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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Some Hongkou Clouds in Shanghai

Since I shared a photo of clouds above a famous skyline in Shanghai, the wonderfully pleasant weather and relatively good air quality has continued — a welcomed change from the many smoggy days I have experienced here in the past. This has significantly helped me not regret having not yet moved on to my next destination. To continue the cloud theme, I will share a few photos taken today in Shanghai's Hongkou district of scenes not as famous as Shanghai's towering buildings in Lujiazui.

Two photos taken in front of Hongkou Plaza that include the elevated tracks for Line 3 of the Shanghai Metro:

clouds appearing above and below Line 3 of the Shanghai Metro


clouds and Line 3 of the Shanghai Metro


Two photos taken under rather different lighting conditions at nearby Lu Xun Park:

clouds above lake at Lu Xun Park in Shanghai


clouds reflecting on lake at dusk at Lu Xun Park in Shanghai


And finally, a sign at Sida Road of how Shanghai's light pollution makes it easy to spot clouds even at night:

clouds above Sida Road street sign in Shanghai


Not sure how long the current weather and air quality here will last, but I recommend making the most of it if you can.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Clouds Above an Iconic China Scene

I saw some nice clouds today, so I took a photo.



Oddly enough, a lot of other people seemed to be taking photos of the clouds as well. So it might not be hard to find photos similar to the one above. Who would have guessed?

On a slightly more serious note, I hadn't planned to share a photo of such an iconic and familiar scene to announce my arrival in this city. But I really do like clouds. And the weather was wonderful today. I am not even going to bother with the "guess the city" game. Too easy. Yes, my two days of travel and multiple cities ultimately ended with me arriving in Shanghai — the city in China where I have spent the most time, though it has been a while since I was last here. More about that and other topics, including returning to some things I have left hanging, soon.

Friday, September 13, 2019

It's a Bird . . . It's a Plane . . . No, It's Grilled Cheese & Ham Sandwiches in Guangdong

Apparently at least one aspect of my recent travel adventures raised some eyebrows, and amazingly it wasn't the duck-dog. In regards to me questioning the cutting style of a grilled cheese & ham sandwich I ordered at a Cafe de Coral restaurant at the airport in Zhuhai . . .

grilled cheese and ham sandwich arranged like a plane


One reader tweeted:

Another reader emailed:
Maybe this will be more obvious after some sleep, but the airport restaurant cut your sandwich to look like an airplane.

Both readers make an excellent point about the airplane similarity. I wouldn't be surprised if there was an airplane element to what happened to my sandwich at the airport. It sounds so neat and simple. But . . .

But . . .

I was careful to say I questioned how the sandwich was cut. I didn't mention the arrangement. The importance of this distinction should become clearer with a photo of the same sandwich I ordered at another Cafe de Coral — this one in Zhongshan last year:

grilled cheese and ham sandwich not arranged like a plane, though the cut would've permitted it


OK, yes, I didn't mention this important detail before. Aha!

OK, yes, I ordered two sandwiches that time. Aha!

It was a wild and crazy day, and both sandwiches came with drinks. I went with a coffee and a tea to mix things up, because why not. The pork chop is pathetically small, but that's something to rant about another day. Just pay attention to the grilled sandwich on the right for now. Yes, ignore the corn too. It's just corn.

The sandwich cut is roughly the same as the sandwich I ordered at the airport in Zhuhai. The arrangement of the pieces is different though. This Zhongshan Cafe de Coral is far away from any airport. And I didn't see anybody flying around there.

So, I'm not completely ruling out an airplane theory yet. But I think we need more to explain the cut of these innocent grilled cheese & ham sandwiches. The arrangement of pieces could be another story.


Added important note: I'm now wondering if I changed the arrangement of the sandwich in Zhongshan in order to display its insides. I'm not sure, but this is something I might do. And it would explain why much of the plate is empty in the photo. So it is possible the sandwiches in Zhongshan and Zhuhai were arranged similarly. But the Zhongshan sandwich would still complicate the "they made it look like an airplane cause you were at an airport" story, since I wasn't even near an airport then.

Needing Sleep: Four (or Five) Chinese Cities in Two Days

Early Tuesday morning I was surprised when my phone's alarm woke me up at 5:10 a.m. It was supposed to wake me up a 5:00 a.m. Presumably I had slept through the first round of the alarm, and it had tried again.

Those 10 minutes mattered a lot. So I ended up taking a taxi to the Nanning East Railway Station instead of the subway. The taxi cost less than expected, just 35 yuan (a little less than U.S. $5 at the moment), and I arrived at the station with just enough time to pick up a sausage mcmuffin with egg for breakfast.

After about three hours on a high-speed train, I arrived at the Guangzhou South Railway Station.

Guangzhou South Railway Station departure hall


Less than 15 minutes later I boarded another high-speed train, and in little more than an hour I arrived in Zhuhai. Not long after checking into my hotel there, I crossed the border to Macau by foot. Soon I was at favorite cafe for a grilled onion pork chop bun where I noticed a Hong Kong channel was broadcasting a police news conference.

Hong Kong police news conference on TV at a Macau cafe


The sound was off but text on the screen indicated it was about the responsibilities of off duty Hong Kong police. Presumably this was in response to the protest-related news which broke the day before about the issuing of extendable batons to off duty police.

Later in the day, I spotted an animal that taxonomically baffled me for a very brief moment. But then I realized it was just your everyday Macanese duck-dog.

dog wearing a duck bill muzzle


Honestly, the animal attracted my attention to such a degree at the time I didn't even notice the "Do not sit on the staircase to avoid blocking" sign above the sitting-on-the-step woman until now. This raises the question of why, presumably, people like to sit there. Could it be related to the duck-dog?

As this animal experience suggests, as usual I enjoyed my time in Macau. I would've happily stayed longer, but that evening I had to cross the border back to Zhuhai.

young man wearing an "Obey Obey Obey" shirt


After a successful crossing where I learned a key fact from an immigration officer, I was at my favorite place for post-midnight razor clams.

yummy razor clams


I didn't sleep much that night. Actually, I'm not sure I really slept at all. In any case, at 5:30 a.m. I boarded a shared van to Zhuhai's airport.

Soon after arrival, I noticed my plane was already at its gate. So that was nice.

China Southern Airlines airplane at gate at Zhuhai Airport


Since I had plenty of time to spare, I ordered a grilled cheese & ham sandwich at a popular Hong Kong chain restaurant.

grilled ham & cheese sandwich cut unusually (for the US)

I'm not clear why they cut the sandwich that way. I probably shouldn't, but I'm still pondering it.


Anyway, soon I was in the sky and presented with an airplane snack.


Not so thrilling flight snack

The steamed bun on the far left was stuffed with some sort of meat-like substance. I will just say I have eaten many, many different types of steamed buns in China, and this one may have been the worst. But at least the turtle shell herbal jelly was decent enough, though I wondered whether it actually had any turtle shell in it.

Whatever the case, the flight was otherwise uneventful, which I mostly count as a very good thing.

After about 2 hours in the air, I found myself much farther north in China than I have been in nearly two years. Yet incredibly I am still in what they call the south.

So I would say in two days I was in four cities, though if you want to count Guangzhou (I wouldn't) you could say five. I need to sleep now. A lot. Once that happens, at some point I hope to mention the fourth (or fifth) city.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

Bernie Sanders Political Campaign Shirts Sold and Worn in China

In the previous post I shared a photo of a "Clinton Gore '92" shirt I recently saw somebody wearing in Nanning, China. Last year I shared a photo of a "Jesse Jackson '88" shirt I saw for sale in Jiangmen. And that's not all. There is yet another U.S. presidential campaign shirt I have seen in China.

Last year I saw a "Bernie" shirt for sale at the Paifang Pedestrian Street (牌坊步行街) shopping center in Zhaoqing:

"Bernie" shirt for sale in Zhaoqing, China


I also saw one for sale at the Dongji Xintiandi Shopping Mall (东急新天地购物广场) in Guangzhou:

"Bernie" shirt for sale in Guangzhou, China


And at the Lilian Sun Plaza & Department Store (太阳广场 • 太阳百货) in Shenzhen I saw a young woman wearing one:

young woman wearing a "Bernie" shirt in Shenzhen, China


The Bernie logos on the shirts aren't an absolutely perfect match to the common logo on shirts at the official store for Bernie Sander's presidential campaign:

"Bernie" shirt for sale at the Bernie Campaign Store
Image from the Bernie Campaign Store


But the similarities are clearly not a coincidence, and most people probably wouldn't even notice the differences. In any case, I highly doubt the Sanders campaign is getting any money from the sales of these shirts.

So what's going on with these and other U.S. presidential campaign shirts? Why were they designed? Why did stores decide to sell them? Why are people buying them? I feel safe saying the full story has some twists and turns. More about that later.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The 1992 Clinton-Gore Campaign Lives On Through Fashion in Nanning, China

Most shirts with English messages I see in China don't cause me to reflect further on an event 30 years ago. Sometimes they cause me to reflect on an event only 27 years ago.

"Clinton Gore '92" shirt worn by a girl in Nanning, China


I spotted the back of this shirt hearkening back to the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign of Bill Clinton today in Nanning, Guangxi. I wasn't surprised to discover that the text on the shirt's front wasn't closely related.

front of shirt with message "1980 Original"


During my brief interaction with the girl wearing the shirt, I discovered (also not to my surprise) she understood at least some simple English. Since she was with a group of people, I refrained from asking her whether she was at all familiar with the Clinton-Gore campaign to avoid risking any potential embarrassment. But when I expressed approval of the back of her shirt she didn't seem confused or concerned — just very amused.

I can now only wonder if she has one of the "Jesse Jackson '88" shirts I have seen elsewhere in China as well.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Suggestion About Rights on a Chinese Clothing Store's Employee Uniform

Several months ago I saw a shirt for sale at a Uniqlo store in Yulin, China, with a message that caught my attention all the more since it was the 30th anniversary of the crackdown at Beijing's Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in China. Nearby at a store for the Chinese menswear brand Cabbeen another shirt had a similar effect. In this case, the store's employees were all wearing it. When I asked if I could take a photo of any of their shirts, an employee said I could not. Despite my best efforts to then buy the shirt, they insisted it wasn't for sale and was only for in-store employee use.

So unlike with the Uniqlo shirt, I had to pass on sharing a photo of the Cabbeen shirt.

However, more recently while passing a Cabbeen store in Nanning, China, I happened to notice another employee wearing the shirt. I once again asked if I could take a photo of it, and this time without hesitation they said it would be just fine. Excellent.

So without further comment, I will finally share a photo of a notable shirt in China that I would've shared several months ago had it been possible:

"Exhaust your rights" Cabbeen shirt
Exhaust your rights
*ACHIEVEMENT IS WONDERFUL WHEN YOU KNOW WHY YOU ARE DOING IT*
Cabbeen

Monday, September 2, 2019

No Piano Bench, No Worry at a Walmart in China

Can't find any suitable piano benches to use at a Walmart in Nanning, China? No problem. Just improvise with a shopping cart and a wooden stool.

girl playing an electronic keyboard while sitting on a wooden stool in a shopping cart


While I admired how the setup was a more creative example of people using stools in China, the man stood next to the shopping cart helping to keep it steady while he used his mobile phone and the girl played the keyboard. By chance I was around when they arrived and returned just as the girl wrapped up her 15+ minutes of making music and they left sans keyboard.

This Walmart in Nanning currently sells the wooden stool the girl sat on (or one that look just like it) for 29.9 yuan (about U.S. $4.15). I don't know if the pair ultimately bought the stool, just borrowed it for their Walmart shopping experience, or already owned it, but I did see the girl was still sitting on the stool when we later crossed paths in the produce section.