Exorcising, Exploding, Welcoming

OK, I guess that’s not a nice way to refer to the departure of two good friends. But it’s what came to mind when I took this picture, which I have entitled exorcising the demon (sorry Carl):

exorcising the demon

Amy is still here visiting, and we’re doing lots of sightseeing still (as well as plenty of lounging). Carl and Greg’s most recent Shanghai visit, however, is already over just two days after it began. They seem to have had a good time (due largely to the neighborhood Taco Popo). My new sleeper sofa, mattress pad, and sheet set equip my guest room pretty well to accommodate guests.

Quick plug: Da Yu (Chinese name) Japanese restaurant in the Isetan building on West Nanjing Road is awesome. At 150 rmb per person it’s not cheap, but it’s all you can eat and all you can drink. Plus you order off the menu — there’s no crappy buffet bar. We left there at closing, very full and more than a little happy. (Thanks to Wilson for that recommendation!)

While they were here we also experienced the storm after the calm after the storm. I refer to the ridiculous firecracker/firework extravaganza that went on last night. The noise was deafening, and we had quite a show out my apartment window for about an hour. All kinds of fireworks explosions came from all directions, right in the middle of the city, between tall buildings. At one point a nearby building caught on fire, sending up big clouds of smoke. It was put out fairly quickly. (The next morning we went to check it out, but there was no evidence. I did notice a sign on the building which had caught fire: DANGER: GAS.)

[Related link: don’t miss this footage of the unbelievable pyrotechnic show around ZUCC on Chinese New Year’s Eve.]

Turns out that the display here last night was due to some kind of tradition of welcoming the god of wealth into one’s home for a prosperous new year. Hmmm. I suppose I should study up on this whole “Chinese culture” thing a little more.

Anyway, I’m glad Carl and Greg came up to the big city for the visit. To my other friends: come on over for a visit!



John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. “Gung Hai Fat Choi”, It’s nice to see “happy face” from all of you. The year of monkey will be playful sure enough…..HAPPY NEW YEARS:)

  2. Jessica Liang Says: January 27, 2004 at 5:55 pm


    除夕晚上的烟火你领教过了吗?VERY COOL。当烟花在杭州的夜空上升腾,爆竹声盖过了人们说话的声音,猛然间,我居然联想起了在IRAQ BAGHDAD 战争中的SHOCK AND AWE行动,SADDAM 宫殿在呼啸的导弹声中绽放出无比绚烂的焰火,继而灰飞烟灭。如果把两幅图景同时放在你眼前,都是那么的惊心动魄和美丽壮观,你能断定哪一张图景是战争实录,而哪一张是中国的大年除夕夜吗?



  3. I’ll be there soon.

  4. happy everyday in China.

  5. in that final picture with greg, john and carl–doesn’t it look like greg and carl could be “exorcising” something most unpleasant from john’s nether regions?

  6. speaking of Chinese New Year, how was the Craptacular? Any new Da Shans we should know about?

  7. Russell, you’re very strange.

    Roy, sorry, I almost completely skipped it this year. I seem to recall a Chinese gymnast doing all sorts of tricks on a slack rope (not a tightrope), but that’s about it.

  8. my favorite segment from the Craptacular was from the 2001 New Year. It was a song and dance number by a group of boys and girls. The boys’ props were manly things like basketballs, little rifles and computers/video game. The girls had pots and pans, brooms and dolls.

    Talk about imprinting gender roles! I watched it with a fellow law school classmate who is from Nanjing and considers herself a feminist. The symbolism completely passed her by. When I pointed it out, man was she pissed at CCTV!

  9. Da Xiangchang Says: January 29, 2004 at 11:15 am


    That’s an interesting comment. But I’ve found that when it comes to feminism and women’s rights, it’s not always black and white–i.e., more gender equality in America, less in China and the non-Western world. For example, in China, wives don’t take their husband’s last names, which I think is incredibly enlightened. Why SHOULD women take their husbands’ surnames? It’s stupid and incredibly sexist, yet most people don’t think about it. When I get married–Lord knows when THAT’LL be–I will definitely NOT want my wife to take my last name. Why the hell should she? Likewise, in the most ostensibly patriarchal societies, there have been female presidents: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka. Yet I don’t see a woman being elected president in America for a looonnng time.

  10. Hi John,

    travelling down in S-E Asia right now, but it seems that in about three weeks or a bit longer, I’ll be settling down in Hangzhou for a while. This has got not a little bit to do with a certain Hangzhou female. Anyhow, my plan was to get a F visa (the 6 month thingy) in HK, rent a nice cheap (hopefully not an oxymoron) apartment, study Chinese and teach a bit on the sly (money is always nice, but I don’t want to be a waijiao, I just want to live in China – outside a uni).

    Anyway, do you (or any other readers) know if an F-visa is enough to be allowed to rent an apartment in Hangzhou? Are there some apartments foreigners are not allowed to rent? What is the best way of finding an apartment? (Preferably, it would be in an all-Chinese apartment complex, surrounded by busy food-stall streets or something :))

    Any help would be appreciated. (And expect me to drop by you in SH sometime).

    (PS: Since I am travelling in S-E Asia, my internet access leaves something to desire, so please send me an answer by private email as well)

  11. Big Sausage,

    Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that the US is more enlightened than China when it comes to gender issues. I was just amused by the overt nature of the message.

    I concur on the last names bit–my wife kept hers.

  12. If you get a chinese wife it’s easy, you take her chinese name, she takes your western name, same for the kids every one is happy

  13. Da Xiangchang Says: January 30, 2004 at 10:28 am


    Ha, ha, that’s pretty good. I personally always believed that once a woman and a man get married, they should make up a new last name–like they’d just form a new entity, which is what marriage should be about, right? And their kids would have this new last name. Currently, both the Chinese and American ways are still fucked up since the children still take their dad’s surnames. Of course, my plan will never be used by people so maybe you have it like the boy gets the dad’s last name, and the girl gets the mom’s. And so on. Because, if I may be profound for a moment, as long as wives take their husbands’ last names, there will always be sexism and patriarchy.

  14. Big Sausage,

    It’s interesting you should say that when a couple get married they should invent a new last name and the kids should take it–that’s exactly what a woman in my FSO class and her husband did. They have a baby girl with this new last name. It’s a cool idea.

  15. Stian,
    I just did the whole apartment search routine and found an apartment in Hangzhou. 🙂 If you can read Chinese then check out http://www.livingyou.com or http://www.livinghangzhou.com. They have free listings of apartments in HZ. I cant read Chinese so I took the easy route and hired an agency to find an apartment for me. They are a dime a dozen and usually charge 1/2 of the rent for the apartment you take. If you dont take an apartment from their agency then it is my understanding that you dont pay anything. However I bargained the fee from 1000 rmb to 500rmb. As for foreigners not being allowed to rent places, I had NO problems. The rental agency just told the people on the phone that I was a foreigner and everyone said ok. They do ask for your passport but no one has mentioned visas. I dont know how long an F visa is for, but Im pretty sure they dont really care what kind it is, as long as it is for long term. They just want to make sure you are going to be there so they get paid. Also, and maybe you know this already, but most landlords want 6 months rent up front. This can sometimes be bargained down to 3 or 4 months. You will have no problems finding all Chinese apartment complexes, and you will probably be the only foreigner in the neighborhood. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions and maybe Ill see you around HZ.

  16. Da Xiangchang,

    A friend of mine considered the very thing you’re proposing (and Prince Roy’s friend actually did). The problems with it are:
    1. An adult changing a name is a hassle, especially for a man, since there’s no good reason for a man to do it in our society, and
    2. By law, parents can give their child any last name, but if the child doesn’t have the same last name as the parents, it could be difficult for the parents to prove their identity as parents at times.

  17. What do they do to make up a new Chinese family name from two different characters? To rebuild a character by strokes? Or…as some people do, to put both dad and mom’s family names in their child’s name? But the latter one had better be done for at most once, or else their descendants’ name would become longer and longer…

  18. Heather i travel a lot and i always search for my apartment in Internet. it is good because i can see pictures and i save time and money.

  19. orochimaru Says: August 6, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Da Xiangchang,

    Reasons of patriarchal last names are simple. Offsprings eventually want to trace their lineage and family history. At least in China with the one parent one child rule it’ll be hard for kids to trace their own heritage if their parents are knowledgeable with their genealogy.

    The second is to prevent inbreeding that causes a lot of genetic issues. For example in Arizona/Utah there are alot of polygamist and their offsprings tend to have a lot of genetic issues ranging from cerebral palsy to fumerase deficiency and etc…

    Third creating a new family name with dad and mom would be quite awkward if the family splits up eventually like the Los Angeles Mayor Villaragosa whose new last name came from his own name Villar and his former wife’s last name Raigosa. He had a wed prior to another woman in his early 20s. So name changing does not do any justice for the children. Eventually after X number of generations children loose track of their lineage and the only clue to their heritage is their surnames that have been established when people could read and write.

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