Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cycling Shanghai

Due to a lack of funding*, I am spending my first vacation in a VERY long time in my own apartment. This is fine. I have lots of things I need to do. Hell, I joined the gym for this specific reason. Of course, the gym won't reopen for another day or two, due to the holidays, and I can't find the motivation to work on things like my illustrations or unit planners, so instead I've been reading Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series and watching Glee, and once a day going out for a bike ride. Shanghai is a little bit soulless - what can you expect from a city built on the opium trade? But it does have its moments. These are a few of the ones I've found while I've been tearing up the streets on my bike the last few days...


The thing I've really loved about biking all over the city is the fact that you get a much wider-angle view of it. Riding the subway you see nothing. Riding in a taxi everything goes by much quicker. But down on the ground, pedaling, you see everything as it goes by. You realize how huge and high those elevated roads are. I still haven't begun to feel for Shanghai what I felt in Seoul, but on the other hand, I never could have cycled across Seoul. Hell, don't know if I even WOULD have. It's a much bigger city and with Namsan being smack dab in the middle it's harder to navigate, and much less bicycle friendly. Some people thought I was crazy for getting a bike here, but I stand by my assertion that it's a pretty great place to ride.


Just when I thought I had left the last year of my life behind, I pedal down Yishan Lu, cross under the middle ring road, and get smacked in the face with THIS. RAK Ceramics was the parent company of RAKESS, and thus the sponsor of my UAE visa. It brought chills to see it again...and not the nice kind.


So, today I finally got to visit Jing'An Temple. The smell of incense wafting out the gate literally stopped me in my tracks. I can't really explain why, but I love Buddhist temples. There's the smell of the incense, and the architecture, and that feeling of being somewhere so completely foreign. I find them incredibly peaceful. And Jing'An is a pretty good one.


And finally...red underpants, hanging out to dry over the sidewalk. Found this little gem in the French Concession. But there is a reason WHY there are so many pairs of red underwear - apparently wearing red knickers is some kind of good luck at Chinese new year. APPARENTLY they have the power to scare tigers and an evil monster called Nian Shou. I say, any excuse for red underwear is a good excuse.


*if anyone out there wants to donate to the "Send Mutrux to yet another fabulous destination you're too lame to visit" fund, email me and I'll send you my paypal info :-D

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