Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Hit and Miss

China is like any other country.
People go to places that are popular.
Popular places are where there are losts of people.

This week, we did more touristy things.
A trip to Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai's tallest building (world's third tallest).
More specifically, to the world's tallest hotel.
It's the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which occupies floors 54 to 87.
Popular for folks who do not want to pay a fee to go to the Observation floor on the 88th floor.
Posh and classy.

For more down-to-earth activities, we also savoured some famous xiao long bao (steamed dumplings).
This place is so popular that there are long queues from the take-out counter.
In the dining-in area, it's just as crowded.
It wasn't fun having people watching you eat.
Well, they are actually just watching your seat.

Photo: Watch your back!
Location: Yu Yuan, Shanghai

Beeworks for PhotoFriday - Entry 303

Lesson 38 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"You still need to queue up for the good stuffs."

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Monday, March 22, 2004

Whitewashed Weekend

“Doctor, did you tell Mr. Weatherman to bring rain stop me from going to Xiang Yang market?”

Saved by the rain?
I guess so.
I love my weekends even though it has meant staying indoors.
It gives me the chance to relax, smell the roses..... and look out the window.
Here a view from my apartment, which overlooks the Huangpo river towards Central Shanghai.

Photo: Apartment with a view
Location: Pudong Shanghai

You may notice the cranes (not the bird!) by the river. I think I am staying near the dockyard or something. Sometimes, I hear the sound of foghorns at night. So, this morning, I took a closer look. It's a pity I am catching the view on a cloudy whitewashed day. Perhaps, it will look better in spring and summer months!

As I snuggle in my bed watching cable tv,
I am enjoying my cheese toast
sipping my ginger tea, facing some realities of life....

Beeworks for PhotoFriday - Entry 285

Lesson 37 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"He needs to belong to the Bold and the beautiful league. If he has to choose for love or money, he will choose love. He's gotta be my American Idol."

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Addicted to Fakes

Dear Yisheng (doctor),

I think I have a problem.

Every weekend, I find myself wondering around Xiang Yang fake goods market. Like any regular tai tai, it gives me orgasmic pleasure each time I strike a good bargain. I seem to be addicted to getting cheap fixes like this at the market.

Come weekend, I seem to go on auto-pilot mode. I fill my wallet and jump on the hotel shuttle to the market. I spend all my money. I only stop when I run out of cash. Luckily, they don't take credit or I will be in trouble!

I come home with stuff that I don't normally need. Sometimes, it is so ridiculously cheap that I tell myself that I can stock things up for a rainy or snowy day.

In last weekend's shopping cart....

White Hermes jelly bag
Prada lambskin gloves (with 100% cashmere lining as claimed by the tag)
Timberland fleece
Bally lambskin travel bag

I am already thinking what I should get from there next week.
Perhaps, I should be hanging out at more up-market places and focus on the genuine stuff, if I want to be a big time tai tai.

Desperately seeking Tai Tai

Photo: Mobile clinic at a park in Yuyuan, Shanghai

Last supper at 30,000 feet
Photo moment of China
Beeworks for PhotoFriday - Entry 253

Lesson 36 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"Just fake it...for now."

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Monday, March 08, 2004

Extended Monday Blues

Took the Monday midnight flight to Shanghai.
Landed at Pudong airport at 6.30 a.m.
Groggy from lack of sleep.
Without breakfast....as I apparently slept as breakfast was being served.
No sleep, no food.....tantamounts to moodiness!

Arrived for work a little late due to a minor accident with our taxi on the way to work.
By lunch, I needed a double shot of coffee.

It's been a terribly busy week.
Working by day, babysitting by night.
You see, I have guests with me for 3 weeks at my apartment.
Another test for the wannabe tai tai.

How to be accept guests to your home with grace?
I need to be mentally prepared to lose my privacy and space.
I need to be physically prepared to entertain and to oblige.
Quite a challenge for someone that enjoy solitude.

Oh...I have started my mandarin self-study every night as I am without my violin this time.
Mandarin by week.
Lomo by weekend.

My encounters with the un-modest chinese women has abruptly stopped.
Now, I find out that my workmate has been subjected to such sightings in recent weeks. Yesterday, she walked into someone who was peeing with the door open. The woman was looking at herself in the mirror as she was sitting down and peeing.

Lesson 35 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"My curse goes on...."

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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Home Sweet Home

I am back home for a week's vacation.

This means food, warm weather and more glorious food.
It's as if I am back from summer camp or something.
Everything tastes and feels good!

It means doing some mundane tasks like paying bills
It means paying homage to the malls.
It's also time for the regular beauty fixes like getting my hair and face done...ala tai-tai style.

I was introduced to a new fad in photography. Well, I don't think it's new...just that I am out-of-date. You can see some exciting results here.

Also, do check out this week's entry to PhotoFriday.

Lesson 34 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"To add some zest to your photos, do the lomo!"

Your say? [ comment(s)]

Monday, February 23, 2004

Money Matters

The Chinese currency can be rather confusing.

Firstly, the Chinese Yuan (CNY) is also known as Renminbi (RMB).
One Yuan or Reminbi is also colloquially known as Kuai.
One Kuai has 10 jiao. Jiao is also called mao.

One jiao is divided into 10 fen.
Thank goodness, fen doesn’t have another name.

The RMB paper bills come in several denominations: one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred. The problem is the same denomination can come in different colours. This is because the old currencies are not taken out of circulation. So, you can receive change of the same currency that looks different.

Then, there is the “jiao” and “fen”. They can be issued in paper bills or coins. The latter being more in favour these days. Coins come in several denominations: RMB1, 2 and 5 jiao. There is also 1, 2, and 5 fen…which are not very much used.

I have yet to figure out how the jiao works. I had a rather unpleasant run-in with the supermarket cashier. My bill came up to RMB30.10. I gave him one twenty, one ten and two 5 jiao. He asked me for 1 mao. He was rather annoyed by my ignorance. I was and still am confused about the "jiaos".

I was lucky my experience involved just 10 cents. My poor friend had a far worse experience.

We were at, what-seems-to-be our regular weekend hang out, Xiang Yang market. As usual, we were having a good time haggling with the shopkeeper. Then, we went for our lunch at the nearby department store. Lunch was a rather normal Thai meal. The bill came up to over RMB60. We paid with one fifty and a twenty note. We chatted as we waited for the change. Then, the waitress came back with our fifty note and uttered some sentences in Chinese. What I could gather was there was something wrong with the note. The waitress could not explain in English so, we called the restaurant manager. True enough, the fifty note was a counterfeit!

We scrutinized the note carefully. None of us could tell the difference. So, the cashier compared it to a real note. We held the notes in the air. Both had a watermark.

“Aahhh…., it must be genuine, right?”

I always thought that the watermark was an indication of genuinity. Apparently, it’s not.

The restaurant manager asked us to feel the paper quality of both notes. To lay persons like us, we could hardly tell the difference. But, there is a slight difference if one took the time to look closely. He further demonstrated to us the final test- waving the note in the air and listening to the sound of the paper. There was a slight difference, if you really allow your imagination to run.

Photo: Can you tell the difference? Answer below.

Since being here, I always wonder why the storekeeper, supermarket cashier and stalls at the market scrutinise each of the notes I pass them in the air. It was a bit insulting…as if I will use counterfeit notes. Now, we know why. I guess we would need to check for watermark, feel the paper quality and listen to the sound of the notes carefully.

So, the good bargains received in the morning were not so good after all!

Chinese Way of Life
Trend setter or Fashion victim?
A Photo moment in China.

Lesson 33 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"Sometimes, you need to listen to the sound of money. This is how a ten bill sounds like....and this, a twenty..."

Answer: The top note is real. The bottom one is a counterfeit.

Your say? [ comment(s)]

Monday, February 16, 2004

Love is in the air

What happened on Valentine's Day

Three girls in a strange city
unexpectedly single
shopping spree, not candlelight dinner
Man with a bouquet of roses in the metro
At the park
young boy with flowers waits anxiously
Holding hands on the busy street
Woman sells flowers on the street
A couple sneaks a kiss in the train
Girl affectionately rests her head on her partner’s shoulders
One dozen yellow tulips!

Photos: Valentine's day in Shanghai
Location: Central Huaihai Road, Shanghai

I read a funny article in the papers this weekend.

What would the married man say…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
We stay in tonight
Because of bird flu

What would the two-timer say…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And I love you two

…Four weeks into a relationship…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Your smile is my sunshine,
Je t’aime beaucoup

…Four years into a relationship…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Blah, blah, blah, blah
And so are you

What would the stalker say?
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Look out the window,
I am waiting in the bushes for you!

Chinese Way of Life
Toilet report for the week
What else happened on V-Day?

This week's entry in Beeworks Ceramics.

Lesson 32 in The art of Tai Tai hood
"Be it a contractual (marriage), two-timing, stalking, old or new love.........love should be in the air everyday of the year."

Your say? [ comment(s)]

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