Monthly Archives: July 2009

Total eclipse of the….F@*ck!!

As it happens the full eclipse watching of yesterday was not to be. Just five minutes before the moon was scheduled to eclipse the sun somebody thought it would be a good idea if it rained.

Annoying. Really annoying. In astronomical terms, as annoying as a moon landing conspiracist in the way of Buzz Aldrin:

My pictures, like all the ones I’ve seen so far, pretty much suck. A lot. However, the satellite imagery from out of space was pretty cool.

Shanzhai eye: the DIY hover bike

Just when you think the engenuity of bikes in China had hit saturation point these guys grab some empty cans, a couple of planks of wood, and replace the wheels with paddles to make what I can only describe as a “hover bike” or “paddle bike”.

Potato, patoto – it’s yet another testament to Chinese innovation.

Even more crazy ways to keep cool in Shanghai’s summer

Sweating your arse off? Me too. Being a ginger I get all beetroot- faced at just the thought of the dial hitting 30 degrees. This week it’s been clocked at over 40 – well over ginger exploding point.

To help the stupid foreigners our apartment complex recently distributed a magazine in English with a helpful article titled “How to keep cool in summer”. The article included such tips as; eat duck, drink hot tea, drink vinegar, swim, and eat duck.

Yes, they said eat duck twice – and I thought it was a typo the first time.

Call me crazy but however much I love the fatty bird, its not the first thing I reach for when my back starts to sweat in the shade. Nor is fresh cup of hot tea the first drink I think of to replace the liquids seeping out of every pore. And drinking vinegar? Well just a dash in the gin and tonic, Jeeves.

So, to turn the tide of recent neglect of this blog I thought it was time to pass some other, clearly useful ways, to keep cool this summer.

Have a dip in the Huangpu
Sure, there might be 150 years of industrial waste and 7 different kinds of poo but we’ve heard its good for the skin.

Just add hotpants
Girls seem to be quite comfortable wearing these around town so why not the guys?

Oh wait. I know why:


Drink beer in the local All Days
Purchase your favourite long neck bottle of beer, go the counter and purchase that thirst quencher, then stand in front of the shop’s icy cold air conditioner and polish it off. Repeat as required.

Dress like a monk not a Taoist
I’m not really religious nor want to poke fun but the Buddhists seem to have the right idea when it comes to keeping cool.

Go skiing! (65RMB 2 hours)
Yes, the Yinqixing Indoor Skiing Site is open. Get that all body ice cream headache feeling and practice your turns for next winter at the same time.

1835 Qixin Road near Gudai Rd in Xinzhuang; 021-64788666

Have more? Feel free to put them in below and I’ll update the post.

Shanzhai ji primer

It’s not often I write about stuff that goes on in China, I mean, other than random stuff here. But recently I penned a primer for Australian technology sites and ZDNet Australia on the world of Shanzhai phones: story
ZDNet Australia Photo Gallery

The story really just scratches the surface of the Shanzhai phone industry in China and think this area is only going to get more interesting as the phones get better and gather momentum. Anyway, that’s all today – a blatant self-promotion. As you were…


From the mailbox…

Every week I get literally thousands of emails from fans. Almost all of them giving insightful tips on how to be bigger, thicker, larger, and last longer. Oh, and the ladies! Boy, some of them aren’t backward about coming forward…

In between all of this I received two emails which struck me during the last week. One from a friend, another from a fellow Shanghai ginger (yeah, I know the universe may explode if we meet on the street).

First, my good friend:

“It seems the more wrong your site gets the more followers it has….”

Second, from ginger:

“Hey I like your blog. I’m an intern just starting out writing. Any journalism tips?”

Both are paraphrased…but both had me thinking about the recent direction of the blog. Yes, I’ve been writing more jokes and random “white dude in China” stuff. I’m comfortable with that because I’m certainly no fake China expert (please, can’t somebody quarantine them at the airport?) and I like to have a laugh. And besides, its my blog and I’ll write whatever self-loving content I feel like. That’s the nature of blogs, right?

Even though I’m technically not a journalist anymore (I prefer to help people build media sites at the moment) I’d like to think my experience as an editor and journalist can be passed on – even if my expertise lay in the nerdy world of technology.

Well here’s the first tip: Don’t write some of the dribble drabble prattle I put together here – I enjoy writing this, but its far from groundbreaking, world-changing stuff. For serious, interesting content for your readers, here would be my tips after observing much of what is written here locally and abroad about Shanghai and China:

  • Learn the language – How can you report on what is being said if you can’t understand?
  • Understand the people – China is not some big collective conscious of 1.3 billion people. There are individuals with stories, values, and experiences that are vastly different in all corners of the country – even in Shanghai there is enormous difference of opinion on many matters. Understand that and you can better write about China.
  • Don’t be a parrot – The internet has enough people copying each other and not checking their facts. Don’t contribute to the echo chamber.
  • Find a niche – What do you know and what can you write about at your swimming level? Find that and write about it well.
  • Learn to use technology – breaking news can travel extremely fast. To break news you’re going to have to be hardwired to technology.
  • Look for local sources – stop interviewing the same expat with their same opinions on a matter. Even if you don’t speak Chinese, many locals do speak English. Find them and earn their trust and you’ll get a lot more interesting points of view for stories.
  • Forget what you know – you’re in China, not Kansas anymore. Don’t take for granted people having the same background or values. This goes back to the understanding the people point.
  • Be careful – this should go without saying. Know the rules, boundaries, and the possible consequences.