Day 248: Coffee to Go

A portable coffee vendor in Ho Chi Minh City

A portable coffee vendor in Ho Chi Minh City

The small, gasoline powered scooter is the heartbeat of Ho Chi Minh City, pulsing down the streets by the millions, surging, slowing, swerving and stopping. Everyone it seems has a scooter and they use them for everything: to transport families of five, to nap upon, to lounge on with a newspaper and a smoke, to transport large loads and newborn babies. And to earn a living.

Day 246: Every Day is Laundry Day

A woman uses a pole to hang her clothes on an overhead pole.

A woman uses a pole to hang her clothes on an overhead pole.

Apartments in China can be small and appliances such as clothes dryers rare, so it is quite common to see clothing hanging outside to dry. In fact, I had to argue with our Ayi when we first got here because she wanted to hang our clothes out on the balcony; she refused to use the clothes dryer, saying she trusted God but not the machine. I insisted that the machine had to be used (even though it doesn’t vent to the outside–but, hey, China!) and eventually she acquiesced. But I understand her perspective, As a kid growing up in Queens, NYC every backyard had a clothesline strung across it and laundry day was filled with the sound of clothes flapping in the breeze. Here in Shanghai space is at a premium so by necessity any horizontal pole, bat, or wire can become a suitable “clothesline”.

Day 244: The Road Less Traveled

Day 244 The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the most interesting journeys are comprised of meandering side trips and random tangents. I rarely travel in a straight line. My walks around Shanghai tend to be guided by the four compass points, but little else. On this particular day I decided to walk home the 8 km from my chiropractor’s office rather than take a taxi, or jump on the metro. After all, the temperature was not oppressive and the air quality was not disabling. Strike while the iron is hot. I walked from Tomorrow Square, through People’s Park and then cut up a side street in order to avoid the tourist crowds and street hustlers of East Nanjing Pedestrian Street– think Times Square, New York without the annoying costumed characters. Away from that famous part of Shanghai is where the people conduct their everyday lives, cooking, cleaning, shopping and socializing. I get the occasional stare as I am often the sole laowai to be seen wandering around the narrow streets lines with shops that sell door hinges and nuts & bolts and light bulbs and toilet plungers. It is on these streets where the security guard gets his foot massage and eats dinner, where the ayi buys her live fish and fresh vegetables for the evening meal. This is the China you miss if you stay on the main roads and travel in straight lines.

Day 243: All Wet

Customers of the Camel Pub, an expat sports bar in Pudong, participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Customers of the Camel Pub, an expat sports bar in Pudong, participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a worldwide phenomenon, circling the globe thanks to social media. Here, we arrived just after a group of Brits doused themselves outside the Camel Sports Bar on Weifang Xi Lu. The Camel is a block from our apartment and our go to place for sports events.