Of Spitting, Skylines, And Seniors
Back From The Dead

I think I just remembered I have a Tumblr. After almost four months of silence I have decided to post again. As I read my past posts, I rediscovered why I had began blogging: to help others navigate China (and the world) a bit easier and to show how wonderful the diversity of the world is.

As of right now, I am in Osaka, Japan (right right now I am also in my bed). I have been here almost three months, traveling, learning, and eating my heart out. But learning Japanese is hard: even though I have been here three months, I am still lower than a kinder-gardener in terms of language skills.

This also means I am really busy. While I will try to update again, it may not be with the same detail or frequency as before. And I will not have the same themes (like Engrish or Funny pictures and whatnot).

I don’t know if any of you lovely followers will come back to me. I don’t expect much. But I hope to help spread Asian fever again.

On a side note, I think I will create a second blog just to keep my adventures categorized  If I don’t find a way to keep my blogs linked, I may move to a different site.

Update…pending. But I swear on the 30円 I have left to attempt this adventure once again.

As my Aussie friend would say, 

Cheers ~ E

How did you come up with "Of Spitting, Skylines, And Seniors"??

Well, it all came from my first impressions of China. Within the first 24 hours I had Seen men and woman, young and old, Spitting. Everywhere. And coming from a country where this almost never happens meant that I was kinda(very) Shocked. And looking out from my balcony for the first time, all I Saw was the Shanghai Skyline, full of Skyscrapers. A big impression on a girl who comes from DC, where none of the buildings are taller than the Capitol building. And there are so many elderly people: this information I had learned about while reading an Economist article about China’s aging problem. But actually Seeing all of them, Sitting and chatting and even working on the Street was an totally new experience.

So put it all together and its the three things that first came to my mind when Summarizing China. Now that I have lived here for 8 months, I think a little differently. Yet all these things are still prominent in my mind.

Even though the title says that, the money needed is not actually for me. A fellow friend of mine is going on the same program as me to Osaka. Only problem is she doesn’t have enough money to cover everything. Before you say “She can take out loans” and “She should have applied for scholarships”, I want you to know that she has done all that and more. This isn’t some girl needing some extra spending money, but someone who truly needs this money to achieve her dream. Please take even a second of your time and visit her site. Even $1 makes a difference!

Thanks all you AWESOME, AMAZING people out there ~ E

How To Apply For A Japanese Visa In Shanghai

[Disclaimer: This information is only from my experience, as an American student applying for a Japanese Student Visa. While the information provided on the location and how to reach the office can be applied to everyone, all of the visa tips/application process may only apply to Americans/Foreigners hoping to study in Japan]

Since I am going to study in Osaka this fall, I needed to apply for my visa, but I didn’t know how to get started. Getting a visa is always a difficult process and doing so in another country seems even harder. As an American studying in China, all the information I had about applying for a visa was useless, as it only applies to the United States process. I needed to do some reserch before hand to get in right (the first time, since we all know that one mistake can delay the process for another billion years).

I took to the internet in hopes of finding information on applying in Shanghai or finding the Shanghai Japanese Consulate’s website. Well, I found the website and, low’n behold, it was all in Chinese (no English option and my Google Chrome can only translate at the level of a 5 year old).

So I turned to Googleing other people’s experiences. I didn’t find posts from people’s experiences but I did find some pages on the process (ehow.com and other such websites). But they didn’t all match up: some of the requirements were different, as were the prices. I was getting kind of frustrated with all of the vauge answers. The only thing I was sure of was the Consulate address and that the Consulate’s website did have visa information.

Fed up, I turned to my Chinese friends and had them translate the Consulate’s information. Thankfully, the website also included an application form, which I printed. If you cannot find the form, here is the link:http://www.shanghai.cn.emb-japan.go.jp/apply/images/application1.pdf (you will need Adobe to open it). I finally got the right information and felt prepared.

[IMPORTANT: This form and process is for holders of a COE or Certificate of Eligibility. Though some of the process may be similar for other visas, please check the website for details. (http://www.shanghai.cn.emb-japan.go.jp/cn/apply/shorui.html)]

For foreigners, you will need to have the following items:

  1. passport
  2. Certificate of Eligibility (also bring a copy, though the center can copy one for you)
  3. Visa Application
  4. one 4.5x3.5~4.5cm photo (with a WHITE background)
  5. Temporary Residence Permit (If you don’t know what that is, it is the pink slip you get once you register with the police)

This morning I grabbed everything and set off for the Consulate. Because I live on Line 9, I went from Qibao (七宝), transferred at Yishan Road (宜山路) (Line3/4) and again at Hongqiao Road (虹桥路), to get off at Yili Road (伊犁路) on Line 10. For all of the other cheap people out there, the following are instructions on how to get there by metro and walking.

Step 1: Take the metro to Yili Road and then take Exit 4.

[Tip: For those of you who don’t have 4.5x3.5~4.5cm pictures laying around, all Metro stations in Shanghai have photo booths. Yili Road Station has one right next to Exit 4, the exit you should take, so make a quick stop. It is 20RMB for four Japanese Visa photos and the process takes less than five minutes. Make sure to have 10 or 20 bills.]

Step 2: Once you take Exit 4, keep turning left. It looks like a dead end, but it actually is an entrance to the park, giving you a short cut and a straight walk right to the road you want.

Step 3: Before you start wandering, stick to the path straight in front of you. If you are traveling during the morning rush hours, just follow all of the business men and woman. If they have a briefcase, its unlikely that they are taking a morning stroll. After about a minute, you will reach the other side: exit through the gate and you should see a big intersection.

Step 4: Cross the intersection (carefully and keep to the left sidewalk). You should be on Loushanguan Road (娄山关路).

Step 5: Walk about 200 meters and look to your left. You should be at 娄山关路55号 (or 55 Loushanguan Road). You should see a building and large red post that look like this (see below):

Now, at this point, all of you are like “Wait… this doesn’t look like the Japanese Consulate.” This, in fact, is not the consulate. This actual consulate is right around the corner on Wanshan Road (万山路), but DO NOT GO THERE. Listen carefully: The Japanese Consulate does not issue visas. You must go to the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Service Center.

As far as I can tell, I believe this Service Center handles all types of visas, not just Japanese visas, but this is only my impression. The Shanghai Foreign Affairs Service Center does have a website (http://www.11fa.com/index.htm) but again it is only in Chinese (though there is an “English Version” button in the corner, there is no way to click on it…), so try and find out more before traveling all the way over there and then finding out they only do Japanese visas.

I believe that there are three centers around Shanghai, but the only one that seems to show up online is the one I have directed you too: 上海外事服务中心出国服务部虹桥受理点. The actual address is 上海市长宁区娄山关路55号新虹桥大厦108室 (in case you decide to take a taxi) and their phone number is 62787790. 

Now, you have reached 55 Loushanguan Road: once you enter the building, go to Room 108. This room is hidden way in the back, so I took some pictures to help you find it (since the security guard speaks no English).

Follow the red carpet to the reception desk but, before you reach it, look to your right. You should see a doorway looking like it leads to the restrooms. It does, in fact, go to the restrooms, but it also leads to a hallway that ends with Room 108.

When I arrived, there was no queue: in fact, this process was the fastest government form application process I have ever gone through. But a small warning: there is someone who can speak English, but not very fluently, so brush up on your Chinese or make sure you have everything correct (which… is impossible).

You may have to re-fill-out the second page of the form, but I think it is so she can watch you sign it and allow you to keep a signed copy. While it says on the Consulate website you need your Temporary Resident Permit, I think she didn’t even looked at mine, so it may be unnecessary. She kept my passport (part of the standard procedure) and made a copy of my COE (which she also kept).

She told me to come back a week later, after 10:30am, to pick up my passport. As long as everything is in order, the process should only take a week, but if there are some mistakes, I have heard it can take up to 2-3 months. The hours for the center are Mon-Fri 8:30am-11:00am & 13:30pm-17:00 (though I saw a sign saying 16:00, so get there earlier rather than later). I believe you can apply for your visa throughout the entire day and that you can return to pick up your visa after 10:30am the following week (they will tell you which day to come back).

The visa costs 200RMB, which is only a single entry. Since my COE only allows a single entry, I am not sure what the price for a multiply entry is, but they assured me that I can change it once I reach Japan. You pay at window #6.

Once you pay, you are free to go. I hope that these tips are useful and clearly outline the process. I know that if I didn’t speak Chinese, I may have never found the building or the room (at the consulate, the Security guard simply said “Room 108” and pointed down the street). Bring extra money and any documents you think you may need (proof you can pay for your time in Japan, your school’s acceptance letter, etc.). I didn’t end up needing these things, but different countries have different relations with Japan, so you may need to meet different requirements.

Trying to make Shanghai a bit more navigable for foreigners ~ E

Another Apology Letter

I am updating after Something like… 2 weeks? I know, I was so good in the beginning, writing enthusiastically everyday. But lately between work and adventuring to far off places, I have had no time (or energy) to write. So now I am apologyzing for the… fifth time? I Say Sorry way too often.

Basically, I am now working random Shifts: Sometimes 7-3pm or 3-11:30pm and maybe they throw in a day off on a Wednesday. Now, I have always associated off days with weekends, so whenever they do that I get huffy because which of my friends also have Wednesdays off?

Anywho, because my bestestfriendinthewholewideworld is leaving tomorrow, we have Spent the last three weeks galavanting around China trying to do everything she hasn’t done before she gets Shipped back. We went to Suzhou(苏州), Nanjing(南京), Huangshan(黄山), and Hangzhou(杭州) over three different weekends (one of the most hectic months of my life). Today, she is getting back from Beijing(北京) and then I am helping her get to the airport tomorrow. So when I do finally blog about those trips, hopefully the amazing pictures will make up for the lost time.

Now on to a more important topic, I am actually finishing my work here in Shanghai on Sept. 1st. Then (wait for it)… I am off to Japan! You See, I have always want to go to Japan and after Studying abroad in China, I decided to continue my Studies in Osaka, Japan. I am Still going through the Same program, USAC, but this time I am Staying an entire year.

I will continue blogging when I am in Japan, but I have a question: Should I continue using this blog and change the title or Should I create another blog? Any input would be appreciated (but I think I am lazy enough to just change the title).

Either way, once Alecia leaves, I will be all alone (all my other university friends have left for the Summer too) and available to blog…… unless I Start Spending too much time doing KTV and eating Street food with my coworkers. This is totally possible, but I want to try and get back into the blogging Spirit

So I leave a parting gift as a promise to update: a lovely picture of me. Love, Peace, and Good Times ~ E

Uncle John (Who Is Not My Uncle)

About three weeks ago (we’re talking Ice Age time frame), my friend Alecia’s uncle came to town. He is a flight attendant and happens to fly into Shanghai fairly often. I was invited to hang out (more like be their tour guide and translator) and I luckily had that Saturday off.

I got up early (actually more like 10am) and hopped on the Metro. Saw way too many couples being lovey-dovey and was thoroughly nauseous by the time I reached Jing’an. They had already gotten up and went to See Jing’an Temple, which is where I found them and met Uncle John for the first time. I have to Say that I liked Uncle John from the start (I mean, the man Said he loved Coco).

It was lunch time and Alecia had looked up a Specific restaurant for her uncle, as he is vegan. I think we Spent over an hour looked for the place before we gave up. I Suggested going to a food Street on West Nanjing, Since most of the restaurants are clean and more Western/International than your average Chinese family joint. In the end we decided on Korean, because it usually includes a lot more vegetables than American food. I have to Say that anytime I go looking for a place my visiting international friends can eat lunch, it is always Korean: if China would up their game (and Standards), I might be more inclined to tout Chinese food culture.

It was delicious (despite the face I am making). I grabbed some Krispy Kreme afterwards (Wujing Road is the only place that has a Krispy Kreme in all of Shanghai, so I had to Stock up). They wanted to See East Nanjing Road and The Bund, so we walked down West Nanjing to People’s Square. On the way, we Stopped at People’s Square because there was a large crowd and we wanted to check it out. When I Saw all the old people and hanging pictures, I could only laugh hysterically. I had heard of this “bulletin board”, but it was amazing to actually See it. Maybe every weekend, a huge mass of parents and grandparents advertise their Single children. They exchange information and look at potential Spouses to Set up their kids with. I could only Stare at all of the postings: there were even postings for people over 60. We eventually left the craziness and made it to East Nanjing. It was crowded, but we got some good pictures and exercise. 

Uncle John was put up in the Marriott at People’s Square, which had a pool (everything except the word pool is irrelevant in that Sentence). I had packed my bathing Suit just for this and was beyond thrilled. The pool was gorgeous and the changing room had two different Saunas and professional hair product. It was fantastic (except for the part were the pool desk told us afterwards that only one person was registered with the room, which means that Alecia and I were Supposed to pay 300RMB).

We cleaned up and went out to dinner. Now, Alecia has been craving honey toast for as long as I have known her. It so happened that we were in the area of a Cantonese cafe that Served honey toast. Off to Raffles City!

But before eating dessert, we decided we should get real dinner. Curry Sounded really appealing. It was very good, but big portions, so Alecia and I Split a plate. Uncle John got “vegan” curry and a beer. He Shouldn’t have had the beer, because it make him Sleepy, which lead to him almost nodding off later on when we got honey toast. The honey toast was a master piece, but definitely not meant to Serve three people (maybe one person). We demolished it in a matter of Seconds (the twenty minute wait was worth it).

Afterwards, I Said my goodbyes (I had to make the Metro). It was a fantastic day and I hope that I get to meet Uncle John again. And went I get paid next month, I will most likely get more honey toast.

Where I Have Been Hiding

I know that I haven’t updated for the past two weeks. My friend all the way in Ireland even Facebooked me to ask if I was still alive. Well, I am alive, but not living (if ya know what I mean). I never imagined that I would join the adult world so Soon.

What was Supposed to be a part-time Summer job turned into a full time back breaker (and foot breaker, from Standing for hours on end in heels). And work doesn’t end when I clock out: I am even working after hours, promoting (on Facebook), reading (customer complaints and Hotel English books), and reviewing (the Chinese I forcibly absorb everyday).

All this means I am either too busy or too tired to update my Tumblr. Even when I have days off, I am more interested in getting out to See friends and new places than being on my laptop. Sorry for ignoring y’all, but I want to have a life too.

Thankfully, I will have a little time over the next weeks to update (or die trying). Hope everyone is having a great Summer (that is not as hectic as mine). 

Co-worker Bonding (KTV!)

[I have seen so many dramas (manga, etc.) were new employees are invited to a welcome dinner, to drink, Socialize, and then Sing their heart out, as a way of team bonding. I have finally had this moment, and let me Say that KTV (which is Karaoke) with awkward co-workers is the best kind.]

Yesterday was Fujian Hotel’s Opening ceremony. It went Splendidly (from what I heard: I was not actually in attendance). After the ceremony, we were taking pictures and the department I used to work with invited me out to hot pot. No one Says no to hot pot and I was excited to hang with my old co-buddies.

I changed, we got in the car… and then we went next door. This is because my old boss Vincent’s car alarm would not turn off. It was hysterical driving the 50 meters to get to the car mart (I felt like I was in a police car).

[Jessica and me chilling in the car while they try and fix it]

We fixed it (cut the Sound wire, which still left the flashing lights on…) and went to hot pot. Turns out everyone else who took the bus went to the wrong Shopping center (we had to wait a bit). But once everyone got there, it was tons of talking and laughing even though Kate and I don’t Speak very good Chinese. 

[My lovely utensils]

[Everyone enjoying dinner]

The hot pot ritual was a bit different than I was used to. We Started with a tasting of the broth (I guess to See if it was tasty…?). Then the waiters put in Scoops of fish paste (which adds flavor), which they then Scooped out into my Sauce (which they also mix for you).

The boiled fish paste wasn’t really my thing, but I ate it all so as not to offend people. After that, they Started putting food in the pot, but not individually. They dumped entire plates in and only cooked one thing at a time (at least in the beginning). One of the weirdest things they gave me was cow Stomach. It didn’t taste like much, but the weird texture was… yea.

I did not eat the lamb kidney because Kate did and she said it was gross (and she eats weirder Stuff than me). There were chewy rice noodles (my favorite), bean curd, 校子 (handmade dumplings), bok chow, raw Salmon (I ate it again even though I didn’t like it the first time), and BEEEEEEEEF.

I like meat.

It was late by the time we finished, but the restaurant gave us discount coupons for a KTV near them. Karaoke is a huge part of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese night life and is what most people do for fun. We voted: 9-For, 1-Against. I don’t think Kate is really into KTV, which is a bummer because most Staff outings end at KTV. 

We dropped Kate off at the hotel before continuing on. This KTV place was really nice; it had tambourines and everything!

I know a few Chinese Songs, so they made me Sing those. Connie also made me Sing Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and Telephone (I don’t love Lady Gaga: I actually really wanted to Sing BIGBANG’s Fantastic Baby…). There was a lot of Soulful ballads and Chinese old School rock (there were both good and bad Singers).

It was just fantastic (baby).

Chinese Love-birds (Of The Human Kind)

After living in Shanghai for more than five months, I feel like I know a bit more about Chinese culture than I want to. I Still see grandmas holding their grandchildren over gutters to pee, men with Super long (coke) fingernails, hear loogey noises all the time, and have inhaled so much Smoke I think my lungs are black. It Sounds bad, but really other than those things, I love Shanghai.

[Le long coke nails: all of his were really long, but most guys just grow the pinkie and thumb nail out (a.k.a coke nails…)]

Yet lately one thing has begun to bug me: Chinese couples. I know I Shouldn’t talk about obnoxious PDA couples (since I’m from the States), but Some things the couples do here is a lot worse than those in the US.

To Start off, I See way to much love (making) going on in the Subway. Is it a turn-on to be Squished again tons of other Sweaty people? I don’t know (but apparently it is, after all the making out and groping I have Seen). I Saw a man the other day literally plaster his face in his girlfriends chest… and then she held it there. Super awkward.

Then there are the couples who wear couple Shirts. They are everywhere (this would never happen in the US because they would be publicly humiliated). Within one Metro ride, I saw three different couples wearing couple Shirts.

[Here are a few I managed to Sneak pictures of]

But the thing that bugs me the most is a weird custom only Chinese guys do: hold their girlfriend’s purse. For some reason the practice of holding your girlfriend’s purse has become the thing in China. I can even tell whether a man is taken or not by whether he is holding a girly purse (there are some guys who carry man-purses). Now, I have asked tons of guys (Korean, Japanese, American, whatever) and they all Said that they would never do this. And I really don’t get it: if you Spent so much time working to buy your Louis Vuitton purse, why would you have Someone else hold it? And I just feel awkward letting a guy carry around my purse (What if I need to get something?).

[Le man purse]

One last thing is that most Chinese find it attractive if a girl is a bit dramatic (when I Say that I actually mean whiny). Chinese girls are treated like queens, allowed to beat on their guy without fear. If anything, it increases their attractiveness when they act like whiny bit… babies. I have gotten fed up with watching guys take Shit for nothing. 

Fact of the matter is that Chinese couples have a different… dynamic. I once Saw a guy pick his girlfriend’s nose for her (beyond weird-ed out: you are not Supposed to let your boyfriend know you even have boogers). And a friend told me she Saw a guy pick his girlfriend’s ear for her (that is what the long nails are for, by the way… picking). I think I will never become fully Chinese, because I draw a line when it comes to my personal (nose) Space.

My New Job…And Finally The Weekend

I haven’t updated in a bit because I got moved… from Sales to the Front Desk. This was a really big change and I Spent Wednesday-Friday adapting to the new environment.

The Staff don’t really Speak any English and the Second I told them I could understand Chinese, it was over. Now they only talk to me in Chinese, so even while working at the desk, I am Studying like crazy. They even had me Start answering the phone (which gave me a couple of miniature heart Seizures).

I still haven’t gotten a uniform and I have asked repeatedly about it: the problem lies in the fact that “Suit" and "uniform" are the same work in Chinese. So when I ask for one, they think that I already have one and eventually we all get confused. Hardcore communication issues. I have also found out that the hotel does not do our laundry for free (just our "uniform"). I’m like, so… how am I Supposed to do my laundry? Another problem to deal with.

By Friday, my brain was worn out (but at least I got a hair net). I was excited to go See Alecia and also excited to get my leftover Stuff. I headed over right after work, but it took me over an hour to get there. She Saved me some bread and cake and we had a lovely reunion (I also updated her on everything that had happened while she was gone). But by the time we were done, it was a bit late and I was worrying: the metro is not 24 hours in Shanghai and closes early at 11pm.

I booked it and made the train (which was terribly empty), but when I made my connection, the go through was closed. Well, even though that Sucked, I figured that I would take a taxi from there and it would be a lot closer.

Not closer. It took another hour (flagging down a taxi in the rain and fighting off everyone else who missed the train) and was 70RMB (太贵了). It was after 12pm by the time I got back, but I wasn’t ready to Sleep.

In the end, I never actually went to Sleep. And then all of Saturday I Spent in my room (catching up on Rooftop Prince), only going down to eat at the canteen. That’s almost 48 hours of being awake (I think at some point Sitting in front of my laptop I passed out for a few minutes). But the Sleep I got last night was deep and wonderful.

I will be Studying my butt off and maybe by the end of the Summer I will actually be fluent in Chinese.