Twitter Flickr RSS feed

Oh, Shanghai There

Tales of an Englishman living in Shanghai

Posted on March - 2 - 2012

On pretty much every blog you’ll read written by a foreigner living in China, the main focus is always on those little differences in Chinese and Western thinking. Things like the Chinese inability to queue properly, the non-existent health and safety procedures, the ridiculous bureaucracy… and given that my last post was about what I consider to be “funny Chinese habits”, I’m happy to admit that I’m as guilty as anybody else […]

Posted on February - 21 - 2012

I recently celebrated my 18 month anniversary of moving to this fantastic city, and I’ve found that the longer you live here, the more you find some Chinese habits quirky and silly rather than alien or culturally significant. For example, it’s quite well known that Chinese people drink hot water instead of cold water, because they believe that cold water will make you ill. Nothing refreshes you on a hot, humid day like a glass of piping hot water, eh? There’s also a rule that […]

Posted on February - 9 - 2012
chinese bride

好久不见 (hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn – “long time no see”), everybody. I should apologise for not updating for so long, but if I did that be prefacing every post with the same thing, and that’ll get boring pretty quickly. Recently China celebrated the Lunar New Year, which is a […]

Posted on September - 22 - 2011

I’m off to Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks, so don’t be expecting any updates for a while… though at the rate I’m updating here, you probably shouldn’t be expecting too much anyway. Here’s a quick ToYM to tide you over… Yang Mei teaches people from all over the world (and unlike the majority of Chinese people, she has come to appreciate different cultures because of it), including America, England, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Japan […]

Posted on September - 16 - 2011

This happened pretty much just down the road from me, which – as any George Carlin fan will know – suddenly makes it a million times more interesting. So here’s the quick version – an Audi owner gets into an argument on the street with a female parking attendant/meter maid about a parking fine he’d incurred. He got in the car and tried to drive away before the attendant could write him up, so she stood in front of the car […]

Posted on August - 31 - 2011

Well, that’s one of the weirdest titles I’ve ever written. The Chinese language has a few awesome quirks, probably acquired through thousands of years of use. One of my favourite things is the way they combine or compound words to make a whole new word, often with a different meaning. Sometimes, the words are opposites. For example, the word zuǒyòu (左右), literally means “left right”, but put together the word comes to mean “approximately” […]

Posted on August - 12 - 2011

Looks like I’ve been more than a little remiss with my blogging over the last month or so. I’ve got a very bad habit of starting blogs and then not updating them. My problem is that I only like blogging when I feel like I have something to say, when really I should just be doing plenty of little updates. In all honesty, I haven’t been up to very much in the last month or so that has been particularly exciting… but then, this is supposed to be a blog about living in Shanghai, not […]

Posted on July - 1 - 2011

OK, so this isn’t Shanghai, but it’s still worth posting. The city of Kunming – capital of the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan – has around 7 million residents. It is more known for its traffic, with over 1,000 cars added to the already overcrowded roads each and every day. Now, I see a few pretty mean feats of driving living here in Shanghai on a pretty much daily basis – and when I say “mean feats”, I […]

Posted on June - 28 - 2011

There are a hell of a lot of westerners in Shanghai – many come to study, many come backpacking, some to shag as many Chinese girls as they possibly can… but I’d estimate that the vast majority are here for work. A lot of them are contracted to be here for a while, so they inevitably take Chinese lessons to help them get through daily life here – ordering in restaurants, telling cab drivers where to go, etc. Apparently quite a common thing for Chinese teachers […]

Posted on June - 16 - 2011

Yáng Méi told me this story just today. Unfortunately it needs a little explanation, but hey, you’re here to learn, right? So, she has a Japanese student who had a friend visiting him. His friend is called Laurence. When Yáng Méi went over last week to teach her student, he introduced Laurence to her. However, in an attempt to make it easier (and, I suppose, more polite), he transliterated Laurence’s name into Chinese and introduced him as that. At this […]

Featured Posts

Foreigner advice from a Chinese person

On pretty much every blog you’ll read written by a foreigner living in China, the main focus is always on those little differences in Chinese and Western thinking. Things like the Chinese inability to queue properly, the non-existent health and safety procedures, the ridiculous bureaucracy… and given that my last post was about what I consider to be “funny Chinese habits”, I’m happy to admit that I’m as guilty as anybody else […]

Funny Chinese habits and beliefs

I recently celebrated my 18 month anniversary of moving to this fantastic city, and I’ve found that the longer you live here, the more you find some Chinese habits quirky and silly rather than alien or culturally significant. For example, it’s quite well known that Chinese people drink hot water instead of cold water, because they believe that cold water will make you ill. Nothing refreshes you on a hot, humid day like a glass of piping hot water, eh? There’s also a rule that […]

chinese bride

Hao jiu bu jian, happy new year, and keeping mum and dad happy

好久不见 (hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn – “long time no see”), everybody. I should apologise for not updating for so long, but if I did that be prefacing every post with the same thing, and that’ll get boring pretty quickly. Recently China celebrated the Lunar New Year, which is a […]

Tales of Yang Mei #5: Scary fast

I’m off to Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks, so don’t be expecting any updates for a while… though at the rate I’m updating here, you probably shouldn’t be expecting too much anyway. Here’s a quick ToYM to tide you over… Yang Mei teaches people from all over the world (and unlike the majority of Chinese people, she has come to appreciate different cultures because of it), including America, England, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Japan […]

Audi-driving douche kills parking attendant over 15RMB (£1.50) parking fine

This happened pretty much just down the road from me, which – as any George Carlin fan will know – suddenly makes it a million times more interesting. So here’s the quick version – an Audi owner gets into an argument on the street with a female parking attendant/meter maid about a parking fine he’d incurred. He got in the car and tried to drive away before the attendant could write him up, so she stood in front of the car […]

Leftright, westeast, on a horse

Well, that’s one of the weirdest titles I’ve ever written. The Chinese language has a few awesome quirks, probably acquired through thousands of years of use. One of my favourite things is the way they combine or compound words to make a whole new word, often with a different meaning. Sometimes, the words are opposites. For example, the word zuǒyòu (左右), literally means “left right”, but put together the word comes to mean “approximately” […]

Ma man, mama ma ma

Looks like I’ve been more than a little remiss with my blogging over the last month or so. I’ve got a very bad habit of starting blogs and then not updating them. My problem is that I only like blogging when I feel like I have something to say, when really I should just be doing plenty of little updates. In all honesty, I haven’t been up to very much in the last month or so that has been particularly exciting… but then, this is supposed to be a blog about living in Shanghai, not […]

Possibly the most hardcore VW Santana ever

OK, so this isn’t Shanghai, but it’s still worth posting. The city of Kunming – capital of the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan – has around 7 million residents. It is more known for its traffic, with over 1,000 cars added to the already overcrowded roads each and every day. Now, I see a few pretty mean feats of driving living here in Shanghai on a pretty much daily basis – and when I say “mean feats”, I […]

The best kind of dictionary

There are a hell of a lot of westerners in Shanghai – many come to study, many come backpacking, some to shag as many Chinese girls as they possibly can… but I’d estimate that the vast majority are here for work. A lot of them are contracted to be here for a while, so they inevitably take Chinese lessons to help them get through daily life here – ordering in restaurants, telling cab drivers where to go, etc. Apparently quite a common thing for Chinese teachers […]

Tales of Yáng Méi #4: Laurence

Yáng Méi told me this story just today. Unfortunately it needs a little explanation, but hey, you’re here to learn, right? So, she has a Japanese student who had a friend visiting him. His friend is called Laurence. When Yáng Méi went over last week to teach her student, he introduced Laurence to her. However, in an attempt to make it easier (and, I suppose, more polite), he transliterated Laurence’s name into Chinese and introduced him as that. At this […]

niubi

Oh man that is so cow vagina

OK, Chinese slang is weird. 牛逼 (niú bī) is often used by Chinese teenagers, and it’s slang for “awesome” or “great”. Occasionally it’s shortened to just “niú“. The phrase is interesting, however, because it literally means “cow vagina”. It’s most often written 牛逼, even though the second character 逼 actually […]

臭豆腐 (chòu dòufu)

Stinky tofu (chòu dòufu)

When I talk of Shanghai, I often speak of the amazing food. And I’m not mistaken in doing so – this city is amazing for the sheer range and quality of the food on offer. You can find restaurants serving food from anywhere – not just all corners of China and the rest of Asia, but also gourmet hamburgers, Indian […]

What’s in a name

Mandarin Chinese is really an amazingly interesting and intricate language, and the more I learn, the more interesting it becomes. One interesting facet of Chinese is how they render western words in Chinese. Translating things like product names can be difficult, because you have to transliterate the sound of the words into Chinese as best you can, but the words should also have some kind of relevant meaning. Before Coca Cola was first introduced to China […]

Face is on the menu

As anybody who knows me will tell you, I have an unhealthily immature obsession with anything to do with the face. I don’t know why. I just love the face. What’s not to love? I’m also a big fan of Chinglish and badly translated signage. So you can imagine how excited I was to see “Lamb face” on the menu at a local noodle place called “Surface”. Unfortunately you don’t really get a sheep’s head in a bowl if you order it – it’s a fairly obvious, if slightly strange mistranslation […]

Tales of Yáng Méi #3 – nage

My Chinese teacher has quite a few American students, since she speaks English well and there are plenty of Americans here trying to improve their Mandarin. One of her recent ones sticks out, because he’s something of a rarity here in Shanghai – a black guy. If there’s one group of people that get stared at more than my kind of wide-eye, it’s black people. There just aren’t many around, many Chinese people can probably claim to have never seen one, and […]

Politicalamity (heavy reading)

Not a Shanghai-specific post, and not written by me – but if you’re at all interested in how the communist system in China works, this makes for a great read.. Written by Patrick Chovanec, an American professor of Economics and Management at Tsinghau University in Beijing, this primer gives a very approachable and pretty comprehensive overview of the Chinese political system, as well as the shuffle in leadership that is due to happen in autumn 2012. I’m certainly […]

aircon1

Chinese air conditioning

As summer arrives in Shanghai, the weather has taken a sharp turn towards hot and humid. Today it’s 32 degrees celsius outside, and you’re sweating pretty much from the moment you leave the house. Thankfully, Shanghai is well equipped to deal with the May heat: any shop, restaurant or […]

1200 miles for a passport stamp

Apologies for the lack of recent updates. Yesterday I came back from spending the weekend with friends of my girlfriend in Seoul. While I’d love to say it was a trip purely for the sake of pleasure, my visiting there had an ulterior motive. While I love living in Shanghai, sometimes I do feel like they have me jumping through increasingly ridiculous hoops just to stay here. For starters, the visa: you need a visa to come to China in the first place […]

greatscott

China bans time travel

Great Scott, this is quite interesting. While I do love living in Shanghai for a variety of reasons, the main thing that makes me a sad panda here is that China is a little censor-happy. And when I say ‘a little censor-happy’, I mean titanically, gigantically, massively censor-happy. But a recent development has […]

Tales of Yáng Méi #2: fan qie jiang

Here’s another story told to me by my wonderful Chinese teacher, Yáng Méi (Carrie). It’s quite similar to the first one, but then again, most of her stories involve her hapless students and misunderstandings in restaurants. This particular student is another American, but this guy is a super serious businessman. Carrie claims that she’s never seen him laugh. Having studied for a few months, he was comfortable with ordering food in fast food places, but like any […]

Drinking in backwards land

One funny thing I’ve noticed about living in Shanghai (and I’m guessing China/Asia in general) is some of the little things that just seem to work the ‘wrong way round’. And I’m not just talking about the cars driving on the wrong side of the road (real countries drive on the left, damn it, how are you supposed to draw your sword when you’re driving on the right?). When I first got here in late August, I hadn’t started learning Chinese and so I was limited to asking […]

Tales of Yáng Méi #1: chao haizi

Pretty soon after moving here I started Chinese lessons. You kind of have to, it’s next to impossible to get by with just English here – but quite honestly I welcomed the challenge of learning such a difficult language. My teacher is awesome: she comes to my flat twice a week and gives me 1-to-1 Mandarin tuition. It’s crazy how much progress I’ve made over the last 5 or so months; going from completely useless to only slightly useless. I can now order food and […]

IMG_4006

On top of the world

My mum visited me a few weeks ago, and for her benefit I did something touristy for once – we decided to go to the tallest (and probably my favourite) building of Shanghai’s skyline, the Shanghai World Financial Centre. It’s more commonly known as the “Bottle Opener”… I’ll let you guess why. The 100th […]

IMG_0656

Fuck this Sichuan food

No China blog is complete without some pictures of awful English translations on signs, menus and posters. I’ve already taken enough in the last 6 months to fill up a few albums. However, sometimes one just jumps out at you. On Wednesday we went to lunch at a Sichuan place we hadn’t been to before. […]

IMG_1800

Hello / ni hao

Oh, Shanghai there. I’ve decided to start this blog after 6 months of living in Shanghai, as somewhere to log the weird and wonderful adventures I’m having over here. So far living here has been an amazing experience, with plenty of amazing moments. Since last August, I’ve not only moved to an entirely new […]

Search

Twitter Updates

No public Twitter messages.