After my last two posts, my parents were complaining that my blog was all of a sudden too tech-focused to follow. Oops. So I decided to follow up with something with a bit more universal appeal: smiles!
The following photos are all from the excellent Flickr photostream of Expatriate Games, one of my favorite China photographers on Flickr. Enjoy!
I was delighted to discover churros in Beijing, and with ice cream! (Sure, why not?) But the second English name threw me for a loop: “Kyrgyzstan Things Fruit.”
I don’t know why “churros” wasn’t enough, but apparently this is another casualty of horrible character-by-character machine translation. So we have a case of:
> Foreign word → Chinese transliteration → horrible machine translation to English
> churros → 吉事果 → “Kyrgyzstan Things Fruit”
Why go all the way to machine translation when you started with a foreign word in the first place? Did someone think that the machine translation of a transliteration might help out English speakers? Why is Kyrgyzstan the default translation for 吉?? There are no answers here… moving on.
I thought this was a rather clever bit of signage:
In context, and especially next to its “opposite” icon, there’s absolutely no question what the above icon stands for. Out of context, though, it can be a bit puzzling. I showed this to a few Chinese friends (out of context, of course), and they didn’t get it on their own.
(Hint: No, it has nothing to do with any characters in WALL-E.)
I’m a Firefox user, and one of the greatest things about it is its extensibility. PicLens, a full-screen 3D image viewer that works especially well with Flickr, has got to be one of the best extensions I have ever seen (even if it is almost too iPhone). I never blogged about a Firefox addon before because there wasn’t really a reason to. Now I never want to go back to boring HTML views on Flickr.
You have to see it in motion to really appreciate the addon, but check out these screenshots of PicLens views of some of my favorite (Greater) China-based photographers:
These were the thoughts running through my head leading up to the shot:
> Wow, look at the size of that load. I should take a picture. Hey, this is totally one of the most cliché China photos ever: the “big load on a tricycle” photo. And this load isn’t even that big. In all my time in China, I’ve never taken that picture, though. I’m gonna take it.
So the above is one of the great China photography clichés. We’ve all seen these things. Many of them are about contrasts, such as the high-power businessman talking on his cell phone next to the peasant carrying produce. Or the old home getting torn down with the huge skyscraper in the background.
I’m curious, though… what is the most cliché China phototo you? Link to the photo in your comments!
This is a blind musician playing outside of Nanjing Road West (南京西路) Station in Shanghai. Two questions:
1. Is it OK to photograph a blind person without their knowing it? (I photographed this guy without asking, and then gave him 5 RMB.) The ethics of photography has always been an interesting subject to me, and it’s one I’ve actually really quite struggled with over the years, especially in the northern mountains of Thailand and in China’s Yunnan.
2. What is that funky instrument?? It’s really quite cool… way better than the boring old erhu. I do believe it was… polyphonic.
My wife and I had a nice time in Chongqing, even though we saw only a sliver of what the city had to offer. We took Matt Scranton‘s excellent advice and checked out 瓷器口. There were so many cool snacks to try that we couldn’t even eat lunch, and a little later we wound up lost in a maze of twisting old alleyways up on the mountain. We also went to 洪崖洞, which was nothing special.
We spent a lot of the afternoon and evening with my wife’s relatives, where I got a good earful of the Chongqing dialect. I was amused that her uncle’s pronunciation of 美国 (the USA) sounded a lot like 玫瑰 (a rose).
There was so much we didn’t do (we didn’t even have hot pot there!), but we didn’t want to pack too much into the little time we had. We had a nice time, and I wouldn’t mind going back for more. Here are a few pictures.
(Click through to the Flickr pages for explanations of the photos.)
It’s amazing how quickly Brad’s photography has improved, considering that it’s only a hobby to him and he still keeps a full-time job. I remember when he first started up his photo blog I wondered how long it would last. If the average lifespan of his past blogging attempts were any indication, I figured a couple of months, tops. But not only is his photo blog still going strong (albeit a little stuck on Christmas lately), his site has blossomed into the only resource I need for the music scene in Shanghai. If you haven’t already, visit Shanghai Streets, and check out the Favorite Photos of 2005 while you’re at it for some impressive amateur Shanghai rock scene photography.
Matthew provides plenty more photos, observations, and insight into Tianjin in each entry. Just follow the links above.
I intend to blog more on religion in China, but I’ve been putting it off. It’s extremely complex, and as such I find it an intimidating topic to approach. I think Matthew has handled pretty well what he’s tackled so far.
I’ve seen it so many times in Shanghai… propaganda telling Shanghai residents to “be a cute Shanghainese.” The word for cute in Chinese is 可爱, and it’s not one of those tricky words to translate. “Cute” is pretty much just “可爱,” and “可爱” is pretty much just “cute” (except when it’s being “lovely”). So why is the government always telling its people to be cute? I have no clue.
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to get a picture of one of those “be a cute Shanghainese” messages for a long time, but never have. Brad at Shanghai Streets recently captured a good example of it, so I guess I can stop trying.
Ever since Flickr moved its data to servers in the US, I’ve been complaining both online and offline about how maddeningly slow Flickr pages load in China. This weekend, though, Flickr suddenly started loading normally again. Afraid that it wouldn’t last, I immediately did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while: I moved all my old photo albums onto Flickr. Each photo album became a “set” on Flickr. (You only get unlimited sets if you’ve paid for Flickr Pro.)
The reasons I moved to Flickr:
1. Convenience. Putting photos online and creating albums is so easy, with the automatic resizing and everything…
2. Bandwidth. My photo albums get hit quite a bit, thanks to Google Images and other online photo indexing engines. Once I remove those albums from my own webspace, I’ll be using a lot less bandwidth serving photos, which means I free up more bandwidth for other things.
3. Mobility. If I ever have to move to a new server again, I won’t have to move my photo albums. Without the photo albums, my site takes up a lot less disk space, which means a simpler move.
The downside is that I will now be paranoid that Flickr will get blocked by China, and then a huge proportion of the images on my site will no longer display for visitors in China. I’m really banking on Yahoo (owner of Flickr) keeping a good relationship with China and keeping its services unblocked in China.
Anyway, check out the new Sinosplice Photo page (also accessible via that handy menu at the top of this page). Only the album index is hosted onsite; the albums themselves are on Flickr.
The photo page has been redesigned in keeping with the more uniform look I’m trying to give the site. You’ll notice I’ve also done the same with the About page and the Language section. More to follow, all in accordance with the master plan…
1. A child dancing around a supermarket parking lot, overjoyed to be deemed worthy of photography.
2. I think I ruined all the fun of that ride for the kid. (Sorry, kid!)
3. The ZUCC gang never shies away from street food.
4. Have a closer look at that menu. Yes, that’s right: 5 sticks of meat for 1 RMB! What’s that, you say? You’re hungry for bull testicles too? Will that be large (10 RMB), or small (5 RMB)? If you’re low on funds, we recommend the bull penis itself (1 RMB).
5. Oh, so that’s why the meat on a stick is so cheap… it’s tiny!
6. Baijiu prices at 东方饺子王 (the number with the degree sign next to it is the percentage of alcohol).
7. This car has seen better days.
8. Where’d the gang go?
9. Four dead fish, their origin a mystery.
10. The Chinese love them some watermelon.
The connection problems I reported having with Flickr a while back are all but gone now. Flickr is still not as fast as it was when the server was still in Canada, but at least it actually works without a proxy now.