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Mozzies go NEEEE NEEEEEE NEEEEEE

Mosquitos generally REALLY REALLY ANNOY ME (I was thinking of using “piss me off” but that might be a bit vulgar in CAPs).

At the moment, I have about 7 mosquito bites. They wouldn’t be much of a problem if I reacted to them like most people. Unfortunately for me, I’m more or less allergic to their saliva and 70% of the time, my bites swell up to EPIC proportions. It’s really quite fun. 3 of the bites are on my left hand right now and I cannot make it into a fist (otherwise it’s painful).

Because of this, I’ve gotten pretty good at mosquito killing. I can grab one from the air and squish it to death most of the time. The night before was even more awesome. I felt something on my left hand and I was able to grab it with my thumb and index finger and kill it. Bare in mind, this was all in the dark and I was half asleep at the time. Mosquitos are my least favourite things, actually there is no other insect I resent more. I kill them without a second thought. Other insects, I usually try and find an alternative.

It’s something I find quite curious really. When I take the life of a spider, ant, or fly I feel bad for it. A mosquito, it’s like “YES I GOT YOU”. The idea itself of being able to take the life of something so easily without a second though and being able to kill something else of a similar size, but with regret, is something I find extremely curious. At the moment I don’ t have any words to explain it.

At the moment, I am watching an old Chinese kung fu movie of some sort. I can’t really understand what it’s about, but there is a lot of kung fu fighting and it’s pretty amusing. There’s a love story in it somewhere too. Guess love is in every culture. How odd.

 —–

Update, it seems the bites have stopped swelling when I woke up this morning. YAY

Also, I’d like to share with you some quotes I found on online forums the night before about mosquitos (mozzies):

  • Get a wife like mine.
    She attracts all the Mossies while I sleep.:D
  • i got a mosquito net for my bed… perfect barrier.unless they get inside it and hide, waiting for you :DSerious, I reckon mozzies hide under your pillow when you try to catch them.

    It’s that thing we’ve all done at 2am in the morning, when that neeeeeeeee eeeeeeeee neeeeeeeeee noise happens right inside your ear.

    First, you swat around your head in the dark and it goes away, but struth god, they always come back just as your about to nod off again, every time !

    So then you get up and switch on the lamp, grab something to swat with and wait. Across the room you see one, so you carefully get out of bed with your eye on the target and it vanishes.

    Now this is war and you usually find yourself stealth pacing round your room naked (or in your jocks or pajamas, depending on your naff quotient)

    Eventually you give up and decide the mozzie has gone, but what you don’t realise is that mozzie is hiding under your pillow, smart little f@cker !

    And if you do get to know this trick, then the mozzie hides under your bed, or inside the your lamp.

    In fact, it’s watching you from wherever it’s hiding, although it doesn’t see in a conventional sense. It sees your fingers, toes and ankles glowing and smells your sweaty body now that you’ve exerted all that energy trying to catch it.

    There’s only one thing for it, the attack from all angles strategy.

    As you rip your room to shreds, searching for the mozzie hiding place, it quietly buzzes out of the room until your done and decide to go back to sleep.

    Then, just as your starting to nod off again …

    neeeeeeeeeeeee neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • My advice: go to the pet market and buy a couple hundred frogs… take them home and release them in the water near where you live, they’ll multiply and wah-lah, no more mosquito problem. I love where I live because of this simple fact.
  • Seriously, 1000 frogs will end the problem – should cost you about 57 RMB.
  • I have a large desk fan at the end of my bed blowing at my head, they cant get me through the turbulance
In other news, I’ve found street photography at night to be much more interesting and challenging. Forget day time shots, those are for chumps!
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Surprise China! I’m secretly CRAZY

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with Shanghai, though more leaning towards the “WHY IS IT LIKE THIS” side.  Right now it’s raining pretty hard, but not enough to make it “too loud to hear yourself think”. I would love to visit a place where that is the case one day. Rain so hard and loud, that you can’t even hear yourself think. I’ve read Kenya has rain like that. I’d like to check that place out during its rainy season (I think).

Now here’s a funny story. I was taking the subway the other day and it was a pretty long trip (around 40+ minutes or so for one way). Being in the happy mood I was in, I decided to stick my headphones in and listen to some music. About a minute later, guess what? I started to dance (not amazing, you know the dance where you just move your body and look stupid). The more I did it, the more fun it got. I thought “heck, I’m in Shanghai and I’m not gonna see any of these people again. Let’s mess around”; and so began my dance of 40 minutes.

Let me tell you, it was epic (in my head). Probably one of the best moments I’ve had here in Shanghai. Call me weird, but doing stupid things gets me happy these days, especially in public. It’s a lot more fun here because of one thing. People here in Shanghai (possibly China too) are just way to serious. Apparently being happy on the subway is one of the symptoms of being insane in the membrane (and unfortunately no, that wasn’t one of the songs I was listening to as awesome as it would have been). It’s something that made me laugh inside and find very curious. Back home, if someone does something odd or seems really happy on a train someone else will end up smiling or chuckling to themselves (not all the time, but the occurrence rate is relatively high). Here, if you seem happy most people will consider you to be a lunatic of some sort and avoid you.

Even while aware of a bunch of people judging me, I kept dancing like a fool. It was fun and honestly, I didn’t care what they thought. I mean, yeah people back home might consider me to be crazy too, but not everybody would be so serious. I’d still get the odd hidden chuckle or two. Will I do it again? Quite possibly. For starters, I was riding the train during rush hour and while everybody else was packed in like a can of sardines, I had a decent amount of space to stand in (no invasion of my personal bubble). I like that.

I plan on doing a lot more stupid/odd things from here on. Nothing to get me killed of course. At most, get judged. Oh yes.

Damn I suck at smiling

That realization came about after looking at some pictures that were of me taken here in Shanghai. I thought I was smiling, but turns out I look pretty pissed. Wonderful. I guess I need to be in front of a camera a bit more instead of behind it now. Photossss

Speaking of photos, I’ve flipped through a lot of ones belonging to my grandparents (from both sides of the family, and the idea of doing so came from the recommendation of a friend, thanks Cecilia!) and there’s something to be said about the act of doing that. On one hand, going through them makes you think “wow things looked really different and weird back then” and on the other, you find it extremely interesting and you wonder “how were things like back then?” That’s how I basically felt when I flipped through them; a mix of wonder and “LOL” (by the way mom, LOL stands for “laugh out loud” or in Mandarin something like 好笑). Yes, my mom is reading this blog while I’m in China.

Anyway, there’s something about flipping through old photos of your parents, relatives, and their friends that is just intriguing. It’s like watching a frozen moment in time that will never occur again (or very unlikely to do so). Each photo I looked at, made me wonder what they were thinking at that very moment. Did they want to go home? Were they having fun? Were they thinking what they would be like years from now? Did they tell themselves “yes this is going to be a memorable moment”?

When flipping through physical pictures, there’s something about holding that photo and knowing that if it was somehow lost, there was little chance (if any) to get it back. Digital photos (or files of any type) can be recovered using special software. If you put it on the internet, it’ll always be there (so long as the internet stays).

With the way pictures are digital now, I have to wonder: will kids in the future be able to look through photos of their relatives on a screen and get the same feeling I get when physically flipping through photos? I mean, if they’re printed, ok. But the majority of people these days don’t print their photos. They just stick them on Facebook or Flickr (or both). Yes, kids of the future will definitely be way more tech savvy so I guess it’s all a matter of sharing accounts and connecting your accounts of whatever to theirs. Will it be the norm to add your kids on Facebook? Probably. It’ll be interesting to see what things are like once your kids are flipping through your Facebook photos and seeing you partying it up. Seriously, that’ll get you some responsibility points. Of course, that all depends on Facebook not being replaced by something more ridiculous (or how public you make your own profile to your kids).

I’ve always told myself to print out the photos I have, but I never actually do so. I could say that I will now once I get home, but I probably won’t. However, in not saying so, I might actually do it. I should probably figure out my plans for once I get back (thinking wayyy too far ahead? I think so, but might as well).

Be ridiculous, fart, and be merry.

It seems as though I brought rain to Shanghai. Sweet (apologies for the vulgar-ish title)

What really annoys me is that I had expected Shanghai to be insanely hot by the time I got here. Granted, it was, but for 4 days so far total. At the moment, it’s raining a fairly large amount and the fact that I have shorts and one pair of jeans is a bit annoying. However, I’m not going to complain. I dislike heat so the fact that it’s raining makes me happy. Makes things feel like home. Almost.

Here’s one thing you don’t really see often back in Vancouver. A bunch of old, retired people hanging out at a local park or sitting around on a bench or sidewalk and just chilling and doing their thing (after typing this, I’m kicking myself for not getting pictures of things like that). You’ll see a lot of old folks back in Vancouver near retirement homes, maybe, but generally speaking you don’t see them loitering in one area for an entire day. Loiter…I like that word (speaking of which, ever wonder why signs always use that word when, for the most part, I don’t think people really understand the meaning in its entirety?). Anyway, where was I again? Right, old people. Earlier today, I saw a bunch of old folks playing away on various instruments at a local park I went to with my relatives. I don’t ever recall seeing that in Vancouver, but I don’t rule out the possibility of it. It got me thinking. Usually we associate getting older with being “less movement, less work, and less effort”, basically less in whatever it is that makes you tired. How healthy is that?

When a lot of people retire, it seems that they choose to stay at home and only go out when needed (i.e. groceries). There are, of course, exceptions but for the most part it’s either “chill” at home/retirement home and do basically nothing or go travel the world with tour groups. Which of the two is healthier do you think? Probably the latter. Of course, not everyone can afford to go on random vacations and those that do may only go once or twice at best (this is all based on speculation bear in mind). So let’s say you get old and retire. What do you plan on doing with your time? Take a break and just sit on that couch and watch the tele? Surely after working for so long, you deserve that. Right?

Maybe, but is it the best thing to do? Doesn’t seem like it. When you’re older, it seems as though when you choose to do nothing you just get slower. Yes, it may have to do with aging, but ever not talk to any person for a while and notice that when you start talking to someone again (let’s say maybe 2 weeks or so) it seems a bit odd and you find it hard to think of things to say? Generally, people like talking to other people. Some like to talk non-stop and some like to talk in short bursts. Regardless, a lack of conversation makes the brain slow and turn to mush.

Sitting around and being lazy feels pretty nice when you’re doing it. If you’ve done it for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that you don’t have the same amount of strength you did when you moved a lot (as an example let’s say you used to go for walks a lot). The less of it you do, the more weak your muscles become (regardless of the aging process). The weaker your muscles become, the less you are able to do.

The less you are able to do, the more you will just sit there. The more you sit there, the more your body turns to mush. Throw in some conversation…wait what conversation? You have no strength to get up and go out and talk to people.

So, a lack of conversation and a lack of movement turns both your brain and your body to mush. For that reason, a lot of the elderly have health problems. Constant movement or social interaction can solve not every health problem, but I do believe that these things play a role in a person’s mental and physical well being. So when you get older, I would say you owe it to yourself to be healthy bot mentally and physically (and if you’re an economist, think of how much money that can be saved from unnecessary healthcare costs and used elsewhere).

A lot of people seem to dislike getting old. What’s wrong with it? For starters, everything you’ve done in life previously is done and being old is probably the best time to be ridiculous, fart, and be merry. You don’t get to do crazy physical things like you did when you were younger, but you are able to a lot of things that people won’t judge you for (or at least, if they do it’ll be more like “oh he/she is old, it’s what they do”). I for one can’t wait to get old and be ridiculous.

Once upon a time

I wish I had some stories to tell you; stories that had some sort of moral lesson or life changing aspect. I don’t however, and unlike a number of people I know (including a few on the Blog Squad), I did not come with the intention to make any sort of difference. When you really think about it, it seems a bit selfish. At least, that’s my take on it.

I’ve been told that I’m rather apathetic. I’m not entirely sure it’s a good or bad thing (it depends on how you look at it). I’m not apathetic all the time, but generally what gets most people down doesn’t affect me all that much (or depending on how serious it is, I can get rather excited and happy too). I don’t know if I’ve been apathetic during this trip. I’ll explain.

Everything I’ve seen on this trip that made me cringe and dislike China on my last trip here has made me smile, chuckle, or laugh. Things like the way people drive here, the manners (or lack thereof I should say) that waiters/waitresses have, and the crowdedness of public transit originally made me despise this city. Now, it’s like I’ve gotten used to it. Almost. The way people drive and the risks one has to take in order to cross the street has become more of a game to me. Which car can I beat (with safety in mind of course)? The waiters/waitresses are rude, but I’ll give them a smile to confuse them. Public transit is packed, but it’s all rather amusing watching how people here complain and deal with being shoulder to shoulder with others.

It seems that I’m taking everything with a grain of salt this time around. Though now that I think about it, perhaps a grain of salt is an understatement. I seem to be trying to flip everything “bad” and make it more humorous (and succeeding). My personality and outlook towards life has changed considerably since the last time I was here when I was 16 (I used to be shy and keep to myself much much more). It’s interesting what different outlooks on life can do to how one views a place, people, or idea. We rarely have a chance to compare for ourselves about how we thought during one particular time and a new one. I suppose, today that is the realization that I have. The outlook I currently have is one that currently works best for me. I make the best of things that I can and try to spin everything from a humorous perspective (most of the time).  I suppose, for the most part, that’s why I don’t take a lot of things seriously.

Take a moment next time you come across a situation that makes you annoyed, frustrated, angry, or shocked and try to think of it in a humorous manner. In other news, I experienced my first thunderstorm in Shanghai. It was AWESOME and the raindrops were pretty big. I’m a huge fan of thunderstorms, rainstorms, and monsoons. Here are a few pics from that day.

It’s HOT

I never thought I would ever wear jeans in 30° C weather.  I’m surprised I was able to yesterday and not feel warm, but rather, slightly cold (and no I’m not sick).  Have I grown accustomed to this city already? Probably not, it’s most likely just some random anomaly.

There are a number of things I want to talk about, but it’s hard to get them into a coherent thought. There are also a number of things I wanted to talk about but have totally forgotten. The only transition I can think of at this point is a realization today that I did not notice that I was on a bus on my way to my other grandma (I’ve been staying with the grandparents on my mom’s side for the past 3 or 4 days). I remember how shocked I was upon seeing how crowded the busses were and how the drivers drove like mad when I was here 4 years ago. Today, it felt like I was riding on a normal bus back home. Today I found myself dazing out and not really noticing the way the bus drivers drove. The busses have improved by a lot (they have air conditioning, wow!), but the drivers still drive in and out, honk a lot, and don’t really make the bus ride all that comfortable.

I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve adjusted to this…different culture. Crossing the street here is like nothing back home. When crossing streets, one has to look not both ways, but 4 ways. Not just once, but while crossing the whole time (assuming one doesn’t want to get hit). It’s a habit I have anyway back home at Vancouver, but the likelihood of a car coming at collision speed is rare. Here, it’s a daily occurrence. First day of crossing a street went like this: “JESUS HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CROSS?” Now it’s more like: “Hmmm where’s the gap…where is it…there it is!” *bam book it across*

People talk about culture shock a lot and yes, that is a bit of a difficulty. That isn’t a problem for me though. For me it was more of not knowing many people. Yes, I have my relatives, but I don’t know them very well so often it feels like one big awkward meet up (but luckily this time it’s been pretty good). The thought of this reminds me of how I’ve talked about moving to another country and live there (or how often other people talk about moving to another country and living there). I’m only here for a month and a half and during the first few days, I found myself having difficulty in motivating myself to get out of the house (actually I never did unless it was with grandma). Now imagine you’re in a new country and you speak enough of the language to just find a toilet (at best) and you can’t read anything there to save your life. Do you really want to go out and about? While reading this, it’s probably pretty easy to say “hells yes!” but in reality it’s difficult. Some people definitely can; they’re the ones with more spunk to throw themselves out there into difficult situations or have a desire to explore (or are just plain crazy). For most people, it can go either two ways:

  • person in new country tentatively goes out bit by bit
  • person in new country talks only to friends on the computer (if they’re lucky) and only goes out to get food and other necessities

From those two possibilities, it can go two ways yet again:

  • person in new country ends up getting used to it over time and stays
  • person in new country gets frustrated and goes back home (though this is often not the case due to economic or social circumstances)

Not going out is pretty lonely. Not having anybody to talk to is even more lonely. Being only able to talk friends/family via computer or telephone makes things a bit better, but it brings too many reminders of home. Then throw in the need to find a job (assuming you didn’t obtain one before getting there), pay rent, and figure out the local language (if it isn’t the same). At this point, things are starting to get a bit complicated.

It isn’t easy to be somewhere new away from where you grew up. Having things be entirely different makes it even harder. I’ve gone out and taken public transit a few times. I have two bus cards with 200 RMB each (taking public transit uses up money pretty quickly). I feel rather confident in taking public transit to random places in order to see where things are. It’s something I meant to do in Vancouver but never got around to doing…it’ll help me get to know this city a bit better for the future (though I’m not entirely sure I’d want to come back).

Anywho, here are some shots from the Expo pavilion. Like I said before, not very interesting. The only amusing experience I got from it was how the folks visiting would make a mad dash while pushing and shoving to sit down to view some big screen. I find that extremely sad and funny at the same time and it’s something I will never understand.

New vs. Old and confusion

So I went to the China pavilion for the 2010 Expo in Shanghai and it was…underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it was very cool, but I found the showcase of Chinese culture to be a bit much (which made it underwhelming for me, don’t ask how). They made everything seem all happy and that nothing was wrong. Granted, no one would show a miserable country. I just didn’t enjoy how everything was displayed. There’s also a lot of show about the past. Anything regarding the past makes me skeptical. Honestly, I generally don’t like things that have to do with the past. There’s something about it that hinders progress (in my mind).

I’m not saying one should totally forget about the past. There are lessons to be learned from the past, but it’s when a person (or group of people) holds onto old habits and ideals is where I have a problem with it. I tend to wonder if it is possible to help every single person when a country or area moves forward. Sometimes yes, but I have a tendency to lean towards “no”. Some people will refuse to be helped and the concept of “help” is often so subjective. How do you help people who have an infinite culmination of experiences?

I do not believe in “one size fits all” solutions. If the aim is to help everyone in need, then you’re looking at lots of time and money being spent. In a perfect world, it would be do-able. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Do I think we should strive to help everyone? Yes. Is it do-able? Not really. I come about all this because the progress China has made in the past decade. It’s really quite amazing what the country has become. Sure, its human rights record isn’t amazing (understatement), but overall, a lot more people have been helped (arguable, but from a living standards perspective, things are better).

I’m beginning to wonder how coherent my posts have become lately. Being here in Shanghai has left me kind of brain dead. I’m not entirely sure of what I am doing or what I expect myself to be doing and I don’t feel all that great right now either. When I think of something fun/interesting to blog about I’m usually about to fall asleep. Bugger. Speaking of the past thought, here are some shots of a performance showcasing the past.