Friday, 28 March 2008

Public transport and Pretty blossoms

I had a really 'ugh' time yesterday. First of all I hadn't caught the train (MRT, MTR, subway, whatever you want to call it) for so long, over 4 months I think. And after I did I kinda regretted it. I somehow found myself squished like a sardine (it was about 2:30pm so hardly peak hour). I could not move my legs from the knees down because of some guy's DVD box next to my legs yet at the same time I was being pushed so my legs were straight but my body was bending over backwards at a 45 degree angle. I had to use every puny little muscle in my arm to hold into the pole so I didn't end up sitting in the lap of someone. My knee was pushed up against the knee of a man sitting down and I was leaning, practically lying on top of the man who owned the DVD player! UGH. I had 4 stops to travel and it was torturous, getting fuller and fuller with each stop.

Then, when I came home I decided to take the taxi. At 5pm. What a stupid idea. I got a driver who 1) didn't have a clue where he was and had to get out a map 2) didn't even seem to know how to drive and seemed very nervous. After driving me around in circles for at least 15 mins and being no closer to home I asked him to let me out and luckily he did without any hassles and I didn't have to pay. Luckily the second driver I got was much cluey-er and got me home in record time.

OK now onto the good news. Here I was writing about the blossom festival (the entry which I'll probably never get around to editing because the translation was giving me a headache) and wanting to travel maybe 1.5 hours to go and see it, when there were blossoms right on my doorstep! I was shocked and amazed to discover blooming blossoms everywhere in our apartment compound and also everywhere along the streets, footpaths, median strips and everywhere. It's gorgeous! It was quite windy so my photos weren't that good but I hope to get some up soon (when it's not so crazily windy).

Abendbrot bread

A couple of months ago I wanted to trial the Abendbrot bread delivery service. So I made the order of the phone and they told me they'd deliver the next morning. Well... they never showed up! I wasn't sure what to think of it. I thought about ringing them up to ask for an explanation or to complain but just let it go, and not think anymore of it.

Then, on Thursday (yesterday) they sent an email to me telling me if I would like to make an order they'd deliver the following morning (this morning).

OK, so I thought I'd give them another chance.

I made the order online. It was very straightforward. Every type of bread had a picture , size and price.

Then they asked if you wanted to pay on the day of the delivery or with the next delivery. I said this delivery.

So, this morning they turn up at some ridiculous hour at 5:30 or 5:45am. I thought I was dreaming when I heard our buzzer thing. Noone ever rings our buzzer because the security guards already know who they are (eg the water delivery man, or the man who delivers my Chinese herbal medicine to me). Then, I thought it was hubby's mobile phone ringing and wondering why he wasn't answering it. I was so dead and tired from last night. Eventually I woke up and figured out what was going on and went to answer the phone!

They came up, I paid, they gave me two large brown paper bags.

I got them out and put them out on the table for hubby, and went back to bed. I wasn't very successful in trying to fall asleep with the sun coming through the curtains and the noise of construction next door (they have torn down and are building a new school). Eventually my ayi came and woke me up. I felt like death. My poor lungs were still suffering from last night.

Anyway, onto the bread.. It was nice, but certainly didn't seem warm or fresh when I first got them. So I'm not sure if they were baked this morning or not. Service wise I am very happy but not sure how much I'll use them in the future given the price (approx 10 RMB per piece and much more for loaves), and the early wake-up call!

Iris Germanica Polar Night fashion show

I'm going through a bit of a fashion phase. It all started last Friday night when I watched a historical fashion documentary series called "A Stitch in Time" on ICS at 9pm. It would be on every night for a week (?) at the same time. I watched almost every episode. It is not a serious documentary and very fascinating, light-hearted and comical.

Then, a few days ago I got around to watching my "The Notebook" DVD (cried my eyes out of course) but thinking back to the doco, I found myself noticing the gorgeous clothes/dresses that Rachel McAdams wore in the film. I have to say I really don't like any of the fashion from the 80s onwards. I don't like recent styles which have consisted of big sack baggy things. I HATE them. I also hate the incessant cleavage-showing low-cut v-neck 'things'. Ugh. I despise them. Give me the gorgeous 30s, 40s, 50s fashions any day! The fitted waist, the sleeves (when was the last time you saw a female wear sleeves to a formal function?!), the flared skirt, the structured cotton instead of floppy fabrics. Not saying I don't like the 'floppy' fabrics like silk, viscose, satin, etc. But usually they are just too sacky and baggy looking. Not to mention the freakin' empire line which is great if you are pregnant, and if you are not it'll surely make you look pregnant!

There are some of the types of dresses I hate from

About two weeks ago hubby got an email from some Shanghai expat thing about a fashion show/parade. Strange, that he got one and I didn't (considering I'm on the internet the whole time, and I was the one who went to the Shanghai expat trade fair back in September!) His thought was that because I had a Chinese surname they just kinda ignored me as they thought I was a local. Who knows if there is any truth to that?!

Anyway, so he asked if I wanted to go and I said Yes. I was quite excited to be honest as I hadn't been to one for many years, and have always enjoyed them, even the free ones.

The brand is Iris Germanica and the ticket cost was 150 RMB per person (pre-sale, or 180 at the door). It was at the Paramount building (218 Yuyuan Lu) and started at 8pm.

We got there at 7:45pm and just stood around till they finally let everyone in (through a metal detector!) at 8pm. I haven't been to a nightclub for so long I'd forgotten what they looked like. Well this was black, with couches and bar stools and trippy laser lighting everywhere. It was pretty cool and I was excited and pumped to see this collection!

The ticket included 2 drinks per person and fruit. Since we got there pretty early we got one of the best seats in the house. I ended up sitting next to a nice middle-aged man from Amsterdam (who'd been here 3 years, and who knew the designer) and chatted to him a bit during the night (well, yelling into each other's ears more like it).

About half an hour later the bar upstairs was open and everyone started to get drinks. Hubby went to get mine for me and 'met' the guy next to me at the bar and apparently they had a little chat too.

After that it all went downhill. 8:30 turned to 9, 9 turned to 9:30. EVERYONE was getting really impatient. Blank looks on people's faces, people playing games on their mobile/cell phones... As the smoke levels rose inside my tolerance levels decreased. I would've fallen asleep from boredom if it weren't for the extremely loud music! I was getting rather impatient (can you blame me?) and went to ask them what time they planned on starting the show. The first guy said 10:30 and I was like "What??!!" and the second guy said 10. It was 9:40 when I asked and I just wandered about and took my time in the bathroom and eventually went back to my seat at 9:50 just when they were starting. Or so we thought.

Then, there was about 15 mins of 'introduction' which got more and more boring as you could barely hear them and they didn't seem like professional speakers. The girl kept dropping her papers all over the stage and she couldn't say 'dowry', she kept saying 'dowee' and the guy tried to crack jokes which noone laughed at. Hm..

OK, finally. The show. The clothes... By this time my excitement had dwindled down to almost nothing. I'm sure I wasn't the only one feeling like this either! Add to the fact that the damn smoke was getting to obscene levels and now itching my eyes as well as irritating my lungs. I reminded myself why I never go to these types of 'night' places.

The outfits were interesting to say the least. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I think there would be few I'd actually wear, and none I'd actually buy. :( (sorry if anyone from the company is reading this!) At one stage one of the outfits was so bad (the yellow checked one with the black fluffy bra thing) I gave hubby a 'look' and then looked over to the girl sitting next to him, and we both just cracked up laughing instantaneously and simultaneously.

This little number here:

There was another funny moment right at the start when this guy from nowhere with his SLR camera came over and stood right in front of us, taking photos. I was like 'what the?' The guy sitting next to me went up to him and told him to please move. Then as he was walking away (very very slowly) the three girls sitting next to us (on hubby's side) also told him to move and one of them zipped the zip on the back of his pants. I'm not sure what was going on there but all I could do at that point was just laugh my head off.


At first I thought it was because of the models.. some of them were Chinese, the other half were Caucasian, some tall, some short, some old, some young, some thin, some 'curvy' - basically a mixed bag, a representation of 'real women' as they say. At first I found this offputting but then I realised it wasn't the models at all. It was the whole thing. There was singing in the background, the models had Venetian-masks type make-up (which was nice but strange) and the clothes, weren't awful, they were just very very... erm... avant garde?

During the night waiters/waitresses came around with platters of fruit. I don't know how much fruit I ate! But even so, afterwards when it finished (around 10:30) we were both starving and went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner.

I had an OK night but I thought the ticket price was a little high for what we got. But if the inside was non-smoking and they hadn't made us wait 2 hours for the show I think I would've reviewed it more favorably!

PS - I now know why Europeans like living in Shanghai so much. They can smoke to their hearts content just like they do back home, and everything costs 1/10 the price of back home! (that is a bit 'tongue in cheek' but still...) I have to say again and again I HATE SMOKING!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Marimekko for H&M 2

Related link

Well the Marimekko for H&M range doesn't hit stores till April 10 but I've been dying to see what it looks like and just found some pics online here and there are more here.

I must admit it is very loud. I don't think I'm totally in love with it. The only thing I really like is the 3/4 sleeve top and not sure of the colours. The b&w one is probably the easiest to wear. The red/black/white swimsuit (last pic) seems to be popular. Guess I'll have to wait to see it in person!

Defending my 'home' city/cities

I just had this weird random thought about how I'm always defending my 'home' and saying how great it is and recently I've found myself not caring much or thinking much about my real 'home' (that is Sydney).

Maybe it's because I've lived there too long (27 years give or take!) but I used to be so proud of living there. I used to spend a lot of time in the CBD (AKA 'downtown') area wandering the streets because my university was located there. In my lunch break or other break I'd go to Hyde Park and stroll around. I LOVED Hyde Park. I don't know how many times I went there during my many years of study. The beautiful wide path down the center with large trees that curved inwards to form a canopy (I believe that they have since been cut down due to disease :( ), the Anzac Memorial, the big fountain. It was my sanctuary from the hustle and bustle and traffic and people.

I loved going to Circular Quay. Every single time I go to Circular Quay I get this shivery happy feeling all over. It's the most beautiful view in the world seeing the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in all their glory.

Since I love photography (and always have) and I was so proud of Sydney, I found myself offering to take photos for strangers, and randomly chatting about things to do in Sydney or helping people who got lost. Back in the days when I was a student.

I'd always be telling interstate or overseas friends how great Sydney was. Blabbering non-stop. And now I find myself doing the same thing for Shanghai.

Except it's different.

I feel myself having to defend where I live all the time, because it's not as 'cool' as New York, or London, or Paris, or Tokyo or any other so-called 'great' city. Because everyone looks down on China as being poor, overpopulated, polluted, a country that makes shoddy goods, etc. OK so all of that is all true ;) but that doesn't mean you can't live here and have a decent life.

It's also different when you go to a city for travel or to live. Totally different. You can't assume because you loved a place you travelled to that living there will be great, or if you hated it that living there would be torture. Actually in most places once you live there long-term it's not as fun as if you just spent a week there on vacation. What I find is that the more open-minded people will have more fun in Shanghai and the closed/narrow-minded people won't, for vacation or for living. Just thinking about all the people that have stayed with us as guests or other people I've met through other means it's funny how everyone's outlook is so different.

Prior to my stint here, I'd never left Sydney for more than 3 months (and that was an extended vacation to Taiwan). But after this experience I regret I didn't live overseas sooner and earlier. But I guess you learn from your 'mistakes' and now I can't wait to move elsewhere and try out a new city. I think that once you stay somewhere for too long you become stagnant, you don't grow and change, and also the negatives of the city will creep up on you and gradually start to outweigh the positives. Well, that's how I feel about Sydney right now and I'm pretty sure soon enough I'll feel the same about Shanghai (unfortunately).


Shanghai Pudong Airport - Terminal 2 opened

Related post

Shanghai Daily Link

TERMINAL 2 - huge, sparkling new and state of the art - officially began operations at Pudong International Airport yesterday.

This reporter, on dawn patrol, was there to watch proceedings unfold. And, apart from a slight hitch in ticket markings, the facility came through with flying colors.

Yao Mei, a Chinese businessman, became a rather bewildered celebrity as he was the first passenger to check in at the Shanghai Airlines' counter at 6:15am.

Yao caught Flight 9545 to Chongqing City. "I felt nothing special ... only that the check-in procedure went impressively quick," said Yao, surrounded by a media throng of flashing cameras and microphones.

The pedestrian and shuttle-bus services that connect the two terminal buildings also officially opened yesterday.

Linking corridors are supported by automatic walkways. It takes about 10 minutes for passengers to complete the walk between the two terminal halls.

The shuttle buses leave every 10 minutes on a trip that takes just three minutes.

But confusion over whether flights leave from Terminal 1 or 2 is a problem that may take a few days to rectify.

"We hope highly visible tags are pasted somewhere on the tickets to show whether they are for T1 or T2," said a Shanghai man on board a shuttle bus. His daughter was catching a flight that left from the new terminal early yesterday.

Fifteen airlines moved from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 yesterday, while 18 will relocate on April 29.

Terminal 2 is easy to negotiate. Clearly marked signs indicate areas for taxies, long-distance buses, the Maglev station, parking lots, terminal-shuttle buses and linking corridors.

Terminal 2 drew much praise.

"It's comfortable and very spacious," said a female traveler, surnamed Wang, who was heading for Changchun City from Terminal 2. "I like the carpets. The new terminal facilities are equal to airports in Singapore and Australia, where I have traveled."

About 120,000 square meters of carpet has been laid.

Lots of photos and a 'review' can be found on Wang Jian Shuo's blog. Coincidently Beijing's terminal 3 just opened too.

That's one thing I admire about the Chinese. When they want to get things done, they get them done, and quickly! They don't fluff about like some other certain people...

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It's blossom time! (Plum blossom, peach blossom, cherry blossom)

From Shanghai Daily:

THE annual Peach Blossom Festival in Nanhui District began today, as peach blossoms bloomed three days later than last year due to heavy snow during the Spring Festival and a longer than expected period of low temperatures.

Most of the peach blossoms were still buds and experts from a local peach research institution said it was better to appreciate them at the beginning of next month (from April 2 to April 10). Some scenic sites, however, will still have peach blossoms in full bloom later this month.

The opening ceremony today also launched the mascot of the festival — the peach like "TaoTao" with big eyes and a pink face. Tourists can buy TaoTao at each peach flower spots during the festival.

This year's festival will have nine major events including a cooking skill competition and a golf tournament. As well, The Date on Saturday, the city most popular dating TV show, will have some of its episodes produced here.

First held in 1991, the festival usually attracts 500,000 fans each year. Visitors will also have the chance to buy local watermelons and chickens, said the festival host.


..."In addition to the beauty of the flowers, peach blossoms can bring people good luck in love," smiled Liang.

An old Chinese saying suggests that anyone who meets his or her loved one under a blossoming peach tree will enjoy a lucky relationship.

The festival has added several events and other attractions over the years, since few will return year after year simply to look at peach trees.

Last year, many people were attracted to the event to watch a large fireworks show that lit up the district's dark sky.

This year, organizers have set up a 28-hectare tulip park with more than 3.2 million flowers.

Besides walking among the suburban peach trees, tourists will also have the opportunity to view the delicately cultivated tulips.

When completed, the tulip garden will also include windmills, and other typical architecture from Holland, a country closely associated with the cultivation of tulips.

If tulips and peaches aren't enough to attract you to Nanhui, perhaps the chance to walk along the district's beach and ports will draw you to the area.

City dwellers can also stop into the homes of many of the district's residents and enjoy some local delicacies, such as sanhuang chicken and big bowls or potherbs.

Last year, many downtown residents swarmed into the rural homes to enjoy the strange foods and play with farming tools.

Fruit and vegetable vendors in the area enjoy high sales during the festival, as tourists from urban parts of the city enjoy freshly picked produce. Some local farmers can earn more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,204) during the event.

"The blossom festival is just a byproduct of Nanhui's peaches, whose sweet taste is famous throughout the city," said Liang.

As the days get warmer day by day we're heading into the middle of Spring and it's blossom time! The exact dates of their flowering season is hard to gauge is it depends on weather patterns and location. It is usually around late March or early-mid April. Now, everybody knows about the famous cherry blossom (sakura さくら) season in Japan. But did you know there is blossom viewing in China, Korea and Taiwan as well, and in other parts of world?

But what got me thinking was... how many types of fruity blossoms are there, and what is actually the difference anyway (appearance wise)?

Cherry blossom (Sakura (櫻/桜))
Plum blossom (Ume (梅))
Peach blossom (Momo (桃))
Apple blossom
Pear blossom
Apricot blossom
Lime blossom
Blueberry blossom
Blackberry blossom
Orange blossom
Mandarin blossom
Quince blossom

I'll just focus on the top three.. but even then I'm having a bit of trouble finding this info online. Where is a good old-fashioned encyclopedia when you need one, huh? ;)

It seems the cherry blossom has heart shaped petals (a bit like a cleft palate) and the plum blossom has oval shaped petals. But even then there are hundreds of varieties of cherry blossoms alone! As for the peach blossom, I think it's similar to the plum blossom.

Since I wasn't successful in finding enough useful info about these blossoms.. now I'll try to rack my brains to somehow translate the information I found online about the festival. Actually it's taking too long so some of it may not make sense as I used an online translator. Disclaimer: I take no responsiblity for mishaps due to my bad translation ;)

Nanhui District, a district of Shanghai, is over 600 square kilometres in size and covers 25 towns. From the end of March to mid-April, tourists and locals come to the Nanhui peach orchards to appreciate the beauty of the flowers and the surrounding scenic area. This year the Nanhui peach blossom festival will be held from March 25 to April 13.

The festival highlights a cultural significance. Many activities are designed on the basis of rural life. Chinese people have a special love for peaches and the peach blossom. The peach blossom, with its pleasant flowers, symbolizes life, growth and prosperity. It is regarded as the most auspicious of all plants. The peach, in Chinese culture, is a symbol of long life and one of the strongest defenses against evil.

Since 1991, Nanhui District has organized this annual peach blossom festival. This festival signifies a combination of peach blossom appreciation and chinese folk culture presentations and has won much applause from visitors. Set up in Huinan town, the Chengbei folk peach orchard is the main meeting-place of the peach blossom festival that is held when the peach blossom blooms luxuriantly every year.

As a thriving port area, Nanhui District is seeking more attractions for tourists. The Chengbei folk peach orchard was set up last year as a scenic spot for tourists from across the world.

Featuring a mixed architectural style in both Chinese ancient garden and the Chinese country, the village offers picturesque scenery to visitors. Peach leaves dance elegantly with the tender breeze. The village is a place to be surprised, and enjoy sweet pleasures. You can taste some local delicacies, delicate craft works, beautiful scenic sights, and the fruitful ancient peach trees that add to the charm of Nanhui.

1 Big group of peach gardens 大团桃园

Activities: Go for a walk in the countryside during the qingming festival (tomb sweeping 清明節), view/appreciate the flowers, look at farmers' art, watch the animal feeding, look at the open country development, use nets to catch fish, do farming activities

Admission Ticket price: 30 Yuan
Business hours: 8: 00-17: 00
Address: Big group town - 888 Zhao Qiaocun 大团镇赵桥村888号
Mass transit: Long Daxian 龙大线

2 The garden of peaches 新场桃源 (this is the place where part of the film "Lust, Caution" was filmed)

Activities: Appreciate/view the flowers, watch a play, 品春盘八簋? (something about 8 dishes of food), go to the matchmaker hall? and prayer desk and wish for a happy marriage (or to find someone to marry),

Admission Ticket price: 30 Yuan
Business hours: 9: 00-16: 00
Address: 南汇区新场镇果园村
Mass transit: Shanghai southern line 沪南线、Longping 龙平芦线、Longda 龙大线

3 Nanhui peach blossom village (national agriculture traveling

Activities: Goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival, view the flowers, the Olympic Games root carving handicraft tour unfolds, east the Pakistan small pig games, upper air steel wire Xiu, the stilts top grade performance, the happy small fine time passage, bakes the picnic, the fish pond fishes

Admission Ticket price: 53 Yuan
Business hours: 8: 00-17: 00
Address: 南汇区惠南镇北门路289号
Mass transit: 公共交通:沪南线、周南线、南新专线、张南线

4 Binhai haven

Activities: Goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival views the flowers, happy in the peasant family,
the Chinese folk unique skill performance, ascends the tower view

Admission Ticket price: 36 Yuan
Business hours: 8: 00-16: 30
Address: Nanhui area Binhai travels the vacation area to pass the source road 3 南汇区东海农场振东路南首
Mass transit: Dragon 滨线 龙东专线、南三线

5 Shanghai fresh flower port (national agriculture traveling demonstration)

Activities: Tulip flowers and plants new product demonstration

Admission Ticket price: 80 Yuan
Business hours: 8: 00-17: 00 (March 28 only)
Address: Nanhui area East China Sea farm inspires south the east road 南汇区东海农场振东路南首
Mass transit: East dragon special line, south three 龙东专线、南三线

Transportation Guide:

Venue: Huinanzhen Town, Luchao Town, Xinchang Town in Nanhui District
Transport: Hunan Line, starting on Dongchang Road, Pudong; Tourist Line Two, near Shanghai Stadium

The Shanghai southern line (Dongchnag road ferry spot) -- the new field (new field haven, the new field Guzhen) □□the Nanhui motor station (Nanhui peach blossom village, Nanhui museum, bold Booth card 名品 village)

Long Pinglu the line (subway two lines Long Yanglu stands) -- the new field (new field haven, the new field Guzhen) -- the week southern line (south wharf ferry spot) -- the Nanhui motor station (Nanhui peach blossom village, Nanhui museum, bold Booth card 名品 village)

south the new special line (the Shanghai train station) -- the skill extreme brings peace and order
to the nation the cultural art center -- Shanghai wild zoo -- east gate (the Nanhui peach blossom village The Nanhui museum, the bold Booth card 名品 village)

a southern line (subway two lines Zhang Jiangzhan) -- the beautiful Tess nation prestige -- skill extreme brings peace and order to the nation the cultural art center -- Shanghai wild zoo -- Nanhui motor station (Nanhui peach blossom village, Nanhui museum) □□the people's east road (bold Booth card 名品 village)

Tthe morning Nanhui peach blossom village goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival enjoys the peach blossom, the peasant family food; Afternoon the wild zoo view rare and precious animal, watches the large-scale animal performance. □the morning new field haven goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival enjoys the peach blossom, the peasant family food; Afternoon tours the new field Guzhen. □the morning big group peach garden goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival enjoys the peach blossom, the peasant family food; Afternoon visits the multi-advantages agriculture ecology garden, tours the East China Sea bridge, the ocean mountain deepwater port, the water drop lake.

The morning Binhai haven goes for a walk in the countryside at the qingming festival enjoys the peach blossom, watches the folk unique skill, the peasant family food; Afternoon You Lingang new town water drop lake, Nanhui mouth view sea park, East China Sea bridge.

morning Shanghai fresh flower port view tulip, academy others peasant family food; Afternoon tours the East China Sea bridge, the ocean mountain deepwater port, the water drop lake.

If you are quite lazy, you may go to the Shanghai traveling collection center registration participation "the Nanhui peach blossom village on first tour" on March 25 to start, token ticket price: 80 Yuan/people (contain ticket, scenic spot admission ticket) are back and forth detailed may click on end of the examination article the traveling collection center link.

If you can read Chinese go here and read the information. Heck, maybe you could translate it for me! ;)

I'll edit this more later.. it has taken WAY too long

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

TV - reality shows and Gossip Girl

I've been watching way too much tv lately.

Reality shows:
America's Next Top Model
Project Runway
The Bachelor
Runway Moms
Dirty Dancing
Last Comic Standing
American Idol
Make me a Super Model

Other shows:
Gossip Girl

I think Leighton Meester (right) from Gossip Girl looks a lot like Rachel Bilson (left) from the OC, but is far prettier. What do you think?

Monday, 24 March 2008

Taiwan presidential election and Easter

What the heck does the Taiwan presidential election have in common with Easter?

1. Both of them happened recently.
2. I feel oblivious to both of these big events, living in China.

I have to admit politics bores me to tears. Yeah yeah I know I'm going to be flamed from all the goody-two-shoes intellectual (or psuedo-intellectual) academic know-it-all so-and-so's but really I couldn't give a crap about politics and I freely admit this. (I also don't care much about religion either btw - I just like to think of myself as 'spirtual'). I was into politics for a brief 6 months or so while I worked on our university's newspaper and I hung around very smart law students a lot, and through subtle influences I sort of became interested and involved. I even participated in my first ever (and last) protest march down George Street (the biggest street in Sydney)! LOL.. those were the days...

Anyway, to the Taiwanese the election (every election) is almost as big as life and death. In fact it probably is life or death to them. They are fanatical about it. But can you blame them? - when the whole future of their country is determined by which party wins the election. My father, who basically never watches tv (except maybe half an hour of news each night) will sit in front of the tv watching cable for HOURS on end, watching any news about the Taiwanese election. It's like he's in a trance. It's quite scary. Many overseas Taiwanese pay thousands of dollars to fly back to Taiwan simply to vote in the election because they really want to make their vote count.

The elections are so emotionally charged you actually have candidates having fist fights on live television. It's so scary it's almost funny!

Anyway, living in China there's basically no news of this election. And since I have no interest in any elections I didn't even know the exact date of it. My mother just rang me and told me the 'great news' that Ma Ying-jeou (Mǎ Yīngjiǔ 馬英九) had won. Everyone in my family both on my mother's and father's side are jumping for joy (because they are all actually Chinese, living in Taiwan, as opposed to the 'real' Taiwanese people). Yay! I'm so happy that they are happy. Apparently this means that direct flights between mainland China and Taiwan are more than likely going to happen.

(getting off track a bit, his name in English means Horse-Hero-Nine, and to me it sounds like "My angel" when people say it, and people tell me I look like him and could pass for his daughter! but I can't see it..)

So (from Wikipedia)

The election for the 12th-term President and Vice-President of the Republic of China (traditional Chinese: 第十二任中華民國總統副總統選舉) was held in the Republic of China (Taiwan) on Saturday, March 22, 2008. Kuomintang (KMT) nominee Ma Ying-jeou won, with 58% of the vote, ending 8 years of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rule.

This was the fourth direct election for the President of the Republic of China... Unlike the 2004 presidential election, the political rhetoric of the campaigns tended to focus on economic issues and government corruption rather than national identity and the political status of Taiwan, with both candidates endorsing the status quo in the near term. But much like previous elections, this election was also marked with island-wide mass rallies and much political mudslinging.

Mǎ Yīngjiǔ (born July 13, 1950 in Hong Kong) is the President-elect of the Republic of China (Taiwan), a former Justice Minister, former Mayor of Taipei, and the former Chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) from 2005 to 2007. Ma is newly elected as the President of Republic of China. His term will begin on May 20, 2008 and will end in 2012.

So there you go.

Meanwhile.. these last few days and today even is Easter. Hmm... OK. I haven't had a single chocolate egg or hot cross bun! Strangely I didn't even realise I was missing easter till I vaguely saw it mentioned on some websites and blogs that I read. I guess when you live in another country you kinda just 'go with the flow', well I do anyway. And to be honest Easter never meant anything to me anyway apart from eating the abovementioned items, and going to the Sydney Royal Easter Show!

There are Christians, of course, in Shanghai. According to Sinosplice's blog the Xujiahui Cathedral was packed yesterday, on Easter Sunday.

Speaking about his blog.. he mentions about YouTube being blocked by TGF. Yes it's been blocked for several days now, ever since the Tibet incident. ARGH. And yes Flickr is not fully working even with that Firefox plug-in.. Oh I am so sick of that damn firewall of China! Sorry YouTube is sort of working now.

China.. Taiwan.. Tibet.. oh dear.

Taiwan poll result allows Beijing to focus on Tibet

BEIJING: Even as it battled domestic problems vowing to crush Tibetan rebels, the Chinese government got a huge relief from across the Taiwan straits. The Taiwanese people elected a pro-China president for the first time in many years.

A lot of China's energies have been spent on the Taiwan problem. The poll outcome in Taipei will release pressure on the Chinese government on an important front and help it concentrate more forcefully on solving the Tibet challenge. The Communist Party of China's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, came out with an editorial on Saturday calling for efforts to "resolutely crush" the movement for Tibet's independence. The government also released photographs of 21 ‘most wanted' protesters in order to flush them out of their hidings.

The statement showed that the hardline segment within the party has emerged stronger in comparison to the section that favours negotiations with the Dalai Lama. "We must see through the secessionist forces' evil intentions, uphold the banner of maintaining social stability ... and resolutely crush the Tibet independence forces' conspiracy," the People's Daily said.

An estimated 250,000 Taiwanese expatriates returned to Taiwan, Saturday, to choose their next president.

The top sites on my blog

These are the most popular pages on my blog:

1. World Cities Cost of Living (July 1, 2007)

2. Breeze Center, Taipei (January 31, 2008)

3. Canon Powershot G9 (January 31, 2008)

4. Breadtalk Anpanman (July 17, 2007)

5. Edison Chen scandal (February 22, 2008)

6. Chinese New Year - Year of the earth rat (January 5, 2008)

7. Largest shopping malls in the world (January 18, 2008)

8. Ang Lee's 'Lust, Caution' (December 9, 2007)

9. The rain, the fabric market and Times Square (November 16, 2007)

10. Tetsuya's lookalike in Taipei (March 19, 2008)

Interesting! ;)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Random photos

Random photos from last Thursday

Sushi and tempura I bought from Freshmart (approx 95 RMB worth). I didn't have a proper platter so I put it on our cutting board. It looks pretty good even if I do say so myself!

It was a full moon I think, or almost. We've been blessed with beautiful blue skies and sunshine every day (it rained yesterday, Saturday but apart from that it hasn't rained in ages!). This is the view out of our living room window, taken about 6pm:

Culture Matters on ICS and blogs

On Friday night I watched a fascinating segment on "Culture Matters" (ICS channel). The host interviewed Kenneth Tan, a Singaporean guy who moved to Shanghai 5 years ago and started up a men's underwear brand and the very successful news website/blog Shanghaiist, a local Shanghainese man with a very succesful self-titled blog Wang Jian Shuo and CEO of Kijiji China and an Asian bureau chief and global technology journalist for Securities Industry News Maria Trombly.

They talked about blogs, what blogs are, can blogs help you make money? etc etc. They also interviewed random people on the street (looked like Raffles/People's Square area to me) both Chinese and Western and asked them their opinions about blogs, do they read them?, do they have one?, etc etc.

It was probably a bit simplistic and basic for me but I still found it interesting and found myself wanting to hear more from the panel of 'experts'.

Culture Matters blog

Massages and Genji Japanese restaurant

Sunday 16 March - Genji Restaurant

A week ago we had our fortnightly massage at the place we always go to. Once again we have very interesting conversations with our masseuses (that word looks funny typed out). Hubby's Mandarin is getting better and can have a decent conversation with them too although I still need to translate a few things for him, and also I don't understand everything they say myself!

They are interested to learn about our lives back in Australia and we are interested in learning about theirs.

We pay 60 RMB for a 1 hour massage (either full body or foot (which also includes a back massage done sitting up)). From this they are paid a measley 16 RMB per hour (that's around $2.50) but they get an extra 5 RMB if we specifically ask for their number. Ones that we like are 8,16,17,27,37. Every time our list of numbers just grows because often we can't ge the one we want, then we realise we are pretty happy with the new person/people we get! Maybe it's because I'm not so fussy but maybe it's because I realise that back home in Australia it costs more like $60-90/hour for a massage and they aren't nearly as good.

I also learn that they work 12 hours, every day of the year. They are allowed to take time off (most will take a couple of days off during Chinese New Year only though) but choose not to because they are so hard-working and intent on making more money. However, they don't actually work for all of those 12 hours. (they work in shifts either 10am-10pm, 12noon-12midnight or 2pm-2am). Usually they only work 5-6 hours but they still have to be there in case they are called upon. During their time off they hang out in a little room next door where they either watch tv, play mahjong or sleep. The guy I spoke to (no. 27) says it's really quite boring and he doesn't like it because he's sitting there and not getting paid.

Most people have horrible calluses and protrusions growing on their knuckles from using their knuckles so much. They say it doesn't hurt anymore once it gets to a certain stage.

While they were telling us their 'stories' I almost felt like crying. Well, I was crying on the inside. That they work so hard, and make so little money, and they still seem so happy, cheerful and cooperative.

Hubby got a lady, no. 37 last week. We hadn't seen her before but she's seen hubby plenty of times. Mostly because he is tall and fair-haired and stands out easily amongst the sea of black-haired people! (most customers are Japanese). At 30, she would be one of the older staff members although she is still younger than me! She has a 4 year old son, who lives with her inlaws (as is the case with all traditional Chinese families). She says she misses him heaps but what can you do?

All of the staff members come from poor country towns and different provinces, noone is actually from Shanghai. The scary thing is that although the pay seems so low to us, the pay in Shanghai is actually the highest in the whole country! (Shanghai also has the highest cost of living, even moreso than Beijing). No. 27 - the guy I've had 3 times now says he is 25 and already feels a bit 'old' because he's not married yet and most of his friends are. Most of these country people marry in their late teens or early 20's and have had at least one kid by the age of 25 or by 29 at least. Also, in the country they can get away with having more than one child, especially if the first is a girl.

If only all of us Western brats (and yes I admit I am one) could learn something from these poor hardworking people who have hardly anything...

Congen Massage Healthcare Club

兴义店 - 兴义路48号新世纪广场1F

XinYi Branch - 1F, New World/Hong Kong Plaza, 48 XinYi Road

(they also have branches in Gubei, Jing'an, Pudong, etc..)

Ph: (021) 6209 3813 / 6209 6615

OK onto dinner!

Instead of going to our usual place we tried a new one. This place is usually very full but we never went in because it was usually full of lots of smoking Japanese men. Erk. I HATE SMOKERS! Anyway for some strange reason it was kind of empty so we decided to give it a try.

The waitress asked us if we wanted ala carte or buffet. We weren't sure but decided to go for the buffet. Of course the Chinese/accountant side of me took over and I had to calculate if we were getting our money's worth. The Japanese buffet offered here (and at many other places) isn't like Sizzler's or your typical buffet. It's still ala carte (in that you have to order off a menu) but you can get as much as you like!

It was 145 RMB per person and we ended up eating about 450-500 RMB's worth. So a total bargain! We totally stuffed ourself with as much as we could take. It also included as much tea, coffee, juice, water or beer as we wanted. Anyway enough about the rave, on with the details!




48 Xinyi Road, Hongqiao (next to the massage parlour)

(also at 1414 Huaihai Middle Road)

Ph: (021) 6208 7910