Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I go home in 22 days. Before then I have a cover story to finish, several other stories to write, and a bunch of organization for Feb issue since I won't be back in Shanghai until Jan 9. My Google Calendar looks pretty crowded, but I thought I was handling it all relatively well. Then yesterday I woke up with dull pain on the right side of my face. I must've been doing some serious teeth grinding the previous night, because it still hasn't gone away.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shanghai Festivities

For the past couple years, I've had an abbreviated holiday season. Last year I was on a boat passing through Three Gorges over Thanksgiving. The year before that, I spent the whole season in Taiwan and wound up eating KFC for Christmas Day dinner (not by choice!).

But this year, I'm finding that the expat community in Shanghai is extra festive - perhaps anticipating that almost all of us will go home for Christmas, so we want to do all our celebrating with friends early.

Tomorrow I'm going to a tree lighting ceremony at a fancy hotel on The Bund. Then Friday night, I was invited to a co-worker's Thanksgiving dinner. Saturday afternoon I'm going to help stuff Christmas bags for Shanghai migrant workers' children. And Saturday evening another friend is having a mulled wine and canapes get together. So much fun!

Not to mention, it snowed in Florence today! I'll post some of the pictures my mom sent me earlier. Every day I'm more excited to head home, and I know my family is too. It all chalks up to loads of holiday spirit - hurray!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pretty much, I live in the evil empire

See here, here and here.

And that's just this week.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Language Lesson

When I need my hair cut, I go to a little salon down the street that has a lot of French clientele. The owner is Chinese, but spent some time in France, so speaks decent French. 

My hairdresser is from Chongqing and has a scorpion tattooed on his hand (though insists he's not gang affiliated). He also speaks some French, but not quite as much as the owner, and English even less:

Him: How do you say luan? Messy?

Me: Yes, that's right. Messy.

Him: Ah, but in French 'messy' is xie xie.

Xie xie is thank you.

Messy/Merci. Same same.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm baaaaaack..

I bit the bullet and bought a VPN this weekend. I've tried about a half a dozen of these things through work by now. They all seems to work okay at first and then have trouble... This time I bought Astrill, and it's received good marks from several friends, so hopefully it'll work out.

I have a busy, busy week. All the magazine copy is due Wednesday and I still have two stories to write, eeee.... One is short and shouldn't take long. The other is my section lead. And I haven't started writing it because it's the kind of story you could report on for forever and still not have enough information. The NYT did a story on the same topic (mental health in China) last week. They had about five researchers, in addition to the main journalist, working on it... Thankfully, my story isn't exactly the same (mine is more about the infrastructure for care just in Shanghai - whereas there's was more about seriously sick people out in the countryside with zero care).

Christmas doesn't seem that far away now, and I'm really looking forward to it, but I shudder thinking about all the work I need to get done before then. Sigh.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hopeful Words

"The Internet is the best gift to China – this kind of technology will end this kind of dictatorship."   -Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is probably China's best loved contemporary artist, both domestically and abroad. Because of that, he gets away with saying incendiary things that others wouldn't.

Last week he was put under house arrest in Beijing in order to prevent him from attending a party to 'celebrate' the demolition of his Shanghai-based studio. Unfortunately for the authorities who got the jitters, this made the studio demolition and Ai Weiwei front page in much international news.

Last year police in Sichuan beat him up pretty badly. He was there supporting Tan Zuoren, who is now in jail for exposing the corruption that led to shoddy school design that led to thousands of dead kids during the Sichuan earthquake.

This week Ai Weiwei is extra pissed off. Read more of his anti-government screed here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hairy Crab Farm!

Apologies my beloved, loyal, lingering blog- readership. This VPN business still hasn't sorted itself, so I'm stuck blogging through email and have no way to post pictures. Sigh.

Last Thursday I had a fantastic I-love-my-job day: I got to drive out to a hairy crab farm in Jiangsu Province, about an hour and fifteen minutes outside Shanghai. There I interviewed a crab farmer who grew up in a mud hut and has a third grade education but now makes close to US $60,000, thanks to the skyrocketing demand for hairy crabs and a bit of good business sense.

As part of my interview, I got to eat at the little restaurant on the farm. And let me tell you, hairy crab is delicious. It comes from a lake, and even the big ones are pretty small -- with bodies a bit bigger than my fist. But the meat is soooo good. Different from king crab - sweeter, and maybe even more buttery.

Then I got to go out in a little motor boat and see the crab plot. I appreciate fresh air so much more living in filthy Shanghai - where I've noticed the difference on the skin and in my breathing since they lived the construction moratorium now that the world expo's over (hello, wicked-high particulate matter levels...)

Today I had an interview at a hair salon (with the owner) and afterward he offered me a free wash. Well actually he asked if I'd like a facial or a massage, but I figured I'd go with a wash and blow so I could get back to the office quicker.

I wound up getting a really nice wash, a style, plus a neck/back/hand massage somewhere in between. Oh, and an ear cleaning. Right now my hair smells fabulous.

Then tonight I went to dinner with the food editor. We were checking out a new Taiwanese place in town. I miss Taiwanese food soooo much living in Shanghai where the local cuisine is sweet, oily, and goopy. 

The restaurant we visited was very solid, and I was able to snag a special Taiwanese soda to bring home to James - something he'd just been saying he missed.

I'm really busy these days, but I don't mind so much since it's doing what I love (well, doing what I love plus spending the other half the day doing dull administrative type things). 

I don't have much of a chance to write here anymore, but the exciting thing is I'm getting so much writing done at work now. 

After the hair salon I went back to the office and think I may have talked my boss into sending me on a traveling assignment (within China). 

There are so many good stories here. And I'm getting to do so many cool things. Sometimes I feel so lucky, I don't think I should talk about it too much.

Since most (and by that I think I mean all) of you can't see the print edition, I'll put links here as the stories come online.

And yes, I will continue to blog as much as I can. Once I get the VPN situation sorted, I will be instating some password-protected posts. More on that later. Toodles!