Greetings from Shanghai! We arrived without incident on Saturday morning. My wife’s family picked us up at the airport and took us to their home in a van. We spent several hours at their place eating lunch, catching up with family, and eating dinner (eating is a perpetual activity in China). Easter morning was quiet. We did not have a church to attend in China, marking the first time I’ve ever missed church on Easter Sunday. It’s something I always make a point to do, but this time we did not have a church home to attend. A friend’s friend we tried to connect with could not attend on Sunday morning because she had to work and planned to attend on another day. It’s hard to find a good church home in a place like Shanghai, especially when you’ve just arrived. Instead, we spent a quiet morning by ourselves reflecting on the meaning of Easter. Dear Reader, I hope you also had a good, peaceful Easter weekend.
Yesterday afternoon I went with family and friends to visit Thames Town. It was fabulous as expected, although it is quite far from town. It truly does feel like a quaint part of England nestled in China. The town is under construction and not quite yet open for business. Land use about 1/4 commercial and 3/4 residential. The town features a small cathedral and two college campuses as well as a variety of small shops and domiciles. A British firm is in charge of engineering Thames Town, and I think they’ve done a good job at building an authentic-looking place. There appear to be covenants in place requiring that the store owners and residents retain the look and feel of the town. It may seem odd to visit Thames Town, but after seeing it featured on CNN.com, I couldn’t resist traveling to such an intriguing place. I’ve seen many of Shanghai’s most popular sites on previous visits, so I wanted to see something entirely new. Tomorrow night we will visit Xintiandi, another new entertainment, mixed-use area in Shanghai with a traditional Chinese theme. I hear that it’s one of the new hot spots in Shanghai. I probably won’t have time to visit any of the other eight new internationally-themed areas, including German Town, Czech Town, and Norway Town. Thames Town is it for now. Perhaps I’ll see them on my next tour.