah*...it's cool.

Pictures from today:

Ashlyn and Nicole

Emily with Ashlyn and Nicole

Nicole and her mommy

Aric, Ashlyn, and me

Aric, Ashlyn, and Julie

is it me or does this sign resemble an Asian Colonel Sanders?

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