Day 203: Beating the Heat

Playing cards to pass the time

Playing cards to pass the time

A group of men play cards while others stop to watch. Card playing (and gambling) is hugely popular here in China and a card game, on the street, or in the park, can quickly generate a crowd of observers. This group, on Jingyin Road, were coping with today’s heat index of 108 F (42 C) by playing a few hands in the shade. Jingyin Road is a Cricket Market with shops lining the street offering caged crickets, song birds, turtles (by the tub full!), tropical fish–mostly Koi and goldfish– and even the odd caged brown squirrel, or two.

Day 197: Parasols

Umbrella vendor set up on a corner in Pudong.

Umbrella vendor set up on a corner in Pudong.

Unlike NYC where sudden rainstorms sprout umbrella hawkers outside every subway station and hotel, Shanghai’s parasol vendors are brought out by the summer sunshine. Light skin is a “Chinese obsession” according to a number of local Shanghainese; migrants from rural areas, many with darker, rougher complexions, are looked down upon. One television commercial even makes the claim that a certain skin lotion will make you “three shades lighter.” And despite the hot, humid weather, many women wear long sleeves, hats and pants. ““A woman should always have fair skin,” a Chinese lady was quoted as saying in a NY Times article. “Otherwise people will think you’re a peasant.”

Day Eighty-Nine: Bund Beach

Bund Beach

Bund Beach

Bund Beach on the Huangpu River in Shanghai is a small spot adjacent to the Cool Docks, complete with a sand volleyball court, basketball court, sand-filled play area for children, lounge chairs and a tiki-bar. Admission is 50CNY ($8.00) and you can reserve the volleyball court for up to 2 hours (8 people) for 300CNY. I live directly across the river, a short ferry ride away, and I can see myself catching rays here whenever the sun can burn through the Chinese haze.