Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Great Firewall

(posted by Alan)
* Can't upload pictures directly to our site, so follow the link at the bottom to see pictures.

Ok, so there are TWO reasons why it's taken so long for us to update:
1) The Great fireWall. Blogspot, which we use to create our site is blocked in China, making it difficult to post. This shouldn't be a shock considering any outlet where people can express freely is under tight scrutiny over here. Youtube is also blocked. I think it's only a matter of time before Facebook is gone too. They may be back in time, but there's no telling when.
2) For some reason we've also been crazy busy the last few weeks.

We had our first official houseguests last week in the form of Ms. Sharon Kim and Brian Kim. No relation. They were actually the 3rd and 4th people to stay over at our place, but the first to really visit us here in Shanghai. We got to do some tourist stuff and try some new things throughout the city. We went to Shanghai Urban Planning Center which has small scale models of Shanghai in the past, present and future plans. There were a few, smaller detailed models, but on the third floor, there is a MASSIVE model of the entire city. Every building seemed accounted for. We even found our apartment building. It was majorly impressive. The next day we headed up to the top of the World Finanacial Center. It has the world's highest observatory (100 floors, 1,555 feet high), with glass bottom floors. I don't think i've ever been up that high before...and I'm not sure buildings are ever really supposed to be that high. But of course, being China, they're building an even taller one right next to it.
With the hopes of not turning this into a diary, check out the pictures by using the link below and read the captions...

We've also been busy with daily living. I got recruited into a softball league that is actually pretty competitive. Guys out here can play and the fields are AWESOME. We had a big triple header this past weekend and won all three to put us into second place going into the playoff tournament next weekend. They got me playing secondbase and shortstop.

We saw Wolverine and Star Trek, both in theaters. Wolverine was fun, but a pretty weak overall movie. Gambit is cool and everything, but was there actually any reason for him to be in this movie? Star Trek was worth seeing. Very well paced, lots of action but told a good story at the same time. But I don't know, are you hardcore Trekkie's pleased with it? That would be a cool movie to see in IMAX. Is it out on IMAX in New York? Theaters here are actually pretty nice. Assigned seating, very clean and Chinese subtitles for those of you who need it.

Alot of job stuff going on as well. The amount of different opportunities out here are remarkable. I have a few different options that I'm trying to decide between at the moment. They're so different, but so interesting and I'm actually kinda torn because I want to try them all. I guess as things pan out, I'll update on what I've actually gone with, but its exciting, challenging and even a bit stressful. But i guess its a good problem to have.

Thanks to our visitors, Sharon and Brian, it was fun and thanks for the art and the candy. Shout out also to Alan and Mike representing 110 and coming out to see us too. My cousin Nick just arrived in Shanghai yesterday...who's next?

Pictures: Click here

Monday, May 18, 2009

long overdue...

(posted by Daisy)

Sorry for the lack of pictures this time around. Blogspot is currently blocked so we can't post pictures although we can post text. Will add the pictures once it's unblocked again!

We've been in Shanghai for a month now and we're starting to feel more at home. It's been 3 weeks since we moved into our "new" apartment. Most Chinese homes have an area immediately inside the front door where you can put your shoes. Ours is between our front door and a metal gate/door. Even though we lock the gate, the owner of the apartment as well as the landlord insist that we put our shoes in the cabinets else someone might STEAL them. Whom? I don't know... so Alan had a good idea. He thought we could be a little more carefree if we just closed up the gate so people can't see in. It's pretty cool -- looks all professionally done...by Alan!

The first three weeks we've been here, we ate out almost every meal. The foods around us are yummy but everyone knows if you cook at home, it's a little healthier and you save money. Plus, Alan wants to learn how to cook. So we had a few test runs and Alan cooked some fried rice! Yummy! : ) I would cook more if I could wear a full-body suit to cook (hot oil can be super scary!) Even back home, Alan would cook and I would clean -- works out because he likes to eat and I like to clean : ) But neither of us know how to cook REAL Chinese food so this past weekend Alan invited two of his students Nina and Sally (from the university where he used to teach) to come visit and teach us! And one of our friends Tiffany was over so all three of them were cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen! I kind of helped cook...I peeled the garlic but mid-way through, I had to ask Alan for help :D The meal was SO GOOD!

We've been riding our bikes just about everywhere... it's awesome. Shanghai is flat all over so biking is easy, fast, efficient, and FUN! I try to take my bike everywhere unless I know I'm going to buy something big that won't fit in my bike basket. But sometimes (like today) I don't know and I tied a pillow to the back of my bike (don't worry, it was in a plastic bag). There wasn't any space in my basket because I had raw meats in there and everything else (frozen dumplings, sesame oil, black vinegar, Pocky, Oreos, etc) were in my bookbag. The limited space also keeps me from buying the entire store! And when it rains, there are these clever bike ponchos that are super long in the front and they cover your legs, your hands/the handle bars AND your bike basket! Maybe the delivery guys in NY could use some of these bike ponchos!

Although all this sounds like a lot of fun (which usually is!), the both of us are still actively searching for full-time work. In the meantime, I'm helping a university student practice speaking English and this week I'm "tutoring" a 4.5 year old who will be relocating to English-speaking country. I haven't met the little one yet but I'm looking forward to it!

Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27193247@N05/sets/72157618555680236/

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just another weekend in the 'Hai...

(posted by Alan)
click on the pictures to see them full size

So a few more pictures from Henry's last night/morning in Shanghai.
At our local favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant and out at Laris with Amy(nyc).

At Aji-Sen Ramen for early lunch. Their fruit ice is AWESOME.

Zai Jian Henry

So how is the weather in NYC? I heard a typhoon or something like it passed through. Supposedly the summers get hot and really humid here since we're right on the ocean (Shanghai literally means "on the sea"), but isn't New York right on the ocean too? Anyway, it hasn't hit yet and for almost the entire time we've been here so far (3 weeks...feels like months already) the weather has been gorgeous. Today it was a sunny Saturday, 86 degrees, no humidity. We had a fairly typical Saturday. Well, it's only our third saturday here. Can that count as typical?

We woke up late, got a late morning noodle breakfast, then headed to nearby Jiao Tong University for weekly Ultimate Frisbee. Although, I made friends with a bunch of guys playing football (American fb, not soccer) on the next field over and I think I'm defecting to their game next week. The Ultimate crew isn't too happy about that. After Ultimate, we headed over to BBle Study and then out to dinner. This week was all-you-can-eat buffet style Indonesian food at Bali Bistro. $10 USD. After dinner, we went to a gallery opening nearby. Shanghai has a pretty eclectic art scene and artists find all these hidden spaces within the city to hold shows. Pictures from Saturday:

1-3PM Ultimate. Faith(dallas, tx), DZ & Paul. 3:30PM - 5:30PM Bble Study.

6PM All-you-can-eat Indonesian food. Jessica, DZ and some random surprised man.

8PM - DZ, Rachel(atlanta, GA) & Faith, The Foundry Gallery, Rach & DZ inside

yes, that says what you think it says. there if i need it..and i just might.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


(posted by Alan)
click on the pictures to see them full size

First of all, thanks everyone for all the great feedback on the website and blog. It's real encouraging and we appreciate the support. We love reading the comments you guys leave too, so keep them coming.

Being that this is far from our first time in Shanghai, we've done most of the tourist things already. Actually, in Shanghai there aren't too many touristy things to do. At lea
st not compared to Beijing, which has tons of old, traditional tourist places to see like the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, etc. Shanghai is way more modern and has modern tourist things, but nothing quite as impressive as Beijing. It's funny how often we used to remark at how we live in New York, but never get around to doing alot of the really cool tourist things there are there. Alot of New Yorkers have never actually been to the Statue of Liberty, or the Top of the Rock, or even walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I think Shanghai is similar to New York in that way. There are lots of cool things to do here, but you'd kind of have to be a tourist and have done the research to find out about it all. I'm not sure if we're still considered tourists, but we're still always up for interesting touristy things.

So in doing research and trying to find out more about the city, I learned that one of the suspension bridges that span the Huang Pu River is climbable. The Huang Pu River runs through the middle of Shanghai and splits it into two areas.
There are only two climbable suspension bridges in the world, one in Sydney and the Lupu Bridge, which is here in Shanghai. I love junk like that, so two days later, we met up with our friend Faith and climbed the bridge.

The Lupu Bridge sits almost directly above the site of the 2010 World Expo. The Expo site will be on both sides of the River and from the renderings I've seen so far, is going to be pretty darn impressive to see. The Expo is pretty much a World's Fair and the goal of it is to take you on a world tour in one event. Every participating country will build a huge, interactive pavilion in order to show off their country and give visitors a unique experience. The Shanghai Expo is expected to generate the largest number of visitors in the history of the world's fairs in terms of gross numbers. It's taking place from next May to October. Below are some pictures of a few of the pavilion renderings, the construction of the Expo site as of now and us with the Expo Mascot, HaiBao, who is all over the city and probably will be until the end of the Expo.

Poland, Romania,Israel and of course, China. Click here to see more.

This week, we also have our first visitor in town. Although he didn't come to China primarily to see us, Henry Liao, you still count as our first visitor here in Shanghai. Sorry everyone else. The title of first visitor to come STAY with us at our place is still up for grabs though. Daisy and I are going to make a list of our top 10 people we actually think are going to come out to visit and in what order. Many of you have said you will, we'll find out if it actually comes true. If you want to know who's on our lists, we'll let you see when you come visit.

Anyway, we got a chance to show Henry around the city and experience the range of lifestyles out here. From the comfortable, Western, expat way of life to the local CHINA-Chinese way of life. We've had everything from decadent chocolate cake at Whisk and juicy burgers while watching the NBA Playoff's at Malone's, to a 75 cent bowl of noodles at a hole in the wall restaurant. I actually think he enjoyed the noodles more than anything. I don't blame him, my vote goes to hole-in-the-wall restaurants also. He's also been able to just chill at our apartment, run errands with us at the fruit stand and hang out with some of our friends, and also do tourist stuff like bargaining at the fake market and walking along the Bund. I know you think you were imposing on our time Henry, but we really mean it when we say it's so great to see faces from home and we really enjoyed hanging out and showing you around. That goes for any of you who come visit. Ask Henry, we'll take good care of you.

Pics from our night out by the Bund.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chinese National Labor Day

(posted by Alan)
click on pictures to see them full size

the view from our apartment during the day

So today is May 1 in China. National Labor Day, Golden Week, there are many names for it i guess. Basically the entire country is off and travelling all around China. Picture Thanksgiving weekend travel in the States, but with twice the number of people and three times the chaos.

We had a really good May Day here. We rode our new bikes out into the suburbs of Shanghai where our friend Jessica lives and walked around QiBao Old City (a tourist trap. mistake), went out for lunch and then just hung out at her apartment complex, took a nap and played soccer with a bunch of friends. Relaxing way to enjoy this awesome weather. Pics below:

At QiBao Old City. Daisy being fed zhong zi by Faith. I'm sampling fried baby chicks. Bones and all. Not bad, but not great.

Labor Day football (soccer). Grayson and I having a moment on the couples swing.

Like I mentioned, we got new bikes this week. They definitely have helped us out in terms of getting around and exploring. The subway system here is great, but we were getting tired of all the walking. If staying in Shanghai for an extended amount of time, I definitely recommend getting a bike. Yes, the traffic rules here are more like suggestions and it can seem quite overwhelming, but if you just go with traffic, look both ways, don't panic and use basic common sense, it's not really all that dangerous. The one thing we do have to think about is bike theft. It's like a whole underground industry over here. We're told to almost EXPECT our bikes to get stolen. So instead of buying bikes at GIANT, where we saw the cheapest one for about 500RMB ($74USD), we went to Carrefour (the French Target) and bought cheaper bikes for 400RMB ($56 USD). There are even cheaper ones that range from 160 - 250 RMB, but we're gonna be riding them alot, so they should be somewhat comfortable. The three rules to follow to prevent bike theft here are: 1) Lock your bike up TO something. 2) Park your bike where there are alot of other bikes parked. 3) When possible, find bike attendants, whose job it is to just guard parked bikes and pay the 7cents US to have your bike watched. If we can go a year without them being stolen, I'd consider it a success. We'll see how well we do.

Our new Chinese brand bikes from Carrefour.