cutting buttonholes – taobao adventures


That moment when you realize your pair of pants has no buttonhole. #chinaproblems

Welcome to the joys of shopping on Taobao. I love it. All the cheap crap you can get. Some of it is random trash, but some of it’s a good steal – especially clothing. But with cheapness comes cut corners. I wonder how much they saved themselves by eliminating that oh so annoying step of actually cutting a hole where the buttonhole should be. And if you think this was a fluke, it wasn’t. It’s actually the second pair of pants I’ve bought where I had to cut a buttonhole. Different brands, different stores. I guess it’s just a thing.

No matter. For a seven-buck pair of pants that actually fit, I can cut the hole myself.

red maos make china go ’round

October 1st was National Day, for which we got a one-week holiday as one of China’s two Golden Weeks. But that’s over and done with, and now it’s work work work. So here’s a picture of money. It’s Mao! Because this is why all of China basically shut down for a week and why we’re all back to toiling away.


Red Maos are the 100 RMB banknote in China, and even though they’re the highest-denomination note, they’re worth less than 20 USD. Credit cards are becoming more widely used, but cash is still more widely used, especially among older people. Which is super annoying because you end up carrying a fair number of bills and it just feels oh so sketchy. Or worse, you end up stuck at the bank waiting behind a line of old ladies with stacks and stacks of bills that need to go through the counting machine. And as opposed to when I was in China three/four years ago, I have yet to encounter a fake bill! Progress!

And in related news: I’m going to be working in Shanghai for at least one more year!

happy independence day!

I’m back in the good ol’ US of A! My trip to China was very eventful, so I have a bevy of images to get through, but I’m still jetlagged as hell. Got back into New York Wednesday night, waited FOREVER for the M60 (over 40 minutes of waiting … there was a mob of people trying to climb on when the bus finally arrived), got two rough-looking donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast/dessert, and crashed for approximately 18 hours. Then I woke up and headed to a 4th of July party! In Brooklyn! On a rooftop! How hipster of me, no? So quintessentially New York.

It’s good to be back. Happy birthday, America.


morning, shanghai!

Ah … Great Firewall of China – I once again succumb to your pressures! I’m in China (yay!) but I stupidly forgot to set up my VPN before leaving New York and now I’m having oodles of fun trying to set it up in-country. It’ll only be for a bit longer, and even though Gmail lags like no other, at least I still have e-mail. Facebook and WordPress? Not so much. I’m sending this post via e-mail, which is simply cumbersome. This is just a short trip to China so I’ll be back in New York before Independence Day.

But hey, it’s 6 in the morning and I’m awake – when’s the last time that happened? Unfortunately the sky is so hazy it’s hard to make out the sun ….


museum of china in america

The Museum of China in America (MOCA) is located in the Chinatown section of downtown Manhattan. Yay Chinatown! One of my favorite places in this city! It’s located at 215 Centre, which isn’t really the heart of Chinatown, because the heart of Chinatown is already occupied by grocery stores and restaurants.

130215 a

Inside, the main exhibit is kind of a homey feeling history gallery, which is separated into small rooms. The lighting is pretty dim and I guess they were going for the ‘experience’ setup as opposed to the ‘gallery’ setup. A lot of the content I was unfamiliar with since I only know my family’s particular history, so I found it quite educating. I especially enjoyed watching the oral history videos.

130215 b

130215 c

Next to the main permanent exhibit was a temporary gallery space. The exhibit up right now (until February 24) is actually two linked exhibits, “Marvels and Monsters” and “Alt.Comics,” which are both about Asian-Americans and comics. I actually found it really interesting and I liked the exhibition design, which incorporated aspects of comic book design. This space was much more of a typical ‘gallery’ feel – nicely lit, white walls. My only quibble is with the installation of the exhibit because some of the wall text was peeling and overall it just lacked some finesse.

130215 d

It’s a pretty small museum but it’s a good one to visit if you have any interest at all in the Chinese-American experience. MOCA has free admission on Fridays, which is great because even though it was a nice visit, I don’t think I would’ve been willing to pay full admission price considering how small the place is. In April they’re going to have an exhibit about fashion which looks to be interesting. But definitely try and go while the comics exhibit is still up!

papa john’s in china

I eat when I am stressed. It tends to be unhealthy. And it tends to be a lot. So since I’m studying for finals I decided to order some pizza. I have a bucket list for my stay in Shanghai, and one of items was to try Papa John’s in China. I’ve already tried Pizza Hut (which was weird – seafood pizza, anyone?) but I heard that Papa John’s was reasonably decent, id est similar to what a normal pizza should be.

The verdict: Eh. Better (and more normal) than Pizza Hut in China, but not as good as some of the small pizza shops I’ve found in Shanghai like Pizza Street or New York Pizza. That being said, it was still okay, just not as good as it is in the States even though it cost about the same as it would in the States, thereby being fairly expensive. Oh well.


one-year anniversary

Today is June 11, 2011. On June 11, 2010, I arrived in Shanghai. I’ve been here an entire year – woot! In celebration I stayed at home and did absolutely nothing … kind of like my usual Saturday. This past Monday was the Dragonboat Festival (which is why I didn’t have class) and for the holiday people eat zongzi. I still have a number of zongzi in my fridge and freezer, so I’m slowly working my way through them.

They’re basically these things made of sticky rice, with pork inside, and wrapped in a leaf. My mother used to make them, but she hasn’t for a long time because it’s such a hassle if you’re not making a lot. The below picture is of a zongzi that my aunt had made. Yummy.


the month of may

May Day and Cinco de Mayo have come and gone. April showers are over and the May flowers are in bloom. And the month of May is going to be crazy as heck.

It’s been a while since I last posted, and all for good reason. I did some traveling with my class, then we had midterms, I got sick, family came, work was annoying, et cetera. The next few weeks are going to be very busy as well, but all’s still well. The below picture is from a temple in Wuxi, China. The city of Wuxi didn’t really have much to offer, but it was nice to get away from the city for a bit.



Registration for the new semester of school? Check. Only took me three and a half hours. Get a part-time job to avoid boredom? Check. Now I need to refresh my very rusty vocab skills. Starting Monday, I’ll be on a regular schedule of classes. Then we’ll see how much work I end up getting. And I might have a language partner lined up as well. And I need to visit the grocery store. And … you get the idea.

About grocery shopping, I’ve been to many a foreign grocery store (Freshmart, Carrefour, and City Shop) and the small street-side fruit markets, but not Lianhua, which is the standard Chinese grocery store around here. I need to buy flour and baking powder. Because I want pancakes. Still battling with myself about whether to buy cheese or not. On the one hand, I would really like to make a grilled cheese sandwich. On the other hand, including the price of bread and butter (both rather expensive), a single grilled cheese sandwich will end up costing about 2 USD. Hm … decisions, decisions.

Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Festival) takes place September 22. What does that mean? MOONCAKES! Some of my favorite things in the world. Below is a picture of mooncakes that have meat inside and a flaky pastry outside. These are delicious. We also have the more common kind of mooncake here, my favorite being the lotus seed paste with an egg yolk. YUM. So much variety!