Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Zhong Shan Park

Some pictures I took from the park (zhong shan gong yuan) right by our apartment

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Acrobatic Show

Last Friday we went to see a Shanghai acrobatic show. They showcased acrobatics of course, but also plate spinning, balancing, contortionism, monkey rope things, etc. The last act was really different and cool. I've never seen anything like it before. They had a giant wire ball and a man in a motorcycle was driving inside it doing crazy stunts. They gradually added more and more motorcycle men until 6 people with bikes were in the ball...everytime you drove you cringed because it looked like they were about to crash into each other! Very cool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day Trip: Tongli Adventures

China has water villages around Shanghai, so bright and early this morning we drove off to Tongli, a scenic but touristy town about 2 hours away. If you've ever been to Venice, Tongli was the slightly more run down, asian version.

"If you were dripping sweat, then I was raining!" -Erica
It was great to get out of Shanghai but it was seriously hot there. Anna got about 20 more mosquito bites in the span of 4 minutes and we were all sticky, nasty, and wet.

We took a chinese boat ride on the rivers and got to see some coramacks dive for fish. Coramacks are a type of bird that Chinese fisherman use to catch fish for them- they tie the bird's neck with string so the bird can't swallow and then train it to catch fish. Any fish the bird catches are regurgitated for the fisherman. It was awesome to see in action. The birds are tiny but they can cram in 3 or 4 fish per dive.

Tongli is famous for its water canals as well as its gardens and sex museum. They have crossbow shooting and cannonball firing too. The one thing I really wanted to do but couldn't was go in a hamster ball. I don't know the exact name of it but its a giant clear plastic ball that you can go inside and then walk, or roll on the water. The gardens were very pretty and the day trip was fun. At night we had dinner and watched a cultural/folk dance show.

tongli @ shanghaid away
Tongli's main street

Tongli bridge @ shanghaid away
view on the bridge from the left

Tongli bridge @ shanghaid away
view on the bridge from the right

Tongli gate @ shanghaid away Tongli's main gate

Tongli courtyard @ shanghaid away
view of the courtyard from the second floor restaurant

tongli man playing erhu @ shanghaid away

man playing erhu

tongli boat @ shanghaid away


Tongli boats

Tongli garden pavilion @ shanghaid away

pavilion ceiling in one of the gardens

Tongli pavilion @ shanghaid away
outdoor pavilion

Tongli fish @ shanghaid away
peaceful fish in a lake at one of the gardens

tongli fish frenzy @ shanghaid away

after pouring fish food into the water, a feeding frenzy occured!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Full Body Massage

Orientation week is halfway through and I'm learning more about Shanghai every day. I've been trying various street cart foods near my apartment- there is a whole street of them selling everything from bao zi (buns with meat or veggies) to you tiao (a kind of donut without the icing). This morning, I tried a bakery called 85 which had french chinese fusion pastries. It was delish. I've always been an iced coffee person but now that I'm in China, I've been experimenting with different teas. This morning's was a Pudding Milk Tea. When ordering, I kind of forgot how to say it in Chinese so there were some blank stares on the cashier's part. Oops.

We had three guest spearkers at ECNU, a teacher, police officer, and doctor. I learned not to touch any cute cuddly pets on the streets because chances are, they have rabies. Rabies is the #2 killer in China and quite commonly present even in household pets. The vaccine is worse than getting rabies itself, and in the off chance you are bitten, you'll need to be flown to Hong Kong or Singapore because there's no medical help on the mainland. I was thinking of checking out Shanghai's "live animal market" but now ... maybe that's not such a good idea.

In the afternoon, my group split off for our activities. There's two groups A and B and they split the activties so that yesterday one group did the scavenger hunt (that's my group) while the other did actvities and today it's vice versa. I signed up for the traditional Chinese massage. It was quite an experience.

We drove in a non air-conditioned van for half an hour to get to the massage shop. It was unbearably hot. BUT the massage itself was insanely intense good. I was in a room with three other guys in the program but I was the only one who could speak any mandarin so it was a little hard. Two were chinese and spoke cantonese, and one was white, my friend Connor. We started off with a one hour foot massage and then a full body massage for the second hour. One of the massage girls found Connor fascinating. Notably, his height, super hairy legs, long eyelashes and "beautiful" eyebrows. It was hilarious. She even asked for his phone number so they could chat.

The massage itself had some strange moments. At one point, our legs were stretched towards our heads and our bones cracked. (Connor couldn't lift his leg more than half a foot off the bed- the massage girl also found this hilarious). There was also some butt massaging going on. Strange moments. Nonetheless, I will definitely be getting more massages in China. They are so cheap! (about 10 dollars for 2 hrs)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Made in China: Half off Abortions with your Student ID

A hospital in Chongqing now offers students half-off on abortions. The advertisement says:

"Students are our future, but when something happens to them, who will help and protect them? Chongqing Huaxi Women's Hospital has started Students Care Month, where those students who come to get an abortion can get 50% off if they show their student ids. Abortion surgeries are the most advanced in the world, won't stretch (your womb), won't hurt, it's quick, and you can do what you want afterwards, it won't affect your studies or your work."

Scavenging in Shanghai

Today's orientation highlight was a scavenger hunt. We ran all over town visitng museums and monuments while collecting various items (hot dogs, chicken feet, chinese babies). It was fun but incredibly exhausting- my feet were black at the end of the day. The hunt ended at Shanghai Financial Center, the third tallest skyscraper in the world. The building looks like a zipper/bottle opener and has an observation deck on top with a view of the surrounding buildings. Going up the 100 floors is a trippy experience: there's white walls, flashing colors, and british accented english surrounding you.

Shanghai Urban Planning Museum @ shanghaidaway

My group at the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum

shanghai subway @ shanghaid away

Riding the subway

chinese rotc @ shanghaidaway
Bonus points: Take a picture with 5 people of the opposite gender

shanghai rickshaw @ shanghaidaway

We took this rickshaw/motorbike from the Yu Gardens

chinese baby @ shanghaidaway

Bonus points #2: Take a picture with a chinese baby

YuYuan Bazaar

Finding our way.

Yu Yuan Bazaar

shanghai financial tower @ shanghaid away
Shanghai Financial Tower

yu yuan bazaar @ shanghaidaway Inside the 100th floor

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ni Hao! Welcome to NYU in Shanghai

I'm in SHANGHAI! Blogger is actually blocked in China, which is a bit inconvenient so I am blogging now after much trial and error. After arriving at NYU in Shanghai I basically spent the whole day moving in and doing arrival-esque things. I'm living in the off campus apartments which are about a 30 min walk to our "campus" at East China Normal Univeristy (ECNU), a college in Shanghai and my apartment is super nice and really big. I'll post some pictures later :) There was a welcome dinner for the off campus students at night (there was a separate dinner for the on-campus kids somewhere else) which was an experience. They ordered us a bowl of beef noodles with soup but since it was a takeout sort of restaurant, there were no bowls. We improvised with soy sauce experiment which only half worked. We also got a plate of dumplings, each of which had different fillings. There was one with chives, some with carrots, and a couple with corn and peas. Definitely not the traditional kind!
NYU in Shanghai has 122 people, which is amazing considering the program started three years ago with only 18 students. There's even a fair amount of non-NYU students and some local Shanghai ones on scholarship.

Monday was our first official day of orientation and it was jam-packed. We had breakfast at ECNU's dining hall...which wasn't really breakfast since there was a strange amalgamation of breakfast, lunch, and dinner food, even desserts. Then we had a lecture from the NYU in Shanghai staff on what living in this city would be like. Some interesting things I learned:

1) Don't do drugs in China. One of the staff was out one night and witnessed a drug raid. The police blocked off the streets and dragged out two young foreign boys and threw them in the back of a van. The drug dealer was caned in the head and also thrown to the back of the van. Both were probably carted off to jail. Drug trafficking can come with a death sentence here.

2) Taxi cabs come in a multitude of colors- white, yellow, gold, aqua, dark blue, dark red, red, and black. Take only the light colored cabs. The dark red ones are actually driven by ex-convicts. Apparently at one point in time, China needed taxi cab drivers but no one thought of it as a lucrative job so they had some trouble finding drivers. The red taxi cabs are not part of the 'taxi union' and don't have to pay certain union fees. They also get a different license plate. Watch out for cars whose plates start with "BX"!

We also found out the travel options for our first weeklong break in September. We have the option of going to Guilin, Guzhou, Hong Kong & Macao, or this part of China that is essentially Mongolia. They all sound super fun but I really want to either go to Mongolia (where you can ride camels across the desert and live in a yurt) or Guilin (an outdoorsy trip filled with river rafting, rock climbing, mountain hiking, and visiting the dragon back terraces, which are absolutely gorgeous).

The lecture lasted a while but afterwards, we had lunch at a restaurant with never ending plates of super delish food. We also did a tour of our neighborhood, Zhong Shan Park, and visited the cloud 9 mall. It's got 18 stories, one floor of which is a gym. I'm still debating whether or not to get a membership. We get a sweet deal, its something like $150 for four months including classes and a swimming pool, but I've gotten such a workout the last couple days just from exploring that I might not need a full out gym.

At night we went on a boat cruise on the Huangpao river (I think I spelled that wrong). It was nice and relaxing, saw some of the famous Shanghai skyscrapers like the Pearl tower. I'm currently feeling exhausted and wishing for a new pair of legs. More updates to come! :)
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