Monday, June 28, 2010

Chinese Food

Day 4

Continued set up all day, still troubleshooting all the computer and monitor issues. The Chinese crew was with us again until after lunch - they were great. Beside the one bolt we bent, everything went well with them. We worked the whole day right up until the soft opening (minus 2 of the screens which were still having issues), and then stumbled around town for awhile, exhausted. Took a taxi to a fairly interesting market but I am not sure which one (have to check the map). We were supposed to meet up with a bunch of other Italians but we lost them on the way. Had a very interesting stroll through the French Concession area, came upon a great tea shop, and Marco fell asleep in a cafe. Good dinner though (I will find the place, it is well known, in all the guidebooks, etc.). Thought the Xintiandi area was a bust, like a western style mall. Seen enough of those in my life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 3

We took the #2 metro all the way to People's Square from our apartment during rush hour. A little packed but not crazy - maybe they are more crowded coming from other parts of the city. Got to the museum a little after 9 AM after a fast coffee and muffin at Starbucks (which is next door to the museum) and got straight to work, and worked all day. We had 3 guys to help us which was a huge help - the "totems" that hold the touch screens are made of rusted steel - they are heavy, and dirty. I did most of the moving of the totems around with the helpers, positioning them, installing the screens, etc.

P & P were setting up the PCs, downloading the application and the images for each computer, etc. Issue #1 was no wrench to tighten the bolts that hold the screens in place. The museum finally gave us a crescent wrench. Issue #2 was no power - their electrician made up some outlet boxes that drop down from the lighting track system. #3 is the big one - the new monitors (half of the ten screens in the show) have a different physical size and don't fit correctly in the totems. I think they got very lucky that the on site carpenter fashioned some new things out of wood that look like they will work. We got kicked out at 5 PM and hadn't had a chance yet to get the hardware and get one in place, but it looks like it will work. The plan was to work until we were done - midnight it need be - but the museum woould not have any of that, so we have to come back tomorrow at 9 AM and hope to fininsh it all by 3 PM, when the PR openint takes place. It opens to the public on Sunday.

We had a fast food Chinese lunch near People's Square - I think it was called Kungfu Noodle. Wasn't the greatest -

The weather is still very strange - like a driving mist. You can't see the tops of the skyscrapers. It is something straight out of Blade Runner.

Rainy Shanghai

Well it has been nearly a week since we got here and it has not stopped raining - nor have we seen the sun, which is probably okay since it is about 90 and forecast to be over 100 by Friday - but with rain! I am way behind in logging what we have done each day, but most days so far were spent working at the exhibit. Still not sure what the schedule will be after today as far as that goes.

Pudong Skyline at night as seen from the Bund.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 2

Up fairly early, we headed straight over to the Expo on the metro. We bought 4 tickets via a self vending machine, in English. Everything in this part of Shanghai is fairly new and the metro was clean, quiet, and enormous (the length of the train was amazing). We got off the train too early and had to get back on for two extra stops. Getting an Expo ticket was very simple, as was the entrance.

Once inside we made our way to the Italian Pavilion which is pretty cool. We were meeting M. so we went into a conference auditorium for a bit to find him, and then made it up to the third floor (which is a private area) and I was finally able to get online. Also got a little bit of a buffet lunch.

Crappy day weather wise - super humid with a fine mist/drizzle all day long.

Spanish Pavilion - video coming...

General Expo thoughts - coming soon!

Drive to the Hotel Intercontinental in Pudong after the Expo:

We are on a bus with the Italian Delegation heading to their hotel in Pudong for dinner and to watch the World Cup (coming from the Expo site, which was old neighborhoods, factories, and warehouse but was all razed for the expo). I want to try to find something positive to say about this part of Shanghai but for me personally it is very difficult. It is great of course that the Chinese have come this far this fast and managed to raise the standard of living for so many. But even though most of Pudong is brand new, it seems like it was planned for the past. The metro is great, but above ground, everything is laid out for cars, with huge boulevards and enormous traffic crossings. The architecture is simply awful. Rows and rows of very cheap looking high rise condo/apartment buildings, with almost nothing on a human scale, and completely devoid of charm. AC units hung on nearly every building every which way, laundry hung out all over (which you can't blame anyone for - the have to dry their clothes somewhere!).

The race to international commerciality is dreary - KFC, Starbucks, Carrefour, etc. I know people need stuff and food in mass quantities to live, but to me this is the worst living imaginable - in a car, soulless, and corporate. I can't see a backlash on people faces though - if it comes it will probably be decades away if ever - last night the Carrefour was jammed packed and most people looked pretty happy shopping there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 1

Travel day and first day in Shanghai. It is after 11 PM local time, and I have just showered and hit my bed - which is rock hard. At least it is brand new, including the sheets I just bought at Carrefour... but I digress.

It really is two days packed into one. All day Tusday I spent packing and running the last of the errands around the house - taking out all the trash, bringing the bikes up the stairs and into our courtyard, filling the fridge with bottled water, packing, etc.

I showed up too early at the office and milled around for 45 minutes until we left around 4:45. First screw up of the trip was mine - I had my keys in my pocket, with my mini Swiss Army knife and its priceless plastic toothpick. They were kind enough to give me my bag back though the lost and found, and after I stuffed my keys and knife in there I ran it back around to the check in counter, which was all fine, but caused about a 20 minute delay for the rest of the guys as they waited around for me.

As soon as we were in the boarding area we were called to the gate and onto a bus to take us the 200 meters (ridiculous procedure) to the plane. But not before the bus driver had a "Truman Show" moment and seemed to be grinding the gears of the bus into sausage. Somehow he got it going forward and after a couple of really hard jerks back and forth to an enthusiastic burst of applause from most passengers.

The leg to Paris was uneventful - but we rushed through the terminal change and immediately past security to the gate to find no decent food options. So we proceeded to exit, clear customs, find our way back upstairs and snag some very stale pannini (by now the only option and CDG seems to close at 9 PM) that nearly made my jaw fall off.

This gets us to boarding the Paris to Shanghai leg, and I am beat. More tomorrow, or as soon as I can get on the net - which hasn't happened yet!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Google Services in China

Here is a handy link - what works and doesn't regarding Google when in China: Mainland China service availability

So it looks like there is no Blogger, YouTube, Sites or Picasa almost all the time. Search, News and Gmail all seem to work almost all the time.

It has been recommended that I buy a VPN (since I need Blogger, TypePad, etc.) - I won't say whether I have done so yet or not :)

Chinese Visa

They had me a little worried at the consulate here in Florence, but I got my visa back yesterday without issue, good for two entries ($90). Just a week until I leave - have to really start planning now!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The countdown

Just about two weeks before I leave. Bit of a scare today at the Chinese Consulate in Florence - I already have a plane ticket to Tokyo and back to Shanghai - but when I dropped off my visa application this morning, they said that you usually only get one entry on your first visit (of course this was mentioned NOWHERE on the visa application itself)... they did accept it though and made a note on the application for me (it is pretty obvious I am just going to Japan and back to get my flight back to Italy from Shanghai).

Anyway - I hope it all works as time is getting a little short! Planning starts in earnest - now!