May 12, 2009

Lazy Gay

My office in the Dacheng International Center was recently renovated. There was a lack of available meeting space. The cubicles were shifted back so that additional rooms could be created. The construction took place over the weekend, leaving the office a dusty mess when all the employees arrived at work the following Monday.

Chinese lady:
Our desk and chair so dirty. 
You just stay there! 
Dont clean this!  
So lazy!
I thought that the cleaning lady will clean it.
Chinese lady:
Dose she clean your desk?
Yes, she cleans it every day. 
Chinese lady:
Your chair is dirty, too. 
You are a lazy gay.

May 11, 2009

Fashion Show

"Stunning to the senses, soothing to the soul..."

As the new star of the Beijing social scene, I ignited passion in the hearts of both local and expatriate women alike when I made a surprise appearance at a charity fashion show taking place at the Green T. House. Miss China, Miss Beijing, and Miss Shanghai from years past were also in attendance at the slick venue. Flanked by my Irish roommate, his American coworker, and a flock of ARNABabes, I posed for photographers and munched on appetizers for most of the night.

The actual fashion show was very brief, lasting for around ten minutes. Female models wearing vintage threads prowled the makeshift catwalk as the flashbulbs went off continuously in front (and behind) of them. The stark white interior of the room provided a good contrast to the dark garments adorning the models. Some had happy expressions on their faces, while others sported angry, indifferent, or vacant looks. One of the leggy models had developed a slight hunch, most likely stemming from the fact she was 1.3 times the height of the average Chinese man. Even if my tantalizing beauty were to be taken out of the equation, there were enough stunners present to make it a memorable evening.

May 10, 2009

The World's Fastest Train

Magnetic levitation (maglev) trains float above the track, using the power of science to achieve blazing fast speeds. The world's fastest commercially operating train is propelled from within the city of Shanghai to an airport outside the city limits by magnets. The maglev runs on an elevated platform, so I watched the cityscape zoom by from my window seat when I took it. A digital display overhead indicates the current velocity, which tops out at 431 km/h. Seven minutes and 30 kilometers later I had arrived at my destination.

I did not need to go to the airport, so I bought round trip tickets for my joy ride on the fast moving monorail. A Chinese man mentioned that the technology for the Shanghai airport link had been purchased from the Germans at great cost (over $1 billion USD), so that it could then be reverse engineered by Chinese talent. This demonstration track is known as the IOS (Initial Operating Segment). His body shook with unabandoned glee as he explained that the much longer Beijing-Shanghai intercity link could then be constructed at a fraction of the cost using local technology.

“Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” - Aldous Huxley

May 07, 2009

The World's Longest Escalator

Steep and hilly, Hong Kong Island has a network of covered outdoor escalators which start at the base of the business district and end near the far side of the moon. The Central Mid-levels escalator system, as it is called, is 800 meters long and 135 meters high. It is possible to get off or on at each road that the conveyor transport device passes during its ascent or descent. Around 60,000 people travel on it each day. For inhabitants of the island metropolis the escalator ride is just a part of their daily commute, but for visitors it is a fascinating experience not to be missed.

The intricate series of escalators goes in the downwards direction in the morning, following the flow of humans heading to work. After 10 am, the escalators reverse direction and start taking passengers up the slopes. This is ideal for daily usage, but quite tiresome for a tourist who happily rides the escalator for the the 20-25 minutes that it takes to reach the summit, only to realize that he or she will have to trudge all the way back down by foot.

"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience." - Mitch Hedberg

May 06, 2009

Tianjin Times

A Canadian, an Irishman, an American, and a Filipino walked into a bus station. They decided to go to Tianjin, the fifth largest city in the People's Republic. The Irishman insisted it was a quick 45 minute bus ride away. The Canadian estimated that it would take 4 hours.

4 hours later, they were in Tianjin. After making a quick stop at a terrifying toilet, booking a room at a hostel, wandering through a bustling marketplace, appreciating the European style architecture, having a meal at the local Irish pub, heading to the youth hangout Alibaba, playing foosball, making their way to a happening nightclub, feeding bread to Russian women, and catching a few hours of sleep, the quartet began the next day by visiting the Olympic Center Stadium, eating lunch, enjoying a stroll along the riverside, and heading back to Beijing on a bullet train journey that took 30 minutes from start to finish.

"Solitude and company may be allowed to take their turns: the one creates in us the love of mankind, the other that of ourselves; solitude relieves us when we are sick of company, and conversation when we are weary of being alone, so that the one cures the other. There is no man so miserable as he that is at a loss how to use his time." - Seneca