no halloween here

Today is October 31, 2010. Today is Halloween, but you wouldn’t guess it if you were in Shanghai. Here it’s just like any normal day. Stores aren’t shelling out candy, there aren’t pumpkin decorations all over the place, and I haven’t seen kids scampering about in costume. Yesterday I saw two babies dressed up though, one cow and one pumpkin, but I’m not really counting them. It appears that America’s consumerization of the holiday has not stretched to China, but then again most Chinese people have no clue about Halloween anyway. It’s really kind of sad for me. So no Halloween this year. Too much effort for no reward.

What I have noticed, however, is that Chinese people love rainbow colors. Almost as much as they love fireworks and twinkle lights. Today is also the last day of Shanghai World Expo 2010. So below is a picture from the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion. Unfortunately part of me could not help but think of Albert Speer’s cathedral of light when I saw those searchlights. These lights sometimes moved around so thankfully it didn’t have the same effect, but for part of the time they pointed straight upwards and … yeah.

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expo at night

On October 18, 2010, I braved the Shanghai Expo 2010 for the second (and last) time. I arrived at the park around 5 PM and left at 10 PM since the metro closes around 11 and I was a bit paranoid about missing it. Also because I was exhausted by the end.

Went to a total of five pavilions, two of which (Denmark and UK) because I really wanted to see them, two (Luxembourg and Argentina) because they had no line, and one (Shanghai Corporate) because I was already there. Since I went at night, lines were much shorter than they would have been during the day. Denmark had a 20-minute wait, UK around one hour, and Shanghai Corporate about 20 minutes as well. All in all, I’d have to agree with the majority of people in saying that Expo is overrated. Sure it’s fairly interesting … but not enough to warrant the hassle it requires. The pavilions themselves are the attraction, not what they house. I generally wandered around the Europe section before heading to the Puxi side. Even though I was curious about the Axis of Evil pavilions, I heard they weren’t actually that interesting and decided against trekking way over there.

The below picture is from inside the Denmark pavilion. It was a pretty cool pavilion, but I kept thinking: Wow, this would never fly in the US. It’s basically one giant circular ramp with the statue of the Little Mermaid at the center. I kept picturing a person in a wheelchair getting pushed down. Also, there were some of the most hazardous stairs in that pavilion that were of awkward depth-height ratio and there wasn’t always a railing! UK pavilion was fairly cool, but it was more of an object than a pavilion. Luxembourg and Argentina were pointless and Shanghai Corporate was a fascinating exterior with little thought given to interior. I’ve noticed that my camera has a lot of trouble focusing at night, so most of my pictures are blurry, which is sad. I need a new one … eventually. So that’s the recap for now. I’ll probably tell more later. Cheers.

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another creeper

Yeah I know I posted earlier today, but this one will be short. I don’t have class tomorrow and this is the next-to-last week of Expo, so I figured I’d have a go at it. Lots of pictures and stories to share, but that’s for another post. This is just going to be a quick story about a creeper. I just can’t seem to get away from them. I left Expo around 10 PM, so it was already dark. Spent five hours there and my feet are killing me. Anyway, I left from a different gate than the one I came in at, so I asked one of the guards where the subway station was. I’ll do this in dialogue format.

Me: (in Chinese) Where’s the subway station?
Guard 1: (looks at me, then to a fellow guard) English.
Guard 2: (walks over, in English) Yes?
Me: (in English) Where’s the nearest metro?
Guard 2: Huh?
Me: Where is subway station?
Guard 2: (gives me directions)
Me: Great, thanks. (and then I smile … because I’m nice)
Guard 2: (as I’m turning away from him) Do you want to kiss me?
Me: Um … no. (and then I run across the street)

I don’t know why the first guard beckoned over the second one in the first place. Later on I asked a different guard for directions again because I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction and he understood me fine and answered back in Chinese. No problem there. It was really weird too because they were all in uniform so when that guard asked me if I wanted to kiss him … just too creepy. I’ve always held people in uniform in higher esteem, but China’s a different animal.

yucky hazy skies

The other day I woke up, looked out the window and thought: What time is it? Turns out it was a bit before noon, yet there was no sun. Was it raining? Nope. Oh nevermind, this is how the sky always looks. Yucky and really hazy. I’m amazed there aren’t more people with asthma, or maybe it just goes under-diagnosed around here. My poor, poor lungs.

Every now and then (like after a heavy rain) there will be a clear day with a blue sky. On those days, I can see for quite a ways. But for the most part … the buildings in the background are basically whited/grayed out by the dust and smog. How many buildings can you count?

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i was on a farm

Ugh … for a while there I was being good at updating this blog rather regularly. And then I forgot about it. Oops.

Anyway, a while back I went to a farm in the outskirts of Shanghai on a sort of group field trip. Overall, it was rather boring. I like nature (to a degree) and I’ll spend the day in the park sketching away, but being stuck on a farm is a bit different. In the afternoon we picked pears and corn, which was the highlight of the trip. But then we had to sit through a lecture about sustainability blah blah blah and we had to design a poster about sustainability in groups. Due to the language barrier, I had a 10-year-old kid translating everything for me, which was a very weird experience. Also, while I appreciate what the farm (which is organic) is trying to do, I’m not very gung-ho about the whole concept, so when they were explaining things to us, it seemed like they were saying, “Hey, I’m saving the world whereas you’re killing it. You should be ashamed and grovel at my feet.”

The Austin farmer’s market is awesome and having lived in Austin, I have a certain degree of fondness for the hippie environmental folks. But that condescending attitude is seriously annoying. My Chinese is still rather limited, so I couldn’t follow a lot of what they were saying and was obviously bored. One of the guides suggested I take off my shoes and socks and walk around in the dirt in order to connect with nature. Um … no.

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