Wednesday, July 21, 2004

More crazy shirts and chinese TV

Figured it's time to update my list of weird english t-shirts seen on the streets of Shanghai.

First is a teenage boy, the shirt is green with white cursive-like lettering it says "property of Conqueror"...i'd be pretty afraid of some dude named Conqueror...definitely wouldn't steal his shirt...probably has several varieties of nordic battle axes and cartoon sized hammers he can slay or pummel you with.

Next is a what looked like a 30something woman wearing a shirt that said "10% hard rocker" and it had sparkly lettering. Not sure if this is a mess-up and it's supposed to say 100% or not, but this lady was not even 1% hard rocker, unless by rocker it means rocking chair (something I believe is sorely missing in Chinese culture).

Another one is a 20something girl wearing a shirt that says "Girl is., mate" --I have no idea what this means, I'm at a loss to even take a gander at its meaning or the significance of the strange period-comma punctuation.

Next is a shirt, don't remember the shape, size, or age of the wearer, it says "Head of the times"...I'm guessing this is supposed to say "Ahead of the times" but who knows.

To go along with the "White - say it with colors" and "Black - say it with colors" shirts reported earlier, the other day I saw one that said "Red - Say it with colors". I guess that eliminates any kind of racial undertones to these shirts. I still have no clue what this means.

Finally, my all-time favorite shirt i've seen, and I would buy it in an instant if I saw it for sale...

It was a 30something somewhat portly woman...the shirt had a dark-blue background with red lettering and said "Spread over" first i was perplexed, thinking it was just some screwed up shirt, then after I passed her on the street i realized the meaning...I wanted so badly to tell her, but where is the fun in that.

Last night I was watching TV and they had a TV program for 20 minutes that is apparently a weekly program solely about Taiwan. They spent the whole time talking about Taiwan's military strategy for defending itself against China, and how China can defeat them using some other strategy. It was so weird.

Then I changed the channel and the news was on, it was the last five minutes and they were playing this animation which I had seen online a couple days ago. It's a cartoon making fun Bush and Kerry...and they had it on the national nightly news complete with Chinese subtitles. Couldn't believe that.

This animation is also very cool.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The journey home has been scheduled

Well I was doing pretty well with these regular updates for awhile, but now it's been almost 10 days since the last update. Mainly, this is because I have a significant amount of work to do at my job now. Before there wasn't much to do, which led to a lot of idle internet browsing, but now the pressure is on, and it's heavy, high, and unrelenting...feels like a camel is on my back slowing my daily life to the pace of snail crawling on a hot unbuttered frying pan on a dry summer day. you may say to yourself "that last sentence doesn't make any sense," and you would be right. this is the intensity of the pressure i am under, so much that my normal largely nonsensical ramblings have grown so extreme that they actually make no sense at all.

Seriously, there isn't any mountain of himalayan pressure, I just have a relatively full day now.

In other news, I booked my flight home. I'm leaving China August 9th, spending a few days in San Francisco visiting family, then flying to baltimore on August 14th. From there I make the harsh pot-holed journey through thick malaria infested jungle, expansive rattlesnake infested deserts, the barren flu infested arctic tundra, and finally the rolling hick infested Appalachian mountains, from BWI to the suburbs of Harrisburg -- a journey that will hopefully take just under 1.5 danger-filled hours. I tell chinese people all the time that danger is my middle name...they don't get it (yes, my chinese skills are such that I must resort to these kinds of corny jokes...I regret it, i truly do).

Finally, if you ever wondered how much sex is going on in the olympic village, here is the answer.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The traffic slut

My walk to work every morning takes about 20 minutes. As it is summer time here in Shanghai along with the rest of the northern hemisphere it is unbearably hot and humid most days. Complicating these uncomfortable conditions is that fact that I have to wear pants and a short-sleeve dress shirt to work, as well as carry my 8lb laptop bag. Furthermore, my sickly white body, when confronted by such conditions as heat, humidity, heavy electronics baggage, and pants, tends to sweat rather profusely. Therefore, my walk to and from work usually results in thoroughly sweat-soaked outer garments and undergarments that can best be described as "soupy."

Mainly because of this soupy undergarment phenomenon, I am not in the best of moods on my walk to and from the office. Perhaps only to further aggravate my already uncomfortably sweaty situation, the Chinese government has placed traffic sluts at nearly every intersection along my walk to work.

You see, in China, jay-walking is a god-given right. Most adventures in street-crossing are best analogized as a life and death game of frogger. However, on these particular intersections, for some unknown reason, the government has decided that jay-walking is not allowed. You must wait until the little green man is beconning before you can cross the street. To enforce this unusual regulation, traffic sluts (their official name), have been placed in two corners of each intersection (see Figure 1) and empowered with an ear shattering whistle and a mean slut attitude that gives due credence to their government santioned name.

Figure 1

These mighty vixens with their blood-curdling whistle regularly stop me from contributing to the general pedestrian anarchy, and force me to wait until the little guy turns green in order to walk. This unneccessary and often enfuriating action causes to me to break my coasting stride on the walk to work, and wait at a usually clear intersection for upwards of one minute. In this one minute, because of my broken stride and loss of the cooling wind created by my speedy gait, i begin to sweat, and my clothes grow soupier by the second*. Because of this, I hate the traffic sluts, and they are on my shit-list. Here is a picture of a typical traffic slut:

*Note: I never see chinese people sweating...ever...and they wear much warmer clothes than I do

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Beijing Dao Le, Likai Le

Went to beijing last friday and met up with my parents there, just got back last night, late, after a plane delay and a semmingly long flight (about 1h45min), then bargaining for a taxi after sitting on the bus for a few minutes then realizing the bus was going to take about 2.5hours to get home, I finally got home about 8 hours after i left my parents' hotel. It was a good time though, nice to check out the city that everyone in china says you have to go to ("It is so famous, you have to go! the great wall! the forbidden city! they are sooo famous, how can you not go," as any chinese person will tell you) and I had the pleasure of enjoying a different flavor of air pollution for few days. Kidding aside, it was a good time, but I thought a lot of the sites were somewhat overrated (much like many of the other sites in China). Don't have any of my pictures on my computer right now, but i'll try to get a couple up tomorrow. More than anything, it was great to spend a few extra days with my parents, and the restaurants we ate at were all very good. We kind of hit all sides, a shitty american restaurant, a delicious japanese one, mongolian hotpot (the mongols know how to boil meat, rest assured), tibetan, and of course the always scrumpcious and delectable Peking Duck.

Of the tourist sites, I thought the forbidden city was decent, but huge, after about 20min of walking around it all starts to look the same. The Summer palace was ok, but more of the same buildings as the forbidden city. The Great Wall was pretty cool how it goes around the mountains, but I actually expected it to be greater. I guess I'm just an eternal pessimist. The wall was definitely worth going to though. I thought one of the coolest things we went to was the Lama Temple with it's 20meter tall Buddha all carved out of a single tree ("that's one big buddha" as my dad said). Mainly, it seemed like a lot of these sites, the forbidden city, summer palace, great wall, were not as old as I had thought they were. The tour guide kept calling all these things ancient, and explaining something he would say "this is how the ancient chinese did...", but actually by ancient he meant before the rise of communism...he was describing things from the 19th century as ancient. Most of everything we saw was from after the 17th century (according to the guide's facts, which are of questionable veracity) and I don't really consider that ancient. I dunno, I'm just disenchanted with tourism in china, or maybe mass market tourism in general, it all just seems so artificial...go here buy your ticket, push, climb, and elbow your way through the crowd to the famous part that you've seen all the pictures of, take your picture of it and with it, move onto the next site, repeat. It didn't feel as much like this in SE Asia when I was travelling, and maybe not all sites in china are like this, but so many sites i've visited had this feeling. Anyway, I got a very different impression of beijing than I would had I been backpacking or living there, but I think I like shanghai better from the short impression I had.

O, and about the two bathrooms, I have one that is exclusively for showering, and one that is exclusive for toilet use and teeth-brushing. You may think this would make things complicated, especially in those groggy morning hours, and it does...but it would be a pity to leave one bathroom in a virgin and un-defecated state.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Walking the streets of shanghai

So every morning I have about a 20 minutes walk to work every day, and every evening a 20 minute walk back home. This is a walk through stiffling oven-like heat and oftentimes humidity nearing that "walking through water" feeling that I grew so accustomed to during my childhood life growing up in an experimental spherical military base near the notorious "ring of fire" on the botton of the pacific ocean floor. During this walk, I am also carrying my laptop and wearing dressy pants, which both combine with the aforementioned heat and humidity the result of me working up quite a sweat by the time I reach the office/home. By the time I get to the office, there is usually a few large spots of wetness visible through whatever shirt, or shirt and undershirt i happen to be wearing, especially if it is the cheap polyester kind, of which I have regrettably purchased several. Remarkably, the chinese people I see walking, biking, or in the occasional case dancing, down the street never seem to sweat at all (admittedly, I have never seen real dancing in the street, but there have been several people who's pimp-like strut have reminded me of such line dances as the electric slide, and the hokey pokey).

The real point of this post, however, is are some of the interesting t-shirts I have seen recently on my walk to work. The other morning I saw a woman wearing a shirt that said "Disco Queen" in huge letters. Another shirt, which happened to be white, said "WHITE" in big letters, then underneath it said "say it with colors." This was very similar to a shirt I saw today, this one happened to be black, which said "BLACK" and also said "say it with colors" underneath. I wish I had a picture...I still don't know what these shirts really mean...maybe it's just some kind of stupid joke. But I can almost guarantee the people wearing them have no clue what they mean. Lastly, I saw a shirt that said "United with Love", I think I like that one the best. Another great article of clothing was a hat that two waitresses were wearing at a dumpling restaurant, it had a big menorah on it and "Jerusalem" written underneath. I have don't how they got it, but I did ask them whether they knew what it was, and of course they had no idea...they just said they use the hat to keep their hair in.

In other news, I put up close to two hundred pictures of hangzhou, so check them out.