Adventures in Expatland, vol. 1

We live in an apartment complex on the eastern side of the Huangpu River. The Huangpu bisects Shanghai from north to south. East Shanghai is referred to as Pudong, or east of the river; the west side is known as Puxi (west of the river). Our place is about 2 miles (3k) from a shopping center called Zendai Thumb Plaza and about 4 miles (6k) from another shopping center called Green Court.

The apartments and villas immediately surrounding these shopping centers constitute what I call Expatland. They’re where the highest concentrations of Western expatriates live in Pudong. Contained within each of these two shopping centers are the gustatory banes of our existence — the Moon River Diner and the Blue Frog. Both are American-style burger joints.

As pleased as we were to discover these places within our first few months of arriving, Lisa and I have come to dread them because the food is just so bland. At first, we were excited because the kids were not adjusting well to China and the familiar food and friendly, English-speaking staffs kept us coming back despite the decidedly American meal prices. Playgrounds outside, coloring paper and sauceless pasta inside add up to happy kids. What more can you ask for?

But the kids haven’t discovered the concept of ‘too much of a good thing isn’t good’ yet.  Their persistent unwillingness to explore different foods despite our best efforts, combined with our fear that Rollo is just too danged skinny for his own good, has severely limited our eating out options.

What I can’t complain about is the kid-friendly atmosphere. The boys really love both places and they almost always find other kids to run around with outside. That leaves Lisa and me to nurse our drinks, nibble our soggy salads, fantasize about the Chinese, Thai, Indian, and other foods we’re not eating, and enjoy 30 to 45 minutes of happy, distracted children playing outside at the end of lunch or dinner.

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One Response to “Adventures in Expatland, vol. 1”

  1. Rose Says:

    Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children! Do you ever get a date night?

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