Moganshan Lu – pictures remixed

Moganshan Lu, on the north side of Shanghai’s CBD is a collection of 50 or so galleries from local and international artists. While living in Shanghai I visited this area a few times and was always on the list of things to do for visitors. Its popular cousin, Taikan Lu, seems to get a lot more press and interest from tourists, probably because of the western cafe’s and suitably kitsch galleries.

Anyway, while cleaning up some old hard drives I came across some old photos of this area and decided to touch some of them up.

Where:
50 Moganshan Lu, near Changhua Lu / 莫干山路50号,近苏州河

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Xīn jiā pō – not what it seems

When we first learnt of moving to Singapore everyone kept telling us of the cliche’s – hot, boring, strict, boring, and hot. Oh and clean – our ayi told me she was most impressed by Singapore’s cleanliness. Well, things aren’t really as they seem. The language is familiar but the mixing pot of cultures, cuisine, and people going about their business is rather interesting.

I still need to publish a whole backlog of Shanghai content – and I’ll probably be back over the course of the next year to visit – so stay tuned.

But the following bit of fashion has me pondering whether a Singapore blog could be worth a go:

See China’s first HD snowboard movie (for free)

If you’re into snowboarding and live in Shanghai then here’s an event for you over the weekend.

Mellow Parks is a group of snowboarders based up north near Beijing and run the snow parks at Nanshan, Xiling, and Qiaobo. This weekend they’re headed to Shanghai to show off their first snowboard movie production called “Happy Niu Year” – a witty play on words if you’re not familiar with the word for Ox (it’s the year of the ox this year).

When: November 21, starting at 8pm
Where: The SOURCE gallery, Shanghai. 158 Xinle Road
How much: Free (and you get a free copy of the DVD) There will also be prizes at the event.

You can see the trailer for the film here and an interview with the Mellow Parks team (by me) over here.

And while I’m on the road of self-promotion there’s also another yarn about Ping Tian, the proposed “mega-resort” in Xinjiang Province and China’s answer to America’s Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, it’s been delayed for another year.

Places to eat: Xi Bei

Now that I’m leaving Shanghai in a few days it’s time to spill the beans on places we recommend to eat. First cab off the rank is Xi Bei (West North) – some of the freshest cuisine from the north-west area of China you’ll ever have.

Delicious, fresh, and cheap are the three things you only need to know about Xi Bei. With a menu as thick as a bible there’s enough dishes to keep even the less adventurous eaters happy at this place. Filled with locals who line up in busy times to get into this place (this should be a good indicator for any restaurant) it’s not often visited by white folks – or ginger folks for that matter.

One of the unique things about this restaurant is that the kitchen and preparation area is out in the open. Customers are encouraged to see how the food is being made. In the case of the photo below, dumplings made with oat.

On our visit we tasted the oat-flavoured dumplings, lamb off the bone, tofu covered in toffee (tastes better than it sounds – pictured), and a mix of vegetable dishes. Instead of raving more about the food I took some food porn pictures and video which may better give an idea of why you need to eat there.

Now I can’t find the address in English anywhere but I did get their card to print out if you don’t read Chinese.

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A small suggestion to the DVD shops…

Now, I would never complain about the service one gets from any DVD seller in Shanghai. DVDs are cheap, quick to market, and did I mention cheap? So I just have one small suggestion:

“Can you use a little less packaging?”

I’m far from being a tree hugger – like I could find one to hug in this town – but opening a DVD involves un-peeling and throwing away at least three different types of plastic, the glossy cardboard covers, and another paper sleeve.

And here’s the kicker: for less packaging, I’ll guarantee not one foreigner will complain if charged the same amount. In fact, put them in a recyclable paper sleeve and put the word “organic” “green” or “dolphin friendly” and people will pay extra. It works for breakfast cereal and tuna, why not DVDs?

In the meantime, here’s a suggestion for readers who want to keep away from all the packaging – visit youku.com or tudou.com and search for the program you are looking for. 8 times out of 10 the program will be available at blistering fast speeds inside China.

Shanghai Photography Night

It seems like any old bum with a camera adds “photography” to their list of hobbies after living in Shanghai – guys like me, I’m a guy like me. I guess it was either that or shopping.

Anywho, while I’m busy tomorrow to go to this event it looks like a great little, free, get together featuring photographers in Shanghai. Here’s the details:

“Shanghai Photographer Night”
- a monthly cocktail party featuring unique local photographers

Wednesday, Nov.18, 2009 – 1st edition

Join us for an evening at Dada bar, with a slide show showcasing 4 local and visiting photographers, as they each show us their unique and surprising views of Shanghai. The photos will be projected on the large screen, and seating will be arranged for optimal viewing. Music will be kept at a lower volume until midnight, allowing for easy conversation and focus on the visual display. Special prices on select cocktails, wine, and beer.

This month’s photographers:
Tangting – “Delicate”
Patrick Wack – “I Build Shanghai”
Francois Trezin – “Grandma’s Drawer”
Charlie Xia – “Urban Geometry”

This event is curated by Tim Franco.

Wednesday, Nov.18, 2009
8pm-late.
FREE ENTRY.

Dada Bar, 115 Xingfu Lu, between Fahuazhen / Pingwu Lu, Shanghai.
DADA 酒吧,幸福路115号,法华镇路与平武路之间

(* If you are a photographer, and would like to participate in a
future event, please contact Tim Franco, tim@shanghaisoundbites.com.)

For this first edition, we want to bring you 4 very different
photographers that you most likely have seen around Shanghai. No
theme, no relation, just very different styles and backgrounds for
this show:

Our first guest is Charlie Xia, famous on the web for his nightlife
photography, Charlie Xia is a meticulous photographer who spends his
evening hunting the perfect urban shoots. Playing with lights, lines
and curves he is looking for impossible angles and gives us a unique
view of Shanghai urbanscapes. In this series called “urban geometry”,
Charlie is mainly taking the elevated expressway as a subject and
transforms them into urban art pieces.

Our second guest is Patrick Wack. A French photographer based in
Shanghai for 3 years, Patrick has been focusing his personal work on
portraiture, his series such as “Streetaholic” (on SmartShanghai.com)
are displaying a consistent and efficient portraiture of fashion flows
around Shanghai and other cities. In this series called “I Build
Shanghai,” Patrick is exploring the construction site of the World
Expo 2010 and gives us a unique insight into the people behind the
scenes.

Our third guest is Francois Trezin. You might have seen his name in
big fashion magazines around Shanghai through his still photography,
but before being a photographer, Francois is an artist. He uses
photography as a technical process to show us stories and ideas. In
this series called “Grandma’s Drawer” he has been meticulously looking
through his grandparents drawer for anything he could find, and then,
voluntary replace them in the drawer in a particular order. In this
organized mess, Francois is trying to create a story, looking into the
past through random objects.

Our final and main guest is Tang Ting. Tang Ting is well known for his
youth culture photography. Regularly shown in urban magazines, Tang
Ting is not only documenting the youth culture, but he is a part of
it. Traveling through the different scenes and different cities of
China, Tang Ting is mainly using basic 35mm films found at the
cheapest price and captures everything that catches his attention. In
this intimate series called “Delicate,” Tang Ting his just putting
together a series of photos around one word, one feeling, and leaving
the story to his viewers.

Shanghai Metro gets sharks, no frickin’ laser beams

There’s many restrictions when you get inside the metro system in Shanghai – no explosives, hand guns, fireworks, and you’re not even allowed to smoke. In fact, you’re not even supposed to spit.

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But sharks? Well they are more than welcome:

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It just goes to show that you don’t need to put too much gel in your hair and hang out at pretentious bars near the Bund to see Sharks in Shanghai.

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What: Sharks
Where: Jing’an Temple Metro (Underneath Haushan Lu)
How much: Free

Video: The Sichuan Taxi of Death

Last week we ran around the countryside of Sichuan to see Pandas, eat hot pots, and visit Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟. More on the logistics and good times later – let’s fast forward to the juicy part – when we almost died.

We’re already accustomed to fast and crazy taxi drivers. Give a Shanghai taxi driver 100m of traffic-less road and you’ll see just what a VW Santana can do. One particular chap has even demanded we call him “Shanghai Schumacher” before hurling down Yan’an Road at about 140km/h and weaving in and out of traffic to prove it.

But straight lines on a highway without a seat belt are one thing. Overtaking police cars and trucks on blind corners, and using the whole road to turn around tight corners with ice on them is another.

And so is this video. Yes, it’s been speed up for effect. Yes, I’m on the passenger side so as you can see we spend more time on the other half of the road. Yes, I’ve inserted a music track to drown out our prayers, repenting, and sobs of joy when we finally arrived at our hotel.

So, instead of my own snuff video, here is a view of riding down towards Jiuzhaigou – by far the most un-touched, naturally beautiful places I’ve seen in China – maybe this planet.

Update: Seems Flickr cut off the video after 1.30 minutes. The full video is now up on Vimeo – which means that people inside the great firewall probably can’t see it right now as it was recently blocked:

More photos to come.

Photos: iTool Shanghai

It’s true, I gave in and finally got a phone from the company of Jobs. Other than the 24-7 access to e-mail and procrastination there’s also a bevvy of good photo processing apps which I’ve had fun messing with.

In no particular order here is a scrapbook of recent photos.

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