Can Shanghai redeem itself?

Quarantine +7 Day 2

Today was one of those days. I’d walked past a recommended clinic on Thursday to check where to have my D16 covid test and was referred to a local hospital. So I left nice and early at 7am to get it done before work. It was walking distance so I was keen to get a few steps in.

Then the comedy of errors began. I went to the test prefab (they’re all in prefabs not in the main hospital), no I needed a red card, I had to go and register. Then for the next hour I went up and down stairs – up to pay – no you need to go down to get a slip of paper first, down to 1st floor to get the paper, then up to register, then down to get a red card, then up to pay, then down to get a code. Now this all seems fairly straight forward except people in Shanghai (let’s not generalise and just say, people in Shanghai at that hospital early in the morning) are incredibly rude and pushy but the standards I’ve become used to in Beijing. Queues are non-existent – there is the illusion of them but people just butt in and stand in front of you! Even if you’re at the front of the queue, talking to someone, and they have your papers and passport in front of them, someone else will come up from the side, push their papers on top of yours and talk over you. And this didn’t just happen once – it happened the whole time. Fierce stare and strong “对不起!got more than adequate practice. So then feeling a tiny big smug having navigated all of that, off I went back outside to the prefab. They took my red card, gave me a QR code for the test and I sat down on the testing chair. She got the nose pricker ready. Looked at my card, looked and my passport and said – “no, you go”. Go where? – “go back inside for testing”. So I went back inside, back into virtual queues, found someone who found someone else who told me the hospital didn’t test people like me on their D16 test. So back to the rigamarole to get reimbursed because they weren’t going to let me leave without getting my Y80 back. So, where to go? You must go to xxx hospital. It was also walking distances, so off I went. Luckily they didn’t even let me join the queue and said they didn’t test my type at that hospital.

At which point, I contacted a colleague who’d had a test done at a place 30 minutes away from where I was, and got the details and hopped into a didi. Joined a huge queue and practiced my newly acquired Shanghai skills by jumping the queue, not immensely, just about 1/3 closer to the entry than I should have. No-one complained. Another hour later (all the while, as I’m at T+2 hours, in a meeting that had begun learning about child safety on my phone) I was tested with the most gentle possible way. In fact the most gentle test I’ve had since this escapade began.

The other thing I’ve noticed – they’ve eliminated walking space on the pavements here – they’re all taken up by bicycles and motorbikes. That’s all well and good if you’re fairly even-footed and nimble – but outside a hospital it’s pure chaos as people on crutches and in wheelchairs are incapable of getting from point A to B without considerable assistance, and then at a very slow pace. And there is construction everywhere. Really everywhere.

The whole testing thing took a total of nearly 4 hours! Luckily I could attend my training virtually.

The rest of the day was pretty busy with start of year stuff and in the evening I walked to dinner with a bunch of people I’d never met. That is one nice thing about social media and friends of friends. I’d gotten in contact with an ex-Beijing member of our knitting group who now lives in Shanghai, and she invited me to dinner with 14 other people. It was a 40 minute walk from my hotel, and as you all have guessed if there’s one thing I need to do, it’s get some steps outside in.

I had a great walk through the neighbourhood, stumbled on a “hole in the wall” place that gave me a fantastic foot massage, and my first experience of hearing 上海话。Something I’d learnt about in one of the chapters of my first chinese text book 16 years. It was literally a case of 听不懂。But a good opportunity to practice my chinese asking the masseuse if it was 上海话 and that’s the reason I didn’t understand anything. Foot massage is WAY cheaper here at Y70 for an hour, as opposed to the Y120++ in Beijing. And she gave a great one.

Dinner was fun, meeting a bunch of young people with some interesting stories, including one with the most fabulous steam punk tattoos (tempting!), and a passion for climbing volcanoes in the area which is currently on hold due to you know what. Did you know China has volcanoes?

So Shanghai started to redeem itself. We’ll see today and tomorrow when I actually have some time (even if I could / should do more work I’m talking the weekend off) to walk around and enjoy.

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