Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shanghai Mish-Mash

Here is a hodge-podge of Shanghai things that happened before I headed to Korea.

This is a filter-free shot of the low-lying smog on my walk into the office last week.  Blech.  I find myself thinking more and more of wearing one of those masks. 

I am fairly obsessed with what I like to call "scooter mitts".  Most all of the scooters are customized with what look like oven mitts or ski gloves to keep hands warm while zipping around.  Also of note is that the top scooter appears to be held together with some sort of tape.

Here's me being a sneaky sneak shooter to illustrate one of my airport pet peaves--unnecessary use of a cart.  This is not a problem in the US, as most airports charge you to use a cart.  So most people find a way to manage without one.  But in Europe and Asia, where the carts are free, everybody and his brother's got a cart or three. 

Europeans deal pretty well with the carts, so the epicenter of bad cart behavior seems to be in Asia.  (I mean all of Asia.  Years ago in Delhi, an older woman in a sari rammed me repeatedly with a cart while trying to get a better spot at the luggage carousel.  This got me all spread out flying-squirrel-style so I could stand as much ground as I could.  I am still bent out of shape about it.  I rarely get through an airport anymore without using an elbow or two.) 

I think my biggest peeve about the carts is that people take one when they don't really need one.  And then they throw some half-filled shoulder bag or purse on it and proceed to nip at the ankles and bump on the bums of those of us without a cart  who are trying to share the same space.  Back off, people!

So back to the picture above.  This women brought her stupid cart (full of one lightweight tote) into the ladies' room in the Pudong airport and bumped her way around until she found a sink she could gargle at.  The whole thing wadded me up enough to take a picture.  And the GARGLING?!  Yuck!  (Also, I hope the girl on the right got her white shirt all untucked before carrying on with her travel plans.  Dontcha hate that?)

Here's another shot from my lovely day transiting from Shanghai to Seoul.  I know I've described before how things can get a little nutty on a domestic China airline, but a new thing I've noticed is the standing on seats to access the overhead storage.  I snapped this older gentleman showing you how it's done. 

The other thing I must describe about China domestic air travel is what happens when the plane lands.  Now, I know that once the plane is down, most anyone is ready to unfasten his or her seatbelt and get the hell off.  But never have I seen this carried out with such frenzy and urgency as on China Eastern.  Most of us can manage to keep our seatbelts fastened until the plane has arrived at the jetway.  But when a China Eastern flight touches down, the first thing you hear is the metallic clank of 50+ seatbelts being undone.  And often, you will see someone springing for the overhead soon after.  (Like, while there's a fairly good clip of taxi-ing still happening.)  This person is often told to take his seat, but usually he is not alone in his urgenturgentURGENT need to attain his things.  I just don't understand the rush and the race and all of that.  You are just going to have to stand there waiting (and holding your things--ain't no carts here, buddy!) until they open the doors and we are allowed to ooze off. So why does it matter if you are the first to get your things down?  You're not going anywhere.

The disembarking of a Chinese flight vs. a French flight is a show of opposites.  Unless, of course, it's an Air France flight headed to Shanghai, when the two distinct camps are made to travel together.  And then things get interesting.

Left to entertain myself during the electronics-free periods during takeoff and landing, I picked up the China Eastern in-flight magazine (or Ugly Watches Quarterly, as I've started calling it).  The articles looked alright (there was one about Hamburng I was vaguely interested in), but everything was in Chinese save for the titles and a choice teaser in English.  Great.  So I found myself flipping through, looking at the pictures and noticing how many ads there were for really expensive and really grotesque watches.  It was a study in the often mutual exclusivity of money and taste.
I didn't even realize how many "luxury" watch brands there were.  And most all of them are "European" and blinged out in one way or another.  I'll be honest, I like the rose gold on this one, but the face is confused and gaudy.  I think it looks like a cyclops, but then I notice it has two "eyeball" thingies.  I wonder if the designer had eyeballs at all.

 But this one took the cake.  I hope someone throws it off a Caribbean Cruiselines ship to find its watery death, as is what I like to imagine is happening in this ad.  Where to start?  The flowers, the bling, the hands... even the maker's logo is offensive to me, with its stupid confused W.  (What kind of W has three valleys?  Or is it Delwitt?  Or Delviitt?  Or Dewiitt?)  But the worst for me is that the numbers are spelled out in French. Get over yourself, Delwitt (if that is your name).