Tuesday, November 29, 2011

cute overload is on my doorstep!

In the States, we visit YouTube, cuteoverload.com or LOLcats to get our daily dose of heartmeltingly cute critters doing absolutely nothing except sporting a hat made out of a fruit peel or sleeping in a hot dog bun. In Shanghai, all I have to do is walk outside my apartment complex to the critter wagon and voila! Instant happiness. On any given day, there is a middle-aged lady with a bike wagon full of cute little furry creatures parked on my corner. In this wagon, you can find every cute little baby animal that is featured on a wall calendar, except at your fingertips! So imagine cages full of dwarf bunnies, ducklings, guinea pigs, hamsters and chicks — kind of depressing, no? Every time I walk by, I don’t let myself stop, because it’s just too tempting to take them all home with me. Wilson — please ignore my recent pleas for the pink teacup pig and tan non-flop-eared dwarf bunny. It’s just a phase, and I’m pretty sure it will end in 2 months. Plus, I could never cheat on Molly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shanghai on a dollar or less

Things you can buy in Shanghai with $1 USD or less:

6.3 RMB = $1

.10 RMB: 1 black and white copy from the copy shop
1 RMB: a pen or pencil, pocket tissues, piece of fruit from the fruit stand, 1 color copy from the copy shop
2 RMB: bus fare, a box of paperclips, sticky notes, an ink pen that will do the job, bottle of water, a slice of freshly baked bread from a street vendor, a pocket protector for my transit card
2.5 RMB: 4 dumplings or 4 soup buns, a bunch of in-season vegetables at the green grocer’s, a postcard (postage not included), a can of coke
3 RMB: an ice cream cone, Chinese breakfast ‘burrito’, a Dove candy bar, a plastic disposable shower cap
4 RMB: one-way metro ticket to most places around the city, Snickers bar, a bottle of soda/juice/gatorade, a baguette from Carrefour
5 RMB: your choice from an endless selection of instant noodles and Pocky, my one-way subway fare to work
6 RMB: a piece of specialty bread from the bakery, a donut, a bag of chips, a notebook, an ice cream cone from KFC

Sure beats the stuff you get in the States. I remember a cycle of laundry at the Muir dorms being 50 cents… but they’ve probably upped it by now. You can’t even get an hour of parking for a dollar anymore :( 

And just because I know you’re curious:
10 RMB: A cup of coffee or milk tea from a bakery/donut shop, average price of a bowl of noodles from a mom&pop shop, 2 potatoes/tomatoes or onions from the 'organic' section of the supermarket, a loaf of white bread
25 RMB: A box of cereal, a package of pork chops from the supermarket
30 RMB: average price of a grande blended drink at Starbucks (yes, they’re everywhere here, too, and the coffee is still horrid)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The tiger mother next door

There is a tiger mother in the building next door to my grand-uncle’s. I’ve never seen her, but she’s there — I’ve heard her kid. I go over to my uncle’s for dinner practically every night (at exactly 5:45 pm), and the kid is practicing the clarinet. When I leave at around 7:45pm, her kid is still at it. Poor kid. 

Boy, am I glad I am not their neighbor.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

B's Chinese friends

Hangin' out with some pandas while waiting for our flight to Taipei.


Chinese people and their love of firecrackers is absolutely insane but cathartic at the same time. They set off fireworks at the grand opening to any store or event, weddings, Chinese New Year, or basically whenever it pleases them. I will be watching the news at 7:30 and all of a sudden a series of explosions start going off outside your window. The first time this happened, I freaked. My exact words were “OH MY GOD there's a GUN FIGHT outside!!” (except in Chinese). Until I noticed that my relatives were unfazed and did not even seem to hear it. Kind of like when my dad’s beeper used to go off in the middle of the night when I was having a sleepover with friends, and I was the only one who couldn't hear it. The first minute it’s kind of interesting, like ‘ooh where’s the noise coming from? It sounds kind of interesting. I want to set me off some firecrackers too!’ and then after a moment it gets old really, really fast. To the point where I think I’m going insane and want to scream out the window at the village people to keep their racket to themselves. Only at that point – not before I want to pull my hair out – does the pandemonium finally stop! Too bad it sets off the gang of feral cats that lives outside my bedroom window.