Thursday, December 31, 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le

Happy New Year, written in Chinese on a window at Abashi's in Dalian. Where it is doesn't matter, all that matters is there's pretty lights.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last look

My last day in Dalian. My good friend Sigma was over from Taiyuan for New Year's, so I took her to the marvelous Xinghai Square.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lunch break

Workers on Sun Island, where all the snow sculptures are located. This is open during the day, so you go here for a few hours, and then after you have your fill of snowy Santas, you head to the Ice Festival for the real fun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ice slide

A massive, massive ice slide in Harbin. Even had an elevator. Unfortunately it wasn't completed when I went, so I didn't get to experience the slide. I imagine it would have been wonderful.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

St. Sophia Church

Russian Orthodox church located in Harbin, which is very north and very very cold. They host an Ice Festival every winter; last year's theme was Disney.

Since I'm headed off to Ireland today, I've set a couple posts in advance, so if you come back tomorrow, you might see the Ice Festival!

Happy holidays everyone!

Sweet snack

Hope everyone had a good Christmas.

This was taken at Erqi Square, close to the fabric market. I think this couple was mute, or deaf, or maybe both, but they sold the most delicious sticky rice snacks.

The guy would pack some special rice into the metal cylinder, and then the woman would put a lid on and let steam rise through it so that it would congeal (?). When it was finished, she would put a stick through a hole in the top, take the cylinder off, and coat it with sugar before handing it off to the customer.

At ten cents a piece, you better believe I bought in bulk.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Still Open

Wulumuqi Lu, Shanghai

This shop is located a block away from where I grew up in Shanghai, so it's a staple image of my childhood. I always see it on my way to the (not so super) market next door, or when I'm out getting my 70 cent, totally legal DVDs.

(This picture specifically was taken the night of my 20th birthday, while walking home from having drinks down the street at Zapata's. I celebrated becoming an adult, then went home via the streets of my childhood.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Rooftop of a Tibetan Monastery in Inner Mongolia.

Pretty plain and simple.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Complex Yellow


Whoa, sorry for the break there! I thought about excusing my absence by claiming I was kidnapped by blue swamp people, but I couldn't lie to you.

They were green.

Kidding. I actually had finals and was drowning in work. Swamp people of any color would have been a welcome distraction.

That major digression aside....this photo isn't all that great, but I always liked it for the color. It seems like every apartment developer in China purchases the same shade of Complex Yellow to cover their buildings. So it may scream tacky, but much like an ugly Christmas sweater party, it's a comforting tacky.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tibetan Hallway

A Tibetan monastery in Inner Mongolia. This monastery, to be exact (and self-referential). This was a hallway to the side of the dark chamber where the monks were chanting and reciting their prayers. The sunlight streaming through the wooden bars was beautiful, the air was deliciously crisp due to the high altitude, and the faint chanting could be heard above it was an enlightening way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm confoosed

I'm sure that's exactly what that little girl is thinking. How could she not? Look at how many stalls there are! It's a giant labyrinth of fake Armani and somewhat-realistic Gucci and not-even-close-to-passable Dolce & Gabbana!

Somewhere near Silk Street, Beijing, Sept 08

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alleyway, Cheng Huang Miao

A wintry day in Cheng Huang Miao, right around the time of Chinese New Year (Feb 2008). CHM is supposed to be this 'old temple' area; in reality, the actual temple takes up about the same amount of space as an American park pavilion, and the rest of the place is a twisty windy tourist trap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Phoenix Pavilion

Small temple tucked away in Inner Mongolia, Oct 2008

This pavilion has actually nothing to do with phoenixes; it's just what I think of when I see all these bold colors mashed together.

Actually, on second thought, the colors kind of remind me of Native American designs...and they employ phoenixes in their mythology, right?

Anyway, moral of the story: I like colors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Old and New

Outside a famous Peking duck restaurant in Beijing. Despite its fame, the restaurant was nestled deep in the hutongs, and you had to know it to find it- it wasn't a walk-past kind of  place. I love this picture because I find it hilarious that after going on this huge adventure through old alleys and hutongs, trying to locate this legendary duck resto, we find some business-y dude chatting away on a cell phone right outside its doors.

After all that, the place was so tiny it could barely accommodate our party of 30. (Okay, maybe we did have a large group.) Its walls were wallpapered with photos of all the famous dignitaries that had passed through, all of whom have this sort of, just-take-the-picture-and-let-me-eat-already look on their face.

I particularly enjoyed the photo of a chubby, post-vice presidency Al Gore. You go, Al, you get your duck on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Light the Night

Zhongshan Square, Dalian. The citibank was actually in Zhongshan; the Intercontinental and other building behind it were branched off of Youhao Square, one block west.

One of eighty-some new photos I uploaded to my flickr set of Dalian night scenes, which begins with this picture here.

Yay for catching up on pictures! I'm only 13 months behind now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Though the Looking Glass

 Xinghai Beach through the slightly tinted windows of the 202 tram. Passed this site every day on the way to and from class at Dongcai. The elevated tram tracks made for a great view of the ocean, and on a clear day the visibility was so amazing you could see the rocks in the distance, and beyond.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nice try

Outside Tesco. Heping Mall, Dalian.

The earth did not shatter and swallow me whole when I snapped this. I was shocked.

Monday, October 26, 2009

So much for beach towels

Super tentage to shade the Chinese from the sun. Part of that whole, "white is beautiful, tan is not" culture. Xinghai Square, September 2008.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chinese Parking

This specific photo is from my apartment complex in Dalian; this one isn't so bad, but I've seen some ridiculous parking jobs. Chinese people have this knack for squeezing into the tightest spots, whether or not it's really convenient ...or safe...or legal....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Legumes galore! A nondescript street stand in the French Concession, somewhere around Yongjia Lu.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Concrete Jungle

Well I am just freeeezing here in Etown. It's been in the upper 40s and raining all week.

So I thought I'd post a picture of much, much warmer times. Like, '90 degrees and more humid than a sauna' kind of warm. Also known as that week I spent in Shenzhen/Hong Kong.

What I wouldn't give right now for blazing heat in a city where the only escape lies is in the shadow of hundreds of skyscrapers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fixit Street, Qufu

A dusty street in Qufu (as they all are) where men waited by their respective tools of the trade and waited for any customer that needed a key copied or sole replaced.

It looks much better in laaaarge

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I ♥ Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. Photo snapped while I making my way towards Victoria Harbor. This was my Twitter background picture for the longest time, actually.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Basking Chalkboards

A high school courtyard in Qufu, Shandong Province. These chalkboards were the work of students who hoped to eventually become teachers. (My friends who are Elem Ed majors tell me they go through the same deal, except their work isn't displayed for the whole college to see.) Yay, legible handwriting!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Breakfast in Yinchuan

Forget about cereal. Like most meals in China, breakfast comes best cooked fresh from the street. If we notice here, the man rolls out the dough and places it in the hot oil while the woman twists it with her chopsticks. The girl (their daughter?) is the whole power behind the operation, hand-cranking the wheel that keeps the fire burning hot hot hot.

No matter what the weather, you can count on the breakfast vendors to be out. They're like the postal carriers of the street food industry. What I don't understand is why, with little competition and great demand, these vendors never charge more than a kuai or two for their delicious wares?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Forlorn Vegetable Vendor

A night street in downtown Dalian, tucked behind the Zhongshan Hotel at Victory Plaza. Unlike some other shopping streets, this one offered solely foodstuffs- vegetables, fruits, chestnuts, noodles, pastries, chicken know, the usual.

But of course, with that much variety and competition on one street, times can get boring, and you're left staring at tomatoes as you wait for customers.

(I never came back to this street after the first night. I meant to, though. Shame.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Beijing, blue as can be

[Summer Palace, June 09]

According to tweets from Beijing folk, the skies are still quite clear at the moment, thanks to some cloud science/magic by the CCP (depends on who you ask).

But you know, Beijing doesn't always need a national holiday to look nice. Sometimes, Beijing likes to drive the clouds away and look pretty just cause it feels like it. ^This was one of those days.

Backstory: One day in late June, I spontaneously hopped a train to Beijing. During the nine-hour ride, I started to wonder if perhaps I had been a bit too impulsive. Upon arrival, I took one look at the gorgeous weather and knew it was the universe telling me I made the right decision. I mean, if there was any one time I was going to see the Summer Palace, Houhai, and the Olympic Green...that week was it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Okay, I lied a little.

I was going to turn this into an all-encompassing blog about life, the universe, maybe the number 42... (if you don't get the reference, we can't be friends)

But then I discovered tumblr! Thanks mostly to my editor, Elaine.

So this will continue to just be China photos, and if you really really care to read more about my personal life, check me out here.

National Day 08

There was a giant hoopla this year as the CPC celebrated their 60th anniversary, and you'd better believe China bloggers tweeted the hell out of it.

I happened to be in Beijing on National Day last year (not by choice- it was the last leg of our vacation and we were catching the train back to Dalian that night) and while everyone was certainly filled with China love, it was to no extent the giant pain-in-the-ass military show and parade it was this year.

Case in point: I remember being most excited by the crowds in Wangfujing and this 2008 shrubbery.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Old School

Ever see those old ads from the 1920s, where some housewife whiles away her life doing menial tasks, with an apron on her hips and a smile on her face? That's exactly what I thought of when I saw this iron in the backroom of the tailor shop across from my grandmother's house.

Except instead of a cheerful housewife, I found a middle-aged Chinese woman in a room only slighter bigger than my closet, bossing around a handful of seamstresses and tailors who all were darning and mending and making clothes perfect...for less than three bucks a pop.

21st century living, eh?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Have you been with pig recently?"

[I kid you not, that was a question on the entry form to get past Chinese customs.]

Ah, swine flu paranoia. Even though thousands around the world die from things like measles, malaria, and poor water sanitation, the Chinese government decided that swine flu was Enemy No. 1. As a result, every passenger flying into the country from overseas had to undergo these radar-y temperature checks by silly men in outlandish costumes. Yeah, it was annoying, but the suits are funny as hell.

Also, fun fact, that's my dad sitting next to me.

If the photo looks familiar, that's because Shanghaiist used it here and here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Notice something different?

I'm baaaack!

As most who follow my Twitter know, I've actually been back in the land of the cheese and home of the Braves for about a week and a half now. While I have a post in the works about my summer in Shanghai, I thought I'd first highlight some changes I've made to this blog.


After: (Well, what you're reading is obviously the after. But for visual comparison's sake:)

So obviously there's been a title change, tagline change, photo and profile change. The real overhaul here is going to be in content.

Posted photos will come from both the year in Dalian and the three+ months in Shanghai. But more importantly, I'm going to start posting about my daily life now as well. China-bubble-related material that is, like insane bouts of reverse culture shock; plus the occasional senior year freakouts musings. I mean, it's inevitable- it is senior year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

[Edna's in China AGAIN? It's break time!]


The previous post may be my last for a while. In a couple hours, I'll be flying out to Shanghai and spending the summer there at an internship. I hear Blogger is currently off-and-on in China (in terms of accessibility), but on top of that, I do not have an internet connection at the family apartment (in the French Concession, whoo!). I'll update when I can find wi-fi, but regular daily posts will continue when I return on August 12.

Steamy Night

The mildly famous 'top of the hill.' When I arrived in Dalian it was still winter, but as spring crept up the tiny restaurants set up their chuanr (like grilled kebabs) stands, all in a row. At night, in the chilly air, you could see the smoke from the chuanr as you walked up the Dawai hill, as crowds of people huddled for warmth around the coals.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hey, my internet's been fixed!

This photo was taken at Binhai Lu, or a long stretch of road along Dalian's coastline. It has gorgeous views and an entire day could be spent walking along the road. Or, if you don't have all day, you can hire a taxi to drive you for a certain distance/length of time. I did this three times; with my two best friends over May Holiday, when my dad came to visit in June, and when my mom visited in September. 

Also, notice the clarity of the water. This is generally not seen in China and is an example of why Dalian is known for being one of the cleanest cities in which to live.

Friday, May 15, 2009

[Still not working]

Yes, Blogger is still down for me. From what I hear, it's being blocked over in China now as well, due to some sensitive anniversaries coming up. YouTube is also still blocked.

Considering that I keep two blogs and a video diary, I'm interested in seeing how I'll manage the summer without being able to update everyone through those forms. Words on their own become very boring, very fast.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

[Technical Difficulties]

So for the last day and a half Blogger hasn't been uploading my photos. I'm not sure if it's a problem with my MacBook, my internet connection, or Blogger; I'm guessing it's probably not the latter. In any case, just wanted to say I'm not neglecting the blog, and I'll be back as soon as I'm able.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The CPC Building

At least, that's what I always assumed it was. Located in the middle of Zhongshan Park, Dalian. 

The night I took this, my two best friends and I were walking back to Dawai from the place where they tutored (coincidentally, where I would end up living the next semester- Xinghai Ren Jia). They walked the route four or five times a week, and it took about an hour and a half. By the end of that semester, both of them had lost significant amounts of weight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cross-cultural Communication

Better known as, Chatting up the white guy over a beer or two. (Or thirty.) 

This was after a punk-rock show at Hopscotch Bar, so the fellas actually discussed their favorite kinds of music for a while. We also had fun with their obnoxiously large cameras that were sitting on the table.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mom/我的妈妈

In the spirit of Mother's Day, today's post is of -who else- my mom. She came to visit me in Dalian towards the end of September, and it was great to show her "my city" -school, apartment, friends, all that. 

This picture was taken at Xinghai Square. In writing this post, I started thinking that I took very few pictures of my mom.... Then I realized that an entire folder of pictures from that day is missing. Uh-oh.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pandora's Chinglish

I can't believe that in over three months of postings, I have yet to publish one on Chinglish. Chinglish is the unfortunate (and by unfortunate I mean awesome) result of Chinese-English translations gone awry. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Chinese are onto us foreigners and actually continue producing Chinglish for the sake of keeping up appearances. [Yes, that was a reference to old BBC shows!]

Friday, May 8, 2009

For all your DVD needs

[This picture is blurry because I had to sneak it while the owners were looking away.]

To get to this shop, which has every DVD from My Fair Lady to the latest Seth Rogen movie, you have to first enter the maze that is Victory Plaza. Find the legit CD/DVD shop on the third underground floor, and ask to "go downstairs." The girl there will grab her keys and take you 
to the end of the hallway, 
through a set of doors, 
down three flights of stairs, 
and into a tiny hallway lined with closed doors. 

It's extremely dodgy, but the DVDs were cheap (a dollar) and of reliable quality. Every time I visited them I brought a different friend with me -always a Westerner. After a month or so they started to recognize me and a simple nod of my head came to mean, "Take me downstairs."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paper Cuts

Vendor at the Muslim street market in Xi'an, February 08. I believe the woman cut at least some, if not all, of these herself. Paper cutting is an incredible art, especially at such a large scale, because it requires a good deal of foresight and nimble dexterity.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

[Something Different]

No photo today- I have to study for finals!

Instead, you can check out this awesome list of 61+ Women English-language China bloggers by, on which I'm pretty stoked to be listed:

I'll be back tomorrow- with junior year of college completed!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chongqing Port

Chongqing was the city where we disembarked at the end of our Yangtze River cruise on May 1 (Labor Day). This is one of many pictures taken while waiting for a van driver to become available. The thick haze was a combination of early morning humidity and typical Chinese city smog. Those two sitting on the steps were just staring into the distance; I don't know if they were laborers waiting for the odd job offer (like unloading cargo) or Chongqing residents simply resting by the river, surveying the horizon.

[click on the image for full-size, to see the two figures in greater detail]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shennong Stream

An excursion into a tributary of the Yangtze River, with tour guides and boat rowers who are people of the Tujia minority. The boat rowers are also known as 'trackers' and in older days pulled boats while naked through shallow waters. We glided in small sampans through the waters, surrounded by huge cliffs on either side and remnants of their houses and land that are being overtaken for the Three Gorges Dam project. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Old Shanghai Couple

[Click on the photo for full-size, better detail]

On one of the busiest streets in Shanghai, this adorable couple just rested as people rushed on by. With Shanghai constantly changing and becoming more 'modern', I wondered what the city had been like in their heyday. Would have love to known what they were thinking at this moment.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Bottom of the Hill"

The "bottom of the hill" referred to the street at the base of the hill where Dawai was located. (For example: "Wanna grab lunch at bottom-of-the-hill Chinese?") There was a 24-hour karaoke place always brightly lit up- even though its sign proclaimed "25 Hour KTV". Every night the street vendors would face the KTV and ease their boredom by watching the music videos playing on the enormous outdoor screen.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How is this a selling point??

Seen in one of Dalian's Carrefours (French grocery chain in China). Then seen again in another Carrefour on the other side of town. They stayed on display year-round. I'm not sure what kind of subliminal messaging Carrefour is up to here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sunset at Echo Cafe

Echo Cafe, Dalian. An adorable little bookstore & coffee shop two blocks away from Olympic Square, perfect for small meetings and photo exhibits. It was located under a highway ramp, so the roof was domed and always reminded me of a hobbit's den. (I obviously know nothing about hobbits because that is probably all very incorrect.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeding Time at the (Student) Zoo

Taken at the middle/high school located beside my university (Dongcai). 

Every day, this couple would bring lunch to the students and pass it to them via the school gates. Because of the large amount of food and specificity of the orders, I believe the parties on both sides of the gates had an agreement in place for this daily routine. 

Admit it, with the iron bars and the frantic manner in which the students try to hand over money and get their food, you can't help but make the mental jump to "zoo".

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I know I posted a picture of  a wall covered in ads like this a couple months ago, but when I was combing through my pictures from December this one immediately jumped out at me for its starkness and simplicity. 

[by the way, for anyone with a Mac, this photo looks sweet in reverse colors (control+alt+command+8)]

Monday, April 27, 2009


Erqi Square in Dalian is known for the host of tailors that set up shop at the base of the hill. To have something custom made here (for example, my red peacoat) cost about the same as buying it off the shelf in the States (in my case, $50). Because of this, we expats frequently went to look at patterns and designs and had things made that we didn't need; it was like regular clothes shopping but without the instant gratification of taking your purchase home with you. 

Dalianers- When you enter the warehouse-type building, make a beeline for the back, where the stalls are. Pick a tailor that looks friendly (and competent) and then pick whichever fabric you desire. 

*For males this process generally takes a sixth of the time it takes the females.
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