Monday, April 26, 2010


After much griping from padre, I'm finally posting pictures of my new neighborhood. This is my building. Don't worry, my apartment is much nicer than the outside. And the downstairs has a greasy hamburger joint with great banana milkshakes which delivers to my place for free. Does life get any better?
This is the view across the street as I exit my building.

These are traditional shikumen houses below my living room window.
Tearing up the lane. When I took this picture this one old lady barked to her old lady friend, "Why is the foreigner taking a picture?" I told her "because it's interesting." Then she asked if I was a teacher. And I said no.
Another alley near where I live.
My walk to work.
More walk to work. There's always lots of construction. You can't go a block without running into some bamboo scaffolding or a dude sledge-hammering the sidewalk.

Turning down the alley toward my office.

Funky mailboxes across from my office.
Funky office/Converted House

There you have it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dress Up

Saturday I went to an Earth Day event put on by one of the international schools at the Shanghai Zoo. Actually, the school is located within the zoo, which is pretty cool because there's lots of greenery and all these big picnicking lawns for kids to romp on the grounds.

There were booths set up representing the different countries kids are from. My friend and I tried on these traditional hanbok at the Korea booth.

Last year I did the qipao in the studio in Taiwan. Next on my list is kimono.

Afterward we walked around and looked at the animals. For the record, Taipei Zoo is nicer. Lots of people were throwing popcorn and food at the animals, and I saw some rapping on the glass. Ahem, also not behavior I saw displayed in the R.O.C...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Coming to a Kitchen Near Me

Chef Mike and I were returning home Monday night from a successful haggling-for-pillow-covers plus eating dumplings and Krispy Kreme (yes! we have that!) run, when we spotted this bike cruising down Jiaozhou Lu (the street we live on).

Swill oil. Collected before our very eyes. We watched the bike dude pull up in front of a parking garage and walk in with a plastic bucket and some sort of scraper.

"Should we follow him?" Chef Mike asked.

Yeah, why not. My stomach turned a little bit as we crept in. I pulled out my Canon PowerShot, like we were on to some real Woodward and Bernstein shit.

We sneaked down into the parking garage, and split up to case the rows of cars in opposite directions. A couple minutes later the security attendant showed up behind me and asked what I was doing. Caught, damn. We still hadn't seen where dude had gone with his bucket and his scraper. As the attendant escorted Mike and I out (nicely of course, we're laowai) the guy we'd been stalking showed up behind us with a bucket full of foul-smelling frothy liquid. The security attendant had not come down to collect that guy, just us, apparently his presence was condoned.

Outside I watched bucket man pour his foul brew into one of his black drums. What is this? I asked. He confirmed it was oil. I asked if it would be used for food. He smiled and shook his head, no. I asked what the oil would be used for and my Chinese failed me. I don't know what he said. So then I took his picture.
Who knows where it went. But at least you get the idea. Some food professor who studied this estimated one in ten meals eaten in restaurants in China is made with dirty oil.

The next morning I showed my co-workers these photos and outed myself as a PRC newbie in the doing.

"Oh yeah." They shrugged, as if I'd told them the most mundane story they'd heard all week.

But I know you folks back home will be impressed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Maybe the trick is to upload photos in the morning? I got these up with almost no problem, and then I tried to upload a couple more and my vpn kept timing out. Anyways, these are almost a month old now, they're from when I went to Moganshan - this bamboo-covered mountain four hours outside Shanghai.
I was visiting this new accommodation (Moganshan has been a Shanghai getaway for decades, at least) that's run by a bunch of mountain biking fanatics.
They took us biking through the bamboo. "Oh it's half an hour and back" turned into a four-hour off-road bike road, which was a bit much for my tastes.
But it sure was pretty!
It's nice to see something green once in awhile.
Tomorrow morning - pictures of my neighborhood!


So here's the deal on my little bro:

He is currently the number two seventh grade pole vaulter in America, according to

He is also in third place among seventh graders nationally for the 100-meter dash.

He is 24th in the country for high jump (again among seventh graders).

It boggles the mind. When my family visited Taiwan, Billy showed me how he could - with a running start - leap frog over my dad. This was a very cool trick. But now that they're timing him and taking measurements - we know he has real skills. 

Another almost-blogless weekend. I spent Saturday and Sunday out with friends. Different friends, different places. It was fun. I think I'm finding my element. If Undersundog isn't enough Leslie, you can skip over to - my job website. Today I called home and my dad complained about the fact I'm not blogging, and I complained about the fact the internet is half-illegal over here, which makes it really hard to post pictures, and a "that's what you get for living in a totalitarian shit hole" was what I got in return. Thanks, pops. I do want to post pictures. I've even been taking them around where I live! Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Saturday, April 17, 2010




Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Mid Weeker

I have pictures. On my computer desktop. I want you to see them. But when I do find the time to blog, and then I even turn on my vpn and try to upload pictures, and it's suuuuuuper slow and doesn't work ... the result is a huge de-motivater.

This weekend I traipsed into Shanghai Fashion Week with my media credentials and got to take my seat by the runway before the civilians. Free flow grey goose martinis. Lots of people way more fashionable than myself. 

Last week I got an advanced tour of the Australia Pavilion at the World Expo site. Then there was the Avatar-themed banquet at the Marriott ... Last year, all of these things would've warranted their own blog posts. Right now, I seriously don't have the time. There's still a lot of organizational stuff I'm trying to tackle at work. I'm hoping my load will lighten somewhat down the line. 

But the takeaway is, my job is pretty sweet. And the perks are super fun. 

I was walking through the Expo site - with about 100 Chinese journalist - when I caught myself thinking "this is basically a glorified, multi-million dollar Australian chamber of commerce ad." I mean it was, but it was also the World Expo, and I got to see it before everyone else. That's pretty cool.

Sometime after my family went to Cambodia and before I reached high school the idea "international journalist" first sprouted in my pea brain. I remember thinking that I really liked "journaling" in my diary and that I would like to do something like that overseas. I didn't have any idea who would read it. But that half-baked adolescent idea - that's what I do now.

Sophomore year of high school, my guidance counselor was talking to me about college. I don't remember where I said I wanted to go, but he said something like, "Well do you want to live in that city? Because most people end up living where they went to college." I remember getting a sinking feeling in my stomach. It was a defiant feeling - I didn't like him telling me that college was the end of the line. Where I went to college would turn into the rest of my life. It seemed so final, inescapable. And I was only 16.

Thinking back on those things, I feel like I'm doing what I should be right now. Though I also think it's natural for us to reflect and pick anecdotes that make our stories make sense. Life needs a narrative. Alaska, Los Angeles, Oregon, Taiwan, Shanghai. That's mine. So far.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Proud Big Sis Alert

Billy took first for seventh grade boys in long jump, high jump, 4x100 and 100 at his first track meet. He also broke his middle school record for seventh grade long jump.

I'm bugging my parents to get video online. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ah, The Dirty Life

I've been in my new place a few weeks now, and just got around to scrubbing the pollution off the windowsill in my bedroom - a nasty experience. Between the smog, the stinky tap water (Me asks Chef Mike: "Can I wash veggies in this?" Him: "If you have no other choice?"), and the swill oil - if I come down with an obscure cancer(s), or my first born child resembles Admiral Ackbar, well I'll only have myself to blame for moving to China. Shanghai is really cool, it's also kind of gross.

Chef Mike works late 6 nights a week, and I have about um two, three friends so I eat by myself a lot. When you're alone, you learn more about yourself. Right now I'm learning how poorly I know the real Leslie. See, whenever I go to the grocery store I think of myself as a squirrel, that or some sort of health-concious skinny bitch: Thus, my apartment is full of nuts, granola and dried fruit. But every time I walk in the door my first thought is, "GIMME THE CANDY AND THE BEER!" Chef Mike eats at the restaurant usually, so he doesn't even have any booze or sweets for me to pilfer. 

I was going to post pictures of my Moganshan outing - but I couldn't get my sneaky internets to work long enough to upload this morning (writing through email now). Blog action is just not going to be what it was in Taiwan, but I am going to post regularly now.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I'm an easy girl to please. Fly me to Beijing, set me up in the Hyatt for a night - executive suite, please - and I'm good to go. As soon as the marketing lady showed me my room and closed the door, I ran in and did a flying-suirrel leap on to the big old bed.

Then I toodled around the room for half an hour taking pictures of myself before lunch. It was a pretty quick trip - mostly taken up by the PR people squiring a few Chinese reporters and myself around the hotel.

I also got my first real massage in the spa. There was this pretty bowl of flowers below the massage table, placed for me to stare at while the masseuse worked. I caught myself before I drooled on them - it was very relaxing.

I didn't really have time to enjoy all the space in the suite.

Not once did I sit on that couch. Ah, but for one night it was mine.

Fancy, Fancy
I got up early the next morning to use the pool before they took us back to the airport. All the Chinese reporters thought that was very novel. Us white folks, we like to swim. Check back tomorrow - will post more of my media mooch adventures!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Clean Streets

By now you know, China is a super awesome place to get anything fake. a-n-ything. Watches, bags, clothes - all you have to do is go down to the fabric market with a picture of whatever designer get-up you want, and they'll have a knock off sewn up and tailored to your size in a week. Hell, China even has a fake peas problem right now.

Fake DVDs are everywhere. It's much easier to find a fake DVD seller than a legitimate one. And, until now, there's been basically no crack down on the industry. But with the Expo coming up in 28 days (there are huge countdown clocks at major metro stops, lest we forget), the city is trying to get everything all nice for the foreigners. This includes flyers in the mail with cute comics instructing proper public behavior and shooing the DVD hawkers off the streets.

My friend Jess and I were out Friday night looking for a DVD store she often visits.

We walked up and down the block - could've swore it was here... Then someone noticed our confusion and pointed us into a nearly-empty shop with a single shelf of Chinese movies. The man motioned for us to knock on the wall, we did, the wall opened, and were led into a fully-stocked DVD shop. The only difference being a girl standing by the wall to open it whenever someone knocked.

So it's business as usual for those who make a living bilking Hollywood. But if you don't live in the city full-time, you might not notice so much.

Today I went to the tech mall and bought a keyboard protector for less than one-third the price the Mac store was charging for their version. And right now I'm on the phone getting Mickey D's delivered to my apartment. In short, Shanghai is awesome.