Oh right, Shenyang China. Let’s be honest, I knew virtually nothing about this place when we were putting our bid list together. It’s in northeast China, up in Manchuria near the North Korea border. Near Russia, too. Wasn’t it on that one episode of No Reservations? No, that was Harbin. So it’s cold, lots of factories and pollution? Got it.
Obviously, after Flag Day, my curiosity about Shenyang became somewhat elevated. Wikipedia had lots to say, but it didn’t really help me. My concerns were more mundane and personal. Where would live? Would there be food that I like? I’m happy to eat at Chinese restaurants on occasion, but not every day. How would we get around town; i.e.would we need a car? Are there other people there that I might become friends with?
As usual, Google saved the day. I created a personal map to keep track of every place in Shenyang I need to know about. I added a few obvious landmarks like the airport, the two main train stations, the US Consulate. Then I searched for western-style grocery stores in Shenyang, and it turns out there are several options, including a few Carreforts (European supermarket chain). I found all the State Department housing options and marked them on my map. I added the local IMAX theater, bowling alley, IKEA, the main library, that kind of stuff.
But Shenyang expat blogs were a real goldmine for filling out my map, and knowledge of Shenyang. That’s where I found out about the pubs and restaurants that serve decent Western-style food, and cater to expats. Not to mention bookstores with an English-language section, interesting shopping areas (Shenyang apparently has a street dedicated to baking equipment!), must-see tourist sites, and handy tips for living there. I know, I know, I should embrace the local cuisine and culture. And believe me, my wife will ensure that happens. But I really need to know where to get a good pizza, bread and beer (not necessarily in that order) to feel at ease in a new city.
I’ve looked for any semblance of a local gaming scene, that is tabletop role-playing games, or war games, and have come up dry. Expat bloggers seem really focused on either raising their kids, or going out to sports bars to watch soccer. So we’ll see about that. They say there are no bad posts. If a post doesn’t have something you need to be happy, find some other way to be happy. Something will turn up.
Have a look at my Shenyang map here: