Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Barbie Spa

Barbie has become big here, as evidenced by her multi-story spa downtown. This spa also made it into a recent feature that National Geographic did on Shanghai. The article is here: and photo gallery is here: Barbie's popularity is indicative of a growing interest in, and acceptance of, Western ideals of beauty. These can also be found in the European and American models hanging out on billboards and advertisements around town and in the skin whitening cream found in most grocery stores. Though there's something to be said for cross-cultural appreciation, I've found so much about China and the people here to be beautiful and worth emulating  that I'd hate to see that lost to a Barbie world...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shoe Rack

As is traditional here (and the norm for our teacher apartment building), we keep our shoes outside of our door on this shoe rack. Traveling in Asia, we have gotten used to the occasional request to leave our shoes off before entering restaurants, hotels, and friends' apartments, too. There's some good logic to it, as we're able to keep the day's dirt outside and can enjoy slippers around the apartment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shanghai Library

Recently, I made a list of what I still want to see and do during our last few months in Shanghai. Enter.. the public library. Rumored to be the "largest book depository in Asia" (according to one of our guide books), it certainly felt large. Though most of the books were in Chinese, Jeff and I had fun poking through the foreign books, which included an eclectic selection of donated second-hand books in English, a small United Nations reading room, and a decent selection of foreign-language newspapers (including the LA and New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Taste of Home

After meaning to for months, we finally made it to the Boxing Cat Brewery tonight, a brewpub serving original beers and amazing southwestern (American) food. There was a cozy atmosphere inside, with a roaring fire in the fireplace and friendly staff, perfect for relaxing. I had the "Right Hook Helles" with tortilla soup and Jeff had the "Knock Out Stout" with a Cali-cajun chicken club. While waiting for our food, we were treated to warm beer bread and rosemary biscuits. Yum!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

OHSA Nightmare

With so many construction and maintenance workers in this city, it's hard not to wonder about their safety. Though it's a little hard to make out, this picture is a perfect example. The bamboo ladder is leaning on the telephone wires, which one brave worker is working on, while his co-workers look on. Meanwhile, traffic was still humming along through this intersection.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flat Stanley

We had another visitor! Jeff's goddaughter is doing a "Flat Stanley" project with her class, which means that she and her classmates sent Stanley to their friends and family so that he can get his picture taken and write a short account of his visit. We felt honored to have Stanley visit us here and found him to be a very patient and agreeable visitor as we took him all over the city. The above is one of many shots that he was willing to pose for.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I hope we're all ok with a little PDA.

I love my wife!  Carrie is amazing and no words can describe how lucky I am to be here with her every day!
Here's to Carrie...hip hip hoooray!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shanghai Botanical Garden

Somehow, we've managed to live here for this long without visiting the Shanghai Botanical Garden, which is literally right outside the school gates. Yesterday afternoon was too warm, beautiful, and spring-like not to fix that, though. The gardens were incredible - huge, sprawling, and with an impressive variety of plants. The magnolia trees were in full bloom and during our walk around the gardens, we walked through budding roses, pine forests, bamboo, and palm trees. There was classical music being pumped through rock-like speakers and plenty of people practicing tai chi. A common site at most scenic spots in the city, we saw a couple taking wedding photos. And, to top off the visit, we watched trained pigeons be herded back into their home for the night.

Though it took us a while to get there, I'm sure we'll be back. More pictures here:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cold Milk Tea

The perfect treat for a warm, spring-like Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Though we're having a pretty quiet night tonight, we did celebrate St. Patrick's Day by wearing green today and visiting the downtown parade and festival this past Saturday. We headed down there with a friend and were treated to green dragons, Chinese river-dance troupes, Murphy's on tap, and plenty of good-spirited, multi-cultured fun. More pictures here:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bringing the House Down

I've posted before about the ever-changing landscape of Shanghai, but it still never ceases to amaze me how in-your-face it can be. This weekend, walking from the fabric market to the subway, we stood and watched (with a small group of spectators) this house being torn down. This was the last house standing in what was once a small residential community and will, no doubt, now be the site of yet another group of high-rise apartment or office buildings. It was dramatic to watch, reminding me of reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel when I was little. What's more amazing, though, is how routine something like this is here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bold Marketing Strategy?

Stores often have English names here. Occasionally, though, something seems to get lost in translation. One good example: the name of this fabric market stall. I'm not sure if this is an unfortunate spin-off of fat with a "ph" or something else entirely. I'm also not sure what effect the name has on their sales, though it did grab my attention.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tea Cups

Tea is big here (go figure.) To satisfy those tea cravings while on the go, many people carry a plastic tea cup with a built-in filter that can accomodate loose tea leaves. The tea lasts throughout the day, with hot water supply stations supplied around work places for filling up. I took this shot of tea cups in a shopping mall - the shelves are set up near the bathrooms for employees to grab during breaks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

City in Flux

Jeff took this picture while we were out and about several weeks ago. I feel like it sums up my perception of Shanghai with its sense of movement, layers of older buildings dwarfed by skyscraping newer ones, crisscrossing power lines providing pumping fuel through the city's veins, and a simultaneously exciting and exhausting lack of focus about where this is all headed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Art Imitating Life

There are sculptures all over Shanghai and it's fun try to spot them while out and about. This one caught my eye in an outdoor mall area in the Xujiahui district of the city. With her bag, phone, and ankle boots, she might fit in here better than I do. Though, I wonder how she'll keep up with changing fashion...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Food

Working in public health, I've heard many discussions about the best way to rate food safety and to share those results with the public. (Like, for example, the letter grade system.) I've become pretty fond of Shanghai's grades, though. That green smiley face is just so inviting...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Metro Madness

By some counts, Shanghai is the largest city in the world. (And, by all counts, it is definitely huge.) Evidence of this can be found in the complexity of the public transportation system. I love living in a city that has such great options for mass transit and enjoy the challenge of trying to navigate it all.
This is the latest metro map. Because of the upcoming World Expo, the system is being expanded in big ways. Since we moved here in August, at least three new lines have been added and many of the others have been extended. We live near Lines 1 and 3 (in the southwestern corner of the city) and can get to any stop on this map for approximately fifty cents. Awesome.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Plum Blossoms in Century Park

Akin to Japan's cherry blossoms, China brings in spring with plum blossom festivals. We were able to catch one this past weekend in Shanghai's largest park, Century Park, which is located across the river in PuDong. The blossoms were incredible. They came in white, pink, and purple hues and gave off a sweet scent. Beyond that, the park itself was fun for exploring. It has a sizable lake and meandering walking paths. Here are some more pictures: (The kite, sculpture, and tiger print are all from just outside of the park.) Be sure to check out the impressive lawn sculptures toward the end of the album!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Longhua Temple and Pagoda

On Saturday, we paid a visit to the nearby Longhua Temple and Pagoda, the oldest working temple in Shanghai, with a history dating back to 242 A.D. and the only standing "pre-modern" pagoda in the city. The site has a sorted past, having served as a venue for public executions during the 19th century and Japan's largest internment camp in the area for Americans, British and other Allies during WWII. Today, it is still a bustling place, with a much more peaceful feel. On the day that we were there, there were services being held by monks, a stream of people coming in to pray, light insence, and visit any number of the many halls. We were also able to have lunch in the on-site vegetarian noodle hall. Delicious!

More pictures here: