Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moustache Mayhem

I have never totally fallen in love with the moustache.  My mom told me that as a baby, I would frequently freak out and cry when I saw a man with a crumb duster on his lip.  Now, I am of the opinion that some people can pull it off quite well.  So when a few of my friends asked if I was heading to the 2013 Mr. Moustache competition at DeRefter, I had to check it out.
Welcome to Mr. Moustache 2013!
The contest had two phases, online voting until March 23rd, and then live voting at the Mr. Moustache pageant.  Click here to see a shot of all the contestants.

When we arrived, we were greeted with an array of lip rugs.  I was so excited to spend most of the night finding my ‘stache personality.

At first I thought I was a Scoundrel girl, but that changed over the course of the evening.

Chris became a Scoundrel, and I tried out the Bandit.  

One of the contestants ordered some fries before the big show.

Our lovely bartender rocked the Casanova.

My teacher friends searched for their facial hair personalities.

We tried to look mysterious when rocking the red carpet.

Eventually many of the staches became Fu Man Chus.

Over the course of the night, I decided to create my own stache personality, the Freda.

Around 9:40, it was time for the main event.  Each of the contestants was introduced, and everyone voted for their new Mr. Moustache 2013.

The men lined up to be introduced to the crowd.

They waited nervously to learn if they were to be Mr. Moustache 2013.

The title was claimed by a French man named Tebow, who actually tebowed when he was crowned king of the upper lip hair.  
Meet Tebow, Mr. Moustache 2013.
Overall, it was a fun night, but I don’t think I have any desire to grow lip spinach anytime soon. It's too itchy. J

Monday, March 25, 2013


As a society, Chinese people are health nuts.   When I walk to school, I often find people of all ages working out in the park.  In schools, students perform well-choreographed aerobic routines between classes.  Health education is embedded in the culture.
I love how schools make PE fun! 
Sometimes, a few people take it a little too far.

Yesterday, Chris and I decided to give our cab drivers a rest and take the Metro to Joy City.  About 3 minutes after we boarded the 9 train, we heard a metallic thud. Chris spurted,

“Ouch.  That had to hurt.”  We both turned our heads to witness one man’s quest to stay fit on the Metro, better known as Metrobics.

His routine was quite interesting.

He started by jumping up and down.  The train came to a stop at the next station so he laid down for a little stretching.

Start from a seated position.

Continue with butterfly stretches.
He then arched himself into a bridge position.

Then he did a few arm circles.

Then the man flailed his arms and jumped up and down a few more times.

He then added a few Tai Chi poses and a couple of “Aiya’s!” to his routine.  

When he was finished he announced,
“Lujiabang Lu.”  (the name of our train station).    

That was the end of the Metrobic workout.

I don’t believe I will be participating in this fitness craze anytime soon.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taxicab Confessions…

When I first arrived in Shanghai, I had one foreign language-learning goal.  I wanted to be able to tell a cab driver how to take me home without the support of my iPhone.  Thanks to Sophie, my Chinese tutor, I have been able to achieve that goal…about 90% of the time.   

Most of the cab rides I take are fine.  I jump in the cab, tell the driver my home address, buckle up, power up the iPhone and brace myself for my silent, wild ride.  If I am lucky, I can watch a slew of cab commercials like the one below. 

Unfortunately not all of my cab experiences have been pleasant.

Two Sundays ago, I had my first unpleasant encounter.  Chris and I were heading to a post mass brunch in one of Shanghai’s finest cabs.  We were chatting quietly in the cab when the driver turned around and asked,
“You are American, right?” 
“Yes we are.”  I responded.  The man shouted,
“Wo bu xihuan Meiguoren” and started laughing uncontrollably.  Yes the man told us that he did not like Americans, and was laughing at us. 
“Zhenda ma?” (Really?) I asked.  I could not believe that this man was telling us he did not like Americans and was laughing right in our face.   I could have told him that I did not like his cab, but we were on the highway and I was hungry.
“Meiyo, Meiyo (No, No) I don’t like Japanese people.”  He responded.  Did he really think I was that much of an idiot?  He then laughed and repeated “Wo bu xihuan Meiguoren” “Wo bu xihuan Meiguoren” “Wo bu xihuan Meiguoren” all the way to the restaurant.  Never in my life had I ever been so glad to get out of a cab.

Last Sunday, we faced a similar situation.  Chris, his former boss Tom, and I popped in a cab to check out Taiking Lu.  After showing him the address for Taiking Lu, he asked us,
            “Ni Faguoren ma?”  (Are you French?)
            “Meiyou.  Wo shi Meiguoren.”  (No, I am American.)
            “Meiguoren bu hao.”  (Americans aren’t good.) he replied.  Wow…twice in one week.  Was there something I was doing to upset cab drivers?  What was the deal?
            “Zhenda ma?  Weishenme?” (Really?  Why?) I asked.  That question took the man off guard. He stuttered and rattle off in Chinese something about Japan.  When we reached our destination, he said,
            “Wo hao, ni hao, Meiguoren bu hao.” (I am good, you are good, Americans aren’t good.)

I could not believe this man was telling me Americans were not good AFTER I told him I was American.  

After feeling humiliated for the second Sunday in a row, I needed to figure out what the deal was.  So I told Sophie my story and asked why I wasn’t getting my usual cab driver respect.  She immediately burst out laughing.  Again, I felt like a total idiot. 

“Many Chinese people feel Americans are too rich.”  She explained.  “Many Chinese people also feel Americans only fight for money.”  I could not believe that she was saying this.  “But don’t worry, many people from Shanghai don’t like people from Beijing, and many people from China don’t like the Japanese.”  Oh, that made me feel better.  I decided to change the subject and get back to my studies.

As she was leaving Sophie mentioned,
“Oh, one more thing.  Many Chinese people remember being frustrated learning English in school, so hearing people speak English makes them angry.”  Okay, I could understand that.  This is one thing I can control.

From now on I keep studying, and keep my mouth shut in cabs!  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shanghai Shopaholic: Say Cheese, Shutterbugs!

As a general rule of thumb, it is cheaper to buy cameras and many electronic devices in the US.  However, many of us have ventured over here and subsequently realized the joy of photography!  If you are in search of photography equipment and accessories, look no further to the Xing Guang Pho Photographic Equipments market.

Welcome to the camera market!

Chris and I decided to head out to the market last Saturday to check out some filters and maybe pick up a small point and shoot camera for travel.  What we found was a photographers Mecca; six floors of jam packed with anything you could possibly need for a camera.

The first two floors are crammed with Nikkon, Canon, Leica, and Sony stores that offer digital cameras, SLR’s, video cameras, and some accessories.

The first and second floors are mazes of Nikkon, Cannon, Sony, and more!
The higher floors contain more accessories, gear, film, books, and studio equipment! 
There are entire stores that sell only tripods!
I don't think that tripod is large enough...

If you decide to buy the super expensive lenses, may I suggest a lens safe?

If you are shooting old school, you can stock up on film here.  I still don't know where it could be developed...

For those of you who want a Polaroid, pick your color.

I like to call this the photographer's straight jacket.

Chris rocks the photographer's hat. 
The top floor contains multiple repair shops in case your camera needs fixing.

The prices for many of the items at the mall were similar to those in the US.  While it is tough to negotiate, they do have the bargaining calculators everywhere so I would give it a shot.  If there is a lens you can’t live without, chances are it will be carried by at least one of the hundreds of vendors.  If you are interested, the market is located at 300 Lubing Rd.  Happy snapping!