Photo of The Day – Anti-Drug PSA

真爱生命 远离xi毒品
Cherish your life , stay away from (physical act of doing)drugs. Oddly enough the xi character is traditional Chinese and I can’t locate the character on my computer. The rest of the characters are the standard simplified Chinese used on mainland China.

An interesting PSA slapped on the back of a bus stop on Jian Guo Xi Rd.

The four drugs focused on included:

Yaba (A southeastern amphetamine pill) in Thai literally Crazy Drug but Chinese doesn’t use the literal translation, they adopt the sound. Ma Ji , instead of the Chinese characters meaning Crazy Drug.

Like most of Asia , the focus is on the speedy drugs. Interestingly enough the two drugs most popular with the foreign communities , Weed/Hash , and Cocaine are left off the list.

Shanghai’s “Mountain” – SheShan

I have been itching to travel somewhere , to get out of Shanghai for a weekend , but the double whammy of trying to making sure I have enough RMB to have fun in Vietnam and stupid weekend errands have kept me within a couple of blocks radius of my house for the blessed 2 day break. (no further West than Shanghai Brewery , no further East than XinTianDi , no further South than Zhaojiabang Rd , and no further North than HuaiHaiZhong Rd. )

The combination of frugalness and convenience led to SheShan (佘山) or She’s (not the same as English – shhuuuuhh-) Mountain. Frugalness liking the free entrance and convenience liking the appropriately named SheShan Metro Stop. Mountain is more of a misnomer really , as it stands a towering 90 (18% of Shanghai’s current tallest building -Shanghai World Financial Center-) meters over the surrounding alluvial plains. I thought it was the highest natural elevation in Shanghai until a Google search gave that to the 130 meter tall peak of the uninhabited island Dajinshan.

We visited the Eastern and Western parts of the SheShan Forest Park area. There is more to do in the surrounding environs with several high-class hotel resorts , a golf course, and the adjacent Happy Valley Amusement Park. With those things all costing the big bucks , we stuck to the park.

Waiting in a huge line for a death trap? Ehhhhhhh.

I had visited the Eastern part of the park with the Flying Dutchman , Pan, waaay back in the distant mists of 2 years ago , but it was time to head back.

The Eastern part of the park is one of the closest places to nature as you can get in Shanghai. It is a peaceful , easy, stroll through bamboo thickets to get to the peak. There are several good places for grabbing a peak at the outlying countryside. There is even Fragrant Buddha Spring brought to you by Pepsi-Cola©!

Nothing says Zen like crappy speakers blasting “relaxing” music and an ice-cold can of PEPSI©!
Wanna be a big-bellied Buddha? Two words. Sugar calories!

All jokes aside, the Eastern part of the park is really nice.

On to the West!

It starts out bizarrely enough , with a free ticket given to you at the booth which you then have to scan through the turnstiles to enter. This is where the previous post came from.

Another strange thing about this part of the park is the Roman Catholic Basilica chilling on the very peak alongside a Jesuit Astronomy Observatory. Apparently this church was one of the most important in Asia in the early 1900s with pilgrims from all across Asia visiting. The church was heavily damaged during the Cultural Revolution but has since been restored , and is now an active Church. Visitation is free.

The Observatory, on the other hand , costs a measly 12 rmb (little under $2USD) for admission. The museum is totally not worth it but the view from the top of the Observatory is. I was incredibly surprised to spot the Shanghai World Financial Center along with the JinMao Tower (current 2 tallest buildings in Shanghai) from the top! These buildings are approximately 35 kilometers away!

All-in-all it’s a great trip if you live in Shanghai and need to break the monotony of concrete with some bamboo. It’s definitely not a come to Shanghai just to see it attraction but if you spend enough time here you should see it.

Being out the burbs of Shanghai there aren’t too many foreigners and that leads to some funny things.

Funny things kids said

1. (In Chinese) Whoooaa! I see a foreigner!
2. (In English after he pretended to shotgun blast his dad off a ledge) Headshot!
3. (No Language) A shocked lingering quadruple take stare.

SheShan’s Awesomely Insulting Chinglish

Due to insultingly slow internet speeds and the deplorable condition of my computer at work – you know the kind of computer where the mere art of opening more than one tab to do some research results in mind-numbing , brain crippling freezes , crashes, and blue screens of death?- , in lieu of the SheShan (Shanghai’s “Mountain”) trip , I will be presenting SheShan’s Awesomely Insulting Chinglish.

“The guardian of minor , moron, the deaf and mute, or the psychopath …” blah blah blah something to the effect of don’t light or play with fires.

DAMN SON. What started out pretty innocently with “Guardian of minor” brutally turned to “moron” before subsiding to “deaf and mute” , and then lurching full force back into the attack with “psycopath” .

Please if you have a psychopath in your care , I strongly advise into bringing them into public places. If you must bring them into public places then by all means keep them as far away from fire as possible (also pointy things and things that go boom boom are out-of-bounds).

Apparently if you happen to know a moron, be sure to keep them safe as well! HAHAHA.

Also sign makers do please take care to not indiscriminately lump together deaf, mute , children , along with morons and psychopaths.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

This week’s photo challenge!

Urban is a theme I can really dig , living in Shanghai and all.

Can’t get much more urban than the view from my old apartment.


The first time I stepped out onto the balcony and saw this , I was in love!

Here is one more that I feel highlights the changes Shanghai is going through right now. It takes a lot of work to transform from a stifled Commie city to a thriving Commie Capitalist city.

What is the man there thinking? Alone and cast adrift in the midst of the rubble. Reminiscing or dreaming of a better tomorrow?

Shanghai Calling – A Movie About Expats for Expats in Shanghai

Splash page from the official website

I’m going to come right and say it , Shanghai Calling isn’t a great movie. It’s a decent movie , maybe even a good movie , but great it ain’t. If you want to see an example of what I consider to be a great movie set in China check out the amazing Red Light Revolution

Usually the Romantic Comedy genre isn’t quite for me, although it can be worth a few laughs. What the movie makes up for in plot and believability is the setting – Shanghai. You can tell the writers have a love for the city and want to show it off, and that is what saves the movie for me. Actually filmed in Shanghai ,apparently quite hard to get filming permission , I loved picking out sites that I knew , ” Hey that’s Southern Belle!” ” I had drinks there for St.Patty’s!” “Ohh that’s the coffee shop I used to go after classes on Friday!” and just marveling in the cinematic sweeps of the Pudong Skyline that were so popular in the movie. The best part of the setting for me was thinking that one of the main’s characters’ , Fang Fang , family’s neighborhood looked quite familiar , and then confirming it when an address sign appeared. 162 JianGuo Xi Rd! I knew it! It’s Bu Gao Li, the old style Shanghai Shikumen neighborhood that lies directly next to my apartment. Seriously. That was awesome. Maybe not so much for others. I just wished Fang Fang really lived there. She’s so hot!

Fang Fang’s bio from the Shanghai Calling website

Another thing that made the movie enjoyable were some of the jokes that I could definitely relate too , myself being an expat in Shanghai .

Construction on the apartment next to yours at 8am? Check.

Waitresses continuing to speak only with your Chinese friend even after you’ve (non-Asian) proved yourself capable of speaking Chinese? Check.

Funny Aiyi? (maid) Of course!

Foreign Actors being hired to impersonate a Lawyer or Businessman? Check.

Cute little blonde hair , blue-eyed , girl preferring to speak Chinese? Yes! I especially like this one with my experiences at the Kindergarten. ( This one little Caucasian is much more confident with Chinese and will address me (another foreigner) in Chinese. Hahaha.

Some of the stuff in the movie was strange and I didn’t quite get it.

English teacher (and one who is fond of calling off) buying a brand new Cadillac as his ride? How the hell did that happen? I can only dream of getting a nice car on my salary, and then I would be too terrified to drive something nice in the chaotic traffic.

The main characters running into each other on the Bund’s promenade two or three times? True it gives the cameras an excuse to do another panoramic of the Pudong Skyline but seriously of those who live in Shanghai , how often do you make that riverside walk? That is a complete tourist thing to do. Sure I’ve made the walk plenty of times , when I was showing my visiting friends and family ! I think I would be a bit hard pressed to take a date there.

So, If you happen to be interested in the city of Shanghai itself , get a glimpse of expat life, or like romantic comedies (:/) check it out.

It’s only showing in the movies theatres in China right now ,and in an ironic twist straight from the movie’s main plot is also available in our pirated DVD shops. (Barely opened in the theaters , that was fast!) Keep an eye out for it in upcoming American, European , and Asian film festivals.

Travel Plan – Vietnam

With my tickets booked for Vietnam , I’m getting ready to go! Ideally I would spend a good year or two there but unfortunately it seems like things don’t work that way , and I’m left with a mere week. *Sigh*

Waiting too long to buy tickets and getting shell-shocked at ticket prices has left with me with pretty crap tickets. I would love to fly straight in and waste no time but am left with two overnight stays in Hong Kong. I haven’t been to HK so this is actually awesome. Otherwise I would be groaning about the waste of time. However, I also have tickets in November to HK to see my uncle and cousin. Ah well, this is how life works. It’s still good because my girlfriend gets to stop in Hong Kong as well. Chinese get a few days access to Hong Kong visa free if they have an onward ticket.

So here is the plan:

October 1st : Leave Shanghai at 7:00pm and fly to Hong Kong.
October 2nd : See as much of Hong Kong as we can. See the famous skyline and take a trip up to Victoria Peak , leave Hong Kong at 5:40pm and arrive in Hanoi 7:40pm.
October 3rd : Explore Hanoi.
October 4th : Leaving early morning to Halong Bay.
October 5th : Early morning leave for Hanoi and take the soonest bus possible for the non-touristy rural town of Ninh Binh.
October 6th : River rides and temple exploring in Ninh Binh.
October 7th : 2 hour bus ride back to Hanoi, do more things in the city , leave at 7pm on a flight to Hong Kong. Sleep in the ghetto ChungKing Mansions.
October 8th : Noon departure for Shanghai , get in around 2:45 pm and chill the rest of the requested off and pay-free day.
October 9th : 7:20 am wake up and back to reality.

Things we are really looking forward to :

Hanoi – FOOD FOOD FOOD , exploring The Old French Quarter , enjoying a coffee and baguette breakfast in one of Hanoi’s numerous cafes, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum , walking around Haon Kiem Lake, seeing the beautiful Temple of Literature , drinking the local Bia Hoi microbrews, and catching a water puppet show.

Halong Bay – Breathtaking karst mountains rising out of the sea , kayaking trip , cave exploration , and spending the night on a boat in the middle of the bay.

Ninh Binh – Billed as a Halong bay set amongst the rice paddies. Taking a river cruise with the karst mountains towering over head , sampling the local specialty ; goat , exploring Bich Dong Pagoda , and seeing the local caves.

Next time around I’ll have to make a trip to the South and see the beautiful beaches , Ho Chi Minh city, and maybe try to work my up the coast. (Vietnam stretches quite the distance south to north , no?)

Moment of the Day – Shovey Subway

Amazing moment of the day for ya today folks!

First a little bit of background

In Mainland China people ( I’ve heard Hong Kongnese don’t do this although I can’t confirm through personal experience) have a lack of common decency/sense when it comes to queuing and behaviors on public transit.

Lining-up? Free-for-all battle royale.
Shoving strangers to try to get on a bus or subway? Totally acceptable.
Forget about the fact that if everyone waited in a neat and orderly fashion that things would be much smoother , quicker , and overall more pleasant.

Maybe it’s the sheer amount of population that makes individuals tune out others, just shove on through like no one is there. In a country of 1.3 billion the odds of seeing that person you just showed no consideration at all towards is nil.

When I was riding the London underground I was lugging a heavy bag , and I accidentally bumped a guy’s shoe. He stared me down until I said sorry. Riding the Manila metro people actually say sorry and Excuse (Iyksus in Tagalog) , and there is a distinctive lack of shoving. What will it take to bring that here?

Alright now on to the events of Friday.

I’m chilling on the metro getting ready to brave the fools ,who without fail will be ready to give me a hassle, after I exit the train at the Zhaojiabang metro station line 7 side to switch over to line 9. As the train pulls into the station, I’m standing behind a very beautiful girl all dolled up in make-up , short dress , and high heels . We prepare to fight through.

Pulling into the station I can make out a solid wall of people waiting to board. I don’t know much about American NFL football but to put things analogy-wise , its like the defensive line is locked together ready to rush forward in a full-blitz. A surge of human flesh to tackle the man with the ball.

Even though the metro has tons of signs teaching people the correct way to board trains ( Civilized City Off the Train First Board the Train After) ,and arrows on the ground showing the correct way to stand ( disembarking passengers have arrows in the middle and the sides have arrows showing where to stand and how to get on the train) , people don’t use their brains. (They even made my sister cry when she visited!)

I don’t know what it is about the combination of 4:10 in the afternoon and Zhaojiabang metro station , that attracts such fucking idiotic people.

The doors open and the entire solid wall of people comes rushing forward. The pretty girl and I have no possible way to get through. A large country bumpkin looking fool rushes in and runs directly into the pretty girl. Here’s were things get interesting. Contrary to my expectations the girl contracts her arms and bam! Double fist punch slams the country bumpkin right in the chest. YES! He staggers back and slams hard with his heel into a woman’s shin , also trying to push her way through, Her face twists in pain and rage and she howls! Country bumpkin is totally nonplussed by the girl shoving him hard . and he rushes forward again and slams into my extended rigid elbow ( a totally non-active move on my part , just stick a body part out , hold it steady , and the retards do damage to themselves).

We are left with an injured belly , a wounded shin , and bunch of stressed-out, pissed off people. If the embarking passengers would have just left and opening and not shoved we would have had no problems , no injuries , and everyone would have gotten to their destinations faster. All of this easily avoided by some simple manners. I just can’t understand why Chinese act this way. My Chinese girlfriend also cannot explain it (although she doesn’t engage in the shoving.)