Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shanghai Diary: Seventy Seven Days

I don't know if I miss doing the podcast or not. I think I do but it's tough as I'm just so busy here. I've gotten a break from the podcast but not from working. I'm also still doing a lot of audio editing between special episodes, bonus episodes, and The Kolchak Tapes. I've just not been doing all the recording and interviewing I normally do on a weekly basis.

I reached out to my co-hosts for the next episode I plan to record, though I also need to start setting up recordings for January, too, while I'm at it. I know I'd go crazy(ier) without a creative outlet but right now the idea of getting back into that grind seems rather daunting. I was hoping to cut down to doing an episode every two weeks but the lack of episodes while I've been here in Shanghai forced my hand and, starting in January, I'm back to one a week until at least July. Sure, I've got some interviews recorded for those but not many.

Saturday I went to see a film called Seventy-Seven Days about a guy crossing the Xinjiang province. It was good, though there were some very cheesy CGI wolves used a little too often. The real scenery was remarkable, however, and the direction solid. It reminded me a lot of Never Cry Wolf. I may have to see about getting a copy of NCW. I'm still in the midst of watching a lot of "comfort films". Over the weekend I also re-watched Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy, ya know, for kids.

Sunday I went out with my co-worker, Eileen, and her husband. We went out to lunch and then for a long walk down Nanjing Road which is (mostly) closed off to cars and a long promenade of shopping and food stands. It reminded me of a far-longer Fremont Street. We also walked a bit along The Bund before going back to the car and driving over to Jing'an Temple.

Oh, and to answer your question.. yes, you can use WeChat Pay or AliPay to buy your incense at the temple:

After that we walked a bit in the park across the way and then went for Hot Pot in Pudong and then beers and pool at the restaurant across the street from my apartment. They wouldn't let me pay for a thing which was nice but also maddening. I wanted to at least treat them to dinner but they wouldn't hear of it. At least I got to buy beers at the end of the night.

All in all, I walked almost 12000 steps that day, though I still came in second on "WeRun" which is a step-counter that WeChat uses -- you compete against your friends who have it and I never get close to the top except that day.

Random Things:

  • John Woo's latest, Manhunt is playing in the local cinemas (though not very often -- at least not as often as that awful Justice League movie -- though I don't know if it's got English subtitles or not.

  • Seventy-Seven Days is the first movie where I saw a few previews. Sure, not many and very quick, but it wasn't just all car commercials this time around.

  • In China there's not "an app for that," there's an "A-P-P" for that. I always hear it spelled out like that in English which is a bit disconcerting.

  • I signed up for Mandarin 1 at Schoolcraft college. It starts January 23 and runs 12 weeks on Tuesday evenings.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Shanghai Diary: Thanksgiving in Shanghai

I've been doing my best to document my more unusual or noteworthy experiences over here. But, when all is said and done, I'm here to work. I've been doing a lot of that lately -- things are finally starting to move with the China incarnation of the corporate website.

Last night I felt like such a "big boy", going over to the movie theater after work, going into a restaurant and being able to order (albeit from a menu with a lot of pictures), and then off to the show. I was fully prepared that I'd be seeing a Mandarin-dubbed version of A Better Tomorrow or at least one in Cantonese with only Chinese subtitles but -- surprise! -- it had both English and Chinese subtitles. And, of course, the English subtitles were absolutely terrible. It took me back to seeing the film the first time in the early 1990s. At one point a character is supposed to be shouting, "I will!" Instead of that, the subtitles say, "I'll!" Technically correct but...

Midway through the movie I suddenly panicked. When I had driven over it was dark and, unlike a lot of scooter drivers here, I turned on my headlight. I pictured my scooter out in the plaza parking area with its light on, slowly going dim. Would some Good Samaritan have turned it off? Would my scooter be dead when I got out there? Would I have to grab my battery and take a taxi back to my place and come back the next morning? Should I run out there and miss ten minutes of the movie? Should I just leave and watch the rest of the film in my apartment?

I ended up just chilling and watching the rest of the film, though I scooted out of the theater fairly fast. When I got to my scooter I put in the key to see if it'd turn on. It did. And the headlight with it! So, when you turn off the scooter, the headlight goes off too. Remarkable. "What'll they think of next?"

Then it was back to the apartment for an evening meeting. With the U.S. being shut down today/tomorrow, my meeting evening meeting schedule has lessened a bit, it's just me and the Europeans who may be talking tonight and tomorrow. Tonight is slightly doubtful as I'll be heading out for some kind of Chinese Thanksgiving dinner tonight along with Serena. We have reservations at Lost Heaven over in Puxi (the one on Big Deer road, not the one on The Bund).

The next day...

I went out last night and had my Thanksgiving dinner. ice plant salad, baby cucumber flower salad, Mongolian buns, a terrific beef dish that came with kim chi and what I think was some other pickled cabbage, and some mulled wine with orange and cloves.

Beforehand, Serena and I met at Tianzifang to do some shopping. Andrea had requested a few things so we picked those up along with a couple knickknacks for some friends back home. The tough this is that there's little that can be gotten in China that can't be gotten through the web. It's more the novelty of it, I suppose.

I met Serena at a coffee shop (right next door to a Starbucks) where they sold Kopi Luwak coffee. One cup of just coffee could run 298 ¥ which, at today's rate, would be approximately $45 USD. When I mentioned Kopi Luwak to Serena she said, "Oh, cat shit coffee?" As she rarely swears, this made me almost choke with laughter.

I opted for a coffee shake for 30¥ instead.

Photos from outside and inside Tianzifan:

In today's edition of "the drive home from work:"

Saw this guy doing the "Asian Squat" next to the local Papa Johns. Yes, they have Papa Johns here (as well as Pizza Hut). I don't eat there in the US, I'm not about to try the China incarnation: