F U N E X?

I’m studying again this semester, just one subject; English Literature. It’s looking at popular fiction and the first assignment in on horror fiction. After reading Bram Stoker’s _Dracula_ ten years ago, I reread it last week. There seemed to be a lot I didn’t remember. Like all the sex scenes, where did they come from?
Will watch ‘Dracula, Dead and Loving it’ starring Lesley Neilson tonight to see if that will add anything to the literary critique.

I’m watching the tv series, ‘Heroes’. It started off a bit lame but started to pick up after the point where the cheerleader attempted to vehicular-manslaughter the quarter-back. ‘Owever it does make me feel a bit inadequate because I am just a normal person with no super power. Every new character introduced seems to have something going on in that dept. As for the characters, I think I like Hiro Nakamura the best. It was pleasantly surprising to see that they kept with the two characters speaking japanese and use of subtitles. Also, the tall blonde woman because she’s so damn hot, but it’s questionable whether or not multiple-personality disorder is a superpower.


I’ve never been one for business & economics but I must say it’s a little odd to look at the calculators and see that 1000 South Korean Won is presently worth the same as 1 Australian dollar. for once I don’t have to do mathematics in my head which leaves it free to imagine. I imagine what it would be like to be some sort of shit-kicking internal mail-boy for a rocketship shaped BHP building in the middle of Melbourne, and to still be earning more than I am now.
Or like yesterday when I was out looking for a new pair of slip-on dress shoes for work. I came across a spanish made pair. They were a touch too big but if the price was right I could’ve padded them in or found some other solution. They were W148 000.
“Can I get a discount?”
“I er um. No.”
“What about if I pay cash?”
“I’m sorry”
“Ah c’mon, just a little discount.”
“We can’t”
Obstinate Fucker I thought while saying thankyou and left without the shoes. Usually they’ll give some sort of discount even if it was only 8 out of the 148. And after getting home that night and seeing the 1:1, I’m thinking that pair of shoes would’ve been a whole lot more in Melbourne.

* * *

A few last things about the Chinese in Shanghai. I thought it was odd in that they’re noticably faster walkers than people here but they’d walk-walk fast through the subway then get to the escalator, get on it and then stand still. Maybe it’s still a technology that they’re getting used to and it’s considered uncouth or barbaric to continue walking when the escalator could be doing all the work for you.

TV: on the first night I watched a bit of TV. As you can imagine, TV in China suffers from a bit of fascism, however they did show 80s family-sitcom ‘Growing Pains’. It was dubbed. Expect a rash of Kirk Cameron hairstylings in the Middle Kingdom soon.

Also I got vox-popped by ICS, a newly opened foreign-language TV channel in Shangers. I watched a little bit of the TV channel and it seemed quite good. They do their own news reports and lifestyle shows. I don’t watch TV in Seoul but I’m sure there’s nothing that diverse on the telly here. I’m guessing there’s still not much more than Steven Segal movies.

2. the rest of it

As happens, I have not set aside the time to write regularly, and now I am starting to forget all the other stuff that happened – when I went to shanghai, nearly two weeks ago.
All up, the taxi drivers are not good. The photos from the whole thing are up at the Flickr site, minus those of my girlfriend who shall forever be unphotographed here.
The first night I stayed in a Hotel 168 (which is a chain there apparently) near Chi feng road subway (flyover) station. It had a glass wall in the shower so you could lay on the bed and look in at the person in the shower, or vice versa. Despite that, it wasn’t so great, so I changed the next day.
The manner in which people speak chinese can often seem _a bit much_. For instance, they often yell. talking, at yelling volume. The upside is you can do it too if you want — try it, just start talking to your buddy at normal vol. then halfway through go to yelling. It feels great.

I ate a lot of chinese food and most of it was really good. the girlfriend, je, who is korean brought several korean eating habits to the table, such as 1. ordering a lot 2. always wanting soup 3. always needing rice. This made for a lot of uneaten (wasted) food, but whatever, it’s not like anyone on the planet is starving or nothing.

We were fully armed with three shanghai-city travel guides. The chinese one (je speaks chinese) and the korean Lonely Planet soon got dropped for the English Lonely Planet, which due to being printed this year, was actually useful. At first we only looked at it sporadically, but then je got into it a lot more, choosing places to eat, shop and so on, according to the book. We’d get to a restaurant, she’d say “what does he recommend?” and order something according to the book. ‘He’ referred to the collective of people that write these kind of things. Man – that guy knows everything!

I can’t much go into specifics of what and where was good to eat because I left the book with her – who is still there studying. There was one place in the north of the city that was Uighur food, which was really cool. All these strange and way-interesting dudes and families sitting around on big circular tables. There was entertainment, including this Uighur dude going at it with a Uighur guitar.


Also see a short clip of it.

The French Concession area was really nice. Came across a few good cafes, delis — that kind of thing – the kind of thing it’s basically impossible to find in Seoul. Seoul only has chain stores. As far as China goes, Shanghai is pretty expensive but it’s not really the kind of thing a Westerner or someone on a 1st world income notices.

We did everything the guide said including getting a massage from some blindies at Lulu, walking around the backstreets to find the old Russian church and visiting the chinese sex museum. It was pretty heavily over-rated and next door to an aquarium that actually smelled of dead fish. But as they say, sex sells (as do smelly fish).
According to the pervs on Flickr, this sordid scene was the most popular. It’s of some dodgey bloke having it off with a blind man’s wife, while he holds the kid, oblivious to what is going on.


One place we stopped into that’s not in the book was the local branch and national headquarters for ‘wall street english’ — and english-teaching place. Je had been thinking about signing up for some courses to keep her speaking going, and more than anything, as a way of meeting chinese people (she’s just new there). when they say me there, tagging along, they seemed to feel the need to go the hard sell — as if I was the ‘rich uncle’ or something.
I’ll say this – they must have a _huge_ profit margin because that was a big place, with a lot of people learning there but they only had four native speakers on the books. It’s all done with computers, they said – which would never work in this country.

Anyway, I’ll be going back to Shangers. Mostly for the girl, but for the food too.


1. maglove the maglev

First thing was leaving the airport, which can be done in several ways. The best one is taking the new maglev train. If you check out that site and look at the little flash animation on the right, titled ‘virtual travel’, that’s exactly what it’s like, including jerking music.
I could post a picture of the view from the train, but it’s rather ordinary and despite zipping by at 431kms per hour, the scenery didn’t blur on the camera. I was kind of surprised that the whole thing still vibrated quite a bit — I would have thought that the Lev as in levitation part of maglev would have solved that.
It did speed up rather quickly, without it feeling like it was. The whole thing was over very fast, ten minutes in fact. I kind of thought that in order to really savour the experience of being on the world’s first hispeed-maglev train, they should’ve slowed it down for a bit.
What’s it look like to the naked eye, going at that speed across land? One way to find out is to stick your head out the car window and down towards the ground. Keep stretching and eventually things will buzz by in roughly the same fashion.

Putting the pieces together

Hi. Last week for the week I was in Shanghai. I have been meaning to start putting things down about it, but there’s so much. Expect it to come out in fragments. Here is a couple. The plane ride over was delayed and late in several ways. From now on, when going on these short haul Airbus A-300s, sitting near an emergency exit is no longer fun or preferable. The fact that the plane was fully booked made me realise that it’s been well over a year since I was on a plane where I didn’t have empty seats next to me.
Accordingly, for on the way back, I asked for an aisle seat near the front, and got it. Much better. First to the Immigration window! One way or the other, I’d dead-glad I didn’t see this until after I got back. Can you imagine the amount of screaming going on inside that cylinder? I can.


Architecture is something there is plenty of in Shanghai, The Pearl of the Orient is one of the modern stand-outs. The spheres look a bit like ET the Extraterrestrial’s spaceship, I fancy.