Friday, March 31, 2017

A Few More Details About the Photos Taken for the Guangzhou Twos

In the recent series of posts with the theme "Two Guangzhou [X]" I deliberately provided little context for each of the photos. I have posted photos in a similar format before before but not so many in a row. Initially, I had planned to conclude the series with a post exploring how additional context of one type or another could make an impact for better or worse in each case and then consider some broader issues. Since the process has happily caused me to think about many things and the series went on longer than expected, I would like to hold off on that post and possibly do it in pieces in the future. But I don't want to leave things completely hanging right now, so I will share a few very informal thoughts about each of the posts. They capture, sometimes indirectly, a tiny bit of what I had in mind and also offer a little more . . . context.

1. "Two Guangzhou Roses" — My attention was first drawn to the graffiti due a friend who I thought would appreciate the art, even though the artist unlikely had her name in mind. I usually wouldn't consider that context important to share here though. Instead, I wondered how I could best express the environment in which they were set and the degree to which graffiti is common there.

2. "Two Electric Toys for Sale Outside in Guangzhou" — While I mentioned the locations where the photos were taken I left unmentioned that both of the small lanes are just off of a popular pedestrian street. Does that added piece of information matter? Well, depends . . .

3. "Two Guangzhou Cokes" — This time I offered no details on the locations. Both photos were taken in the same neighborhood though. While the eateries themselves were common for the area, the I hadn't seen many similar examples of the advertising nearby.

4. "Two Guangzhou Eateries" — Both examples here are in the same general part of the city along with all of the examples in the previous posts. The main items — rice noodle rolls and congee — at both restaurants are traditional Cantonese foods, and both places are favorites of locals.

5. "Two Guangzhou Law Firms" — Now we are in a different part of Guangzhou. Although I saw both examples during a single rather long walk, they aren't very near each other. The locations may seem less relevant here for what caught my eye — the contrasting styles of the signs — but they may play an important role.

6. "Two Guangzhou Samples of Text" — Some relevant context for this post could be that this was far from the first time I have seen sample text left on signs or clothing. I did mention that I had seen both in the same day, though people could read different implications into that. Also, it could be worth mentioning that the shirt was for sale at a somewhat-pedestrian street targeting younger people. More about that street another day.

7. "Two Guangzhou Trains" — Since the two photos were taken from different vantage points, some people may not realize they both capture the same railroad crossing. More easy to spot, the photos included different trains. One is of the high-speed variety and the other is not. This was all pure luck. I was making my way to one part of the city and knew I would need to cross the railroad tracks at some point. And of course the way I chose was temporarily blocked when I got there. The delay was worth it.

8. "Two Guangzhou Garbage Bins on the Go" — This last post only included a single photo since there was no need for a second. Just yesterday I saw a similar vehicle towing far more than two garbage bins. Unfortunately it disappeared before I could photograph it.

OK, that is all for now. Maybe this answers some questions. Hopefully this raises some questions.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Two Guangzhou Garbage Bins on the Go

"City Cleaning" pulling two garbage bins with a three-wheeled motorized vehicle

And this probably concludes the recent series of "two" posts. As mentioned before, a post connecting them is on the way.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two Guangzhou Samples of Text

Both seen today . . .

shirt with an image and the words "SAMPLE TEXT — FOR YOUR TEXT HERE"

advertisement including the text "Sample your text"

I have in mind a point connecting all of the posts since last week beyond the simple "Two Guangzhou [X]" theme. After at least one more two I will try to make it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Small Boat in Guangzhou

That feeling when you would like to borrow something for a short time . . .

empty small boat floating on the water and tied to a post

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Fury-Tailed Bike Rider in Guangzhou

Tonight near Liwan Lake Park in Guangzhou, people excitedly pointed at an animal riding in a bike basket. A dog or a cat wouldn't usually cause such a strong reaction. But this was something truly unexpected — a squirrel.

Bicycle-riding squirrel wearing a shirt in Guangzhou, China

Unlike in the U.S., I very rarely see urban squirrels in China despite having visited more than a hundred city parks. I would almost have been as surprised to see a squirrel in the nearby park as to see one wearing a shirt in the U.S. Wild squirrels do exist in China though. And thanks to humans they sometimes gain too much weight.

So I could personally appreciate the amazement. This was the first time anywhere I petted a bike-riding squirrel wearing a shirt.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Underneath the Donghaoyong Elevated Road in Guangzhou

Over the years I have posted photos of scenes underneath bridges in cities such as Hengyang, Shenyang, Taiyuan, and Zhanjiang. Today I will share two photos taken yesterday underneath the double-decker Donghaoyong Elevated Road where it crosses over Donghua West Road in Guangzhou. The first photo looks roughly to the north and the second roughly to the south.

I took the photos in part because of the mix of concrete, lush greenery, and water in the two scenes. And in this part of the city, the elevated road takes a twisting path as it follows a watercourse. Due to the water, I was also standing on a bridge at the time.

Some may feel the highway ruins things, but perhaps more would have been ruined had it taken a direct route instead. At least putting the road up high keeps things more peaceful and green down below where one can take a pleasant walk past large leaves and columns.

view from Donghua West Road facing northward under the Donghaoyong Elevated Road (东濠涌高架路)

view from Donghua West Road facing southward under the Donghaoyong Elevated Road (东濠涌高架路)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Guangzhou Goose: The Yongxing (Wing Hing) Roasted Meats Shop

If you stumble upon the right place on Tiyun East Road in Guangzhou, you may notice a long line on Sunday around 4:30 p.m.

Long line at Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop (永兴烧腊店) in Guangzhou

The people are patiently waiting to order take-away Cantonese-style barbecue. The name of the place is straightforward enough in Chinese characters — 永兴烧腊店. The name in English could be Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop or Wing Hing Roasted Meats Shop. The former is based on Mandarin, standard for China, and the latter is based on Cantonese, the local dialect.

Whatever you want to call the shop, it deserves a closer look.

Roasted geese and other meat hanging at Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop (永兴烧腊店)

If you like goose meat, you may be tempted by the hanging geese. If you like pork or chicken you could still be in luck. If you don't like meat, you may be interested in observing, but you'll be out of luck in terms of eating.

And if you like goose meat but don't like to wait, you will be even more tempted when there is no line, possibly around 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday.

Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop (永兴烧腊店) in Guangzhou without a line

The options have decreased but about three and one quarter geese remain hanging.

A quarter of a goose may be too much for one person, or even two. But that may not stop you from inquiring about how much it costs, since the place emits such a promising vibe. After a proper weighing, 57 yuan (about US $8.25) could strike you as a good deal. After accepting, they will chop up the portion of goose and toss in some goose neck.

chopping a goose neck at Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop (永兴烧腊店)

And then you will have yourself a pile of goose.

sliced goose from Yongxing Roasted Meats Shop (永兴烧腊店)

Packets of two different sauces will come along for the ride.

According to some positive online reviews in Chinese you may later discover, the food has an "old Guangzhou" taste. According to a nameless American who still feels full at this moment, the goose is totally worth it. "Great stuff," he says eloquently.

Some other day I will share another goose experience from Guangdong province — in a place where neither the food nor the local dialect is Cantonese. Some other day I will share another line experience in Guangzhou. The lines were much longer and no meat was involved. A rather unexpected dairy product did make an appearance though.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Children Following the Music in Guangzhou

sculpture of children following a woman playing a violin in Guangzhou, China
“Music Unhurried" (乐韵悠悠) by Qian Chang (前畅) and Huang Jianxun (黄建勋)
on a rainy day at Shamian Island in Guangzhou, China

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Adventurous Five-Year-Old Girl in China Pays High Price for Believing Cartoon Physics

A five-year-old girl in Urumqi, China, watches a cartoon and decides to take a journey. In preparation she puts on her backpack. Based on knowledge gained from the informative cartoon, she also grabs an umbrella before leaving. The little girl doesn't expect rain, but she appreciates it still has much value. After all, she would be crazy to jump from the 11th floor without one.
The little girl landed on a fourth-floor cement platform below the window, suffering severe head, spinal and pelvic injuries that required multiple rounds of surgery.
Ugh, ugh, ugh. Poor, poor girl.

She later told her father, who along with her mother had left her at home alone, the Chinese cartoon series Boonie Bears was the source of inspiration. None of the reports I looked at shared a relevant umbrella scene. I haven't been able to find one myself despite spending way too much time trying and coming across an episode where the bears want to fly. There is a lot of footage to cover though, and given the girl's current state it wouldn't be surprising if she mixed up shows.

The case especially resonated because I love the independent, adventurous, and brave spirit, something which the little girl had exhibited before. Within the confines of a five-year-old's world what she did feels so understandable, even if not predictable. Sadly, the price for this mistake was extremely high. Life isn't fair on any floor.

Although her survival is incredible, her condition sounds awful. But the fact she could speak with her father at all seems like a positive sign. Hopefully she has a strong recovery and can embark on more rewarding adventures in the future when there is less of a need for watchful eyes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Beef Brisket, Burger Queen, and Goddesses: International Women's Day Promotions in China

Two years ago in Zhongshan, Guangdong, I saw a sale for International Women's Day at War Ground — a military-themed clothing retailer. Last year in Jieyang, Guangdong, I saw two Women's Day sales featuring laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid.

In an article featuring some of this year's online Women's Day sales in China, Yvette Tan shares how some in China aren't happy about the sales:
It's worth noting that organisers for March 8's "A Day Without A Woman", aimed at calling attention to the economic inequalities faced by women, has called on women to avoid shopping for the day.

Some Chinese netizens are unimpressed with the commercialism of the day.

"Queen's Day, Girls Day, Princess Day, whatever you call it, I think it's disgusting," said one user on Weibo. "You took a perfectly good celebration and made it into this."
Tan also mentions one of the more thought-provoking promotions: a collaboration in Shanghai between Burger King and Y&R Shanghai captured in a video:
Prompted by the question, ‘Can you be our Burger Queen?’, most female interviewees, despite their various differences, doubted or questioned their worthiness of such a regal title.

Having sparked huge curiosity about who would be crowned Burger Queen, female customers opening their burger boxes today face the ultimate unveil – a mirror topped with a crown and the message ‘Every one of you is our Burger Queen.’

Regardless of how one feels about Burger King, the video is worth watching for the variety of perspectives captured.

For Women's Day this year I am yet again in Guangdong province, but this time in its capital Guangzhou. And yet again, I have seen sales for the holiday, including several days ago at a grocery market specializing in imported goods.

199 Go Shopping Women's Day promotion featuring ice cream cones and brisket

This was the only Women's Day sale I noticed that featured beef brisket. But it was similar to a number of other sales in lasting for multiple days before or after the holiday. Another common feature of other sales I noticed in Guangzhou were discounts based on the holiday's date March 8 (3-8). For example, sometimes prices were discounted to 38% of the original price or reduced by 38 yuan (about US $5.50).

Presumably the largest number of sales occurred today. This afternoon I visited the popular Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, which captures one side of Guangzhou's vast range of shopping experiences. No modern luxury malls line the street, but there are plenty of stores and shoppers.

Unsurprisingly, the Woman & Baby Company had a Women's Day sale.

Woman & Baby Company Women's Day sale

A leather goods retailer also had a holiday promotion.

Mexican Women's Day sale

Retailers for several Chinese sportswear brands were in the holiday spirit as well, including 361 Degrees.

361 Degrees Women's Day sale

And Li-Ning . . .

Li-Ning Women's Day sale

And Anta . . .

Anta Women's Day sale

And even New Banluce . . .

New Banluce Women's Day sale

Some people may notice New Banluce's name and logo are remarkably similar to another sportswear brand. I didn't see a sale specific to the Women's Day holiday at New Barlun though.

New Barlun Women's Day sale

This touches on some of the challenges faced by a far more globally recognized sportswear brand, New Balance, in China. I will save that for another day. I don't think there is a New Balance store on this pedestrian street, but there are stores elsewhere in Guangzhou.

Back to the Women's Day sales, Sino Gem didn't miss out.

Sino Gem Women's Day sale

The most remarkable promotion I saw today was at one of the stores of another jewelry retailer — Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry.

Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry Goddes Sale

Instead of using the term "Women's Day", like some other retailers they went with another name, in this case "Goddess Day" (I'll take the liberty to fix the English spelling).

Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry Goddes Day sign

Just to be sure, I confirmed with one of the employees that the sale was for Women's Day.

But I haven't gotten to the part that left the biggest impression. I had the fortune to stop by during a special moment. I don't have right words to express it, so this happened along with majestic music:

Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry promotion with people dressed up in ancient traditional costumes

And things didn't stop there, soon the well-dressed group took a short walk down the pedestrian street.

Royalty walking down the Shangxia Jiu Pedestrian Street

Upon returning to the store, they graciously allowed a few people to take photos with them.

woman posing for photo with pretend royalty

I wonder if the baby on her back was excited by it all.

Anyway, I can't top that promotion today.

The commercialization of Women's Day hasn't reached the levels of Christmas in China, but it does seem to be growing. Some see the sales as a sign of women's growing economic power. Some would like to see women in China heard more in other ways.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Two Creative Year of the Rooster Promotions in Hong Kong

As in Jieyang, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, and Macau, I saw many artistic depictions of chickens in Hong Kong to welcome in the Year of the Rooster. I will share two of the more creative examples I saw there.

The first was one of several sculptures in a Lunar New Year promotion involving the local designer Eric So and MT masking tape at the iSquare shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui.

rooster with happy children faces designed by Eric So

I am going to take the liberty of naming it "Fowl Happiness".

The other chickens were in an advertisement for Apple I saw in Causeway Bay. It featured a piece of art made with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. As I noted before, it isn't clear in many cases whether the chicken depicted is specifically a rooster or a hen. In this case, I think there is one of each, though the rooster is more prominent.

Apple Year of the Rooster advertisement in Hong Kong featuring a piece by Victo Ngai

No witty (or less than witty) name is coming to mind, but fortunately the artist Victo Ngai provided a namer of her own: Apple Lucky Rooster. Follow the link for some details about the creative process behind the piece and photos of some other locations where it appeared.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dramatic Signs Don't Stop People from Walking on Escalators in Hong Kong

As I mentioned when discussing China's new desire for people to stand still on escalators, the place I most associate with people regularly standing on one side of an escalator and walking on the other side is Hong Kong. During my recent time there, nothing seemed to have changed in people's behavior. Admittedly, I walked up or down my share of escalators.

I even noticed a sign on an escalator for an elevated walkway in Wan Chai indicating the "stand on right" rule.

'Stand on right — Hold the handrail' sign on an escalator in Hong Kong

It may just be a leftover from an older time though.

On escalators for MRT (Mass Transit Railway) stations, notices indicate to "always hold the handrail", which doesn't necessarily preclude people from walking.

'Always hold the hand rail' and 'Anti-bacterial coating applied to handrail with addition disinfection regularly carried out' signs on an MTR escalator in Hong Kong

Although I didn't see any "standing only" messages in similar locations, on one occasion I noticed an announcement requesting people to stand still.

And in at least some MTR stations there are a few relevant but easy to miss informational posters mixed in with the many advertisements and other similarly posted signs common in stations.

a hold the handrail MTR sign with a man perilously standing on a high rock

The main message above is that is dangerous to not hold the escalator handrails. Additionally, the message to "stand firm" appears in small print at the bottom of the sign. The bottom half of the image reminds me of an incredibly perilous and since-closed path I once faced at the Stone Forest in Shilin, Yunnan. My self-preservation skills kicked in then, and I will take my chances walking on an escalator over that any day.

This certainly isn't the first MTR sign I have seen with a dramatic message. And it isn't the only MTR escalator safety sign which, um, escalates the sense of danger. Another sign warns against bringing baby strollers onto escalators.

MTR 'No Strollers on Escalators' sign with a teddy bear falling from a great height

Based on my informal observations, baby strollers are far more often used for babies than teddy bears. I am guessing the MTR has its limits for drama though. Baby strollers also can block people from walking on escalators, but that is probably a point the MTR wants to avoid.

There is even a related 2016 MTR escalator safety video. Like the signs, it is pretty intense.

The smashed tomato really makes it. While the "stand firm on escalators" message is expressed, the most relevant part of the video focuses more on "stay alert" and "hold the handrail", which could apply to stairs as well. On that note, according to a MTR safety report for 2015 there weren't any fatalities due to escalators but there was one caused by a misstep on stairs. It doesn't give numbers on accidents due to walking on escalators or stairs, which would be useful for evaluating the relative risks. Whatever the case, it is hard to argue with the "stay alert" message. Particularly in a busy environment, it is relevant whether you are walking on flat ground, stairs, or even an escalator.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Lunar New Year Displays in Zhongshan

Since the previous post about an advertisement for plastic surgery touched on the topic of the Lunar New Year in Zhongshan, I will take this opportunity to share just a few of the holiday displays I stumbled upon there about a month ago.

The first one includes a large decorated government building.

Lunar New Year decorations at a government building in Zhongshan, China

A variety of government organizations are based there, including the Zhongshan City National People's Congress Standing Committee and the Zhongshan City Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy. Yes, they promote "democracy" in China. In fact, "democracy" is one of China's 12 "core socialist values". If this confuses you, I understand. I will say more on this topic later. For now, more holiday displays . . .

The next one was at Yixian Lake Park.

Lunar New Year display at Yixian Lake Park in Zhongshan

As far as I know, no meetings promoting democracy occur here, but the park does have a provocative cartoon museum.

Despite exhibiting fine holiday spirit, neither of the previous two displays include the all important zodiac animal for the new lunar year. The last example resolves this issue with an impressive rooster.

Lunar New Year display with a rooster or phoenix at Zimaling Park in Zhongshan

I considered it might be the mythical fenghuang, which is sometimes used instead of the rooster. But given several rooster-ish features I am going with it being a rooster. Whatever it is, the display stood in front of the South Gate at Zimaling Park. The park has neither any obvious democracy promoting activities nor a cartoon museum. But it does have a tower, a small part of which can be seen behind the display in the photo, offering a bird's-eye view of Zhongshan including both urban areas and tree-covered mountains.

Advertising Lunar New Year Plastic Surgery in Zhongshan

About two years ago, I mentioned a promotion in Zhongshan for lip hair removal services by the AIST "beauty hospital". The use of flowers to make a mustache around a large photos of a woman's lips was one notable aspect. The promotion occurring on International Women's Day was another.

Recently, I saw a new advertisement for AIST at several street-side locations in Zhongshan.

Lunar New Year advertisement for the AIST "beauty hospital" in Zhongshan, China

As the rooster suggests, the ad was for the Lunar New Year. The message expressed by the large red characters "不俏不過年" may be less clear though. Several Chinese speakers I asked, including a translator, expressed confusion over its meaning. After thinking about it more, I now suspect fully appreciating the unusual message requires recognizing an implication which wouldn't leap out to everybody. My current translation would be "If you're not pretty, don't celebrate the Lunar New Year." The unsaid implication is that the long holiday would be a good time to recover from plastic surgery, which some people consider.

The phrase in the red box also intrigued me. I see it used in some places for the practice of combining astrology and plastic surgery, which could connect to the Lunar New Year theme as well.

So, I have a basic story for the ad but am not sure it is the right one. I would be interested to speak to the ad's creators about their intentions. I would also be interested to know how their target audience, which might not include any of the few people I asked, interpreted the ad.

But I won't be digging into this further. However, as always, I would be happy to hear from any readers. At the very least, I feel safe in saying that the ad isn't about plastic surgery for chickens.