Wednesday, April 4, 2012

China Breakdown, Part 1

I get annoyed when people upload zillions of photos to their Facebook albums after a vacation.  Updates like "So-and-so just uploaded 534 photos to the album 'Family Reunion Weekend in Florida'" autonomously make my fists clench.  If you post more than 10 photos at one time to one album, suffice it to say I do not look.  Especially if these photos are all of the same subject matter and I can tell you've not edited.  Is it lazy or is it self-indulgent to post hordes of photos?  Facebook is not a photo-sharing service.  If you want to post tons of photos, get a blog where you can indulge yourself as much as you want!*

By all this, I prepare you for the onslaught of my China photos.  I assure you, I have edited.  And I have categorized them (somewhat) into separate entries.  You're welcome.

Please note, this does not hold to people who upload to general, seasonal albums showcasing a bunch of things that have happened over a long period of time.  I have no beef with you.

This sort of sums it up:  gas masks in the wardrobes of even the "fancy" hotels.  

That's China.  Even the nice things aren't really nice... because it's still China.  I was telling B how there are many stalled construction projects, skyscrapers that have been sitting half-constructed for what looks to be a long while.  They are creepy.  

I started wondering how this happens--don't you know how much it costs to build a skyscraper before you start?  For example, I certainly would not start building a skyscraper today because I know I don't have enough money to finish it.  Duh.  On our drive to the Great Wall, we passed something that looked like a Disney castle, which was actually a half-constructed amusement park.  Our guide told us the owners could not afford the project after all (something about the people selling them the land raising the price... hmm), so it was abandoned and now there is an ominously empty Disney-esque amusement park just near the Great Wall.  Boy, I would have loved to have taken some pictures of that. 

This is Shanghai.  All light shows and tall buildings and fancy riverfronts and lots of expats.  Sure, there is a dumpy underbelly to Shanghai, too:  spit on the sidewalks (it's the new dog poo!), nose/ear picking, bad toilet/food smells, smoking everywhere, knock-off goods.  But Shanghai is sufficiently Westernized so that I can get around on my own (with a hotel card in Chinese, of course), while in Beijing I am treated like a 4-headed freak.

If the above riverfront of the future is Shanghai, then this captures Beijing.  Old buildings, none of them too tall and a guy selling oranges from a horse-drawn cart.  The traffic is a nightmare in Beijing, enough to put you off from actually trying to go somewhere.  And it's quite hard to get around as a single white woman.  Taxis won't even stop for you.  And if they do, the driver can't stop craning at you in a leering way, forcing you to call your colleague to talk to him in Mandarin and make sure he's really taking you to the hotel.  One time the novelty of being a Westerner helped, however, when I found myself stuck in the middle of an intersection (on the wrong side of the fence around the busy street... oh, me) and two different people came over to help me (or just to practice their English, perhaps), one even leaving his grandma unattended in her wheelchair.  The second girl actually flagged a taxi for me, and I honestly don't know if I could have gotten back to the hotel without her.  What a mess.

I am always taken with the handmade brooms in China.  They mass-produce everything in China--but not brooms?  (Or maybe they are all sent directly to the US.)  These brooms have personality and are better than any factory-made broom, that's for sure.

I ran down the street to snap a photo of these guys hauling a bunch of chairs.  People looked at me like I was crazy.  Nobody ever understands the things I take photos of in China:  trash and brooms and signs and food and dogs.

This is the "nice" hotel we stay at in Shanghai.  It is much better than anyplace I'd expect my company to put us up, but I know we only get to stay here because it is across the street from our office.  The hotel was bright and shiny a few years ago, but it's starting to need a rehab and the food is just terrible (like, when I got that terribel stomach virus a few trips back) and, well, I opened my bathroom door to this!  It looks like someone burned the tub.  Gross.

Teddy bouquet says "I love you!"

I really want this hair.  

But right now I look like this, and I think the short permed 'do might be too big of a change for me.  Hmm.

Bling bling fizz water.

Check the sign for the snack stand:  WISH DOING.  

Welcome to buy my shoes!

Thanks to Monika, I don't travel without these make-up removing cleansing wipes from Korres.  They are the best!  That reminds me, I need some more...


The cutest couple in Shanghai, enjoying some Korean bbq.

This is Nina's iPhone case!  Liberace Monchichi ice cream Chanel pom-pom bling style.

There are so many things wrong with this menu.  First, it's called a wine list but there is no wine on it.  Oh wait, there's something called "Wine Bar" at the end.  Maybe you'd prefer a "Jack Danie"?  And what is "Vigour Liquor"?  

Taxicab patterning.
Oh, the comfort of a mushroom bunny quilted fleece pad!

Check out this customized Infinity!  The handles, the handles!

Lunch money.

Beijing taxi bondage.

Someone left their (mylar) heart at the Beijing airport.