I'm Kind-of a Big Deal

October 14th, 2010

Time: 6:16 p.m.

Location: Waiting room 8, Shanghai Railway Station

Riddle me this China: How does the blondie wai guo ren manage to buy her train ticket in less than 30 seconds from the self-service machine while you people who speak and read Chinese hem and haw and stare at the screen in confusion for 15 minutes?

Sometimes I just have to laugh at this country, its people, and myself. Right now, for instance: I am definitely the only white person in this entire waiting room. At one point this gentleman was turned around in his seat, blatantly staring at me. Usually, I ignore this but this time I decided to acknowledge his boldness with a bit of my own. I stared right back and quirked an eyebrow. I think I scared him because he got this totally bewildered look on his face and turned away.

I laughed. Out loud. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, too. I’ve decided it’s the better approach because I don’t want my face to get stuck in a grimace for life. That wouldn’t be too attractive.

That’d probably get me even more looks.

But I’m pretty sure that even if I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame, I wouldn’t get more looks that my friend Ellyse. We decided to head on over to the World Expo on Tuesday night. See the sights. In the rain. It was great. And soggy. I think the highlight was when a woman stopped me, gesturing towards her husband and his camera. Naturally, I assumed she was asking me to take their picture. Ellyse just laughed. This was old hat for her. You see, Ellyse is black and has this gorgeous main of curly black hair. Sometimes people argue over whether it’s real. Suffice it to say, Ellyse gets a lot of attention. She’s kind-of famous even though nobody knows who she is. And when people come up to her with a camera they don’t want her holding it, they want her on the other side of it – with them. So now, I’m a part of some Chinese couples’ photo album. I can just see them inviting guests to pour over the pictures of their exciting trip to the Big City and there I’ll be, plastered into the page featuring the Caribbean Pavilion, smiling out at some strangers making the obligatory oohs and awws.

Oh, China, you make me laugh.

What I didn't have to wait in. The weekends at the Expo are ridiculous.

Something Has Got to Be Done

October 10th, 2010

Time: 3:03 p.m.

Location: Opposite Number 75 Hengshan Lu
I was just kicked out of my spot for a wedding party’s photographs. Another day in the life.

Since returning to Shanghai on Thursday, my distaste for this city has grown. I wish it weren’t so, but there it is – I do not like Shanghai in its entirety. Having said that, I believe that I am more than partly to blame. Yes, Shanghai is dirty and the pockets of stench that crop up every block or so are less than desirable. The relentless shoving, pushing, jostling, and straight-up lack of consideration for any other human being is tiresome. There are days I find that I am so ornery I just simply go, pushing past the hordes, giving dirty looks, and cutting off old people. Shanghai me scares Portland me.

Something has got to be done. I have at least another 11 months here and I’d just as soon love where I lived. And so, I have decided to become a tourist – see the sights, sling my camera over my neck, and tuck a map into my back pocket. I am on a mission to see this city that I now call home. I am determined to find reasons to miss this city one day.

In the meanwhile I am going to enjoy the weird looks I’m getting for hanging out with my netbook on a stoop in the middle of a bustling city street.

Here's a little something of Hong Kong:

Snapshots of Singapore

A post about my trip will eventually follow, but for now I'll stick with pictures.

New Bridge Street. The lights from Mid-Autumn Festival were still up in China Town.

Align Right

An obligatory Singapore Sling. I'm not a huge brandy fan so I wasn't too impressed with it.

Figuring out where Orchard Road was like any good tourist - and totally looking the part. We found it.

I finally figured out the self-timer on my camera.

The place where we ate our AMAZING chili crab the night before. It was for sure a highlight of the trip.

I didn't have my camera on me for some of the even better signs than this. Too bad.

Curios in China Town on Pagoda Street

Haha. You can't see it too well but his balloon says "I'm Sorry." He looked so forlorn, I don't doubt he really was sorry.

At the Night Safari that everyone says you MUST do in Singapore. It was a zoo - at night. It is not a must see. But John was brought up on stage to help with the fire dancers. He stank of kerosene afterward but it was worth it for the laughs.

Before we knew how crap the Night Safari would be: how happy and naive we look.

Interesting temple down the street from my hostel. There's a very large Indian population in Singapore.

The street of my hostel. A name I could blessedly say to cab drivers without needing a piece of paper with it written down.

More of Pagoda Street. I accidentally snapped the one on the left, thus its lack of focus but it's my only record of what I saw when I stepped out the door the hostel.

Just in case you weren't sure, this is still China Town