Tag Archives: china

I Finished Harry Potter 7

By the encouragement of my girlfriend, which came in the form of, “if you’re not going to read them, I’ll read them to you,” I started listening to the first Harry Potter book. Soon, the listening-reading was consuming and conversation in the car took a backseat (pun intended) to what the next page held. Before long – only a few pages after Harry left the Dursley’s house for Hogwarts for the first time – I was thoroughly hooked. I was engrossed by a book series I had written off as childish and not worth my time.

I’ve always prided myself as being relatively open and creative, but the simple fact that I was able to overlook the magic that millions of others found in the Harry Potter series gives me reason to question both of those assumptions. In Potter-head terms, I’m more of a Hermine than a Luna, and while each has their strengths, I’d rather be considered the later – open and willing to imagine.

The Harry Potter books became exceptionally better around book four, at which point they went from being an amusing series of books targeted for children to something with a message that carried some weight. The seventh book, which I finished less than two hours ago, brought the series to a resolute finish. It played out without being too tedious or predictable. It made me tear up more than once, and maintained the message found throughout the books – that love is an unbelievable force.

I’d recommend the books to anyone willing to clean off the cobwebs (if necessary) and indulge their imagination in the world of magic.

Hello, Shanghai!

Shanghai, despite being hotter and more humid than Beijing, is far better. The air is relatively clean, I can see blue sky during the day, and the city is far more modern. During the day there is less congestion – both pedestrian and automobile. At night every street is like walking down the Strip in Vegas. Neon lights flicker on-and-off calling my attention in all directions.

It’s busy, yet I don’t feel rushed or scared the way I did in Beijing. It’s simply stimulating.

We made the mistake of starting our first day with a long walk to the metro, which left us momentarily cranky while we cursed the heat and wished to be back in the air conditioned hotel room watching HBO, CNN or ESPN. Yes, you heard me right. There are actual American TV stations here in Shanghai. A few of them at least, and we’ve been taking advantage of them.

We took the metro to the train station to buy our tickets back to Beijing. Flying to Shanghai wasn’t much less hassle than taking the train is. Our flight was delayed, the airport was busier than any I’ve ever traveled in, and the heat was unbearable when standing in line for the taxi in Shanghai. Thankfully, finding the hotel was easy. As was checking in and finding a good noodle place called “78 Noodles,” which we’ve eaten at twice now. (The BBQ pork noodle bowl is tasty.)

From the train station we headed over to Pudong, the modern part of Shanghai east of the Bund. We took a trip up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, visited the Aquarium, and took a pointless trip up the Jin Bei Building. Both the Pearl Tower and the Jin Bei offer the same view from Pudong back over Shanghai. Beautiful in both instances, but too much overlap.

We saw Nanjing Lu, which was once the busiest street in Shanghai. They’ve since closed the street to cars and pedestrians are free to roam. We went down to the west side of the Bund, which is lined with buildings built in the 1930s and 40s. On top of the Peace Hotel South we had hugely overpriced drinks, but were able to take some nice pictures of Pudong at night.

The only downside to the day was that I lost about 1500 RMB. My backpack was open and someone either reached in and stole it or it fell out for the taking. I think I “Shanghai-ed” myself.

Forbidden City

We went to the Forbidden City today and got caught in the rain. What pictures I did take are up on Flickr. You can click here to see them or on the thumbnails to the right. There are also some more random pictures from around Beijing.

We’re off to Shanghai for our last week in China. The Bund is supposed to be beautiful at night, which sounds nice compared to what I’ve seen so far.

Chinese McDonald’s Sued

A Chinese lawyer sued Mcdonald’s in China for not using enough Chinese on their receipts, thus violating his right to information. We recently studied the right to information in our Intro to the Chinese legal system. It is a new concept to Chinese law, and the person seeking the information bears the burden of proving it is important to him.

Last Day of CHIPSI

Our last exam is over! and it’s time to enjoy China free of the burden of academic study. The Intro to Chinese IP exam was an open book copy-and-paste exercise that took most of the two hours. I don’t know how anyone could do poorly (knock on wood). After the exam, the Tsinghua students took us out for Hot Pot – an assortment of raw meat, fish balls, and vegetables that you dump in a hot pot of liquid to boil before eating.

Later, we went to the CCTV tower, which is like a small and dirty version of the CN tower in Toronto and the only things we could see from the top floor was haze, clouds, and smog. Huuuuge waste of time.

The last hooray for the majority of the CHIPSI group was going out last night. We migrated via many taxis from the hotel bar to the park where we hoped to hear music, but just missed it, to a very laid back bar that had great pizza called, “The Tree,” located in the Sun Lan Tin area.

Most of the other students are leaving today or tomorrow to fly back to the U.S. I’m a little jealous, but I’m also looking forward to seeing Shanghai. I’ve heard many good things about how clean and modern it is. And it is supposed to be a “photographer’s dream.”

There are new pictures up on flickr. Click here or on the thumbnails to the right.

Cart Food In China

Cart food typically costs less than 3 RMB, which is equal to 42 cents. I overheard the following conversation in class yesterday:

You got some cart food, eh?

Yeah, right by the subway.

What’s in it?

Pork, I think.

You know you can get that for 1 RMB across the street.

Faced with the decision of whether to pay 3 RMB on your side of the street or 1 RMB on the other side, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth crossing the street to save twenty-eight cents.

Can you think of any 14 cent meals in the US? I can’t think of anything bigger than a single stick of gum that I could get for 14 cents.