Dear Idiots

Laws.
Rules.

As teenagers they all seem made to be broken. Some are stupid , arbitrary, and down right nasty. The longer I live in Shanghai , the more I come to despair at the utter disregard that a certain set of them receive.

Traffic Laws.

Tell that to my 18-year-old self speeding on the highway and I probably would have laughed.

After two and a half years of watching pure stupidity at wheels , I’ve come to hold traffic laws in a brighter light.

This one’s for you , Mr.Idiot on a motorbike.

Dear Moron,

I spotted you at the intersection of West JianGuo Rd. and 2nd Ruijin Rd. Do you remember me? Probably not as you were blatantly disregarding the red light in front of you ( it means stop!) and the pedestrians crossing the road. Perhaps you may recall the one blond head in the sea of black hairs. That was me.

You probably haven’t heard of the American saying used in my youth , “No Cop , No Stop”. But I’ll go ahead and inform you right now that only is applicable when in the middle of nowhere. In the kind of place where farm animals outnumber the people and the only thing in sight is corn , not in the middle of a city of 23 million people.

In your defence , you could have been trying to turn right and in China there is no stop on red rule before making a right hand turn. It would certainly be a great idea , and it would save us pedestrians a lot of grief but we pedestrians know that you drivers are in such a hurry to do such important things as ; gossip , play mahjong , chain smoke , and spit. These things are arguably more important than any grievous bodily harm that may come our way. However , you weren’t making a right hand turn! You were making a left hand on red through traffic! And it wasn’t a gun-it-on yellow kind of deal. That was a stale red light buddy. That’s why when the taxi almost slammed into you, and came to a skidding stop a meter in front of you because you were in the middle of the intersection , I laughed.

My pleasure quickly turned sour when you glared at the taxi while he honked his horn. Like you were being wrongly affronted , insulted, and accused. That simmering look you gave him could have sizzled the oil in my wok. That’s the point of time when I yelled, “F*ck you, You idiot! at you. I couldn’t stand that look you were giving him , Mr.Almost-Hit-Me-And-Then-Almost-Causing-Yourself-To-Be-Killed. Usually I would glare at the stupid taxi drivers too but not this time. I know you probably didn’t hear me ,and then anyways probably wouldn’t have understood , but it still felt good.

Your Biggest Fan ,

Roomaomao

It’s important to try to defend my walking/biking safety seeing as how the metro just turned into a war zone. It just got personal. Blood was shed. Yes, on the metro.

My good friend L-Dawg was just recently pushed to the ground hard enough to break her skin. A fellow rider knocked her down, and her knee struck the gap in between subway car and station platform. This fellow did not offer to help her up but instead an actual good Samaritan (too rare in China) gave her a helping hand. The pusher didn’t say a word to my friend , didn’t try to help , avoided her look , and slunk off with his tail between his legs to hide. Real great guy.

Will the traffic and behavior of the citizens of China ever change? Any fellow expats have comments on this?

Google imaged this photo
By Maciej Dakowicz
opentravel.com

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Boxing Cat Brewery Thanksgiving

The menu looks pretty damn awesome. Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Candied Bacon and Apples , what!?! Western foods in Shanghai have a way of letting me down though. At $64 USD a pop this meal had better be amazing. In any case I will try to get my moneys worth on the straight free flow wine , beer, and coffee. The beer at this microbrewery is very good. I’ll need like 10 of them at happy hour prices to break even haha.

Thankful for a bunch and eagerly awaiting this meal!

Happy Halloween!

Building Up a Superiority Complex

With China’s changing economic situation and the influx of wealth that has hit the country like a bomb in the last thirty years has come a steadily building superiority complex.

With Monday’s departure for Vietnam looming ahead , various people have asked me about my plans for the Communist party’s week-long bash. My answer like usual is to get out of China. The sheer brilliance of giving almost everyone in the nation’s most populous country time off equals an insane migration of people and massive crowds. However , when I tell them where I’m going , they seem to be less than impressed. Keep in mind that these people aren’t China’s wealthy. They make around a little less than $500 USD a month.

My Co-workers.
Me – I’m going to Vietnam!
C (Co-workers) Vietnam? It’s too dirty!
IMH ( In my head) And China isn’t dirty? The newly found wealth in the country is pretty much the direct result of the sacrifice of the environment.

My girlfriend’s brother.

GFB – You’re going to Vietnam? Vietnam doesn’t have any fun places!
Me- Hanoi’s eclectic old french quarter , Halong Bay , hiking in Sapa , beautiful remote beaches , the upcoming Phu Quoc island resort center.
GFB – China has beaches too! Go to Sanya ( on China’s tropical Hainan island)
Me- What ? With the 5,000,000 rich people who descend on the island every year? With the full hotels and the quadrupled prices? Anyways, I enjoy the experience of going to a different country with different languages , architecture , and culture.
GFB – CHINA!

(Chinese beach courtesy of Chinatoday.com)

My girlfriend’s co-workers.

While my co-workers are nice to me for the most part , my girlfriend works in an extremely competitive office and she is on the low ranking side of things. These people are mean to her.

GF- I’m going to Vietnam!
GFC – HAHAHAHA , POOR YOU! YOU CAN ONLY AFFORD TO STAY IN POOR ASIA. TALK TO ME WHEN YOU GO TO EUROPE.
GF (Angry but trying not to show it) – Well ,where are you going?
GFC – Staying in Shanghai .

Now China , it’s best to remember that you have more peasants than the entire population of Europe. Just because there is an (admittedly) strong elite with vast amounts of wealth , and you have a huge military doesn’t make you number 1.Living in a relatively expensive city like Shanghai with a relatively low wage doesn’t make you superior to the Vietnamese who have a low wage but live in relatively cheap Hanoi.

Let’s quit with the superiority and enjoy the holiday!

Senkaku aka Diaoyu Island Tensions

Right now , China is undergoing the most heated anti-Japanese sentiments in decades. Various simmering issues and resentments have come to boil over the rocky , uninhabited , uninviting , islands called Senkaku (in Japanese) and Diaoyu ( in Chinese) .

These guys are causing protests , egg throwing , rock throwing , Toyota smashing , Nikon destroying , convenient store closing , and hot noodle attacking.

.

Let’s take a look at the physical location.

Well , it’s very close to clusters of other islands that Japan owns , and it’s closer to Taiwan than mainland China. What’s the argument all about?

It’s a simple one very short word answer. It fuels many of the world’s problems as well as most of our vehicles.

Ahhh, oil. Of course!

As far back as we can trace in history the islands were ruled by the Ryukyu kingdom (14th century). This kingdom was its own political entity but had a special relationship with the Chinese and was a tributary of the Ming Dynasty. Vietnam was also once a tributary kingdom of China but no one is arguing that now. In the 17th century the kingdom found itself in sort of a dual subordination to the Chinese and Japanese. The kingdom was dissolved in 1875 and Japan annexed the entire kingdom in 1879 ( Senkaku islands being a part of the kingdom). A private Japanese family straight out purchased the island in 1930. History passed pretty quietly until 1968 rolls by and oil is discovered. Let the fighting begin. China previously had no contention on the islands until this key point in time. Mainland China made its first claim of sovereignty in 1971 but until the 2000s thing were pretty calm. In the last decade there have been some protests and activist movements which have slowly built up tensions until July of 2012 when these events : 4 July, Coastguard vessels from Taiwan and Japan collided in waters near a disputed island chain Wednesday, as the Taiwanese vessel was escorting activists to the area.
On 7 July, the Japanese Prime Minister stated that these islands are an integral part of his country and the Government is considering their purchase from the Japanese owner.
Three Chinese patrol vessels entered the disputed waters around these islands on 11 July 2012. On 15 July 2012, Japan recalled their ambassador to China to work on the response to the transgression. In late July, Japanese officials have raised alarms regarding increased Chinese military expansion. (from Wikipedia) , dramatically increased the tensions between the two countries.

The situation in China is going insane right now.

Around August 12 or 13th in an attempt to ease tensions, Japan outright purchased the islands back from the private Japanese (JAPANESE ) owner. This sparked the current rage currently ongoing.

There is government sponsored protests (let the people rage against other countries but not their own shitty government) , smashing of Japanese things , attacks against Japanese , and a bunch of other ignorant and embarrassing things causing Family Mart ( Japanese own the majority of stock) family mart to fly Chinese flags , the search engine Baidu to support the CCP , and Zhonghua toothpaste to declare the islands to be part of China.

It will be interesting to see how things develop , and I’m drinking a Japanese KIRIN beer while using my SONY PS3 . Japan, you rule. China , sometimes I wonder why I came here.

Check these Shanghaiist links for some awesome coverage

http://shanghaiist.com/2012/09/18/shanghai-japan-consulate-general-protest.php

http://shanghaiist.com/2012/09/18/baidu-diaoyu-islands.php

http://shanghaiist.com/2012/09/16/china-anti-japan-protests.php

Rainy Season Again?! Already?!?

Well it’s late June again and with that comes Shanghai’s rainy season once again. The plum rains kicked off with a nice 12 hour downpour on the 18th and we have been getting little bits of rain everyday since then. Of course the 4 day work week is relatively un-rainy with the main blasts expected to start on our free Friday , a heavy downpour with thunderstorms all day Saturday continuing on to Sunday. Monday will see a clouds , with the rains picking up again on Tuesday and Wednesday. The next two to three weeks will continue on like this.

Hard to believe it was already a year ago my family picked the start of the rainy season to arrive for their first visit to China. It was quite fun wandering around Suzhou’s gardens trying to balance a camera underneath the umbrellas. Last summer I had two whole months off and traveled with my family throughout China (Shanghai , Suzhou , Hangzhou , Xian , Beijing) before heading off alone to Yunnan province and then finally dipping down into Laos. This summer will see myself working the whole time with no break until a Taiwan stop-off in October. While my mind might not quite be as satisfied my bank account will certainly be much happier. For next summer I think I hear India calling my name.

Along with the plum rains it means it’s time for the dragon boat festival. While the forecast doesn’t look too good for catching the boat races on the Suzhou river , I’m still gonna try.

Last year’s post had me explaining some of the history behind the dragon boat festival and this year with my new apartment I’ve caught something I didn’t encounter last year.  People are hanging leaves from the Acorus and Artemisia plants outside of their doors in the hallways. On the way to work this morning I saw many older people carrying bunches of these leaves back home and heading up the 5 floors to my new apartment I saw about half of the apartments were hanging these branches. Apparently they have anti-toxin functions and also work to keep insects out. Sounds pretty good to me.  I told my girlfriend to keep an eye out for them. Couldn’t hurt!