Shanghaiist Killin’ It! – Shanghaiist take – original article

Oh my God! Can’t stop laughing. This lady is in an absolutely expat bubble and Shanghaiist is happy to make fun of her.
Quoted is the lady, non-quoted is Shanghaiist

Thank you Shanghaiist!

Shanghai laowai Emily Ford deigns to live like a local for the day

Reading Emily Ford’s latest column in the Shanghai Daily made me picture a deeply self-satisfied, foreigner hating editor who has succeeded in getting a highly qualified writer (Ford is a former Times reporter) to inadvertently confirm every negative stereotype people have of overprivileged, naive laowai living in an expat world of their own.

“I’m at home watching the BBC, eating a Marks & Spencer’s sandwich, when it dawns on me that I may not be living a particularly authentic Chinese life.”

Never mind the fact that I’m sure one could find an awful lot of Chinese people who watch the BBC and shop at Marks & Spencer, I suppose it’s admirable that Ms Ford wants to get more in touch with an “authentic” Chinese lifestyle. Ford, who has been living in Shanghai for over six months, has apparently never stepped outside the expat bubble that she now decries.

“Another drawback of living in laowai land is that it is vastly more expensive, from yuppy cocktail bars to overpriced salad chains and markets running two-tier pricing systems, one for Chinese and one for foreigners. Even taxi drivers sometimes suggest I pay more, on the basis that I am European, and therefore rich. “Enough laowai living,” I think. “It’s time to go local.””

Taxi drivers suggest you pay more on the basis that you got a damn taxi to go 200m in a city with an extensive subway network, and are therefore rich.

“At lunch, I eschew the fancy Western bakery and go to the convenience store instead. What look like dumplings and unidentifiable things on sticks float in little pots of bubbling, brownish-colored liquid. It occurs to me that I would not know how to ask for convenience store food even in English.”

OMG you guys! Chinese food is so weird!

“Emboldened, I decide to take the bus home after work. I have never seen a foreigner on a bus in Shanghai before, partly because taxis are so cheap and also because the timetables are written exclusively in Chinese. “This is the real test,” I think. “This is when you know you’re local.””

Obviously foreigners, who are incapable of reading Chinese or even making such basic preparations as writing their destination down on a piece of paper to check against a timetable or checking a route online beforehand, never get the bus. Ford is a pioneer, a modern day Marco Polo, setting forth on a grand adventure alongside the strange and peculiar natives. Never mind the fact that many buses in China (unlike in Europe) display route maps inside them, have digital displays showing the next stop, and announce the name of the stop when they arrive.

“Several buses pass in the 10 minutes I spend squinting at the timetable. Eventually, I spot two characters which I am fairly sure from part of my address. I catch passers-by looking at me with what I assume must be unadulterated admiration. “Yes that’s right, I’m a foreigner,” I think proudly. “And I’m taking the bus.””

That’s right lowly Chinese plebeians, I, Emily Ford, am taking the bus. Worship me, for I am your new foreign god.

My comments – convenient store food? Dude, eat local and go to a frickin’ Chinese restaurant. Convenient store food in China is not good. It’s shit that has been shitting around for hours, that wasn’t good to begin with. While true that when I ride a bus , I’ve never seen another foreigner on one, her odd comments on catching unadulterated admiration are so whack. Chinese think we are weird if we ride a bus, they don’t admire it at all! Learn to read some Chinese and you won’t have to stare at the timetable for 10mins! HAHAHA

Shanghai’s National 4A Sights

Here goes the next installment. This is one is substantially heftier with 24 AAAA locations. Yikes.

Shanghai Jinshan City Beach. Jinshan District. 5 JinShan New City Road (5 Jin Shan XinCheng Lu).
-The JinShan official website is slow on the update but now the JinShan Beach Metro Express is open! The JinShan light rail is available from Shanghai South Railway station and it cuts the travel time from the city center in half! I went here last summer for a musical festival and had quite a nice time. . While it can’t touch the tropical Southeast Asian beaches , it’s quite nice to relax at with a cold brew in hand. Plus , bikini girls are never a bad thing.

Jiading ZhouQiao Old City. Jiading District. Tacheng Rd.
-Never been up here before. It’s quite a hike all the way to the end of Line 11 at North Jiading. Looks like a traditional Chinese old town complete with Confucius Temple, canals , park , museum, and traditional style buildings. This is high up there on my new to-do list.

Shanghai Fangta Park (Square Pagoda Park). Songjiang District. 235 Songjiang East Zhongshan Rd.
-Hah! Awesome! I just went there a week before starting to write this. Located way out in the burbs of Songjiang this is an impressive Pagoda rising up from a park. It’s an easy walk from the new Zuibai Pond metro line 9 station. The park itself is nice but not worth going all the way out there for. The pagoda would provide a sweet view of the surroundings but I don’t know from first hand experience. The ticket booth said closing time was 4:00pm but the workers in the pagoda ticket booth were busy clocking out at 3:45. Bleh.

Moon Lake Sculpture Park. Songjiang District. Linyin New Road.
-Located right next to the 4A SheShan Forest Park , I almost went here but the hefty 120 rmb price tag kept me away at the time. Me + Girlfriend + Waiting for pay-day = no go. This place looks pretty danged fun! At the center of the park is an artificial lake with a nice looking beach. Surrounding that is a wonderful green space with plenty of fun sculptures to interact and play with. I’m going here as soon as the spring arrives!

Shanghai Flower Port. Pudong District. Nanhui Town (Find the Shanghai Flower Port article)
We have reached an important point in the list! The first that I’ve never heard of! Flower Port? What the heck is this place? Doing a little research I’ve found this place is really in the boons. Eastern Pudong southeast of the airport! We’re thinking a good 2 hour bus ride to get here. Looks like the SmartShanghai team went at the wrong time, finding a barren land without any tulips (main point of the flower port). I like their assessment of the situation , “Rated an “AAAA” tourist attraction (usually that serves as more of a warning than a recommendation) and famous for the incredible tulip displays March to early May, this could be an amazing destination. But 50rmb for no tulips and a lot of bare ground though was a bit steep. ”
Again , this is another place that will be much more accessible after the opening of line 16.

Former Residence of Chen Yun and Qingpu Revolutionary History Memorial Hall. Qingpu District. LianTang Town 3516 Zhufeng Highway.
Ugh. Here is the first sight that sounds awful. Maybe it’s great but I highly doubt it. Featuring dry , boring, propaganda that glorifies The Red Revolutionary War! WOO HOO! “In 2001, the Former Residence of Chen Yun and Qingpu Revolutionary History Memorial Hall became part of the national patriotism education base. After paying a visit, you will know more about Chen Yun’s great deeds and the Qingpu people’s glorious revolutionary history.”

Fengjing Ancient Town. Jinshan District. 8588 TingFeng Highway.
-Ah something more my style. Watertowns are great for relaxing out of Shanghai, for ditching the skyscrapers for old stone buildings , cobblestone walkways, and canals. I’ve heard of this place but haven’t made it yet. I’ve opted for the closer, cheaper (free!), and consequently more crowded Zhujiazhao water town. This place seems like the secret watertown. The place to avoid the million other people who want to get out of the city on a nice summer weekend. Admission 50 rmb. 1.5 hour bus ride from the city center.

Sun Island Hot Spring Holiday Resort. Qingpu District. Zhujiazhao Town 2588 Shentai Rd.
Whoa. These resort seems ballin’! Not sure why it ranks a national tourist place ranking. Looks awesome(expensive) perhaps someone in the government has some cash invested in it? I might have to do a little look around but won’t enter if I want to check it off the list.
Here is their winter package deal.
“Get cozy and warm with us this winter and improve your health.
It’s time to get cozy and warm with us! Sun Island invites you to experience the difference in winter. Book our package now to get your blood and Qi move freely and restore your overall health!
One Night Accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Sun Island Resort
Complimentary Breakfast for 2
Choose from a selection of leisure activities (4 vouchers with 1 voucher per activity):
One round of Go-kart racing (1.3KM track)
Planting at Herb Garden (1 pot)
Golf Driving Range (30balls)
An hour of island-wide cycling on tandem bike
Craftwork DIY (1 piece)
Five Elements Assessment (Reservation Required)
Mahota Hot Pot for 2 at Members’ Restaurant
90-minute Hot Spring Bath or 50-minute Massage (worth RMB 330/pax)
Free Access to Indoor Geothermal Pool and Gym
Sun Island’s Daily Activities
Weekends: RMB 1330 /2 pax
Weekdays: RMB 1080 /2 pax”

BiHai Golden Sands Water Paradise. Fengxian District. Haiwan Tourism Zone 2 Haihan Rd.
I could not find any English language information about this place at all. That link is helpful if you read Chinese and to look at a few photos. It looks pretty much like a decent beach. Come summertime I’ll head over there to make some comparisons between JinShan City Beach and this one.

Shanghai SheShan National Forest Park. Songjiang District. Waiqingsong Highway.
This area in Songjiang is super-concentrated with sights. Sheshan Forest Park , Moon Lake, and Happy Valley are crammed up next to each other. SheShan Forest Park is divided into two separate parks, east and west. SheShan West has The Church of Our Lady of Sheshan – an active pilgrimage church in China, and the SheShan observatory. The East Park is more about nature with some nice walkways through bamboo thickets. Shan , meaning mountain in Chinese is more of misnomer at only 100 meters but it’s still pretty cool. Here is my previous trip there ,

Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park. Yangpu District. 2000 Jungong Rd.
I love this forest park! It’s got the nature I like plus the Chinese version of park complete with roller coasters, paintball, go-karting, electric boat rental, and horse riding. Pretty awesome all-in-one entertainment area.

Shanghai Zoo. Changning District. 2381 Hongqiao Rd.
Eh , well if you’ve been to any zoos in a Western country you don’t really need to go to this one. The conditions of some of the indoor enclosures and the treatment of the animals by guests (so much trash/food flung into the monkey enclosure) are surprising. I’ve been to the Cleveland, San Diego, and Shanghai zoos. Shanghai’s is laughable (with some weeps) in comparison.

Guyi Gardens. Jiading District. 218 Huyi Highway.
It’s a hike up to Jiading District but worth it when this garden is pared with Nanxiang Ancient Town and its famous Xiaolong dumplings. Stuff yourself and then take a post-dinner stroll through the greenery.

Oriental Green Land. Qingpu District. 6888 Huqingping Highway.—Culture/Park—Garden/200812/25-2612.html
Oriental Green Land is billed as one of the top sites in the country for juvenile extracurricular education and entertainment. A sprawling green area next to Dianshan lake serves as a center for city youth to get out and enjoy the green space. This quote displays the Chinese mindset quite well “Nowadays, students are always overloaded with homework and feel they are under great pressure from peers, which is not healthy for their overall development. In addition, health and fitness are under threat through ‘over-safe’ lifestyles,” said Huang.
“Thus, high school students around the city are required to attend the three-day outdoor activities here in order to help them develop physical and social skills,” Huang added. Yes , it’s China. Give the kids too much homework and then force them to participate in outdoor activities to combat the work. Nothing says fun and gets me ready like compulsory. Seems like visitors can also partake in dragon boat rowing and sculpture viewing.

Century Park. Pudong District. 1001 Jinxiu Rd.
Ah, one of the first places I visited when I was new to Shanghai and desperate for an escape from the city. The largest park you don’t have to venture super far to get to. Cool events also take place here like the Spring Midi Music festival and fireworks show.

Yu Gardens. Huangpu District. Fuyou Rd.
The small garden is just a small part of the massive super touristy Yu Garden Bazaar complex. Tons of people, touts, and cheesy souvenirs. It’s an overwhelming place to see in the summer when the tourist crowd is at its max. I take visitors to see this place and go on an annual trip to see the lantern festival during spring festival. At all other times I avoid it.

Dongping Forest Park. Chongming Island. Beiyan Highway. v
The holy grail of Shanghai forest parks! This is largest man-planted forest in Eastern China and the place with the freshest , cleanest , air . Walking among the giant pines in the evening I didn’t run into a single other soul. This does not happen in the densely populated Eastern coast of China. Besides just enjoying nature there are BBQ grills, camping, ziplines, boat rentals, and games. There is even a giant bonfire space to rent out at the hefty price of 1100 rmb.

Zhujiazhao Ancient Town. Qingpu District. 763 XiangNingBang Rd.
One of Shanghai’s closest and most popular watertowns. It really is like stepping back in time. Take the time to stroll down the cobblestone leafy streets that border the ancient canals. Eat a steaming plate of crayfish and then wash it down with a BeerLao from the punk bar. The town also attracts young Chinese who want to drop out of the hectic city life and open up a small shop or guesthouse.

Grand View Garden. Qingpu District. 701 Jinshang Rd.
Grand View Garden is a replica of the magnificent garden created within the Jia residence for imperial concubine Yuanchun, as described in the Qing Dynasty novel A Dream of Red Mansions. The pictures look pretty spectacular. Chill out in the Qing dynasty tea house and enjoy the green spaces. At nearly 2 hours out of the city you will certainly need a bit of relaxing!

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. Pudong District. 1388 Lujiazui Ring Rd.
Shanghai’s aquarium is pretty cool. It boasts the world’s longest under water tunnel at 120 meters. The jellyfish exhibit is also quite stunning. Much more worth it (with a corresponding price tag 120 rmb) than the zoo.

Jinjiang Amusement Park. Minhang District. 201 Hongmei Rd.
Urban Shanghai’s (city center) only rollercoaster , and if you ride line 1 down south you probably recognize the giant ferris wheel looming overhead. Not much desire for me to go seeing as how in Ohio I lived an hour and a half ride away from one of the world’s greatest amusement parks , Cedar Point. Man , I miss the Millenium Force and Top Thrill Dragster!

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. Huangpu District. 100 People’s Avenue.
While it sounds rather boring, its main feature, a scale model showing the entirety of urban Shanghai with future buildings also appearing. It’s a great way to see how Shanghai will continue to develop and a lot of fun to try to pick out your living complex (obviously for those of us who live or have lived here). They also have smaller models of areas of interest such as the Bund. I haven’t been here yet, but it does seem pretty cool.

JinMao Building 88th Floor Observatory. Pudong New District. 88 Century Avenue.
The JinMao building? That’s like so early 2007. When was this list made? Haven’t the authorities been notified of the taller adjacent Shanghai World Financial Center? What’s going to happen in 2014 when the even taller Shanghai Tower which is right next to those is completed? The 88th story observation deck is really cool, but unless you like to blow cash, why not just visit the 100th story observation deck of the SWFC? It’s even better.

Shanghai Museum. Huangpu District. 201 People’s Avenue.
Museums in China tend to rather dull. Provincial museums are the worst, without even any English signage. Good thing it’s Shanghai. The city went all out to get a museum worth of national praise. It seems they did the job right. There are many different halls loaded with various antiquities from Qing dynasty furniture to jade, calligraphy, and paintings. I’ve been saving it for a rainy day.

Dang, I’ve been busy lately with the new job. That took quite a while to finish. There are still 16 more 3A places in Shanghai. Not sure when I’m going to get to them, the next 2 weeks promise to be hectic then it’s off to Thailand for a much needed 11 day break!
Woo hoo!

Say It Ain’t So

Oh, the sad , sad , horrible act of trading the long term for the short term. Putting a quick infusion of cash over the preservation of nature, and the long term enjoyment of life.

Please, please , say it ain’t so Shanghai!

Via Shanghaiist:

Tensions between development and environment look set to define this century. In Shanghai, the municipal government is currently wrestling with the temptation to hand Chongming island – described as the city’s “last virgin territory” – over to the developers.
The island lies at the mouth of the Yangtze river and is well known for its unspoilt natural beauty. It has large swathes of wetland that millions of migrating birds rest and recuperate on every year. The island is already populated but remains relatively rural, undeveloped, and distinctly low-rise. A fifth of its area – 300 square kilometres – has already been turned into the Dongtan wetlands nature reserve.
The official line of the local government is that the environment of the island will come first if (i.e. ‘when’) it is developed. They have recently released new plans proposing to build a Chongming ‘eco-city’ that will only have ‘environmentally friendly industries’ on it. The island has already been connected with new bridges and tunnels but officials insist that any developments that arise from these vastly improved transport links will be limited.
However, privately, the South China Morning Post reports, municipal authorities are considering turning the island over to the developers. The temptation to do so must be very great. Recently Shanghai’s economy has been performing relatively poorly, and last year the mayor said that it would have to find new ways to drive its growth. Selling the island’s land to developers would make a lot of quick bucks. The island is huge – over 1,400 square kilometres (China’s third largest) – far, far bigger than Hong Kong island (80.5 sq km) and more similar in size to all of Hong Kong’s territories combined (1,104 sq km). This represents a lot of undeveloped land and the Post reports how officials privately refer to it as the “Long Island in the East” (comparing it to New York’s relatively developed Long Island). They are also increasingly keen on the idea of developing it into a special zone where gambling is allowed, similar to Macau.
At the moment the island remains an excellent destination for a peaceful day-trip from busy Shanghai.

I love Chongming! I don’t want to see it become overly developed with brass , rude drivers beeping angrily , almost killing pedestrians, and emitting noxious fumes into the air. I love the tranquility and peace of the island. I had planned to make it my summer weekend destination spot for many a year to come.

Shanghai’s National 5 Star Ranked Sights

With the continued lack of photo posting I have going on , I figure it’s time to start doing some more translation-based posting to further English language information available about Shanghai. I keep finding cool Chinese language only things about Shanghai on my new social media obsession- Weibo. The Chinese micro-blogging version of Twitter.

For example, did you know that there are 3 Nationally ranked 5A (star) sights in Shanghai , 24 Nationally ranked 4A , and 15 Nationally ranked 3A ? Neither did I. In addition to these nationally recognized places , there are also provincial ranked spots as well. Usually the national ones are pretty awesome, sometimes the provincial ones feel like they get the plaque so they can put up a ticket booth. Hey, look at this dilapidated shack that someone kinda famous used to live in! Whoa, check out this lake with half the pollution levels of the others!

I was curious to see how many of the 42 places I’ve been to.

14 , in case anyone else is curious. That’s 33.endlessly repeating 3, without really meaning to. Not bad. A lot of them aren’t exactly obvious , especially the AAA ranked.

Let’s start out with the AAAAA ones!

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum , Pudong District , 2000 Century Avenue.
– I’ve been to this one. I have an issue with the ranking. While it’s decent , it means that my hometown Cleveland Science Center should be ranked Chinese National AAAAAAAAAA (That’s 10A) in comparison. It’s not quite as hands on and awesome as my hometown’s.

Shanghai Pearl TV Tower, Pudong District, 1 Century Avenue.
– Pretty obvious. It’s Shanghai’s huge, phallic , erect, TV Tower! Although some may question the design , Shanghai’s manhood is a symbol of change and prosperity that has come over the economic capital of China. Back in 1994 this was the shining example of the change that would sweep over the city. A huge structure in the farmlands that was Pudong. While now it’s been eclipsed by taller buildings in Shanghai and taller TV towers in China (Guangzhou) it’s still pretty dazzling. I’ve been up the Pearl’s taller brothers but not the actual itself yet. At 180rmb admission is a bit steep.

Shanghai Wild Animal Zoo, Pudong District Nanhui Town, 178 Nanliu Highway.
– China’s first national grade zoo. Unlike other Chinese zoos the animals here have space and there is a Safari like bus ride through the park. I’ve never been but this review from TripAdvisor sounds it out for us, “This zoo is 100 times better than the garbage littered zoo in west Shanghai (Puxi). I feel really sorry for the animals in that zoo.” It’s quite a distance away from the city center and a bit complicated to get to. I’ve been past it on my way to the Nanhui Peach Village though. There is a stop for the Wild Animal Zoo on the as of yet unopened line 16 . Once that line opens it will much easier to get to.

Keep an eye out for my 24 AAAA guide next time. It’s gonna take a bit longer to translate and write-up ,bear with me.

Longhua Temple

Longhua Temple 龙华寺 is a complex that preserves the architectural design of a Song Dynasty monastery of the Buddhist Chan sect. It is the largest, most authentic and complete ancient temple complex in the city of Shanghai. A great place to chill out and relax from the hectic city outside. Buddhists tend to be peaceful and there is none of the shoving and jackassery that occurs in the metro rush hour. The main event is bowing to the various deities with your incense sticks held outstretched. Free incense with admission , yes!

I will definitely head back to check out the yearly temple festival that coincides with the Martyr’s Memorial Park’s (near the temple) peach trees blossoming.

Alrighty , let’s try this Flickr thing out seeing as how I am still unable to load pictures directly into WordPress. Sucks you only get a 300 mg monthly allowance for the free Flickr. I really don’t want to pay. These photos took up a 1/3 of my month so you’d better enjoy them!


Happy New Year!

Ah , a nice refreshing 3 day break from work (Jan. 1st-3rd), now it’s Saturday morning and I’m on my lunch break. What? This must be a typo! Lunch breaks are not needed on the weekends. Surely in China one must be able to choose a time and place to eat on the weekends? This break must refer to the amount of effort it takes to get up from the couch in between pirate DVD episodes of “Game of Thrones”! No , no , no you must pay for that three-day holiday by working two days on the weekend in addition to the next week. Tuesday , Wednesday , Thursday off , and Friday to Friday on. The Chinese holiday schedule is not content with , you know, actually cutting people some slack. Great. As much as I loved those days off , it just doesn’t seem worth it with 6.5 more days looming ahead on the horizon. ( rainy, snowy, cold next 6.5 days) Happy New Year! WORK MORE.

On a happier note , the days off were really great! The first day of the new was the warmest it’s been in weeks, and the sun was shining! I took this opportunity to get out of my smelly little box that serves as an abode and ventured far off into the never never lands of Songjiang District.The end of metro line 9 is a long, long way from downtown. I rode all the way to the new terminal station (opened Dec. 29th), Songjiang South, looked around , and then hopped back on the subway one station north to the also newly opened Zuibai Pond station , home of Shanghai’s oldest classic park Zuibai Chi (醉白池). The 醉 means drunk. This garden was the retreat of a famous poet who liked to come , drink, and write poetry. Awesome.

From there I walked to the other touristy places in the area, Xilin Pagoda , Songjiang Mosque , and Square Pagoda (fangta) park . I was the only non-Asian I saw all day which incidentally made me a tourist attraction as well. After all was said and done it was getting dark and cold , time to take the nearly one hour subway ride back home. Let on the “Game of Thrones” marathon begin! I’m late jumping on the bandwagon but am glad I did. I would love to read the books but sadly Season 1 and 2 on pirate DVD come up to a whopping 72 rmb ($11.42 USD) while the real editions of the books (only ones I’ve seen at the Fuzhou Lu foreign language book center) hits the wallet for more than 100 rmb a piece ($15.80+).

When dawn broke it was time to venture out again. This time I went to one of those place you hear about and always mean to visit , to be a tourist in your city again, Longhua Temple. This complex is located close to the city center and is totally worth the visit. It’s a peaceful oasis from the outside gray area where intense construction of the middle portion of the metro line 11 has the ground all ripped up, and safety walls erected everywhere.

Admission is 12 rmb and you get a free pack of incense! Everyone is just strolling around and bowing before the various deities and shrines. The temple interiors are quite impressive. I like Gods with hundreds of arms and swords. I would like to think the Gods were pleased by the pomelo and apple sacrifices. (I certainly would be). Comparing these shrines to their Vietnamese counterparts ,however, makes me wonder why the Vietnamese offer fruits , beer, and liquor to the heavens while the Chinese don’t give booze to the mighty ones above. Maybe drunken Gods have a mean streak in China?

After blissing out in the temples , and petting the fat temple cat , it was time to a nerd and ride the brand spankin’ new metro line 13 just for the sake of riding it. The terminal station’s , Jinyun lu, surroundings are a barren wasteland. A giant shopping mall looms above the surrounding low rises , a center of sterile fun in a bleak gray world. Billboards abound with messages about the great new west city business district that will have sprung up like a weed and pictures of vast green lawns are interspersed with shiny glass towers, the skies are photoshopped blue, and the people are way to happy to be in a business district. I certainly do not smile like that on my approach to the office. More the like inverse of that. My smile proportionally decreases with the proximity to work.

One cool thing in the area (maybe the only) was that you could see the Bottle Opener (Shanghai World Financial Center) Shanghai’s tallest building looming from the misty (smoggy) distances like the eye of Mordor. That was intense. OMG! Reference to an intense medieval fantasy epic , must return home for more “Game of Thrones”….

Day three was cold and little flakes of snow floated from the skies. Curses from the Gods for not receiving their alcohol rations (doesn’t snow in Ho Chi Minh does it?!?). Twas a day for cleaning, preferably in the 1 foot radius around my radiator. Sigh , now back to the work marathon.

The Changes The Changes

Let’s see if inserting an image from a url will work.

I’ve recently started to spend a lot more time on Weibo. Weibo is the Chinese version of Twitter, just as RenRen stands in for Facebook.
It’s a good way to practice Chinese reading comprehension , an indispensable look into the Chinese news world, and a great way to become better acquainted with Shanghai. There are tons of cool things about Shanghai that can’t be found in English language websites.
I’ve started following this amazing user “摄影师陆杰” who shares great old photos of Shanghai.

Here is a picture of East Nanjing Road overlooking the Huangpu River. Virtually unrecognizable from the Shanghai we know today (no Pearl TV Tower , Lujiazui is still all farmland!), and this picture is only from 1988! It reminds me more of Hanoi and Phnom Penh than anything (especially the red and green roofed houses at the bottom/center of the photo).

Eh Kinda Back But Not Quite

I’ll start out with the obligatory “MERRY CHRISTMAS” greetings to everyone today! The grumpy cashiers may be wearing Santa hats , the shopping malls decked out with over the top Christmas trees , and haunting images of Santa follow my every moment down the street , but it doesn’t really feel like Christmas. This is most likely due to the lack of family and the fact I had to go to work today. Nothing says Christmas like a 7:30 am alarm and the trudge over to clock-in.

The technical issues that have been keeping me from even accessing wordpress have magically cleared up. I think my experiments with sacrifices of paper money to the internet gods worked! However, I’m still stuck with the original problem of the nifty wordpress 3.5 add media into your post being completely broken. My “Macau : PhotoTour” , my “Check out this photo of this nasty bruise I got when a Shanghai taxi ran over my foot” , and my “Wow, This Chinglish add claims there is semen in this drink” (Yes, these are all real) posts have to sit on the back-burner for Buddha knows how long. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WORDPRESS FIX THIS!

Hmmpf , anyways here are the major updates to December 2012.

1. Yes, a taxi ran over my foot. I was less amazed by the fact a taxi ran it over than that by the fact that my ankle did not break.
2. My kitties had their girl parts removed. A week of moping around with cones on their heads ensued. (You need to see the photos to really see the pathetic state they were in)
3. Hopefully (fingers crossed!) I’ll be assuming the position of Social Media Editor for Sherpa’s food delivery service! Beijingers, Shanghaiers, and Suzhouers get at me! I can’t wait to do something not teaching related!
4. The subway wars are heating up! According to the exploremetro blog, “Beijing and Shanghai are fierce rivals. Both cities have dramatically increased the length of their subway networks in recent years, especially around Beijing’s 2008 Olympics and Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo.
Shanghai has 425km of track (excluding the Maglev and Jinshan Railway), making it the longest subway network in the world, while Beijing currently has 372km. Traditionally, the main metro networks in Mainland China open new lines in the last few days of December. This year is no different, with both the Shanghai Metro and Beijing Subway scheduled to open new lines in late December 2012. The metro operators rarely release information about exactly which lines will open until a few days before the end of the year, which leaves an intriguing conundrum: what will be the longest metro system in the world at the dawn of 2013?” Just recently on line 9 , the interior subway maps were updated showing a brand new Line 13 , a brand new Line 12 , the completed Line 11 , extensions to Line 9 , and a completely new Line 16. I’m kinda of a nerd. These things excite me! The new male English voice on Line 9 ,however, does not! Check out more info at

Man , it feels good to write again. I survived the Mayan Apocalypse , now I just need wordpress working right again.

Reality Check

Walking down the gorgeous , verdant , tree-lined streets in the former French Concession , one can sometimes forget they are in China. Yueyang Rd during the late evening/early night is a calm oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. You still might be killed by a speeding car driving the wrong way down the street with headlights off, but hey , so is life in Shanghai.

Walking by the triple intersections of Yueyang Rd , Dongping Rd, and Taojiang Rd , we are greeted the smells of freshly roast coffee, pungent Mediterranean food being grilled, and people eagerly seeking out the warmth and protection offered by the bars from the damp cold outside.

Signs advertise a proliferation of animal named sports bars : The Camel , The Beaver. Really , where in the world am I? Not exactly the first images that pop to mind when one thinks of China. I’m yanked out of my pondering by the appearance of a strange man in tattered , beaten clothes ahead. There is something in front of him , pulling him forward. It’s on a leash and headed my way!

As we near each other , I lock eyes with the man. He grins, and as if he sensed my initial state of bewilderment , and sought to answer me , to calm my brain, he answers and confirms what we both know to true.

He breaks out in a wide grin and exclaims “MONNNNKKEEEY” and unleashing a deep , booming laugh. He has used one of the three English words that he probably knows , the others being “hello” and “money”. I enjoy this sight very much. Some of the novelty of living in Asia has worn off and I’m not amazed like I would have been a few years ago. I’m not lost in my mind thinking “Was that really just real?” but instead am wondering “Shouldn’t that monkey have a little monkey coat? It’s nippy out here!”.

The monkey spell is broken a few paces later as an older woman beggar with a rent-a-child implores us for cash. I don’t like how the children are used to try to whip up sympathy (it’s not her child) plus I’d already given my change to the old guys sipping on some instant noodles in the Lawson doorway.

Yup, reality check. Still in SH.

Fall Shots

Well it’s been a busy week plagued with technical problems. Our internet got up and running yesterday. I saw my landlord about 6 times in one week. Got my entire toilet switched out for another one , which hadn’t been installed properly , and now waiting on that to get fixed ( I swear , our landlord must love seeing us. He never seems to fix his crappy stuff which he claims is all new , hah!). Another typical week in Shanghai.

Anyways , I’m going to try to get this stupid side of life out of my mind ( even though I’ll probably see my landlord with his repair man dogging his heels tomorrow, and the day after , and after…… ahh ok enough!)

Though it’s almost December, the fall colors are really bursting right now. Helps break up the monotonous gray. I’m not looking forward to winter!

These shots are from my window / street . The 梧桐树 (Phoenix Trees)which line the former French Concession streets are lovely at this time.