Well, what do I miss about Shanghai? Dancing in the street – yes, Walking backwards – yes, old guys getting their groove at the 1 minute mark of this video – YES!
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.
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.
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.
One of the most convenient, expensive, and kooky ways to travel across the Huangpu River in Shanghai is the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. I finally got around to doing this late last week armed with a regular point-and-shoot digital camera.
The results are a bit sketchy but I’ve borrowed Gene Wilder’s voiceover from the boat ride scene in the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” to give readers a better feel for this attraction.
What: Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
Where: The Bund roughly near Nanjing Road on Puxi side
Times: 08:00 – 22:00
How Much: 30 RMB
Personally, I love the Shanghai taxi drivers – they almost always seem to know where to go even when a laowai like me is pronouncing the streets in the wrong tone. They even know where I’m meant to be going even when I say south instead of north. They are also pretty cheap by western standards – a trip from one end of downtown to the other on the Puxi side of town will put you back about US$3.
Oh yeah and they generally have little regard for seat belts, speed limits, pedestrians, and play whatever the fuck they want on the radio -it’s always fun stuff and never a dull moment.
Anywho, after football (soccer) on the weekend I got a driver who had his music blaring while racing through downtown and the outer suburbs, beeping away, and almost running into a few bikes and other drivers – all while it was raining outside. I don’t normally take videos with my camera but this time I thought it might have been my last Shanghai cab so I decided to capture the
end moment. Apologies for the crappy quality.
This time I tried yet another time lapse but this time at night. Oh, and you can see the full version of this in HD on the vimeo Web site. There’s a lot going on in this picture but nothing uniquely Shanghai cool – just me experimenting more with this format on a regular street near my house. Next up, I’ll work on the framin’.
This quick time-lapse is a view 30+ floors up overlooking the apartment block across the way and into the distance. For anyone who has seen Shanghai from a plane or from one of the high points around town you’ll notice that these high-rise apartments stretch out as far as the eye can see.
While doing some research for a new website I came across this video of ice biking in Beijing. The video – done by some snowboarders from Australia – is a bit Jackass in nature but makes ice biking look like a whole lotta fun.
See the Geely GE sedan that looked like a Rolls Royce Phantom at the Shanghai Auto Show a few months back? Well here is what looks like a direct copy of the Rolls Royce from a garage in China. Here is one of about half a dozen videos showing off their masterpiece:
This is a short stop motion animation taken in front of the Volkswagon pavilion at the Shanghai Auto Show last week. A few less than obvious things to note from the clip:
- The HD screen in the background was amazingly huge and clear.
- There are models walking up and down the stage in front of the HD screen during this clip.
- Volkswagon were promoting green cars while people visiting the pavilion were sweating under the spotlights.
- I probably should have used a tripod.
The music in the clip is a Beijing band called New Pants. Check them out.
Make no mistake about it, Shanzhai (fake) phones are big business in China. According to some in the local mobile industry, shanzhai phones make up between 20-30% of the market in China. If you take the industry figure of 650 million mobile subscribers in the middle kingdom then you’re looking at a ballpark figure of 160 million shanzhai phones.
To put that in perspective, my native country – Australia – has pretty much reached mobile phone saturation point at roughly 20 million mobile phones. That’s roughly 1 per person.
Other than pointing out Australia is a big country that’s sparsely populated, my point is, this is a huge market. And its estimated the shanzhai market will get bigger if the figure of 1 billion phones in China by 2013 is realised. That could mean a quarter of a billion shanzhai phones.
While device manufacturers like Apple and Nokia may not be too impressed by this, its not a huge worry for other stakeholders in the market – content creators and carriers. In fact, shanzhai phones probably create a great deal of money for those groups. Also, shanzhai phone making employs and gives many innovative people an income.
What I find interesting is the ability for these creators to work so fast on new innovative features and bring them to market. Even the direct copies of branded phones bring their own set of innovative features to the table – iPhone copies with shake shuffle and dual sim cards for example.
Whether these phones work as well as industry-tested phones is debatable, and whether they are as safe, and the companies that make them are accountable for creating safe phones is questionable. Like anything bought on the shady market: Caveat emptor.
The next question is how other countries such as Australia, India, USA, Europe, Africa and so on will respond to Shanzhai phones being exported. Will network providers work together with phone creators to require greater authentication to connect to networks? Will it lead to greater vendor lock-in?
Or, should users have the right to Shanzhai phones? And what’s the difference between Shanzhai and the Google Android powered Lenovo Ophone?
As an example of how well built some of these phones are here is the Hi-Phone:
Here’s another experiment with stop motion animation – this time a little bit more successful than the last. In this video I take a look at an everyday street in Shanghai during peak hour. It’s a quick snapshot of the daily traffic grind of cars, scooters, buses, trucks, carts, bicycles, tricycles, carts, tuk tuks, pedestrians, and traffic cops.
Who wins? In its own chaotic way….everyone’s a winner.