Have been back to Shanghai for over 10 days now - everything is still overwhelming to me. It seems that I have had more culture shock than Brad has so far. Brad teased me by calling me Banana (yellow outside and white inside), and I secretly agreed.
I have a shortlist of the things that have overwhelmed me over the past days:
- traffic chaos
- constant honking
- huge commercial demand and consumption
- yelling and spitting
- price gouging
One thing I have been doing persistently from arrival until now is negotiation. Everything here is negotiable and everything, big or small, needs to be negotiated. From apartment rent to printer, from custom clearance to Internet and phone installation, I constantly haggle, discuss, and even sometimes argue with people in order to get things done properly. Since there are no rules to play by, you can't expect too much from people and can't expect them to do the same as you would do if you were them. So the only thing you can do to get what you want is negotiation.
You have to be determined, tactical and humorous when negotiating so that you can both get what you want and have fun at the same time. Otherwise you might end up with nothing and become annoyed as well.
I found price gauging very annoying. Most of the time, as soon as people see a white person, the price at least doubles. So when we found this apartment we are living in now, I didn't take Brad with me, but inspected and signed the contract myself. It is just too hard to haggle price when Brad is there.