I remember the first time I came to Shanghai three years ago, I didn't think much of it. Then perhaps because the idea of Shanghai generates such enthusiasm everywhere, I, too, became quite enthralled with it on my following visits.
Yet, having just spent the previous 5+ weeks in some of Asia's other great cities (Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul), I find myself having a very poor initial reaction to Shanghai this time around. Somehow all the things that didn't bother me the last two times are bothering the hell out of me. The constant honking. Bicycles everywhere. Dirty little cabs. Poor little 5-year-old girls made to sell flowers on the street. The phlegm, oh the phlegm. The horrible Internet access (a lot of sites that I read just aren't reachable from China for some reason ~ including my own figure-ground.com ~ damn you communist censor bureau or whatever hell else agency is responsible for this). Etc, etc.
But mostly, it's the lack of manners of the mainlanders that really put me off.
It's only been a few hours, maybe I'll get over my initial repulsion and get back to appreciating the positives of this city.
The last 5 days have gone by in a drunken, tired blur. I'm not sure if it's the cummulative effect of 5 weeks of being away from home or it's just Seoul, I have been really, really tired ever since arriving here four days ago. Mostly I think it's the one-two punch of not sleeping at all the last night in Taipei and the bottle of Jack Daniels on an empty stomach the moment I arrived in Seoul. I never really recovered fully after that.
Anyway, some final thoughts on my month in Taipei.
- People talk about globalization and how the world is getting smaller all the time, this is how it has impacted me: Thanks to broadband Internet and the power of BitTorrent (best client: here), I was able to continue watching all the shows I watch back home. And thanks to webcams and Skype, I was able to see and interact with my family almost on a daily basis. And thanks to mlb.tv, I was able to watch every single Yankee playoff game (including the last four excruciating defeats). It's little things like that that can help lessen homesickness (although I could have lived without watching the heinous Yankees-Red Sox series).
- The month went by much quicker than I had expected. Where did all the time go? I didn't end up doing anything I had thought I might have time to do, like traveling around Taiwan for a few days, for example. Or, I had wanted to eat 20 sticks of 豬血糕/Zhu Xie Gao and 20 bowls of 牛肉麵/beef noodle soup and I only managed 15 sticks of 豬血糕 and 14 bowls of 牛肉麵 (see the comments section of my 牛伯伯 vs. 牛爸爸 post for a list of all the places I tried).
- But somehow, without trying, I consumed a whopping 16 plates of 涼麵/cold noodles. Damn you, Leslie, it's all your fault.
- If that sounds like a LOT of carbs to you, it is. I don't care who you are, if the next time you see me you tell me I gained weight, I will not hesistate to punch you in the face. I know I'm fat, I don't need you to tell me.
Actually, no "rest in peace" for these damn Yankees. I hope the over-paid chokers burn in hell for having the greatest collapse in sports history. Against the Red Sox, no less. I don't want to hear anymore about how the Yankees "know how to win" from now on... Thanks for making my last day in Taipei a miserable one.
Oct 20, 2004
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[From Figure/Ground] For those of you not familiar with the new MoMA's architect, Yoshio Taniguchi, here are a few shots of a gallery he designed a few years ago for the Tokyo National Museum. You can see some of the same elements he's using in the new MoMA.
The Yanks may be Pedro's daddy, but the Sox are Mariano's. Okay, we're still up 3-1, and there's no reason for me to even make a post about one measely lost. It just hurts a little bit more when you have to watch it by dragging yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour (7:30am Taipei time) and watching it while the whole time wishing you were still asleep.
I'm bitter, it's all. I was hoping to not to have to get up again tomorrow (at an even more insane 5am), but now I will have to.
Damn you Mariano. I blame you. Second blown save just this postseason. Tsk. Tsk.
Oct 18, 2004
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More snapshots from Taipei (and a couple from Kaohsiung, too... including a shot of my notoriously camera-shy uncle). Somehow my month in Taiwan is almost over and I haven't done anything I thought I would do. Yet, the time has flown by quickly and with lots of fun.
Favorite shots from this set:
- 01: grandma and uncle.
This photo so accurately captures their relationship. Him, yakking away incessently. Her, thoroughly bewildered, yet completely engrossed by his nonsense.
- 04: Leslie and model.
- 05: Leslie conquering many, many plates of his favorite cold noodles.
To be fair, two of those plates were mine.
[Today's entry has such a limited and specific audience that I'm going to post in Chinese. If you really want to know, it's about my favorite thing to eat in the world—Taiwanese beef noodle soup.]
今晚我去試了牛爸爸牛肉麵。以前在溫哥華有一家叫牛伯伯的牛肉麵我超愛吃。是我在台灣以外吃過最好吃的牛肉麵。我在紐約跟溫哥華試過好多好多家牛肉麵沒有一家像樣的﹐除了牛伯伯。不止像樣﹐還好吃極了 ~絕對不會比台灣任何一家差~ 每次我去溫哥華都會去好幾次(雖然它地點好難去)。後來它關門了。生意太爛了吧 ~地點實在很不好~ 我每次去溫哥華最盼望的就是去吃牛肉麵的﹐關了以後都不想在去溫哥華了。(Sorry, Yutai!!)
從他們的網站上看﹐牛爸爸這家不是牛伯伯老闆開的。是一個在溫哥華的台灣人回來台北用牛伯伯的秘方跟名氣開的 ~他也是覺得牛伯伯超好吃吧~ 那他(牛爸爸)跟牛伯伯到底是怎樣的關係我就搞不清楚了。到了店以後我問了一下老闆他只是說他們是一樣的... 也好像沒什麼興趣跟我詳細解釋。
溫哥華牛伯伯是一家小小的店﹐只有幾樣東西。除了牛肉麵以外﹐好像就只有海南雞飯跟一些鹵味小菜(可能還有一兩樣別的我記不得了)。台北的牛爸爸就不同了。店比牛伯伯大很多。光是牛肉麵就有好多種。有乾麵。有不同級的牛肉麵。從普通的(NT$150)﹐到精品的(480)﹐到什麼貴賓的(1000!!)﹐ 到3000元的!!! (好離譜) 3000塊的牛肉麵比紐約50塊美金的漢堡還要更離譜很多。至少50塊美金的漢堡是在家很高級豪華的餐廳。這3000塊的麵是在家普通餐廳。我們試了一碗普通的牛肉湯麵跟一碗480的。
不一樣﹐比較不好吃。麵完全不一樣 ~粗很多~ 湯倒是差不多。但是麵很重要﹐所以加起來就差很多了。而且他們的鹵蛋﹐豆干﹐海帶都好爛﹐沒味道又硬硬的。以前牛伯伯的豆干好好吃。
I've put up some snapshots of friends and family from my first week in Taipei.
Click here to see them.
I saw 2046 today. I loved it. I'm not sure when you suckers in N. America will get to see it. I'll probably bring back a DVD from 大陸/Dalu so come by if you want to borrow it. I'm not a movie critic so I'm not going to try to "review" it for you. Some random thoughts:
- Stylistically, the movie is very similar to 《花樣年華》/In the Mood for Love, but while that movie was very simple story-wise, this one is a lot more complicated, more like 《阿飛正傳》/Days of Being Wild. There are lots of storylines and characters.
- Even though it's more story driven than In the Mood for Love, it's still very much a mood piece.
- WKW himself says 2046 isn't really a sequel to Mood. But I think it's fair to think of 2046, Mood and Days as three different looks at "love" through the milieu of 1960s Hong Kong.
- 章子怡/Zhang Ziyi is beyond gorgeous in this movie. So. Beautiful. So beautiful I want to cry.
- 鞏俐/Gong Li looks awful. What the hell happened to her? Once upon a time she was pretty. I know she's a 老女人 now, but still... Speaking of which, 劉嘉玲/Carina Lau looks pretty bad too, but I suppose it's kind of her character. She plays the same character from Days of Being Wild, but kind of all spent and tired from all that happened previously.
- Since I'm critiquing all the women: 王菲/Faye Wong looks good. The andriod look suits her.
- Just like Mood, the soundtrack is beautiful.
- While not necessary, I would recommend watching Days of Being Wild and In the Mood for Love again before seeing this one. It ties together stories from those two previous movies.
Starting yesterday, all visitors to the U.S. (including the previously exempt people from the visa-waiver countries) are being fingerprinted and photographed under a new revision to the US-VISIT program. I guess there wasn't much fuss made over it or something since I hadn't heard anything about it until today (and I usually try to keep an eye out for stuff like this).
I sort of understood the previous requirement to fingerprint and photograph not so much as a criminal check but more of a biometric identification procedure. They fingerprint you at your home country when you apply for a visa and when you show up in the U.S., they fingerprint you again to digitally match you up with the visa to ensure that you are the same person who applied for the visa. Or at least that's how I understood it. And that made sense to me. But now, they are fingerprinting everyone, even those who don't need, and therefore didn't apply for, a visa. So what are they using the fingerprints for exactly? It's not to ID you to your passport. They are basically just going to compile a huge database of everybody's faces and fingerprints. Lovely. And you can be sure, despite whatever assurances they give, that the Department of Homeland Security will keep them all on file forever.
Luckily, Canadiana (and Mexicans) are still exempt. For now. Along with the Patriot Act, the U.S. is becoming such a hostile country to be in for visitors and its own citizens alike.