Posts Tagged ‘bicycle


Insert thought bubble here

Sometimes, there is nothing worse than having someone notice you with a camera. Or when you hit a low point in your photography for the day.

There are times when I take my kit out for a spin and position it by my hip to randomly capture anything that passes me. The diversity of the random, bizarre and mundane amuses me. Every once in a while, you chance upon a gem like this.

When I see this, I have a strong urge to draw in a thought bubble and guess what he is thinking.

What to eat for lunch or dinner? Strategizing the next mahjong session? Perhaps a haircut is overdue.

The endless possibilities of a wandering mind.

February 2010

On a separate note, I’ve noticed a huge jump in readership in the past week and wanted to extend a hearty welcome to new readers and thank existing readers for being patient with my slower pace of posting of late. Work and travel has kept me busy, regular programming will resume soon.

Finally, I was interviewed by BBC Vietnam last week about Shanghai’s development and the blog, the video is here. For some reason, I thought it was going to be a radio interview, I clearly did not dress/make up for the occasion.


The red bag (and buying a 2-wheeler)

Shanghai is a dense enough city that getting around can be quite a breeze.

The city has an ever expanding metro system which carries 3 million people each day, we’re up to 10 subway lines now and it is estimated to be double the size of London’s tube system by 2020. Cabs are relatively easy to flag down on the streets and if you’re lucky, you’d spot one of the new shiny Expo Volkswagon or Buick cabs that actually have seatbelts that work.

But there are also tens of thousands of people on two wheels zipping by the street while you are sitting in traffic, which seems to have worsened over the years. The mobility can be liberating.

I’ve been eyeing a moped (MOtor+PEDals) for a while but may settle for an electric bike. The former seems unwieldy, and the latter, if stolen, is easier to bear.

It’d be perfect to beat the arduous traffic clustering around my office area and head to the nearby wet market for groceries. I regularly cross the Huangpu river by ferry, along with the thousands of day-workers and pay 0.5RMB a trip, 1RMB if you’re on a 2-wheeler. If you’ve never done it before, I heartily recommend it as the view can be amazing.

Yes, I’m beginning to like the idea a lot. Stay tuned.


We are but a shirtless belly away

We flung outselves into Spring’s embrace a few days ago under sun-soaked rays, light breezes and an explosion of blooming flowers.

Other signs make it hard to forget that May is but round the corner.

“Extra security! Speed up the demolition! New roads! Confused cabbies! Visitors from out of town all in the same month. HAVE YOU BOUGHT YOUR TICKETS TO THE EXPO YET?”

Just in case you weren’t aware that the Shanghai Expo is happening. We’re all at the edge of our seats here.

Then, the spring months will pass and before we all know it, summer will be here.

Cue the moans. The hot, the sticky and the smelly.

Cue. The invasion of the shirtless bellies.

You wouldn’t know where to look.

August 2009


The ubiquitous Chinese electric bike

“In the chaotic ecosystem of Chinese roadways, the electric bike fits in right where the infernal moped might have once hoped to go, as a stepping stone for growing families or a low-cost option for commuters.

For anyone who has not been to China, it is easy to lose sight of just how big a deal this is: China has twenty-five million cars, but it has four times as many e-bikes.” ~ Evan Osnos, “The Turtle King Revolution”, Letter from China, The New Yorker

Taken on Lanxi Road (兰溪路)

March 2010


How do you view China?

If I were a romantic, I’d paint a picture of China’s social and economic contrasts. A stalwart  worker poised on his bicycle, a mode of transportation that once defined an entire generation of Chinese before the country opened up, against the backdrop of the bellowing economic beast.

If I were a skeptic, I’d say that he fits like a small piece in a huge jigsaw puzzle that is China, a cliché that journalists and pundits use to sweepingly illustrate trends like “the widening chasm of income-inequality” or “the growing flows of migrant classes”.

But today, I’m neither.

This man was merely bicycling to (or from) work at 7:30am and enjoying a cigarette in the process.

And when you smiled at him, he nodded gravely and continued along his way.

“(…) it turns out that there’s another way of comprehending the reality of modern-day China — one that captures the contradictions of the place and allows them to co-exist.”

“So the tug-of-war continues, and the stories keep rolling in. The bigger story is a long way from over. Stay tuned.” ~ Christian Caryl, Foreign Policy, 28 February 2010 “Beijing’s Labor Pains”

November 2009


Alley bend blur

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” ~  H.G. Wells


Watch where you cross

He had a hard look, the kind that resented people on sight which was only sharpened by his menacing tattoo.

He appeared as if he had the world on his shoulders and carried fatigue like any other hot and bothered day-worker, with the heavy eyebags to prove it.

I was in his way, standing in the middle of the road taking a photo. Bracing myself for a barking, the corner of my lips lifted for a brief moment in apology.

Then, his eyes dropped to the floor, and he heaved just a little harder on his pedals.

No longer was he the muscular and tattooed day-worker, but just a tired man on his way to another delivery.

September 2009

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