Happy New Year

Jon and I celebrated by going out for hamburgers and a bottle of wine. Then we watched a few fireworks shows from our balcony,

Have a great 2008!

Holly visiting

My friend Holly has been visiting us for the last few days. She used to work at Dak (and was my boss in IT.) Now she lives in Beijing and teaches English. She came to visit and we toured the town. Here we are at the Bund.

This is Nanjing Lu – the “Times Square” of Shanghai.

Around Yuyuan Gardens

Traditional red lanterns on the “street of small commodities.”

Street food – grilled chicken and squid.

Making bouzi… (steamed dumpling.) Very famous and tasty!

Looking out from Yuyuan Garden

There is one spot in Yuyuan Garden that you can climb up on some rocks and stand over the wall, looking down to the street below. I took a few photos and noticed a guy was watching everything, including me, below. I looked at him, smiled and waved a few times, then finally smiled and pointed to my camera. He gave me the thumbs up sign, so I snapped a photo of him.

I am not sure why I like to take photos of laundry so much. Probably because back home, everyone has dryers and you’d never see someone’s underwear outside of their house. It is so cold to leave clothes outside now!

Jing’an Temple

Jing’an Temple is just a subway stop away from our house. Jon and I have never been inside the temple, but I thought it would be a good time to go and take Holly! It wasn’t anything too special, but I do like some of the photos I took.

An ad for crazy expensive jewelery is just above the temple. Ironic, don’t you think?

Jing’an Temple

Incense sticks burning

Throwing money into the…. thingy…..


Darkness falling over Shanghai

It’s not really a sunset due to the clouds and pollution!

Las Tapas

Last Friday, Jon got some good news so Dan and Sai invited us out to celebrate. (I can’t say what it is until it’s been announced officially.) We went to an “Entertainment Street” near their new house with lots and lots of restaurants and bars. We ate at a place called Las Tapas and we thought the food was great! The sangria was not made traditionally at all, and not that good, but really potent. Think jungle juice.

500th post

Wow… this is my 500th post. Half-way to 1,000! If you keep following my journey, I am sure you will see 1,ooo posts someday.

I don’t have anything groundshaking to say. I’m still blogging about my life in China. If you weren’t interested, you probably wouldn’t be reading still. I hope that you are learning about people and places outside of your comfort zone. And, if you’d like to visit, I’d be happy to act as your host someday.

The below photos show just what Shanghai is like now. I took these on the way to a furniture store near our house. A few months ago, this was all old Shanghai – old homes. Now, it’s a field of rubble, with squatters still there and within a week or two, huge skyscrapers will be rising from the ashes.


On the 23rd, we hear fireworks going off for about an hour. We finally decided maybe we should see what was going on. It was when Paris Hilton was here for a fashion show, so we decided it was probably that. It definitely was the largest firework display either Jon or I had every seen!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving night was spent at The Spot, a bar on Tongren Lu. Dan, Sai, David (Dak sales from Hong Kong) and I waited for Jon, who was just getting back from Beijing. We didn’t have turkey, but did have some good dips and other appetizers. The menu is huge (literally!) but no turkey.

Castle Oktober

Some older photos, from October 27th.

Dan, Judd (senior project manager from Dak US) and Jon at Castle Oktober. It’s a beautifully-restored old building, now a restaurant with a great garden. It was built by a Chinese general in the 30’s, taken by the government and was the Taxation Bureau office until recently.

Dan and Jon dress freakishly similar. In the office, they somehow manage to wear the same color striped dress shirts and cuff links nearly every day. Even on the weekend, they both show up in Tommy Bahama t-shirts. I’m sure they’d say “great minds think alike.”

Actually, they said, “There’s not many places in China with clothes big enough for us!”

Aggressive Beggars

The last time I blogged on begging, I got flamed by some Anonymous person. If you are going to personally attack me, at least have enough guts to leave your name. Obviously, this person didn’t know me, or they would have known where I give money or donate time. Yes, I do mostly blog about positive or things that I think are interesting to others. I don’t blog about the evenings I eat a sandwich for supper and spend the night working. I blog about the times I go somewhere and try something new. Hence, it may seem that my life here is all fun and games, when in reality I just try to show the interesting things.

Anyway, one night we were at Malone’s, sitting outside. We had front row seats to what was pretty much a circus. I used the ISO 3200 setting on my point-and-shoot, hence the grainy shots. We watched a large group of beggars hassle everyone who walked by. They tried to use the kids to gain sympathy. Once as we walked by, a woman asked for money and on cue the kid starts fake coughing. A man was hovering nearby, clearly the “ringleader” of the group. If there was any trouble (such as some Chinese people demanding they leave) he disappeared.

These kids saw me taking a photo so their mom sent them over. I took this photo and then gave them some money.

This guy was just wasted and could hardly walk. The kids attacked his legs, sat on his feet and clung to him. That seems to be crossing the line.

The kids also were constantly running across the street. Never did an adult stop them or tell them to look before crossing. Traffic is crazy here and the rule is that cars have the right-of-way. I am afraid they were thinking, “One less mouth to feed…” Does China have a Child Services department? (I thought I heard that they have laws about taking care of your parents, but none about taking care of your children. But I have absolutely no facts back that up.)

This lady (right) was at least trying to sell something to make some money. Then a “working girl” came and was trying to sell something else. We saw the negotiation, then they left together. Ewww.

The whole evening bothered me quite a bit. I went home to try to find some more information about homelessness and ways to help in Shanghai. What I mostly found was information on how it is a choice for most of them.

A highlight of one story, based on the work of a high-school girl:

‘Huang said that 63 of the people she interviewed were “occupational beggars” who were not wandering alone in the streets because of a lack of money or accommodation. Staff at a government homeless shelter told Huang that about 80 percent of the street people in Shanghai were occupational beggars.

“Considering their income, I can only conclude that some beggars are occupational. They view begging as a job. The reason for them to live such a humble lifestyle is the ‘high pay, less labor’ mentality.” ‘

Shanghai published a guide on how to spot beggars that are trying to deceive you.

Old story about Shanghai police asking for a beggar task force.

I would like to help those less fortunate. But when it is a choice and they hassle me, I choose not to give to them. I choose to give to those obviously unable to work, who are at least trying to do something for a bit of money (such as playing and singing in the subway.) The able-bodied ones that are dressed warmly and chase after me won’t get a fen from me.

Oh – if anyone knows where I can donate some previously-used clothes, please let me know.

More traffic

I should really find something else to do time lapses of. Traffic is pretty much the same all of the time. Unfortunately due to all of the pollution I don’t see any cool clouds. Maybe I’ll try to do 24 hours this weekend, on Sunday, when the pollution usually is at the lowest level of the week.


Construction on the new subway line near our apartment.

Sunrise over Shanghai

Another time lapse. This one was every 30 seconds.

Trial of Time Lapse Photography

My co-worker Abram told me about his roommate Nic doing time lapse photography, and I just had to try it out. Nic’s are way cooler than my first attempt here – but I’m learning! This is a test one to see if I could figure out how to put together all of the photos in AfterEffects. It is a series of photos taken every 3 seconds.

Google me

Ryan, one of the salespeople, told me that if you Google “Daktronics Shanghai” my blog came up. It is pretty funny. The first thing that comes up is a news release. My post about Abram Photoshopping Dan’s head onto Mao comes up 2nd, 3rd is a post of mine about Keyframe, then 4th is the official Daktronics Shanghai site, and 5th is my MySpace page.

Yuyuan Garden

Perk wanted to go into the gardens during his visit so I joined him. We’ve taken many guests to the outer part, with all of the old buildings, but never have been inside the gardens. It was the kind of place I’d like to have as a yard; tons of nooks and crannies that would be great places to relax with a book.

Then we walked to the Bund, and up Nanjing Lu to People’s Square. Naning Lu is pretty much all neon – lots of opportunities for LED displays!

the Blue Frog and crazy taxi drivers

Lonnie and Ed (from the customer service department at Daktronics corporate) were here for about a week. Friday night we were going to eat near our apartment. They got in a cab and called us to instruct the taxi driver how to get there. Jon’s phone locked up and he couldn’t answer, so the taxi driver kicked them out of his cab because they didn’t know where they were going. They walked to the Blue Frog and asked us to meet there. (The Blue Frog is an expat bar and grill. )

This shouldn’t have been a problem. Perk, an animator from LEDtronics, was visiting too. Perk, Jon and I grabbed a cab and told him to go to Da Ning Lu. After telling him the first several turns, he exited the elevated road. Suddenly we were going to Pudong (the way to the airport, WAY out of Shanghai.) Perk speaks Chinese so he was telling him where to go, along with us. However the guy didn’t have a clue. He kept speeding the wrong way.

He took us to Da Ming Lu, and next saw Da Lin Lu, but just kept going. We called Grace, one of the sales people, and told him exactly how to get there. He kept going in the same direction on the same street, the same wrong way. We started looking for another cab – we didn’t want to get out without another cab to get us out of that strange part of town. I was starting to get very creeped out with a very bad feeling about this guy.

Luckily, we were at a stoplight when I saw one on the other side of the street. I said get out now! and we all jumped out (yes, without paying) and jumped into the other cab as quick as we could.

We told the other cab driver to drive away quick and we’d give him a big tip. Perk explained the situation and told him where we started and where we were trying to go. The new driver thought the other driver was insane for taking us where we were. Then, the first driver started following us. He was pulling up next to us on the wrong side of the lane, shouting at us, honking, etc. Jon was just furious and told the new driver that if they other guy followed us all the way there, he’d take care of it.

Our new driver had to backtrack for a very long way before getting on the right track to Da Ning Lu. Ed and Lonnie had been waiting for us for over an hour, when we should have been there in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Random stuff

Everything is a bit of an adventure when you are living in a country with cultural so different than your own. At the store I saw Wasabi flavored chips and also “Red Wine Chicken.” I couldn’t resist. Jon will like the wasabi ones. I tried the Red Wine Chicken. I can’t taste any wine. They do taste like chicken, grilled or barbequed chicken. Interesting. I wish they had Salt and Vinegar though! Other flavors include ketchup, cucumber, tomato, prawn, and potato (aren’t they supposed to taste like potatoes?)

This is pretty near our office. Nibe. Just do it.

Korean Pop Stars

A couple weeks ago we saw a huge commotion outside – hundreds of girls standing around a building across from us.

A famous Koren Pop group was in Shanghai and they were performing there. This is the group coming in. I still have no idea who they were, but the girls in the office were swooning over them.

The Pearl TV Tower

The first part of the week, Dr. Al Kurtenbach (the founder of Daktronics) was here visiting. It was his first time in China. It was very interesting to be able to learn from the person who started the company! Judy, Ning and I took him to the Pearl TV Tower on Sunday. It was pretty cool and there was a museum of old Shanghai in the bottom, which was interesting.

This is the tallest building in Shanghai now. It’s the Shanghai World Financial Center, and should be finished in 2008.

Sunrise over Shanghai

Since returning from the US, I’ve been pretty jetlagged. I went to bed early last night, but woke up at 5 AM this morning. It was a good opportunity to see the sunrise and take some photos though.

Boots enjoyed the sunrise too!


This is something you see way too often. Beggars wait around restaurants or shops (especially where Westerners are) and then start pulling on you when you leave. These people were really persistent. They stood in the middle of our group, tugged on our bags, and kept telling Ning that he didn’t give them enough! Usually we ignore them and make a quick getaway, but the cabs were scarce tonight. The little boy just kept yelling, “Hello! Hello! Hello!”

It’s so sad that the parents teach the kids to extract money from people. It’s like telling the kids they’ll never be able to do anything but beg. Parents parade their kids, especially if they are disfigured or disabled, through the subway and make the kids ask for money. I’ve read that there are government agencies that will help find a job for them. I’ve also read stories of parents hurting their kids so people will give them more money. I don’t know how much of that is true though. Either way, it’s a social problem that all big cities have.

Tourist stuff

Pat is a Vortec (hoist division of Daktronics) that was here for about 2 weeks. Sunday we went to the fabric market, the pearl market, Yuyuan Garden and the Bund together. Pat so kindly took a few photos for the SDSU article for us.

This was taken from a restaurant looking at the more popular side of the Bund. Usually photos include the Pearl TV Tower, which is on the side I was taking the photo on.

We saw two ships collide while we were eating! They started blowing their horns at each other and it looked like they were going to pass each other closely but be OK. One barge caught on the other and was totally spun around. We noticed that none of the boats have headlights – maybe that is part of the problem.

new photo

Harriet Swedlund, the former international program head at SDSU, asked if she could write a story about Jon and I for a Global Studies brochure. We needed a recent photo so we tried this. We don’t really think it says “China” though.

Maybe we will become the poster children of SDSU’s “You Can Go Anywhere From Here” campaign. :-)

Saturday Shopping

Aileen, Maggie, Louise LV and I went shopping. Aileen is looking for a qipao to get married in, someday. She lives in the states now and works at corporate, but is learning project management here for 5 months. I thought these things looked interesting, so Aileen bought some and showed me how to eat them.

The outside has a peel and is a fleshy. When you apply pressure opposite directions, it tears open. The inside is like a white mandarian orange. It is very sweet.

More balcony photos….

I am going to have millions of photos from our balcony. The view changes so much when the weather changes though!

This week the sky has been blue! We’re not sure what happened, but we’re glad. Taken August 17th.

During a storm – August 11th.

Lane’s trip – July 15th

Lane Munson was at Dak Shanghai for about a week. On this day we took him to Yuyuan Gardens, which has lots of traditional architecture and tons of little shops selling mostly to tourists. We had some jiaozi for lunch. They have beer girls that walk around with a cart of beer too. The girl is always covered head to toe in that beer’s brand.

Unfortunately, about 3 days before he left, he got food poisoning. Really bad. After an IV and multiple shots and pills of antibiotics at the Worldlink clinic, he was doing a bit better. He is pretty sure it was from some chicken. I’ve noticed they don’t cook chicken here like we do at home. If you are eating a leg, there is almost always red meat by the bone. (I’ve stopped eating chicken if it is still on the bone.) Poor Lane. What a way to end his trip.

Jon and Dan could probably live on jiaozi. They are steamed dumplings and there are many different kinds. It’s the food that had the big story about how someone was making them from chemicals and cardboard in Beijing. The government jailed him for false reporting.

Dan thought we should attempt a Chairman Mao pose. I think we just look silly. But – Dan is the chairman, if you had forgotten. Scroll down to July 13th for that post!

Chinese guys playing a game, probably Mahjong. Very common. (photo credit belongs to Lane)


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