Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 19

It's week 19 and things are still moving pretty fast here in Shanghai -- the first restaurant that Tiffany and I went to (Everyday U.S.A., just down the street from our apartment) has already closed down and re-opened. It doesn't seem all that unusual, however surprisingly, as so many other places we knew to exist just a few months ago are now gone and have since put new signs on their front doors. I suppose it doesn't bother me too much, especially for restaurants because, as it is the case for just about everywhere, there is always another one just around the corner. But we were a little thrown off by one of our favorite stores closing down here in Shanghai.

Before coming here we wanted to try and bring as little as possible, since we didn't know what we would be getting into or having to lug around. We thought that by carrying around as little as possible that we wouldn't have to deal with extra weight on our long, urban-hikes.We thought it was possible that, you know, we might get stuck in the middle of Shanghai and have to rub sticks together to make fire. Compound this with our romantically cavalier attitude of "Let's go to Shanghai with nothing!" and you can understand our current problem: we have one laptop as our only source of entertainment (outside of watching a television that only has one English-speaking channel). As a result, we decided it was best to bring one laptop as our only computer, and now we're paying for our minimalist approach because we need to get another computer. We both like using the computer to be productive, so we're fumbling over each other trying to schedule in times for using it. We decided that we would go down to Best Buy, which is just down the street from our apartment, and buy another small computer. I wasn't crazy about getting a computer in China, but we really needed one. We looked into ordering one through a company online (i.e., Hewlett-Packard.com), but then someone told us we needed to be careful with that because Chinese Customs might charge us the import tax, which is a hefty 45%. That was a big drawback, so Tiffany decided to go to Best Buy and check out some prices. There was only one problem: All Best Buy stores in China have been recently shut down!!

I went to Best Buy the other day down on Zhaojiabang Lu to browse the computer department. However, when I got there I was surprised to find guards instead of friendly guys dressed in blue at the door. The guards, clothed in black uniforms with menacing looking helmets, eyed me as I walked into the store. The surprises were not over yet, as I entered the store there were no items on the shelves. Instead, there were white sheets creating an isle leading strait to the cashier stands. I felt extremely uncomfortable not knowing what was going on so I made my way back to the front to ask the guards where Best Buy was. They all looked at me like I was crazy, laughed, and said "Wo ting bu dong" which means I don't understand. As I walked away confused, I spotted a sign in English stating that EVERY Best Buy in China had been shut down. I guess I won't be buying a computer there anytime soon!


This week, Mike and I also made our way down to the Shanghai 2010 World Exposition site where there was still one remaining pavilion: China. Over 70 million people from over 250 countries visited the Expo from May 1 to October 31, 2010. The China Pavilion, also called the "The Oriental Crown", was the largest and tallest pavilion in the expo and was designed by He Jingtang. A large emphasis in the design of the building was on green design and technology; incorporating a green roof, large overhanging eaves, and a rainwater harvesting system. We had heard horror stories of 8 hour queue times and decided to not go during the Expo. However, The China Pavilion, almost 5 months after the Expo was over, was still extremely busy and packed inside. People on tours, school children, and locals alike were all waiting in line to see what the hype was all about. It turned out to be a pretty amazing experience and definitely worth a 30 minute wait. Check it out:


Over the past four months of writing this blog we have gotten readers from around the world, and are happy to report that we're about to hit our 5,000-click mark. This means that people like you have hit our site more than 5,000 times in the past four months, which is very exciting for us!! We've also received a lot of comments from people regarding Shanghai and their own experiences here, and have (hopefully) provided some entertaining and helpful information for people that haven't been. This past Friday we were delighted to meet a few of our readers for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants: The Grape, on Xinle Road. Katie, Ashton, and Allison (from left to right) are here from the United States because Ashton is on a modeling contract here in Asia. They found our blog and contacted us with some questions, and we were SUPER happy to pass along information we've gathered since living here. We want to give a special thanks to Allison, Katie, and Ashton for sharing a wonderful dinner with us, and wish them all the best during their time in Shanghai!!


Things To Do in Shanghai

Ride the Shanghai Magnetic Levitation Train
In 2004, Shanghai opened to the public the first commercial Magnetic Levitation train in the world. The train, which can travel up to a record breaking speed of 311 miles per hour, runs from the Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road metro station, where passengers can easily pick up the metro train to travel almost anywhere in the city. At an average commercial speed of around 220 miles per hour, the train cuts down the commute time between the two stops to just over seven minutes instead of a 30-40 minute car ride, not including traffic. A one way ticket on the Maglev costs 50RMB (~7.50USD). However, if you show proof of a plane ticket purchase, you can ride the train for just 40RMB (~$6.00USD). According to rumors, the train might be extended all the way across the city to the Hongqiao Airport, cutting that trip down to just 45 minutes! Keep your fingers crossed!

Maybe It's Just Me

Traffic accidents are handled a little different here in China compared to what I'm used to back in the U.S. As some of you may have seen, I posted the next photo as a Picture of the Day back in December, which depicts an accident I witnessed on Christmas Day.


The lady in the forefront hit the scooter on the ground, which was carrying the lady on the ground and her child. After the accident, people circled around and tried helping the lady off the ground, and otherwise caring for her well-being. The interesting thing was that the lady on the ground refused help and insisted on staying where she was. Apparently in China, after people get into an accident, both parties try to keep everything in its place so as to preserve the scene for authorities when they arrive. The authorities then use the parties' stories, and the scene itself, to determine who was at fault. The appropriate damages are to be paid by the person who caused the accident. I guess this lady thought that she might not be able to college damages if she accepted help and moved from where she was. So she stayed put. I was a little surprised that she did that since, after all, her scooter and child were just run over by an SUV. As I was shooting the video, I kept thinking to myself, "What if she has serious injuries, or her child for that matter?" Maybe it's just me, but it seems a little silly to risk long-term health in order to "preserve the scene" and collect a little money.

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