Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Expo Time

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full sized

Last post exposed how many people DON'T actually read this blog, but they only see the update status on Facebook or Google buzz. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, although you're 6 months late. However, feel free to say happy belated to Daisy, who actually wrote the last blog entry.

So I got a new job. My contract ended with my previous company and shortly after, I was offered the position of Community Coordinator for the 2010 World Expo. It's an INCREDIBLE opportunity to be working on the biggest event in the world. I've already met with business owners, pavilion directors and just people from around the world, and the Expo has barely begun. This summer is going to be a memorable one, for sure.

I've posted about the Expo in a previous post, but until I started working on it, I had no idea of how big of an event this really is. Seventy MILLION visitors are projected to be coming over the six month span. Think about how many people that is. It's like the number of Yankees NOT on Performance Enhancing Drugs times seventy million. Over 200 countries built multi-million dollar Pavilions to showcase themselves to the rest of the world, daily performances, foods from all over the world. It's going to be a non-stop party atmosphere and was described to me as "the place everyone is going to want to be for the next six months." I know many people in America aren't quite as excited over World Expo's, but if you have this blog on your Google Reader (as you should by now), prepare to be given a glimpse of the excitement this thing brings.

Me & Dominic at the China Pavilion; Shanghai Expo Performance Center

Australia and Germany Pavilions

Suzanna and her Brazilian Pavilion; the insane looking England Pavilion

The Expo officially opened last night with a 35 minute fireworks and laser show over the Huang Pu River that was unlike anything I've ever seen. How they coordinated the fireworks, music, fountains, lasers, spotlights and everything else is incredible. If there's one thing China knows how to do, it's Opening Ceremonies. Check it out on Youtube:Shanghai Expo Opening Ceremony. Last week, there was an Expo test opening, with about 100,000 tickets passed out to the public. Through some connections, I got my golden ticket.

Quick impressions:
- It's HUGE World Event. I've heard of World's Fair's(now called Expo) before, but like many Americans, I never had any real idea of how big they really are. Ironically, a majority of past World's Fair's have taken place IN America. It's a massive cultural exchange fair that is bigger in scale than the Olympics. Among landmarks that are left-over from past World's Fair's are the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle in Seattle and the globe and that weird Star Wars looking thing in Flushing Meadows Park.
- The Expo itself is huge in size. It's like a small, surreal (the pavilions are crazy looking) city. Almost like a movie set. We were there for 8 hours and only saw about 65% of it. And this is without going into most of the pavilions.
- I can already anticipate the fooood. Not everything was open because it was a pre-launch, but just seeing the food pavilions and restaurants from all the different countries got me excited.
- There really ARE 1 billion people in China. I think they were all at the Expo when I was there.
- When I saw the USA pavilion, i felt a surge of patriotism that I wasn't really aware was there before.

USA! USA!; The massive Africa Pavilion (the different countries have pavilions inside)

Canada & Spain Pavilions

Thailand Pavilion; giant optical ball in the German Pavilion that moves towards the loudest sounds

Thai food pavilion and Belgian Fries. Just a sampling of the foods that are going to be here. MMmmmMmmm.

You can check out an extensive, interactive 3D virtual model of the entire Expo and all of the Pavilions at
Check out the official Expo trailer here.

Looking forward to Steven, Gen, Laureen, Jimmy, Megan and whoever else also plans on coming this summer. Summertime in Shanghai is always fun, but this summer is going to be even better.

Let's Go Mets.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

posted by Daisy
Click on pictures to see them full sized

Yay another post and it's still before 2011. :þ <---- that's for Alan for making fun of me. I thought I'd be better at posting if I told people I'd post. Wrong again! No shame. haha

Happy belated to me. Birthdays keep happening faster and sometimes I forget how old I am - yes I'm serious. But I don't think my friends here know just how old I am either. For my last birthday I remembering sauna-hopping at Spa Castle in NY. I enjoyed a memorable nap on the heated flooring.

For the 7th anniversary of my 23rd birthday, Alan surprised me with with a 2-day (1-night) trip to the hot springs! We took a 4.5-hour bus ride south to a small town called Wuyi. It's not as far as that sounds -- especially if you're really good at sleeping in moving vehicles like I am! We arrived earlier than our room was ready so we got the chance to explore Wuyi. It's super small compared to Shanghai. I guess you can gage whether a town is large, medium or small by seeing if they have a (1) KFC & McD's, (2) KFC, or (3) none of the above. Wuyi falls between mid- and small-sized: there's a KFC a 10-minute cab ride away. [We only know that because for my birthday dinner we contemplated eating McD's haha No, we didn't have KFC either!]

Tang Feng Hot Springs Resort in WuYi, Zhejiang Province

After grabbing some noodles for lunch, we headed back to our Japanese-style room. The bed was on the floor and so were the chairs - I mean way low on the floor. I'm not used to being so close to the floor in China but it was clean and comfy : ) We settled in and broke our food-coma-like trance to get ready for the hot springs!
Outside, the Japanese-inspired layout continued. Under shingled roofs, pool after pool was filled with steaming hot bath water. We hopped from coffee to milk to who knows what. We even climbed into a pool with mini fish [okay this is gross but cool] -- the fish eat the dead skin from your body. Imagine this: a large circular pool with shallow water and people immersed from the shoulders down as if they're trying to lay down on their backs with their heads resting on the edge of the pool. The locals looked calm and really STILL so as to not to scare the fish away.
We get in and try to mimic the locals. Then Alan starts CRACKING UP. If I didn't know Alan, I would have tried harder not to laugh at him but I couldn't help it - his laugh is contagious. I saw the lady next to him wanted to laugh too because it was just THAT funny watching Alan crack up by himself. hahaha I laugh just thinking about it... ahh so funny.

Sorry, no pictures allowed IN the hot springs. Our Japanese-style room, Tang Feng driveway at night

The closer to dinnertime (5pm) it got, the less people there were. In the evening we got massages on the outdoor heated floor! Note to self, if I ever have heated flooring, I’ll seriously consider getting rid of our bed. So after the massage we fell asleep on the floor for an hour… dipped in another pool…and headed out to dinner. We enjoyed the hot springs for 5+ hours! What a super nice birthday : )

The next morning we woke up and joined the rest of our bus for a side-trip to a local village. It was nice to sit on a bridge and watch the locals do their thing. There has to be 40+ dogs just in this one village – everywhere we looked there was a dog. Same breed, same face, same color... it was the village of the dogs. Wonder if they serve dog to keep the population down???

Speaking of food, we stayed at this village for lunch. While we examined the menu at a local Chinese restaurant, the chef/owner came out to tell us his recommendations. So I asked him what kind of meat he recommended. He started listing them off and then all of a sudden he got really excited as he remembered the RABBIT. It was the "catch-of-the-day" from the way he was describing it. He practically ran into the kitchen so he could show us. It was dim in there but we saw him lift up something that resembled the shape of a large squirrel minus the fur. I looked at Alan and gave him a "what do you think" shrug… He's game for almost anything so we got the rabbit. Of course we took a picture for you, don’t worry – Alan was on it. The chef was more than happy to let Alan into the kitchen to take a picture of the ugly thing. Haha Despite the way it looked before we ate it, it was pretty good : )
After lunch we made it back on the bus for the 4.5 hour ride home. It was like we were gone for an entire week… What a nice birthday…

Rabbit, the before and after

Some other highlights:
- I got a HUGE Ding Dong lolly pop
- Ricky and I turned 23
- I look... act? ...seem? AM young but I got a few stunned looks when 2 girl-friends asked me "how old are you now?" :þ Their eyes got real big, and as if there was sudden breeze coming by, their heads went back slightly in surprise : ) hee hee hee

Friday, April 9, 2010

Youth of the Nations

posted by Alan
Click on pictures to see them full size

Our good friend, Suzanna(Brazil), leads the Youth Group at the Shanghai Community Fellowship ( It's the largest international Christian church in Shanghai, with two services and roughly a thousand people each week. We've been attending SCF since we've arrived in Shanghai and we're really love the community we've found there. I worked with youth at home in NYC for years and I had been wanting to do stuff with Su and the youth group here, but just never had the chance to in the past year. Until this weekend.

The pristine Silver Pearl Garden conference site

Every year, SCF holds two Youth Retreats at conference centers near Shanghai. The retreat center happened to be REALLY nice (have you ever been to a retreat with a bowling alley?) This year, I committed to be a counselor and teach some workshops at the April retreat and Daisy helped to organize and do set-up before and at the retreat. I was definitely looking forward to getting away from the city and to finally hang out with and get to know some of the teens. Since I'm pretty energetic, I'm comfortable with youth and I'm only 22 years old, I figured that I'd have alot to offer in helping out this weekend. What I wasn't planning for was how much I was going to receive instead.

How to feed 250 teenagers

The high school kids here have a maturity that I haven't seen before in kids their age. They're all international students, so their experiences in living and traveling abroad seems to have given them a wide perspective on the world and how they see it. They all seem so prepared to adapt to changes in life and know that the world doesn't revolve around them. Combine that with their youthful energy, excitement and faith, and you get a pretty amazing combination. These are the type of kids that you meet and think "wow, this kid is going to make a difference in the world with his/her life."

The retreat itself was all fun. A great, hip-hop loving pastor from Chicago named David Choi flew out to be the speaker. We had good weather, good food and great workshops and activities. As much as I do love China, that kind of mental vacation from living here is necessary every few months. Although, once the Miley Cyrus "Pop It, Lock It" dance came out, it made me start to miss China life again. Maybe it's because it was the adult counselors that were doing it. It was really touching to see kids' lives changed by something bigger than themselves and such a blessing to be a part of it. I can't speak for everyone else, but I came back exhausted, refreshed, energized and with 40 new Facebook friends.

Quote of the weekend from one of the kids in my group on being socially awkward:
"I don't feel I am, but I think I am from the way others react to me. *shrugs* I don't care."
And he really doesn't. Keep being who you are dude.