Moment of the Day – “Fast Food”

Whether it be on the streets, tucked into an alley, or clustered together on the corner ,Shanghai starts to fill up with stands and mobile street carts plying a wide variety of foods at night. Fried rice , skewers of meat and veggies , soups , you got it. Some of these vendors have the proper permits   and many . many, do not.

Some nights , due to police or city management, areas which are hot spots for late night eats can be totally deserted.

Last week,   while waiting for my girlfriend to get out of her company dinner I was standing on the corner of Fuxing Zhong Rd. and Xiangyang Nan Rd. drinking a beer and watching people go by.

A lady had set up a little fried-rice cart in the bike lane on Xiangyang Nan Rd (21:45ish so the street wasn’t busy) and was busy frying up some rice in her wok. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that all of a sudden she started to pack away her cart , grab all the things to secure them on the table , cut the propane tank’s gas , turn the cart around , dash maybe twenty meters down the street , and then turn into a little alleyway to lay low. After maybe about 40 minutes , with no city workers or police coming by, she emerged from the alley , and re-setup show in the exact location she was in before. My guess is that a friend / fellow vendor called her with a warning that city workers/police had been seen somewhere around and she booked it until another call told her it was safe.

Stay in China long enough and you will see this scene plenty of times or maybe even catch the city management harassing some of the vendors.

I witnessed a particularly funny scene in Nanjing near the Confucius temple. An old lady and little boy approached a pineapple vendor who cut the pineapples up and served them skewered up. While the lady was trying to decide the vendor noticed cops making their way over. He urged the lady to hurry up and that he had to go . She fumbled around in her purse looking for coins in the slow way old ladies do things and the guy rode off leaving the lady still looking for change.  Haha.

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Photo of the Day- Lanterns

I’ve had this photo sitting around for a while on my computer. I have a whole series but no room left on wordpress. I need to do something about that.

This photo is from the lantern festival at Yu Gardens during February. It was cold as a Roo cat’s heart but totally worth braving the elements.

This photo really illustrates the kind of “Where the hell am I?” ” Oh it’s Asia” situation that can sometimes hit travelers in this land .

Movie Theaters in China

Movie-goers from Western countries will most likely be taken aback at the behavior , or rather lack of, inside Chinese movie theaters. I’ve been to the movies in the city of Tianjin , Shanghai, and now Shaoxing.

Just this past weekend I went on a little trip to Shaoxing , tucked between Hangzhou and Ningbo , in Zhejiang Province. More on the trip coming later this week but first we’ll talk movies.

It was a rather chilly and rainy weekend so we sought shelter in a movie theater by our hostel (also took advantage of the cheaper than Shanghai ticket prices , only 70 rmb for the 3-D).

First of all , let me say , The Avengers is super awesome. Secondly , I actually enjoyed the 3-D .

Now onto the Chinese movie theater experience.

1. Cell phones galore

Oh yes people leave ringtones on during the movie and *gasp* pick up their phones and have a conversation. This usually happens many times during the course of a film.

2. Talking

In addition to the aforementioned cell phone answering people will often talk (quite loudly at times) during the movie. During the Avengers the talking wasn’t bad but when the action lulled off for a few minutes the kids (and some adults) would start loudly recapping all the action scenes that happened.

3. Noise

While I didn’t notice any of this during The Avengers , long , long ago in Tianjin people were doing their best to open and consume snacks with the highest  decibel levels possible.

4. Bathroom

No , no NOT going on inside the screening room! But I just had to write about the bathroom there. Something I ate earlier that day was making me feel a little funky and before the movie started I went to try to relieve my bowels. Mistake. Inside each of the squatter stalls a huge mound of shit was just chilling on the basin part of the toilet. No exaggerating , a huge mound of shit in each one. Too big to be flushed away. (Why can’t you just poop in the water part people??). A brief gag impulse choked its way up through my body after the smell of each stall hit me.  Then I go to the urinal to pee ,and what awaits me in the urinal? Yes , a small piece of shit , in the urinal. My guess would be that some child had to poop and each of the stalls was disgusting so Dad held the kid’s backside up to the urinal and plop, plop.

Ok, that is all. I leave you with the awesome Avengers and several mounds of stanky shit.

BinJiang Forest Park

Yesterday I had a nice little field trip with my students way out in BinJiang Forest Park. The park is just north of the Outer Ring Highway in northern Pudong near where the Yangzte River meets the ocean and next to where the Huangpu River is formed out of the Yangzte. After the highway the bus navigated a windy narrow road through some chemical processing plants , and a clustering of cheap restaurants located in  dilapidated buildings supporting the workers.

When you finally make it past the grimy surroundings , the vibrant green juxtaposition of the park is especially refreshing.

I’ve always been intrigued by BinJiang Forest park ever since the moment I lay eyes upon that vast green oasis on google maps. I’ve made it out to some of Shanghai’s other “forest” parks and was interested to see this one.

At times I can really miss the wild parks and forests of Ohio. As teenagers and in University every weekend during nice weather (and hell even during snowstorms) it would be off to a park. Ohio has an abundance of huge wilderness areas with dirt trails , no other people , a real commune with nature. In Shanghai the city parks are often crowded, rather small , not a real park  but a facsimile of the forest created in an enclosed urban space in between the skyscrapers and busy roads.  I’m always looking to find a place in China that can match the parks of my memories.

I will say that BinJiang park is a very nice park indeed. I fear it is impossible to find the types of parks I knew in Ohio , in Shanghai but BinJiang did a great job of making me feel nostalgic for home. Several different ecological zones are recreated in the park including a kinda marshy boardwalk , some small lakes , and a plains area. The park also has a “cough cough” view of the dirty zone where the Yangzte meets the ocean.

There were more places to stroll but I was a bit limited by having to stick by twenty 4 year olds. We had fun running around playing doing crazy stuff but I would definitely like to revisit this park another time without the entourage and see everything.

If you are feeling adventurous and have some spare time to make it all the way out there ( northernmost stop of line 6 is the closest and then from there you will have to figure out the bus route) I recommend this place. If you need a break from the city and are looking for a different spot then Century Park Binjiang is the place!

(Sorry no pictures for ya. My wordpress storage limit has just about been reached  , I gotta do something about that.)

Crazy Bike Rides

Well it was a pretty nice May 1st holiday out in Shanghai. Maybe the best part being the three-day work week. I love a Wednesday/Should be Monday kinda deal.

The skies threatened rain the whole time but we only got a tiny bit the final night of break.

I put in an appearance at a student of mine’s birthday party , played with a bunch of kids , caught up with some gardening , did some drawing , and busted out a crazy 80km~ bike ride through the hinterlands of Shanghai.

I set out about noon on the Monday off , armed with a bag , an atlas, and some cash , with only one goal in mind , a man on a mission. I would reach the end of metro line 5! Minhang Development Zone! Wooo hooo!

Now keep in mind , there isn’t much out there really. It’s a good 40 km from the city center and is in a part of Shanghai where factories and farms intermingle. I had been to that metro stop one time before but never by bicycle. I wanted to see the path there.  To ride the metro there it would have been 3 different lines ( 9 to 1 to 5) an equivalent of 20 stops , one way!

Setting out I stopped at the Family Mart on West JianGuo Rd to grab breakfast . Those rice rolls wrapped in seaweed with a yummy filling inside are soo good.

West JianGuo Rd is a great leafy former French Concession street. One way  traffic for the most of the way , big trees, and lots of cool shops. A few minutes into the ride a biker in front of me has spit and I pass directly through the spray. This is one of those “Love China” moments. At the intersection with Hengshan Rd West JianGuo Rd turns into Guangyuan Rd. A guy pulling out through this intersection almost hits a police car and then has the nerve to blast his horn at the cops. Whoa.

I pass the Russian embassy on Guangyuan Rd and turn south onto Tianping Rd. The massive Zhaojiabang Rd looms up ahead. Goodbye low housing and trees , hello real Shanghai. Super tall skyscrapers zoom up and shoppers hurry onwards to the Xujiahui shopping area.

Hmm this was a rather bad intersection to choose. I have to hop off my bike and walk a bit west on the sidewalk to connect with TianYaoQiao Rd. This is a typical busy Shanghai street with cars, buses, taxis , and motorbikes all zooming around. Sometimes I wonder how I have survived so long. I continue down this street past Xietu Rd and Lingling Rd. Suddenly Shanghai Stadium appears. A massive white structure surrounded by high-rise apartment blocks everywhere.

Next up is South Zhongshan Rd and the elevated inner ring road which stands above it. This marks the southern border of the inner city. Things get more and more gritty after this point.

Continuing down TianYaoQiao I pass the Longhua Marty’s Cemetery and the huge glass pyramidal monument that rises out of the greenery. I turn left on LongShui Rd (Dragon Water Road hahaha!) and follow that as it becomes LongCao Rd and then CaoBao Rd. I could have continued south along LongWu Rd and passed the train station but a bike ride a few days ago had already taken me past that. It was time for new things.

Buildings are getting decidedly more shabby and I haven’t seen a foreigner in a while. I stop for some steamed dumplings and get juicy oil on my pants , and handlebars.

Reaching Guilin Rd I turn south , there is a nice park I’ve heard about here but it appears to have a ticket booth at the entrance. Paying for a ticket is a no-no right now. Following Guilin Rd south , I eventually pass under the HuMin Elevated Rd and then Guilin Rd becomes LaoHuMin Rd (or Old HuMin street). I stay on this road for a long , long , time. I pass a few Universities and the last foreigners I will see for a good 4 ,5 hours. After passing the Middle Ring Road LaoHuMin goes past a very unattractive part of town. Recycling centers and the smell of trash burning abounds. The road has gotten pretty bumpy as well. Passing a narrow bridge over the Dianpu tributary I see some nice factories (hah!). Soon after the Outer Ring Highway is passed and a bit further on LaoHuMin deadends into South HongMei Rd. Now if you are familiar with Shanghai you may recognize HongMei Rd as the pedestrian walking street with a bunch of restaurants , bars, and lots of foreigners. You would be correct but this is wayyy to the south of that. Nothing of interest here at all.

Looking at the map places us at east of Xinzhuang. The end of Line 1 and the start of Line 5! Only 8 more metro stops to go! 8 stops with lengthened distances between the stations cuz we out in the boonies now woo hoo!

Ugh South Hongmei Rd is an annoying street. Tons of recycling centers , bad-smelling , and full of big trucks pulling into the factories and blocking the bike lanes. I am also starting to attract more attention. What the hell is this foreigner doing out here on a bicycle?!? A few calls of “Hello!!” occasionally drift over. Weirdly enough a bit past the recycling centers are some exclusive gated communities with big homes. What person with money wants to live all the way out here?

Hmm , ok I’m nearing the southern limits of my map. Soon I will have to rely on my own navigating skills. Knowing this, I decided it’s time to head west and meet up with metro line 5. Line 5 is an elevated line and none of it  goes underground. If I can meet up with it , I can use the tall structure as my guide.

I turn off of South HongMei onto YinDu road and go. There are some shopping complexes here including a B&Q. Nearing what according to the map should be a crossing of High Speed Highway #4 , I think I’m in trouble. There is no bridge here. Only an entrance ramp to the car exclusive highway. There is no way I’m going anywhere near Chinese drivers doing 100km/h on a bicycle and the fact that it’s illegal to take a bike on that highway.

Thoughts of doom and gloom fill my head. What if I can’t cross at all? Is the mission failed?? I resolve to bike a bit further south (will be off the map now) and look for a crossing. I backtrack on YinDu Rd to South Lianhua and like always , go further south.

I tried again on JinDu Rd. Whoa , a surprise swank brand new set of high rises complete with a massive fountain in front. Looks like no one lives here yet though. Ahead , yes! , success! I can cross the highway here.

After two more streets I run into HuMin Highway again (and it has lost its overhead high-speed elevated road. It has gained an elevated subway line though! I found Line 5! Ok now for a boring part. I head south and south and south and south and south for a long time. Little clusters of homes occasionally break through the monotonous ride. Many more people talk about me and say “Hello!”

Eventually at the Metro Station Dongchuan Lu the road starts rising and bike traffic is prohibited. What’s this? Bridge Ahead?? This is where the Huangpu river has abandoned its Southern direction and started heading West. I didn’t realize that the Huangpu would be here at all! Quite a different view of the river from its Bund/Pearl Tower scene. This might have turned out badly but fortunately the metro line also veers east and I don’t have to cross the Huangpu. I merely turned east on Dongchuan and again followed the overhead metro bridge. Dongchuan has some pretty decent looking high-rise apartments but it still pretty sleepy. Eventually the high rises peter out and small factory gates line the road. It’s not dirty here though and there is an abundance of trees. I see a Johnson & Johnson factory out here. Near the JinPing Lu metro station I stop at a convenient to get some more water bottles , a hunk of bread, and a beer. It’s time for a break , my body is definitely feeling the journey.

Ok back on the road . I come to the awesome ShuiSheng Park ( I visited it the other time I was out here ) and I know the journey is soon halfway over (ahhhhh!!! I have to go back now!!). The metro line ends and I continue a little ways to see what is there. Eventually the last huge factory complex ends and all I can see is fields and farmers. Only a few bikers and scooters go by. Whoa. This is still Shanghai???

Mission accomplished but now it’s time to head back. I took a totally different path that took to me to the water town of QiBao . The rest wasn’t too interesting except for that at one point in time I saw something moving on the foot rest of a guy’s motorbike. At first I was thinking “Aww cute , that guy has a dog with him. But no , it’s Shanghai. It was a monkey climbing the guys leg and then doing a flip down to the foot rest. Go figure.

 

Picture Captions should read “End of the Line” and ” Shanghai?”

Double Rainbow – What does it mean?!

I missed out on the cultural phenomena of Double Rainbow during my time secluded from American pop culture in Asia land but a fellow traveler brought it to my attention while secluded away in remote Banaue in the mountains of the Northern Philippines.

Thank you Youtube!

double rainbow all the way across the sky!
*sobbing* OMG … OMG … oh god
what does this mean?
OH! OMG

If you haven’t seen this do yourself a favor and search double rainbow on Youtube , right now!

Anyways this brings up the question , which double rainbow was first?

(Spotted at the intersection of Yongjia Rd and South Shaanxi Rd , Double Rainbow Massage House)