Thursday, September 29, 2011

i want to be a human hamburger

You may be wondering why I'm posting so much today... well let me explain... since it seems like some of you actually do read my rambling stories...

I woke up at the regular time for work and started walking to school like I usually do. When I stepped outside, I noticed it was windier than usual and that there were fewer people on the streets but I didn't think much about it. I took my usual shortcut through the local mall but again, the mall was quite deserted compared to the typical morning crowds. But McDonald's was open and business was going on as usual so I kept on walking. When I got to school, the entire building was empty and all the lights were off. There were no kids or teachers anywhere to be seen. It was like a ghost town.

I went up to the staff room and twiddled my thumbs for a bit. I finally realized that there had been a warning for a #8 TYPHOON, so all schools were cancelled for the day. I felt like a fool but here I am spending my off-day in the staff room like the loser that I am. Yay. At least I got to update this blog, attempt to do some work, and draw a few pictures in my sketchbook! =) I'll show you some of those doodles another time, but for now I wanted to leave you all with the BEST HALLOWEEN COSTUME EVER (sent to me by Grace, who is awesome for documenting this hilarity).

If you wore this, you would be able to seduce anyone.

 Actually, I've always wanted to make my own hamburger costume, but it seems that Old Navy has beat me to it. When Grace showed me this, the first thing I asked her was, "DO YOU THINK THEY HAVE MY SIZE?!?!?" Hahahaha. 

No seriously though. I want to be a human hamburger. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shanghai Day 2

After my conference on Day 2 of my Shanghai Adventure, I was free to explore once again. Again, I saw some interesting things. 

Interesting thing #1 = this random castle in the distance. China seems to have many pseudo-European buildings that pop up when you least expect it. (Oh and in case you were wondering, the woman on the right wearing all blue did make it safely across the street).
Interesting thing #2 was this insane wagon of chairs. I seriously want to see someone haul that around.
 Interesting thing #3 was witnessed in a dark underground area of the subway system where people were selling their wares on the ground. This particular display intrigued me... there was no one guarding this merchandise and as I looked closer I realized it was a towel laid out with piles of pantyhose that looked suspiciously second-hand...
I also saw another man on the street selling dead turtles on a stick but he wouldn't let me take a picture. Interesting thing #4 = all these balls on the sidewalks. They were everywhere! I think they're for safety reasons so that people have to walk slowly around corners and intersections. Any other theories why there would be giant balls on the ground? Anyone?
Oh and of course I had to take the opportunity to stand on one!
And finally, Interesting thing #5 = CAPITAL LARD. This one's self-explanatory.
After spotting all those interesting things, I took a little night-time stroll by myself along Nanjing Road. My friend told me that if I just kept on walking down the road, I would get to The Bund which is basically Shanghai's famous harbour view. I walked down that road for at least 45 minutes but it was peaceful and I enjoyed it. But I also had a few adventures along the way...

 On the streets and sidewalks, there were all these vendors selling fake DVDs, oldies music, and other little trinkets. I was trying to buy a scarf from this one woman who had set up a small table on the sidewalk. Suddenly I heard shouting and turned around to see a whole van full of police officers yelling at the woman angrily. The woman immediately picked up the table, closed it in half (it was like a conveniently portable suitcase table) and ran away from the police. A minute later, she was back in business, only 10 metres away from her original spot, selling her scarves again. 
I actually bought some scarves from a similar woman down the street and I was trying to bargain with her. Since she didn't know English and I didn't know Mandarin, we bargained using the CALCULATOR FUNCTION on her cell phone! haha. She would punch in a price, then I would take the phone and punch in the price I wanted, and we went back and forth until we settled on a deal. It was a pretty effective way to bargain!

Here are some other photos that I took during my little walk...
Here's a building that looks like a pineapple.
I loved this area below because it reminded me a little of Gastown in Vancouver.
This area is near People's Square, an place full of both tourists and locals. Each side of the street has huge stores - basically it's a large shopping district. 
While I was walking through the crowds here, I actually encountered a bit of an "incident". Many people here were trying to give me flyers, which is common in Hong Kong too. But suddenly, a young man around my age came up really close to me and started speaking loudly and persuasively in Mandarin. Then he grabbed me by both shoulders and started shaking me back and forth. Then he grabbed one of my arms and started trying to lead me to the side. I was thinking... "uh.... what are you DOING?!?!" and I quickly pushed his arm and walked away quickly into the crowd. I wish I had been with someone who knew Mandarin though so I could know what he was rambling on about. haha. 

But anyway, moral of the story... be aware of creepers who are invasive of personal space.

moving on...

After passing People's Square, I finally reached THE BUND, and can I just say that it was GORGEOUS!!! I spent the next two hours just walking by myself along the harbour view and taking a million pictures because it looked so amazing!!! Each building was bathed in this warm yellow glow (all the lights shut off at 11pm by the way, so if you are in the area, go before then). 

Anyway, I'll stop rambling and just show you the pictures!
Overwhelmed by all the glowing buildings yet? Here's the other side of the view that looked out onto the water.
I especially like this picture where I caught a random man pondering alone (and being the stalker that I am, I discretely took a picture).
And of course I had to have a photo with me in it so I could have some sort of evidence to show that I was actually there haha. So I kept on asking random strangers to help me take one. I felt bad because these nice people would take a few pictures for me and then say, "check it and see if it's okay!" Then I would check it and ALL the shots they took were blurry but I would say, "Yeah, they're great!" then walk a few metres and try to find another stranger who looked like they knew how to use an SLR. HAHA!  After asking more than 5 people, I finally found someone who was able to get these two shots... 
...So I can say I've been there!!! hahaha. I think just walking loner-style along The Bund was one of the highlights of my trip. So aside from the conference I attended, I'm so glad I got to go to China and see all these beautiful sights!

Man, you don't know how hard it was to get on a plane the next day, fly back to Hong Kong, and make it in time for WORK on MONDAY MORNING. But anyway, I'm already itching to go on another trip of some sort, now that I've survived my first experience travelling alone!

Shanghai Day 1

This is the short story of my weekend trip to Shanghai. It was a really amazing experience because I got to travel completely ALONE for the first time in my life... and I survived! haha. Backtracking a little - I was sent to China for a conference/workshop (for work purposes) so I can finally say that I'm one of those sketchy people who go on "business trips"... haha. But really, I had a great time and I want to show you all pictures... get ready for image overload!!!

So after school, I rushed like a madwoman to the airport to make sure I caught my flight. But when I got there I still had time to eat some fries at Popeye's.
 Once I got through customs, there was still time to spare so I found a ZARA...
...and tried on bird clothes. I didn't buy that but being a dork I took a picture for ART INSPIRATION purposes.
The happiest moment OF MY LIFE (okay, I exaggerate) was on the plane when they served us ICE-CREAM!!!!!!!! The man beside me didn't want his and I was so SHOCKED that someone would decline ICE-CREAM that I was too busy gasping to ask if I could have his share. hahaha.
When I got to the Shanghai Airport, it was eerily deserted.
Now I don't know any Mandarin, so before the trip I got my coworkers to write down all the names of the places I needed to get to (hotel, conference, etc.)... and then during my entire trip I would just hop into a taxi and point at my pieces of paper hoping that I'd arrive at my intended destination. My taxi rides were usually around 30 minutes long so it was like half an hour of me sitting in the backseat in awkward silence with no way of verbal communication with the driver. But I didn't get scammed, so that's a bonus! 

Below is my hotel room which had a surprisingly high ceiling...
clean white toilets (yes... I took a picture to show you all how clean it was)...
...and a huge GLASS SHOWER, which I thought was hilarious because the door to the shower was the same door as the one that locks the bathroom... so basically if you use the shower and you're sharing the room with someone, your roommate can see everything that's going on... all the walls of the bathroom were glass. Awkward invasion of privacy...
Also, the hotel lobby had a painting I really liked. I wish I could paint like that!!!
Anyhow, the next day I was heading to my conference when I saw this weird sign, which really confused me.
I also walked along the longest pedestrian crosswalk ever (and didn't get run over!) Hey, I am not joking when I say that is a HUGE possibility in China...
There are no such things as traffic rules in Shanghai. As a pedestrian, you just kind of start walking onto the street and hope that you don't get hit, and as a driver/cyclist, you skillfully maneuver around every other driver/cyclist. The picture below looks like there's a dozen accidents waiting to happen, but in China it's a skill to be able to drive like a crazy and get away with it.
Many people have bikes or scooters. I always saw rows of bikes lined up along the street.
On my first night of sight-seeing, I went to a place called Tianzifang/Taikang Lu near Madang Rd. Station. It's a quirky little area with a whole bunch of dark alleyways (yes, alleyways!). There's all these little shops and cafes... it's really cute. It was at that moment that I decided to start collecting as many pictures of shady Shanghai alleyways as possible. Here are some for your viewing pleasure...
My favourite is THIS ONE below because I took it with no clue what the huge red words (on the left) said. But I really liked this particular alleyway so I took a whole bunch of pictures and vowed that when I went back to Hong Kong, I would ask one of my friends to translate the words for me.
 Well, when I finally got the chance to ask someone they told me the translation was: 

.... HA! Whoops.

Anyway, in these alleyways they sold little trinkets like these dangly fish decorations...
...while other little restaurants showcased things like crazily-carved fruits and vegetables...
...and still others sold the creepiest row of dolls in the world.
This is one of my favourite shops that I saw... if only for the store name.
I met an awesome bunch of people from the conference so we went to eat Thai food and then ended off the night at this little lounge... I think it's one of the few places in Shanghai that allows live bands to perform. 
So that's a picture update of my first full day in China! Day 2's adventures are full of gorgeous views so I'll get   to uploading that right now because I'm excited to show you! =) 

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