Posts/March, 2009/

Three Weird Shanghai Things, Part 2

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Note: This post is part of an on-going series of posts on weird things in Shanghai. Find the others by clicking right here.

Mini Bikes
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Seriously?

There are a lot of bikes in Shanghai, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There is the classic style, an old school and practical model with disk brakes in the back, a wire basket on front, and a shelf above the rear wheel. With bell. There are some combo electric/peddle models. A few people, mostly foreigners, have fancier models with more than one gear. There are rusty heaps on junk rolling around with pieces missing, wobbly wheels, overloaded, with squeaking breaks and grinding chains. But the funniest variety is the mini bike. A lot of people have them here. They are urban, hip, and silly looking. Many of them fold to smaller sizes. The largest of the micro bikes have wheels about the size of a small pizza. The riders look like clowns in the circus, in part because it takes some frantic peddling to keep up with the big daddies.

But yesterday, I discovered a bike in the office that has taken small size to comical extremes. The wheels were slightly bigger than an inline skate’s, but through an elaborate collapsing frame the seat and handle bars were almost normal height. No one seemed to know who the bike belonged to and the rear wheel was locked. I’m curious what it’s like to ride something with such small wheels. The streets are pretty good here, but there are still numerous holes that would swallow wheels this small. And how fast does one have to pedal to go anywhere? Think hummingbird.

Mini Ice Cream
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The hand of a giant.

J. bought us a box of ice cream cone deserts at the supermarket the other day. Cracking the box open, we discovered twelve micro cones instead of four of normal size. Though delicious, each cone was about two bites worth of desert. You’d have to eat about nine of them to equal the gut and blood sugar busting power of the Drumstick Experience™. But somehow it felt wrong to eat more than two per serving.

Street Pajamas
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Sleep walking.*

Periodically, you’ll see people in pajamas wandering around Shanghai. Some of the patterns are vibrant and chaotic, many have a floral motif. The common style is a shirt/pant combination in a heavy cloth. These pajama wearers go about their day, buying produce, walking down the street, going to the bank or talking to neighbors. And it’s not just a morning thing. Until about 3 in the afternoon you’ll see people dressed like this. And by then, it’s almost time to put them on for the evening.

These pajama wearers add a casual mood to the otherwise chaotic streets. Though aren’t pajamas around so you don’t have to drag street grime into bed? Are these people sleeping naked? Do they have a set of real pajamas at home? My language skills aren’t up to the task of asking them.

*Photo courtesy of “dbmboise” on Flickr.
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