Date Taken: January 13th, 2008
This is a shot of two important mainstays in my China adventure: shitty weather and the Thumb Plaza. The Thumb, so named after a work of art that inspired the Zendai Museum of Modern Art (which is that squiggly four-story rectangle in the background) is a small outdoor shopping center that's about 2 blocks from my apartment. It's got clothing stores, restaurants, bars, electronics stores, and so on. But its crowning feature is undoubtedly a Carrefour , without which I would surely perish. Their habit of consistently labeling merchandise in English has no doubt saved my ass more than once. For this reason (and also the preponderance of foreign food outlets) I consistently see more foreigners at the Thumb than almost anywhere else in Shanghai (except maybe Xintiandi and the Bund). And because they're so close, I didn't have to worry about buying tons of groceries. I don't have a car, you see, so I have to walk home with my purchases, which means I purchase significantly fewer items per week than I'm used to in Austin. Except there was that one time I overbought and paid a cabbie 20 RMB to help me carry my stuff upstairs, haha.
Aside from that, I predicted when I got here that I'd eat dinner at the Thumb more often than not. Boy do I know myself! Not only did I eat a vast number of meals there (mostly all Chinese, thankfully) but I made a habit out of drinking coffee and reading at the Starbucks most Saturday and Sunday mornings. Now here's the part where I throw up my hands and say that I HATE Starbucks. However, for me it's free over here. And the atmosphere is comfortable. And it's within stumbling distance of my bed. And most importantly, I can't find any local coffee shops around here, certainly not like in Austin. So that's how I rationalized my support of this international conglomerate :-)
Anyway, at the Thumb I will remember several places in particular:
- Starbucks, for the aforementioned reasons
- Carrefour, again for the aforementioned reasons
- Paris Baguette across the way. My ritual (I'm big into rituals, you see) was to buy two pastries (no more, no less, getting different ones each time) at Paris and a coffee at Starbucks, then sit at Starbucks and read.
- Ajisen Ramen, a really cheap and kickass noodle house. It's a chain.
- Ya Dian Fang, a yummy Shanghainese/generic Chinese place
There are lots of other places there, including some great Korean BBQ, but those are the ones I'll remember the most.
Date Taken: January 13th, 2008
The above two pictures are of Jing'An Temple . There's nothing special about it, really. In fact it's located at a busy intersection in Puxi which means that your attempts to spiritually commune with the world will be made very difficult by honking cars, buses screeching tires, cell phones ringing, and people talking with one another. It even has its own metro station on Line 2. It's a little hard to believe the place is 1,700 years old.
Not too much to say about this place. I definitely remember wanting to take the metro to a random stop and ending up here. It was in my travel guide and looked interesting. Although at the time I was still fascinated by things like this, it's not that interesting really. I've seen much grander and nicer temples in cities like Hangzhou, Beijing, and of course, Tibet. There are lots of temples all over the place in China. Eventually you get tired of seeing them, honestly. They end up looking the same, mostly because they were designed to be that way, whether they're Buddhist, Confucian, or Taoist. After Lhasa I was pretty burned out on temples and monasteries anyway :-)