Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Just a few of the 1.3 billion people in the Republic of China.. while I didn't get to know them, we were at the same place at the same time and that is coincidental enough for me XD

A sea of umbrellas on a cloudless, hot day in the Forbidden City in Beijing. I think of Beijing as the Communist mecca, historical pilgrimage that the Chinese go to. It's a place I'd go to even if I've lived in China my whole life. The Forbidden City is enormous... how does the emperor even get from place to place? The place has 8,000+ rooms. It's mind-blowing the power and wealth ONE person has. Talk about feeling insignificant.. a feeling I actually like. (in contrast to in U.S. where I feel things I do have consequences haha)

A nuclear Chinese family in one part of the Temple of Heavens. I loved this place a lot, everything was so symmetrical! I really like this picture because (while I was creepin') the family did not notice and I felt like I observed an intimate moment without intruding on them. I love how nuclear this family is.

No explanations, except that I wonder what these kids will grow up to be. They could be recruited by the state to become athletes, they could endure hours of studying for the college entrance exam, they could start working at age 16, they could come to the U.S., they could be any of those things.. it makes me excited for the future even if the reality turns out to not be exciting.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My potential crib in Shanghai

Just one of several places I could live in.. well a girl can dream. I am used to the ease of living in Irvine but a change of scenery is also good.

Option 1: Duolun Rd.- old and dusty but historical (living among the spirits of former writers), away from extremely fast development (if you're not into that kinda thing), perfect for a Luddite who also wants access to the things that come with a metropolis

Option 2: model complexes/ high rises that are quickly scraping the sky in Shanghai. If you want to fit in/ be one of many/ feel like an urbanite, this would be a safe bet. However I don't think I can afford this.

Option 3: JK! This is just the Wild West-themed garden at the botanical gardens. It was so Western I just had to take a picture of it.

In all seriousness I have not been fitting in China among the locals as much as I'd hoped :( maybe living here isn't such a great idea

Saturday, July 16, 2011

博物館/ Museum

A few snapshots from Sheena, Candace, and my visit to the Shanghai Museum. The AC was chilly, the exhibits were cultural, and I saw Chinese artifacts in their country of origin-- all in all, a good day. My favorite exhibit was the ethnic clothing one, for several of China's 54 ethnic groups (even though the country is ~95% Han).

Masks: U MAD??

It looks like corset/ shoelaces from afar (VERY far maybe hah) but it is just the elevators of the 4 stories of the museum. There were a lot of tourists.

Chinese chairs throughout the ages! Which one looks the comfiest to sit on?

The thing about museums is that when they were made, they were not intended to be displayed but just everyday objects. Part of the artifacts' value is simply their age. I wish that were true for people.. that the older they are the more valuable they become. Actually-- that is true. Here's to wisdom and everything that comes with being older in a world that is becoming newer.

Gardens/ 花園

Things are starting to get hazy in my mind.. you know how it is with gardens and greens. They start looking alike because after all, an angiosperm is an angiosperm. Gardens are relaxing once in a while and a fair addition to Shanghai's many buildings and chaotic intersections.

See the buildings peeking out behind the mini pagoda

The Botanical Garden had these themed gardens within it.. this one was modern-looking but my fav was a Western-themed one. There was a mini saloon along with tumbleweeds..

Boats! at the garden next to the famous dumpling house

I am not a huge nature fan, so I have actually been getting a bigger dose of greens, bugs, and (questionably) "fresh air" than I have in the U.S. Here's to being in the outdoors!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Midterm tomorrow

90th Birthday of China's Communist Party

^ from the pros at Time magazine

Very fitting that we are having our midterm after the 90th anniversary.. because we are covering the reform & post-reform era after!

Street food by ECNU

Food is a big draw of China.. compared to say France or NY (the other options), China definitely has the best options and cheapest. For me, it is all about street food. You can of course get delicious food in restaurants, but what you really can't get anywhere else comes from street vendors. It's not as clean, you can't make a trip out of it with friends, and eating it is basically a health risk.. yet I find it some of the most savory foods.

With street food, you also get exactly what you pay for. There isn't nice seating, lights, restrooms, waiters, plates-- it's just the vendor and your food. (Think for a second everything you are paying for at Cheesecake Factory-- the decor, lights, cushions on your seat, the menu-- your bill is much more than that slice of cake!) I am a huge proponent of street food lol.

5pm meal at a subway station/ food mecca-- yogurt and cheese/corn bread (20RMB)

Yogurt with noodles (15 RMB)

Potstickers with iced tea (8 RMB)

I love street food b/c most other things you can get at San Gabriel Valley and it is cheaper. Not to mention... it is so gratifying!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Antique shops on 多倫路

I didn't get pictures that captured what this street really looked like, but it's a street where a lot of writers and influential figures had lived. There are several bronze statues of the former residents along the road. Today their residences remain while the first story of these houses became antique, jade and other stores. One thing I've noticed is that as historical/touristy/attraction-ish the street is, clotheslines and and wires hang above. It is one thing that ties the different areas of Shanghai together :Q

A nice Victorian house that someone famous probably lived in

One snapshot of an antique store that had sooo many awesome 1940s/Revolutionary things in it.. it was enough to make me want to return just to go to this store

Clotheslines and bedsheets make the best tents and shades in an alley

You know how I feel about antiques and sleeping...

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Globalization has been easier to observe than I thought. Here are a few snapshots of the West's infiltration into the Land of Forbidden Palace, Dragons and Dim Sum... or just transnational corporations venturing into China. Prof. Rigby would be proud!

Exhibit A: Ikea is opening in Shanghai! This is an ad in a metro station

Exhibit B: Forever 21 is coming soon to 南京東路 (East Nanjing Rd), a street with a lot of stores. I think this is one of the best pictures I've taken here b/c of the guard and how it encapsulates consumerism with political conservatism... *dusts off shoulder* HAHa

Exhibit C: Another personal favorite of mine... I PLAYED FRUIT NINJA IN CHINA! On a Chinese tablet/ iPad sort of thing! That moment also summed up globalization for me <3

北京 loves Ikea

Beijing loves Ikea-- but not for shopping

I haven't been to Beijing yet, but this article is a great example of what we've been talking about in class.. hybridization and the local spin/perception of things from the West. But what struck me was that I understand where they are coming from... I know why Ikea is more like a theme park than a furniture store to the Chinese. They go there for refills, meals, ample seating, sleeping on the beds (!!) rather than buying furniture. It offers things other (domestic) stores often do not. This guy said why buy the furniture when you have pictures. I am just amazed at how much I relate to this (feel free to judge me) and this article confirmed that I indeed think and am Chinese at heart. I know it sounds like a pretty big leap, but I am SO, so glad that what I'm learning, my heritage as Taiwanese and my time in the U.S. has come together during my time in China.

One thing I've thought many times during this trip is how fitting this place is for me as my (essentially) first time abroad. I am familiar enough with the culture/language that I'm not shocked by its practices (like street food, not tipping, sometimes abrasive behavior), but it's also new enough that I have a lot to learn (what to do when strangers approach you, traffic chaos). In short I am very glad that this is where I've come and all the people that made it happen, TY so much.

And... I have to go to Ikea in Beijing to see this article in real life.

共產黨九十周年/Communist presence in 2011

July 1 was the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. This is going to be the most relevant post to what I've learned in GS 110A: in short, I haven't really felt communism's grasp over the past two weeks I've been here. Granted Shanghai is kind of an exception in China, but besides the banners and CCP ads here and there, Shanghai does not look like a communist city. (Not that I know what a communist city should look like..) That said, here are a few signs of communism I've seen so far. Enjoy!! :Q

Exhibit A: A banner declaring the 90th anniversary at the entrance of this big park with a lot of old people

Exhibit B: Communist.. baby hedgehogs! The most adorable compatriots ever haha

Exhibit C: At Shanghai railway station, there is a typical CCP sign at the center. This is probably the most common type of CCP ad I've seen, at metro stations and banners on the streets

In unity, obedience, and communism

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Trendy Western stuff in 新天地

新天地, which literally means new sky and earth, is an upscale, very Western district of Shanghai. We went here one of the first days to eat at a restaurant called Grandma's which served Chinese food. The mall here has a huge Gucci ad on the side and includes restaurants such as Din Tai Fung, Haagen Daz, Coldstone's, and German/Spanish/etc ones catered to foreigners. In fact, you can see many foreigners walking around and dining here.

Our share of foreigners in front of a Bape store, striking Star Wars poses :P

There was a trendy pavilion with exhibits I didn't totally understand.

It definitely did not feel like China on this street, with Haagen Daz and pricey ice cream around haha

Speaking of American creameries... they are super pricey by both U.S. and Chinese standards. Granted, Godiva is a luxury everywhere but compared to food here, it seems even more upscale. That said, the Saturday after week 1 we went to a "swanky dim sum place" in Xin Tian Di, with dark lighting, interior awnings and such a mood that it seems fit for a date or formal business meeting. Dim sum is turning out to be (much) pricier than I expected! I was hoping it could be something less than $10.. for a normal amount I'd like to eat. But not to be spoiled-- the fact I can eat it every Saturday is so great already.

Friday, July 1, 2011

本地人/ Locals

I know this is creepy.. but here are the literal snapshots of my encounters with local Chinese during the Bund ferry ride last week :P

Exhibit A: a boy taking a picture for his family using a cellphone

Exhibit B: A woman taking a picture for her friend using a nice camera, wearing Crocs (<3) and him posing so stoically. The name of our ferry was Princess Rose or something like it, hence the rose.

Bottom line: I do the same as a tourist!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

鄉下/ Outside the city

On the way to a leather factory/ leather outlet, we passed by the countryside.. not exactly rural but about 1.5 hours away from Shanghai. It was an old village where people played Chinese chess under the awnings.. straight out of a scene of early 1900s China. Here is a bike that represents that era of China for me.

All the buildings in that village were like this. Despite how old these buildings might look, there were microwaves and even computers inside. I think this temple had a marquee in English. Granted they are expecting tourists, but it was nonetheless an interesting juxtaposition of time.

There was a small creek running through the village! It was so idyllic and peaceful.

Lainey and I watched a puppet show for 10 yuan. I have the ticket stub. It was sad that there was no one watching it when we went. Tourist towns make me kind of sad.. there are visitors but it seems lonely. Of course I am thinking ethnocentrically/ based only on what I went that one day, but people find a living in all sorts of ways and puppet shows is one niche for that household.

浦東 at night

Last week Sheena and I went on a ferry ride between the Bund and 浦東- and this is what surrounded us! To the East you have a big city and lots of lights (and also the Pearl of the Orient):

On the ferry there were a lot of foreigners (Greek?) who were frantically taking pictures just like me. The ferries were GLITZY. This is the top deck and it felt like I should socialize with tourists a la the Great Gatsby or something.. jk. There were also Chinese tourists.

Shanghai doesn't mess around! I of course halted according to the sign.

July 1, 2011 is the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. There were ads running on the side of the citi group skyscraper!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cats in 龍華寺

Meet 貓, a presumably Buddhist cat in a temple I went to on Monday. I felt very at peace when I was at the temple, so I am hoping this cat lives an equally peaceful life everyday.

The temple had several smaller temples within it. This was one of them. There was one room with hundreds of golden Buddha figures, each about 1.5 feet tall. The impressive thing was that each Buddha had different expressions and poses. Hundreds of unique Buddhas! There were many practitioners burning incense at the temple at the time. Buddhist temple at the outskirt of Shanghai, check! 阿密佗佛!

Tourists in 外灘

外灘 is also known as the Bund. It's been described as the Champ-Élysées of China, and I finally saw the similarities (even though I have never been to France, I'm going to trust Lonely Planet and other travel guides' analogy.) The side of the Bund had a lot of banks and financial centers in buildings that looked European, but with China's yellow-starred flag flying atop (crop out the tourists' heads please.)

My roommate Sheena became a foreign celebrity to presumably a Chinese tourist also at the Bund. See the Oriental Pearl and Shanghai skyline in the hazy atmosphere! Also, there were many tourists on the viewing platform, both foreigners and Chinese from outside Shanghai. We had to be quick about getting a photo spot by the fence.

Here is more of what the Parisian street looks like. There was a famous hotel called the Fairmont Peace Hotel that was really fancy. I almost expected gargoyles on top of these buildings.

A blurry picture of the Bund at night, around 7:30pm. It was kind of like Vegas at night, the way the lights were golden/yellow, but fancier for lack of better words. This is a different kind of old Shanghai from where ECNU is, and it was interesting seeing the remains of what Shanghai was like about a century ago.

Dumplings in 上海

Last week we ate this soup dumplings restaurant that looks like a banquet inside a Chinese family's house about 80 years ago. Here is the entrance to the restaurant. While I didn't get a picture of the dumplings themselves, we ate about 80+ soup dumplings among 10+ of us.. and we finished quickly. I could have had more 小龍包,but I take what I can get! It came out to be 10 yuan per person, so it was cheap. Notice the number 8? It's associated with prosperity in China.

美國人在上海!(Americans in Shanghai!) Here's a group photo in front of two dumpling mascots after the lunch. A famous dumplings restaurants of course needs its own mascots.