Monday, July 28, 2008

Accomplishing Zero

I don't know how I'm expected to do anything without CS. I started digging through folders on my computer looking for an "applications" folder. All I see is: 甲方资料, 我的文档, and some more 新建文件夹. I couldn't find photoshop, illustrator, not even coreldraw. I did however find these cute, sleepy bunnies.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Layer of China

Went on a site visit to the Shanghai International Container Terminal and visited OOCL’s warehouse and shipping yard. OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line) is one of the world’s largest international container transport companies. Companies like OOCL make imported goods that we’re so accustomed to, all possible: Japanese razor clams, fancy French cheeses, and probably every piece of clothing you are wearing right now. These ports are operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no holidays, no breaks, moving goods at the most competitive price. Companies have even built vessels that are too large to fit through the Panama Canal in order to move goods faster. Both the PR rep for China’s ports and the OOCL rep knew we were planning students interested in logistics, but I don’t think they understood the reasons why we were interested, and couldn’t give us clear answers for anything. Questions like: is that housing right next the container yard? Is that a woman and child in that container transport truck? Is pollution even a consideration? What’s the employee base and how many are contracted? Answers: Yes. Uh, maybe. Pollution? 900 in each phase. I didn’t even bother to ask about worker’s safety and health insurance. I’m not gonna claim to understand all the intricacies associated with international trade and I’ll be the first to admit, I love me some imported Umeboshi and shopping at Costco, but after seeing the ports, you can’t help but rethink the way you consume.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Part of my site has a historic railroad that we’d like to preserve, so about three hours ago I started researching cases of adaptive re-uses for old train depots, and true to my schizo form when browsing the internet, I found myself completely sidetracked: watched Al Gore’s speech to re-power America, read a great, GREAT article on designing new landscapes for the metropolis, and freaked out about the U.S. economy. The interesting thing about it all is that all roads lead back to China. Everything I read today, touched on, mentioned, or gooed over the unprecedented growth China is experiencing. We’ll have to reckon with the social, economic and environmental impacts this sort of development will have on our future. And I’m seeing firsthand how China is constructing around-the-clock, the biggest, longest, tallest airports, malls, skyscrapers, bridges, you name it. Can China be the next superpower? Well, if development is any indication of a country’s potential, then I think China is first in line.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Trip: Suzhou

Chris and I were being uber goofy at the Humble Gardens in Suzhou. We were taking it seriously the first two hours as we walked the grounds and then the last couple hours were a blur, everything started to look the same. At night, we stumbled upon a great side street lined with hanging red lanterns. It was enchanting and cinematic, like something you'd see in a Wong Kar Wai film.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Friday

I’m watching a bootleg of “Wanted” right now with Angelina Jolie. Yes, I work, I’m just taking a break at the moment. It’s what we do here in China, work, work, work, and then play! My coworker has Will and Grace on her screen and the guy in front of me is passed out on his cot, which is pretty much his daily ritual. I presented my drawings for the riverfront project this morning, and it went really well. They didn’t bat an eye when I proposed the idea of a 500m sky bridge that would link the new city with the old town across the river. Lofty, I know, but they didn’t laugh at me, which is always a good sign.
Weekend Plans: Making my way to Suzhou. Hangzhou last week, Suzhou this week, lot’s of joes’ in China. Suzhou is one of the major cities in the Yangtze River Delta, and the State Council considers it a “relatively” large city~I can’t imagine what they consider large, b/c like Hangzhou, Suzhou has a population that’s in the 6 millions.
Today’s Anecdote: I went to buy my train ticket yesterday and ended up having a conversation with Yahoo’s, Chinese to English translator-function online. The woman I was interacting with didn’t speak any English, so out of frustration, she starts furiously typing Chinese into the program and it spits out, “I retroactively present withdrawal payment”… Exactly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Scream, I Scream, We all Scream for Canteen!

It's time to show you some pictures of "THE CANTEEN". I usually point at a plate, and it's almost always a guess. Notice the block of rice, remember my first post on the canteen? ya, well, my sentiments for the place hasn't changed. Hm, I hope none of my colleagues read this...Uh, I love the canteen!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Slideshow of Hangzhou

Hangzhou Continued

Us trying to figure out our train ride back to Shanghai. First class was sold out so we had to ride the old, slow train: travel time 2.5 hours.
I had the pleasure of being in this guy's line of sight for the duration of the ride.


The TV in the hotel always turns on to the same channel, 3, which plays constant adverts on Hangzhou City. It's known for it's natural landscape, scenic lakes and mountains, and was the destination for my first weekend trip outside of Shanghai. We thought we were going to the countryside, but turns out Hangzhou is bigger than most U.S. states with a modest population of 6.6 million people so we only got to see a sliver of the city. Nonetheless it was gorgeous and we rode our bikes for four hours around the major lake. I forgot how satisfying it is to ride a bike and how much ground you cover when you pedal around a city. Ok, so here we go, from the top.
The first class train to Hangzhou was very nice, clean and fast: travel time 1 hour.

eh, it's taking too long to upload. I'll post some more pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Phone number

So I bought a new cell phone. Gun, the go to guy for chinese translations to english at work, took me the other day. China Mobile is like Verizon in the U.S. and the customer service is the same.. you take a number and sit. the difference is there's a computer screen that lists all the available phone numbers and you get to choose your cell number. So Gun takes me to the phone number kiosk and tells me to pick my number. a screen with a list of more than 30 sets of numbers pops up onto the screen and Gun says, "you choose" and stares at me intently seeing if i'm gonna pick the "right number" like it was a test or something. I hesitated for a moment, more so b/c i was trying to see if there were any numbers that were easy to remember. But gun took my pause as a sign that i was dissatisfied with my choices and said, "ah, you want more choices" (in a tone that made me think i made the right choice for not choosing any numbers on the first page) and then scrolled to the next page.

I saw a number with the only same double digits in a row and went for it: 13601849844and as the printer was spitting out my newly chosen number, gun looks at me and says,

"are you sure you want that number?"

I tell him it's fine and that the 44 as the last two digits makes the number somewhat easy to remember. He gave me a puzzled look and said,

" ok"

After all the paper work was signed and i was handed my fresh "anycall" phone, Gun shares with me that the Chinese don't like the number four and that it means death. He said, "but dont' worry, b/c you have a couple eights in your number, which means money!"

I smiled at him and quiety thought to myself great, i'm gonna make alot of money and then die. So here it is guys, my expensive, deathly mobile number: (021) 13601849844

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shuffle Truffle

I made my very own pile of fish bones on the table today. I think i'm starting to look like a local customer now, so much so that the woman sweeping the floors straight up swept over my feet with her, oh so sanitary, wet mop~sweet!! This is my highlight of the day, truffles from the Hyatt pastry shop. And by the time I uploaded this image, I already ate all three. The white chocolate wasn't good, white chocolate is never good!

something different~please.

I'm so sick of rice. I know! I'm the one Asian in the group, and I seem to be the only one that is OVER the food they're giving us. We're fed lunch and dinner, at what they call the "canteen", which is just fancy talk for cafeteria. First of all, you have to go through plastic butcher blinds, wait in line and then point to which stainless-steel tray of food you'd like. They usually serve two, veggie-type dishes, a meat dish and a block of rice. The meat is never boneless, and apparently, keeping the bones on your plate is improper etiquette so you’ll see piles of bones on all the tables. Anything that falls on your lap should be brushed to ground and not placed back on the table, which would be sweet for Casperger. I have a picture of a woman whose sole job is to sweep the floor while people are eating, but I don’t know how to get it off my camera. Here's a picture of the canteen food and my classmates chowing down. Oh, and since I've moved to the new hotel (which is another story, maybe to be told in person) I've had access to breakfast-more rice.

mom leaves and takes cell phone

My mom left Shanghai today~sniffle, sniffle. She also took my cell phone with her. For a few days, I had a cell, and now I am once again mobile-less. I got to spend all day with her yesterday and was able to show her the little I know about the city. I stuck to the areas where people can speak a little bit of english, and we made it back to the hotel, each with both kidneys in tact.
Did i mention it was hot here? b/c i think i saw a dog crying yesterday cuz his paws were melting on the ground.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

work + heat = sleepy

There are so many random events that I've encountered since I got hear last week, but first things first. I've been assigned to a project! last week, the four UCLA students gave 25 minute presentations on their research. I had one day to prepare and of course I procrastinated and worked on it the morning of. It was a little nerve racking b/c not only was the presentation an introdcution of ourselves, but it was also a way to help the director determine which projects he would put us on (ie. cool project or mailroom.) Lucky for me, I landed a super interesting gig and will be working on the redesign of a water-front city in the Hunan province. The project is an international design competition and we have to come up with a master plan in two months, which seems crazy fast, but apparantly it's how they roll here in China.

Friday, July 4, 2008

First Encounters

I was greeted by a very sirley driver that was not amused by my bastardized greeting in his language. I immediatedely felt the rush of "oh my god what am i gonna do!" when i charaded and said "mobile phone" and he took me the nearest pay phone, which is part of the reason why i still don't have a cell phone yet. So our drive into the city was long, it took an hour and half, there were three accidents, and multiple men pulled over and peeing in the street. Hello Shanghai!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Last Day in Seoul

I'll finally be making my way to Shanghai tomorrow. Checked into the Hyatt Regency near Incheon Airport to get as much sleep as possible. Julie, your pops wakes up at the crack of dawn, and sleeping in is pretty much impossible. So the next blog i post should be from China!