Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shanghai Smog

This stuff is serious. Not only is the color and the poor visibility striking, after half a day you can taste the smog on your lips. sticky, metalic, I could feel it on my skin and in my hair. You get used to it after a while, a couchsurfer from Turkey said. I suppose you do... but that's not necessarily a good thing.

This is the view from "The Bund" of the new fancy skyscraper district. The river is probably not more than 100 meters wide but the view is still very brown.

Two days later we came back to see The Bund at night. Perhaps the air quality had gotten a bit better. Perhaps it's just prettier at night.

People's Square in Shanghai, near sunset.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reversed Vending Machine

In Shanghai, and all over China, beggars were desperate for plastic bottles and other things recyclable. Since many recyclables have a claim on them, people can make a little extra money when they return them. When I asked around, I think someone told me it was about 10 plastic bottles (250mL) to a kuai (or RMB) and there are about 7 kuai to the dollar... so 70 plastic bottles to the dollar. But then again, a dollar can buy you a meal in Shanghai.

This reverse vending machine appeared to accept bottles or cans and spit out money. Since this was day 1 in Shanghai, I was too overwhelmed by everything and intimidated by groups of locals to get a closer look. But at least I got a "skewed snapshot". ha. ha.

and the adventures continue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Shanghai sense of style

Shanghai Pudong airport is a trip with it's crazy ceiling decorations.

Regardless of the cool super modern looking airport... this place was meant to curse me both coming in and out of Shanghai.

Joe and I came in on different flights and we agreed to meet, "you know, where you get spit out of the process" (i.e. customs, immigration, etc.)

Seemed like a reasonable plan. But then a series of assumptions made us both sick with worry for the other as we waited on opposite sides of the airport for the other.

Bad assumptions on my part:
The terminal I fly into was labeled as "International, Hong Kong, and Macau Arrivals" Therefore I assumed international flights would come through there...

If Joe had arrived and I wasn't there he would page me (as previously agreed on).

Joe did page me and ASSUMED that the page would reach the whole airport. However, it was only for the terminal that he in. not the one I was in.

anyways, we eventually found each other and got into our hostel safe and sound.

On the way back my flight was delayed 3 and a half hours.........

Anyways, Shanghai is also hosting the 2010 World Expo. Lots of new subways and public are works are planned for the upcoming crowds.

And the mascot for this is...
Gumby... apparently.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Almost perfect pictures

sure, sure, there are tons of pictures that could be described as "almost perfect" but in this one the old lady purposefully covered her face with the white plastic bag. At the time I though she was just showing her disapproval that a rich tourist (i.e. me) was capitalizing on her humble life sorting fish (which I kind of was, selfishly selfishly....)

Later I learned that many old people think that for every picture taken of them they lose a year of life. Or so a tour guide told me later. Then I felt extra bad.... not only was I making a poor fish shucker old woman part of my hobby photo project but I was also slowly killing her. ouch. my karma is going to suck bad.

(taken in ZhouZhuang water village near Shanghai China)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Paper Crane wishes

Also in Fudan University in Shanghai, students "prepare" for exams by making paper cranes to wish for good luck and tying them all over campus.

It made me think about the ways we express our wishes...

Fudan University is very collegiate in a sense that seemed very Western... or possibly very universal. There were big grass quads, big imposing buildings--mostly brick, lots of causally dressed students with different degrees of worry on their faces, and tons of bicycles.

On another note, trees all across China were painted half white like these are. I asked a random person who struck up a conversation on a local bus later in the trip (I continue to strike strangers as approachable, in China as well everywhere else I've been) about the white paint. He claimed it was a mix of lye and balloons (I think he meant rubber) and was meant to protect the trees from insects. Apparently all the painting happens in the winter. Sounds like a fiasco to me. lye and balloons..... um....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Somedays, I can't read the writing on the wall

This picture was taken near Fudan University in Shanghai China but tags similar to these seemed to be all over the city, and, to a lesser extent, all over China. They are tagged on walls, street curbs, they are on stickers on telephone poles, these messages cover sidewalks.

I asked a Chinese person I met at an English chat/practice what they were for and apparently, they are all phone numbers plus, "I will dig a hole for money." He says generally speaking they are all about "dig a hole" though some are more along the lines of "have tools will work."

But be careful, my friend cautioned me, these are all scams. We say, "these are people you can't believe in."

Unfortunately, his English wasn't good enough for me to get anymore real information.

What kind of scam starts, "I will dig a hole for money." ?

Any ideas?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


There should be many more posts to come, but here's a quick overview of the trip.
Music by Groove Coverage