Friday, February 29, 2008

Urbanatomy

Last night, I was able to attend the book launch for Urbanatomy, a new Shanghai guide book published by China International Press. The book is very nicely put together, with about 600 pages of information and photos. The pictures are really well done, and the text is very readable and informative. I like the arrangement of the chapters, with the first half being set up geographically, and the second half topically. In the geographical arrangement, the chapters are divided up according to the city's districts. In the topical section, there are 12 topics, including language, night life, shopping, food, and similar topics.

The book launch was held at 3 on the Bund, a pretty swanky place. The view from the windows at the spa where the event was held overlook Pudong, with all its lights blinking at us from across the river. There was plenty of food, drinks, and music, and a lively crowd there to enjoy it all.

Urbanatomy is priced at RMB139 (US$19.95).


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Folk Crock Soup Restaurant

Folk Crock Soup Restaurant.

No joke. That's the name of the place. And the food is much better than the English translation of the restaurant's name.

The branch at Shanghai's Tian Yao Qiao Road, on the 4th floor of "In Center," is nicely decorated and very comfortable. The tables by the windows are especially comfortable. On a weekday evening, it is not too difficult to get a table, but that might not be true on the weekend.

The food is really very good. It is home-style cooking. Soup, of course, is the specialty. You will find a wide selection of soups on the menu from which to choose. It could be a lot of fun to visit the restaurant over and over, trying a different type of soup each time.

I have to recommend the beef and taro dish. It is really good, and a little spicy (cooked with sliced red chili). It is quite filling, so take your appetite with you when you go!






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Monday, February 25, 2008

Video of Lantern Festival Celebrations in Shanghai

Here's the video of the Yuan Xiao Jie (Lantern Festival) celebrations in Shanghai last week. It was a fun day!




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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Bullet









One of the things I most enjoyed in my growing up days was the frequent visits we made to Astroworld. It was a great theme park, with lots ofoutstanding roller coasters, as well as less "extreme" rides, and plenty of theme shows. It was a great way to while away a summer day, taking in all the funw ith a group of friends. Several summers when I was a teenager, we got season passes that allowed us to enter the park all summer long, whether to spend a day or just a few hours. We spend many hours at that park, sometimes on days when hardly anyone else was there and we could ride our favorite roller coasters over and over without having to line up.

Those were the days!

I was sad that Astroworld closed down a few years ago. When I would go back to visit my parents, if it was summer, that was always a place I'd take my Singaporean friends who visited with me — sort of a way of sharing my own memories of my growing up days with them. When the park finally closed down, my family members told me they were able to make a last visit to Astroworld, enjoying it all one final time before it closed its gates. But I wasn't able to be there for that, and can't help but feel a little sad that the land it was built on just got to be too valuable for it to remain viable to run the park.

I was glad to see, on my recent trips home, that there's a new roller coaster in the area, not far from my parents' place. It is on the Kemah Boardwalk, right off of Highway 146 (just under the big bridge), and it's called the Bullet. It's an old fashioned looking wooden roller coaster, full of twists and turns, and of course all those great drops that leave your stomach at the peak long after you've made the turn at the bottom of the hill.

The only real drawback to the Bullet, especially for those of us who remember how Astroworld operated, is that you don't get a whole day pass to ride it as often as you like, and it can get a little costly. There are, though, package plans that make it doable, and it is certainly fun enough to warrant spending a few extra bucks.




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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Lantern Festival

Yesterday was Yuan Xiao Jie, the last day of Chinese New Year. Being the 15th day of the lunar month, you could see a bright full moon overhead, watching over all the celebrations.

Yuan Xiao Jie in Shanghai is different than it is in Singapore. In Singapore, we just have dinner with the family, eat some "tang yuan," and that is pretty much it. In addition to those things, the celebration of Yuan Xiao Jie in Shanghai is rather grand. Here, this is the Lantern Festival, when kids carry lanterns and play with sparklers and all. (We do that for the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore.) Last night, you could hear the booming of fireworks in the air, and the sharper, louder sound of fire crackers on the ground. It was very lively all around Xu Jia Hui, with bright lights and loud noises from about 7 pm till nearly midnight.

I managed to get some good video clips of the fireworks last night. When I find my firewire cable (I haven't unpacked yet), I'll post some clips here. It was an exciting night to walk around on the streets of Shanghai.



Visit TRAFFIC JAM today!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Colin Fletcher’s The Man Who Walks Through Time begins with a long consideration of the rhythm of the rocks. He discovers, on his trip afoot through the Grand Canyon, that the earth isn’t a stagnant bit of rock, but a thing alive with a rhythm that we are not often enough tuned in to, mostly due to the fact that we move with smaller, faster steps.

While the rocks move along at a slow, steady, ever-changing rhythm (one so slow we most often overlook it as a rhythm at all, thinking of it rather as an unchanging earth), there is a frenzy of activity going on in the animal life that moves across the face of these rhythmic rocks. This movement at another pace, often much faster than our own (think of the insects, for instance), seems to set up an especially dynamic environment, moving along with the rocks, but seemingly at a very different pace.

To read the rest of this article and join in the ongoing book club discussion of Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time, just click here


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vast Expanses of Space and Time

Colin Fletcher’s The Man Who Walked Through Time is structured around a series of recognitions about the world around him on his journey afoot through the Grand Canyon. These realizations are related around a logical structure, moving from the earth, to the variety of life forms found in the Grand Canyon, to humankind. This structure of the book makes for a convenient way to approach a discussion of the narrative.

To read the rest of this article and join the discussion of Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time click here


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lion Dance

It's Chinese New Year right now, and there are lots of lion dances going on here and there. I keep hearing them around the neighborhood, and saw one in the coffee shop yesterday too.

This one was taken in the summer, hosted by the Chicago Graduate School of Business. My friend works there and invited us down to see it. We were up really close, and it made for a good show.





Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Akashi Japanese Restaurant

Akashi Japanese restaurant, in the basement of Singapore's Paragon Shopping Centre, is a pretty nice place to stop in for a meal. The menu has a wide selection of set meals and al a carte items, with prices ranging from $15-25 for meals. The portions are fairly good sized, and the taste of the food is not bad at all.

The only complaint I had about the place was that they messed up one of our party's order (it was a big group, though, so it is understandable) and the food didn't come. He decided to cancel his order rather than wait for them to bring it out, and they gave him a complimentary fruit plate by way of apology.

The lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu, but with lower prices. Everything is 10-15% less at lunch time, which makes it a much better deal than dinner.

There's also a branch at Tanglin Shopping Centre. I've not been to that one, so can't comment on the service or atmosphere there, but the Paragon Shopping Centre branch is worth a visit.



Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Monday, February 11, 2008

Harry Connick Jr. Coming to Shanghai

On March 9, Harry Connick Jr. will be in Shanghai.... and so will I! I am checking to see if I can make it to the concert. I've seen Harry Connick Jr. perform onstage before some years back, in Singapore, and he puts on a great show. I really enjoyed that show, and would love to see him again.

He'll be playing at the Shanghai International Gymnastic Center on March 9, 2008. Tickets range from RMB300-1600.

If you have a chance to make it to the concert, it should be a fun one. And who knows... maybe I'll see you there!

Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lost Parrot Near Marsiling MRT Station

I am posting this on behalf of my friends who have lost a parrot this afternoon (9 Feb 2008) near the Marsiling MRT Station. He is an African Grey, and usually answers to "Ah Boy." He is very tame, and we are hopeful that someone will find him and contact the owners.

If you find him, you can leave a comment here, but we would prefer for you to call or SMS the owner at 91508346.

There are a couple of photos here. You can see he is a beautiful bird. His owners are very sad that he is lost now, and would greatly appreciate your call.

If you are a Singapore blogger, please help get the word out. We'll post links to here from several online classifieds sites too.
Thanks for the help!






Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Year of the Rat

Today is the first day of the Year of the Rat.
Happy New Year!

新年快乐 • 万事如意



Nothing beats the Chinese New Year atmosphere. It is a time of families reuniting, good food, and just a general break from the routines of life... and of course, a fresh start.

I love this time of year, when everyone comes home to be with loved ones. When the food is plentiful and good. When new year's greetings are on everyone's lips. When we start fresh. It's everything that a holiday should be.

Here's wishing everyone good health and happiness in the Year of the Rat!



Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Police at Singapore Indoor Stadium

I've attended a lot of live shows over the years. Last night, I attended one of the best I've ever seen.

Fiction Plane opened for The Police, and did a nice job of it. They even said Singapore was way more fun than Australia for them. Surely it's a lie, but it was well-received all the same.

The Police opened their show with one of my all time favorite songs, "Message in a Bottle." They followed with "Synchronicity II," and then got the crowd singing with them on "Walking on the Moon." The crowd never stopped singing from that point on. In fact, Sting alternated lines with us for one verse of "Wrapped Around Your Finger," a number on which Stewart Copeland really wowed us with his percussion work. He had a great set up, and showed what a great showman he is on that piece.

The best numbers of the night, I thought, were probably "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and "Roxanne." "Roxanne" has always been a crowd favorite at Police concerts, and at Sting's solo concerts too. The current world tour is meant to be in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the song's release. It's the song that marked the band's entrance into the music scene in the US, and it's a piece Sting really performs well. The man knows how to work and audience, and that song is just perfect for live performance.

Other songs performed included "Don't Stand so Close to Me," "Driven to Tears," "Fall Out," "Next to You," "So Lonely," "Voices Inside My Head," "Can't Stand Losing You," "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," "Reggatta De Blanc," "Invisible Sun," "Every Breath You Take," and "King of Pain." The fusion of jazz, punk rock, and reggae is a mixture that just works, no less so after all these years. If anything, it's just gotten better with time.

It was a great night, taking me back to the days of my youth. The trio are three of the best showmen around, and nothing beats a live performance.

The Police's reunion tour has grossed huge sums of money to date, and will draw in a lot more before it's all over with. I was disappointed to see on Sting's website that this tour doesn't necessarily represent a reunion of the band for the future (sadly, he refers to it more as a way to gain closure). The show last night was fantastic, and it would be great if this tour signaled more Police songs to come. But apparently it doesn't.

Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February



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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Wild Wild West


Singapore's west side is teeming with wildlife at this time of year. Last week, when I was on a cycling trip from Buona Vista to Jurong Bird Park and back, I encountered lots of wild creatures right in the HDB heartlands. Three different times, I saw monitor lizards over 2 feet long (two of the three were well over a meter in length). The slow, awkward-looking animals were lazing around near the canals that run alongside the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, enjoying the newly completed cycling paths nearly as much as I was.

Besides the big monitor lizards, which are always in the area, there were lots of fowl friends flying about. We spotted herons, egrets, cranes, and many other types of birds that are wintering here in Singapore's pleasant climate. They sat along the either side of our path throughout most of the day. Right now is a good time for bird lovers in Singapore, because the southward migration of birds has made many breeds visible that may not normally be seen here.

The birds will be moving northward again in the next few months, so if you are the sort who enjoys seeing wildlife moving about in urban landscapes, this is a really good time to head over to the western parts of the island and enjoy the guests who are residing amongst us at the moment.



Read Colin Fletcher's The Man Who Walked Through Time and join us for the book club discussion in mid-February














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