Moment of the Day – Impatience

I’ve mastered a few little techniques and individual station strategies to survive the Shanghai metro. These are especially important during the dreaded rush hour. Fortunately I’m done earlier than the majority of people so I only have to deal with the rush in the morning commute. It’s still a pretty awful way to start a day though.

Anyways, to get to work I have to switch from Line 7 to Line 4 at the Dong An Lu station. I’ve discovered that there tends to be fewer people waiting to board the train as well as already on the train at the front and end carriages of the train. At the Dong An Lu station there is an awful restroom that stinks to high heaven which people have to wait in front of in order to board the front of the train. The combo of distance walked from the transfer stairs plus the stench keeps people away. I deal with it because I feel it’s better than being pushed and shoved into a tiny cramped space with a bunch of rude fools .

The restrooms are very small and usually the doors are left open. This was the case today. I board the train and while I’m waiting for the train doors to shut so we can be on our way, a woman in her early 20s emerges from her stall (the only stall). She is greeted by an old lady who stands directly in her way and says in a nails on chalkboard kind of voice, “You’re too slow!!!!” ( In Chinese of course). The younger woman just looks at the lady with a look of scorn and disdain and slips past the miserable old hag. The metro door slides shut and I’m laughing.

What a bitch! What is the point of being so rude and saying that? Accept it, and use the available facilities. If I found myself in that situation , I would probably also slip right past the jerk and not say a word either. The temptation to exclaim “OOOOH DIARRHEA” and slip back into the stall to make the cranky one wait for a good 10 , 15 minutes extra does arise though , especially if I have a good book 🙂 . Careful people , you reap what you sow!

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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.

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

Metro Madness

In a massive densely populated city like Shanghai rush hour can be intense. Whether it be public transit or private car things can be hectic to say the least. We don’t have the subway workers whose jobs are dedicated to shoving people into the already overpacked subway cars that those Tokyo residents may be familiar with but that’s because we don’t need them. Here in Shanghai, the metro riders take care of that work themselves. Shoving , pushing, old ladies grinding their pelvises against me , and other general forms of jackassery can ruin an already morbid mood during the half-awake haze that is the morning commute.

Come soon I plan on having a series of subway survival tricks and tips but that is for another time. Now time to focus on a subway jackassery witnessed today during the (gasp) non-prime time rush hours.

I was sitting down on the bench-style seating near the end by the door. The very last seat next to me was open. We had just stopped at a station and through the doors directly across from my position came a younger girl walking towards the seat. From the other side of the car came a late 30’s early 40’s woman. This woman ran from across the car and bumped the younger girl out-of-the-way a little bit to slide into the seat just as the younger girl was beginning her descent into the seat. As if that wasn’t bad enough the lady was laughing as she did it. A maniacal bitchy kind of laugh directly in the girl’s face. It didn’t even happen to me but I was still pissed.  When a country has 1.3 billion people personal space and some forms of social pleasantries aren’t strong concepts.

Good thing she (probably) couldn’t read English as a quick glance over at my Kindle and the insane text of American Psycho exposed on the screen might have given her second thoughts about trying to sit next to me…..

Shanghai Metro Crash!

Wow! Yesterday the worst accident in the 15 years of Shanghai’s metro operations happened. At around 2:50pm 2 trains collided on Metro Line 10 in between the popular tourist spot Yuyuan Gardens and Laoximen. Apparently the signal systems had failed a little earlier in the day and operators were running the line at reduced speeds using telephones for the signaling system. This led to one train ramming into the back of another one.After this, line 10 operations were shut down for the day , 500 people were evacuated through the tunnels, and oh yea 270 people being injured!!!! Only 20 of these people were severely wounded with no one in critical condition. There are no reported deaths ,hopefully this isn’t the government clamping down on the media (let’s keep our fingers crossed). According to media sources by 7:30 pm 180 of those injured were released from the hospitals mostly with bruises and some bone fractures.

I think there will be outrage among the population at this latest accident. This comes only 2 months after the July 23rd high-speed train crash in Wenzhou that injured 200 and left 40 dead. People were incensed about that incident and this will only make matters worse. Transportation safety is increasingly being put in the spotlight as the nation strives to enlarge the system. Going back to the signal failures , guess who happened to make both of those failed signal systems? If you sensed a connection you are right , both systems were manufactured by a joint French-Chinese company called Casco.

I hope that these issues can be resolved with ever more and more high-speed rail lines built and with Shanghai’s metro expected to double to more than 800 km of track by 2020 (it’s already the world’s longest system at around 435 km now).

Luckily for me I was at work during this time and I ride Line 7 to Line 4 to get to my kindergarten everyday but last year I did have to ride Line 10 to get to work on Wednesdays.

I’ll leave you with some links to get some more information and to see some photos of the incident.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44682501/ns/world_news-asia_pacific/t/hundreds-injured-shanghai-subway-crash/

http://shanghaiist.com/2011/09/27/breaking_train_crash_on_shanghai_me.php

This last link is to help see where the accident occured. Look on the lavender colored line 10 in between Laoximen and Yuyuan Garden.

http://www.exploreshanghai.com/metro/

Science and Technology Museum

Last Friday ( my off day) took me to meet up with a friend to see an Imax movie at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and take a visit to Century Park (世纪公园).  The center is located in Pudong on metro line 2 at the appropriately named “Shanghai Science and Technology Museum” metro stop. The original plan was foiled by time limitations and a late arriving friend. So instead we decided to tour the Science Center. It’s a pretty cool place with some interesting exhibits but in terms of interactivity and fun things it doesn’t match up to the Cleveland Science Center I’m so familiar with. There were a few good interactive exhibits like a robot that plays a game involving setting stones on a board , and a face that interacts with visitors by getting them to do various things. Cooler if you can understand Chinese and what it asks of you ( like me hehe). Exhibits include Spectrum of Life , Earth Exploration , Cradle of Life , World of Robots , Information Age , Light of Exploration , and Space Navigation to name a few. The center also features an Imax theater , a 4-d theater , Imax 3d , and a planetarium. Entrance to the museum costs 60 kuai and Imax movies range from 30-40 kuai depending on 3-d or not. My favorite things about the center are the Imax theater and the Earth exhibits. The game playing robot was also very cool. The museum is something to check out once and the Imax movies are good to go see. After checking out the exhibits we ducked out of the museum and hung out in the big plaza outside of the museum.

The plaza is a good open site surrounded by pools of water. Skaters , rollerbladers , kite flyers , and touts come to congregate and hang out. Underneath the plaza as part of the metro system has a great fake goods market , where you can buy clothes, wallets , software , and various assorted things. Bargain hard here. They start super high and as a foreigner dawg you get especially high prices. 400 kuai start for a fake billabong hoodie later reduced to 100 kuai (which is still probably expensive) I hate bargaining!

So everybody go check out the science center , the  Imax theater , and then after take the quick walk to Century Park or hop on the metro to go one stop further. I will write about that amazing place another time. PEACE RATATAT.

 

Puxi and Pudong 浦西和浦东

One of the main orientations of Shanghai is that of west of the Huangpu river and east of the Huangpu river. The Chinese words for east and west are 东(dong) and 西(xi). The Huangpu river is 黄浦。 So the split of the city is literally east of the Huangpu and west of the Huangpu. I live on the Puxi side in JingAn district (静安区)and have made a few trips out to Pudong but don’t often frequent the area.

Puxi is the old side of town and Pudong is the new area. Prior to 1990 the area was little more than farmland and today is another part of the concrete jungle. I have pictures on the end of the post but try to wrap your head around the fact that in 20 years what was once farms is now a collection of shining and glistening skyscrapers that is the trade and finance center of China and hosts the tallest buildings in China. In a mere twenty years! , the pace of development and construction is crazy over here! I’ve read that the majority of the world’s cranes reside in China and the Chinese use more concrete than anyone else in the world! I’ve only been here since early July 2010 but it seems like every time I step outside something new is sprouting up. As I type a brand new metro line and station is being constructed right outside my building and the subway line (#7) I go on nearly everyday opened only six months before I arrived! I’ve seen massive road construction on Changshou Rd ( the street I live on) , a new bank pop up outside my house , countless stores/restaurants open and close by my apartment , and new walls built practically overnight. Quite a far cry from the lazy seemingly unchanging development of my suburb of Mentor, OH or the regression of my home city Cleveland , OH.

Pudong is mainly the home of the financial and trade districts , many wealthy business men , and many wealthy business expat types. It can feel a bit odd and manufactured . like a new shiny city that popped up outta nowhere in two decades (which it is). It seems a bit cleaner and snappier than Puxi but I feel it’s just wide avenues , suit n’ ties, pretty buildings , and shopping centers. It lacks that more true to life style of Puxi with our crowded dirty areas of cheap eateries I’ve come to know and love. It is certainly very interesting to check out Pudong though and there are a few good attractions. Whenever I take a trip over I enjoy it and have a good time. Some of the more important things to check out in Pudong are the JinMao Building , Shanghai Aquarium , World Financial Center, Oriental Pearl TV Tower , Shanghai Science and Technology Muesuem , and the awesome green space of Century Park. There are also loads of high quality international schools supporting the expat populations. Good to know if you are one of these said expat or if you are looking for a good teaching job. A few different metro lines service Pudong with line 2 being the prevelant line through. Pudong is also serviced by Pudong international airport and the super snazzy maglev train line to the airport! That thing is fun but more on that later.

Puxi contains the area of Shanghai considered to be old town and then all the new developments radiating out from that area. Another neat contrast between Puxi and Pudong occurs on the Huangpu river. Pudong side is all glittering lit up skyscrapers while the Puxi side shows the old of Shanghai. The Bund lies along the river , this area contains the foreign concession buildings. It’s quite a juxtaposition of the new shiny China with old European architecture. Puxi contains the buik of sights of Shanghai as well as the bulk of the population. Chances are you will spend most of your time in Puxi on a visit. An important factor to consider is living on the side of the river you work on , it can quite annoying and take a lot of time ,depending on your destinations, to make the journey across the river to the other side of town everyday. I will do further writeups and a city profile for Puxi and Pudong later but I feel this is a good intro post to the topic.

Anyways , Friday I will be dipping out to Pudong to catch an I-max movie at the science center and lounge by the lake in Century Park , with a pretty girl no less! Woo hoo!

Peace Grease!