June 21, 2008


I'm pretty excited because I just booked a trip to 黄山 (Huangshan, or "Yellow Mountain"). It's an extremely popular tourist attraction located in Anhui provice. Ever since I got to Shanghai, people have been going on and on about Huangshan, saying that if I only went to one place, that should be it. And I'd been feeling a bit complacent since returning from the US last month, in that I hadn't done much (okay, any) travelling outside of Shanghai for about two months.

Since the best way to get me to do something is to commit to it in advance (as opposed to having a spur-of-the-moment trip come up), I decided to book a flight for early August. I just paid the courier, so the trip is set!

I plan to fly there on Friday August 8th, spend the night in Tunxi, climb the mountain on Saturday, spend a night on top, and then fly back to Shanghai on Sunday night. The PVG --> TXN leg takes only an hour, which is perfect.

Rest assured there will be plenty of pictures taken :-)

Other trips I want to take (I'm certainly not going to get to do all of them):
  • Osaka/Kyoto - I decided to go here instead of Tokyo. I don't feel a strong urge to see yet another crazy large congested city with tons of neon and other shit going on. I can see that just by leaving my apartment :-) Luckily, the Orix Buffaloes play in Osaka, and the Hanshin Tigers play in Nishinomiya :-) The baseball season is running out though, so I better stop slacking and book this trip before too long.
  • Hong Kong and/or Taiwan - A given, I suppose, but to be quite honest, I'm not feeling much of a pull towards either of these places.
  • Chengdu - Probably not a good idea now, unfortunately.
  • Putuoshan.
  • Luoyang - For the Longmen Caves.
  • Yunnan - For Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • Yangshuo.
Again, there's no way I'll get to do all of these -- but having a list is nice.

June 16, 2008

Not an Idiom, but Close

In talking with one of my co-workers today, I discovered that the computer game "Diablo" is known in China as "Big Pineapple".

Why, you might ask?

Phonetically, "Diablo" sounds similar to Da bo luo (;bō luó');">大菠萝) which means, you guessed it, "Big Pineapple".

June 13, 2008

It's the Little Things, Part 2

So I was coming up out of the subway station this evening, and it was raining, so I opened my umbrella. I noticed a guy walking ahead of me didn't have his, so as we stepped outside, I quickened my pace to catch up to him and held my umbrella over both our heads (it's pretty big). He asked where I was going, and I told him -- thinking he wanted to know because he wanted to know how long he'd have protection from the elements. But no, he wanted to know where I was going so he could offer me a ride home -- turns out he was just walking the short distance from the subway station to a parking lot. So nice!

June 12, 2008

Idiom Watch

I'm going to start keeping track of these things, because they're freaking awesome.

The latest idiom is 吃醋 which translates idiomatically as "jealous" but whose characters literally mean "eat vinegar" (chi1 cu4).

Makes sense to me!

June 10, 2008

Austin: T-minus 19 days

So, the original-original plan was to return to Austin, permanently, on June 28th. That plan was replaced with the original plan, which was to go to Hong Kong in mid-June to renew my visa for the extended stay in Shanghai.

However due to circumstances beyond my control, the original-original plan now is back, with a slight modification in that I'll be returning to Shanghai after all. So I'll be in Austin for about two weeks (landing at 1 AM on June 29th) only to renew my visa, after which I will return to China until January 2009.

I was originally really really hoping to go to HK because I've never been there and could take a couple days off work for tourism. And the more I think about it now, the more excited I am to go back and see my friends and co-workers (and family!) that I've only been talking to voice- or text-wise for so long. Nothing beats a good face-to-face. And like I said several months ago when facing the prospect of returning permanently, I am really really really excited to see how different I feel when I get back. I kind of doubt it will be like in MD where I felt super familiar the instant I landed.

I know that it will be surreal to be back and see people whom I haven't talked with in so long. I am imagining it will be similar to the first time I came back to MD from college. I spent most of the time wandering around going " .... I grew up here." It was a very strange feeling, and to be honest, I still feel like that a little bit every time I go home -- although now it's way less prevalent than it used to be. But back then, I felt like a ghost at times -- I think it's mainly because many of my friends had also moved on at the time. This situation obviously is different because most of my friends are still in Austin :-) It's strange for me because six months either can feel like an enternity or a blink of the eye. It sort of flips back and forth at random.


I also am planning an itinerary, well, not an itinerary, but a list of things to do (okay, maybe that's an itinerary). These include things like going to Barton Springs (top on my list, actually), spending several hours relaxing at Mozart's on Lake Austin, and eating at various restaurants (County Line, Shady Grove, Kerbey Lane, Olmeca's, etc.) Mmmm. Also BOOK SHOPPING at BookPeople. Oh yes. Definitely reading the Austin Chronicle. Mayhap Mt. Bonnell and Zilker Botanical Gardens. Catch a show at Room 710 or Emo's. OH AND HOW COULD I FORGET THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE.

And perhaps I will take a tour of the town, on my own since I'll have a car, via a Lonely Planet guide and take some pictures with my new camera, now that I'm far more disposed towards using it for things other than parties :-) I imagine there also will be dining with friends and well-wishers. And I really look forward to randomly swinging by people's cubes at work and popping my head in with a well-placed "Ni hao!" Haha. I'm also bringing gifts, which reminds me, I need to finish shopping for ya'll. Maybe this weekend.


I learned a new Chinese idiom today -- "Lightbulb." (Unfortunately I don't remember the Chinese for it.) It's what you are when you go someplace with a friend and their significant other. In English we would call this being a "third wheel", I guess because a bike with three wheels would not run very well (but when I tried to explain this to my co-workers, I realized that tricycles are perfectly serviceable vehicles. Hm, peculiar.) Anyway the Chinese call this position a lightbulb because, it's like, you're shining the light on this couple so they can't do anything untoward. I hope you all find that as hilarious as I do :-)

Not much else has been happening lately. When my parents came they bequeathed unto me a voltage converter, which means I can charge my Nintendo DS, which means I spent some time this weekend playing Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. Fun times. I really love LoZ games -- for the most part, the puzzles in the game make you feel very intelligent when you solve them. I played through some of Twilight Princess for the Wii last summer and that was an excellent game also. And I still fondly remember A Link to the Past for the SNES.

It has been raining pretty much nonstop since Saturday afternoon. I was sitting at the Thumb, drinking coffee and reading, when a loud crack of thunder nearly deafened me. I was outside but under an awning, so I kept on reading as the rain started to pour down. It was great -- very relaxing.

It was really coming down, and the rain wasn't showing any signs of letting up. And then all of a sudden out of nowhere, this little frog started hopping around the plaza in front of us. I have no idea where he/she/it came from, but it went hoppity-hoppity hop and was so great :-) I really wish I had had my camera on me, but I did not, so I was unable to capture the moment. Completely random though.

Then I ducked into a KFC for lunch and ended up talking with two random women. Everybody likes it when a lao wai can speak some Chinese :-)

The rain stopped for a bit on Sunday, so I went exploring because I was feeling antsy that I hadn't done that in quite awhile. I took the metro to a random stop, which ended up being the Nanpu Bridge stop. I then wandered around taking pictures of nothing in particular. I took the ferry across to the Pudong side, then wandered around some more, finally going home when I saw the sign for the metro. I guess I spent about 3 hours doing this. It was pretty fun, and I got some great pictures that I'll try and upload to flickr soon :-)

On Monday the rain started again, and it literally has not let up since. My co-workers said this is the beginning of the rainy month in Shanghai, where it's hot and humid but rains constantly for like a month. Oh joy!! Just like in Austin last summer when we had that freak monsoon that nearly wrecked my boat party.

Sorry dad -- doesn't look like I'll be rollerblading anytime soon ;-) And it looks like maybe Suzhou will have to wait until I get back from Austin, too.

June 1, 2008

The Sort of Thing You'd Never See in the US

Part sixteen in a billion-part series:

Marx & Engels

I guarantee you in America there is not one single statue of either of these two men. However, in Fuxing Park, they stand together.


As my parents found out last week, if you're white and walk around certain sections of Shanghai, people will swarm you trying to sell you things. I mean, literally, swarm. I deal with this every day, as a big concentration of these hucksters is outside the S&T metro stop (because there's that underground market there).

For awhile, I would practice my Bu yao on them. Occasionally I would switch between that and Mei you qian. Then I moved to ignoring them. Then I began occasionally telling them Wo ting bu dong Yingwen, which means "I don't understand English." That gets some fun reactions out of them. I guess it's plausible though, because I could be Italian or whatever for all they know.

But that's getting boring, so it's time to switch it up. The next time somebody approaches me about something, I'm going to ask if they have chickens for sale. If they act confused or say "No," I'll say, "If you don't have chickens, I don't want to shop. "

Or, alternatively, I could start responding with "Don't you think the weather is nice today?" Or something completely off the wall, like maybe "The British are coming!! The British are coming!!"

Oh oh oh I got it -- I'm going to ask my co-workers how to say "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" in Chinese.

Or start saying "Sorry, I can't understand your German. Can you please repeat that?"

Or just start asking them for money. "If you give me 70 kuai, I'll buy a watch from you." Hahaha. Actually, I like that one the best :-)

You see where I'm going with this. I bet if I let my brain ruminate on the possibilities for awhile, I can get some interesting reactions from these people. I'm not like, angry at them or whatever. They're just doing their job. But they're annoying, and if I can change them from annoying to entertaining, why not do so?

Plus, it'll give them stories to tell.
"Today on the Bund I tried to get this tall white guy to look at my catalog, and he started screaming something about chicken brains!! Then he said he wanted to sell me a washing machine, and walked off."
That's me, you know, always thinking of others :-)