Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week 9

Week 9 started off with our first snowfall in Shanghai!! In the morning, it fell lightly and melted fast, but by mid-afternoon it was coming down heavily. I took the scooter down to Starbucks to get my morning cup of joe. I soon learned that I should have walked instead, because I got pelted in the face with snow and was freezing my hands off. The snow lasted until about 9pm, when it finally stopped coming down, but most of it stuck around for the next day or so. I was happy to see snow for the first time in a long while, hopefully more snow days to come!

The Shanghai fashion scene is becoming an insatiable part of life here. There are clothing boutiques/shops on many, many streets and corners all over the city, all of which seem to have the latest trends hanging on their racks. I suppose it's partly because artists are plentiful, and partly because clothing can be made cheaply; not to mention it is one of the biggest metropolitan markets with locals and expats from around the world. Nevertheless, Shanghai is definitely a great place to see budding fashion designers and their latest clothing lines, which you probably won't find on display at your local GAP.

The building where Tiffany works hosted a fashion show last week for three up-and-coming designers based here in Shanghai. We were lucky enough to get invited and sat in the front row for Frau-Ana's show, a talented young designer originally from Germany. Frau-Ana's theme was Pink Rocks. Her inspiration for clothing design stretches back to the pop-culture of her childhood, stuff like Knight Rider with David Hasselhoff, Game Boy, and comic books idealizing superheros that can do anything. Her inspiration explains a lot, because the colors used in her clothing line run counter to conventional attitudes for wearing certain colors. Getting people to drop these adverse attitudes, and to start wearing colors, is what gives rise to her theme of Pink Rocks. Her presentation featured a young lady who wants to go out but is trying to decide what to wear. The energy in the room was buzzing with a sort of soothing chaos that supplemented what seemed to be planned disorganization. People were anxious to see Frau-Ana's line, and she did not disappoint.

Again, special thanks to Frau-Ana for being so nice to Tiffany and I when we were there, and for the great bags she gave us! If anyone is interested in seeing more of her clothing line and where to find her clothes, please visit her website at: http://www.frau-ana.com/. Currently two stores here in Shanghai, and another in Singapore, offer her clothes, but I'm sure many of you in the U.S. will be hearing the name of this promising artist in the near future.

As I was saying earlier, driving the scooter in the elements was horrendous. It is ridiculously cold, and hard to drive when snow and rain pelts one in the face. However, Tiffany mentioned something to me the other day when we were on the scooter that struck a note. So I thought it would be nice for her to share the comment with you, too:

Coming from LA, where practically everyone has their own car and often drives by themselves, not having a car in Shanghai has been quite a change. Instead of a car, we are utilizing public transportation, our scooter, taxis, and of course our own two feet to get around. But we hardly ever use taxis, so while walking and even on our scooter, we've been forced to slow down a little bit and really start to interact with the people, the street, and the city. I feel like we are becoming active participants in the city, instead of being shut out from the human interaction that results from being in a vehicle flying down the road in the sea of cars.  Here, we hear the sounds of the traffic, feel the bump of a passerby, and sometimes, unfortunately, smell the smells of the city. By becoming walkers and public transportation users, we end up running into amazing happenings and events that we would probably miss if we were flying down the freeway at 90mph! One of these such events we happened to run into the other day on our way to the Bund.

After we had a chance to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, we made our way across Huangpu River to take a closer look at the awesome skyline that everyone sees in pictures of Shanghai. We have been down to the Bund a couple times since we've been here, but we've never actually been across the river to the east Pudong area (mostly because it's never been a clear enough day for us to get good pictures). Pudong is a newly developed area of Shanghai where most of the financial action happens. The Shanghai Stock Exchange, World Financial Center, and many large financial firms that do business in Asia, are situated in Pudong. The signature of Shanghai's skyline is the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, which looks spectacular in clear weather.

Christmas is coming up this week and I'm sure everyone is getting very excited for the holiday. We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. We sure are sad to miss out this year, but hopefully all of you will be lucky enough to enjoy being together and cherish celebrating with friends and family. If you've been good, I'm sure you will get everything you asked of Santa. If not, well, there's always next year. : ) Merry Christmas everyone!!

Things To Do in Shanghai

5. Eat dumplings.

Shanghai offers a variety of types of dumplings from all over China. Jiaozi 餃子 are extremely popular in Shanghai and can be found just about everywhere. They are the meat (typically pork) or veggie filled wrappers that are boiled.  Other types of dumplings are fried, steamed, and/or come in soup, with a large variety of ingredients. However, we have found some of the best dumplings in the Former French Concession at Shandong Shougong Dumpling Restaurant (14号 Yanqing Road).  This little dumpling shop is extremely popular at lunchtime and offers a very small menu that includes: pork dumplings, pork and leak dumplings, pork and celery dumplings, pork and cabbage dumplings and pork wonton soup.  All of which is delicious. Plates of dumplings go for around 10RMB ($1.50), which is plenty for one person at lunch. Address:

Maybe It's Just Me

I have talked in earlier posts about the frenzy of driving on the roads of Shanghai. I have heard from multiple people here that the number one reason expats are forced to leave the country is due to traffic accidents. Not to further scare my worry-wort mother but, according to government statistics, there was over 46,000 traffic accidents in China during the first quarter of 2010, which is roughly 500 accidents per day. And this isn't just scary for drivers, because that number includes pedestrians, too. Having observed and participated in the system for a couple of months now, I am not surprised and would think the estimate might actually be a little low. Maybe it's just me, and I need to pay more attention while I'm driving or walking. Then again, when I see people frequently driving on the wrong side of the road, using the sidewalks as a third lane, and disregarding all notions of common sense on the road, I have to say, maybe it's just them...

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