we only had a few days to go to China so we chose Shanghai because of Disney (previously visited by my sister and her family) and my best friend was there (unfortunately, he was reassigned to Thailand before we got there). sadly, we didn’t get a chance to ride the bullet train; or see The Great Wall or the Terracota Army but we enjoyed our stay nonetheless.

we’ve been to most Disneys and the castle at Shanghai was, IMHO, by far was the “best”. not only is it more aesthetically pleasing but you can enter and climb it. we started with a ride exclusive to that park. if there are three or more in your party and you are keen to repeat rides, you may want to consider their concierge service. moreover, it also includes reserved areas for the parade and fireworks.

we saw numerous bridges and canals that day – we were told that waterways were historically significant. on our tours, we were able to visit a “traditional” water village (my wife and son were able to go a gondola ride on the main canal) which was about an hour away from the city by car. as a contrast, we also walked by the river during the day (we saw the Bund and the things around it) and went on a “scenic” cruise that night (we saw the Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower with its “renown” spheres illuminated) – my son is into photography so he really enjoyed it.

aside from the aforementioned places, we also visited a “traditional” home – like the gardens we visited it was designed for introspection and thought. room entrances (at least those accessible from the outside) were designed with “hurdles” as ghosts supposedly had no knees – and there were a lot of “zig-zags” as apparitions could only travel in straight “lines” we noticed a lot of rocks in gardens and asked about it – apparently large ones were difficult to gather from the river and was a sign of affluence.

we also went to a silk factory and a pearl producer – they also educated us and not only gave us an opportunity to purchase stuff. what was important was they taught us how to tell if something was authentic or fake.

we also went to two museums (it would have been three if the other one had not closed). not to be aloof, but yes, we are museum people. i noticed a “lot” of paintings (not just at “traditional” repositories such as these) – my theory regarding affinity for calligraphy as the source seemed to be validated by my guide.

i (and my son) enjoy duck so much that my friend (whose tastebuds i trust) sent me this link:

http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-list-5-place-for-peking-duck-in-shanghai

consistent with what my friend said, one of the five “top” duck restaurants had closed as the food scene is really competitive. we managed to book at my friend’s go-to place. i usually don’t name places but i had the “best” duck i ever ate at Quan Ju De and the meal was “cheap”. i learned that it is referred to there as Beijing Duck and not as it’s sometimes known as Peking Duck as this has something to do with the pinyin transliteration (that is, technically it doesn’t really involve a name change). that said, so far our preferred cuisine is Cantonese – which is supposedly the apex of Chinese food according to our guide which isn’t the primary cuisine in Shanghai. what is the saying about Cantonese: they eat everything on land except cars, they eat everything in the sea except boats, and they eat everything in the air except planes. so i’m generally open and will try something first before saying or decide\ing i dislike it – that said, i don’t like everything but i’m more gastronomically”adventurous” than most.

i’m a big coffee drinker but , unsurprisingly, tea was really good there. just as i’m an advocate for beans, loose-leaf is the way to go. we witnessed a “proper” tea ceremony and my wife bought several tins of tea – they even knew how to package it for Australian customs.

i prefer food to shopping but you can’t deny it is world-class. most “luxury” brands have a “major” presence (some have multiple floors and we even went to a mall with only “exclusive” shops. there were even products that were sold only in Shanghai. thankfully, my wife and son only looked.

we wish we had more time to explore the city “fully”.

SPOILER ALERT ; if you plan to watch the film, don’t read the rest of the entry as some aspects of my discussion may ruin the experience for you.

i apologise for chiming in late as i saw it awhile back but out of respect for my brother i held up posting as he was “stuck” on Holidays and when he came back it was the Manila Film Festival (showcasing Filipino films). he was only able to watch it last night because of his “tight” schedule,.

IMHO, it was just alright. that said, ending a “beloved” franchise can be tricky – one only needs to consider the “disincongruous” reactions to the GoT (strangely, i never got into it given my proclivity for fantasy fiction) finale. i can understand why the “fan boys” thought it was good and why the critics panned it – it doesn’t really matter what other people think. i’ve learned being in Australia that if you like something then you like it and you shouldn’t feel “guilty” about it.

IMHO, it wasn’t the best one but it was far from being the worst one. for my money, Episode V is still the best followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but that’s neither here nor there since i’m not an “influencer”. i was still going to watch regardless of what critics said: i have this “annoying” thing of thinking for myself – maybe if i wasn’t such a fan or on-the-fence about watching it, i’d seriously consider what others had to say. case in point, Frozen 2 (i’m not really their core demographic although i do occasionally “enjoy” their films – i prefer Pixar) was a “smash” in the cinemas in spite of their negative reviews – i don’t think their “market” truly cared. as an aside, i think Disney is really clever to also own “properties” such as Star Wars and Marvel (i have to comment as i can’t help myself: i’m a huge fan of the MCU and Infinity War but not so much of Endgame – i have this thing about using time travel to solve things but i digress…) which have lucrative franchises that gross well at the box office.

i didn’t mind that Emperor Palpatine was back – i just wanted a more plausible rationale for it and not simply glossed over like i felt the film did . i’m a fan, as well as a critic (i don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, i just don’t appreciate “lazy” writing). moreover, i found Poe’s final speech to the Rebellionbaduy“, “cheesey”, and trite.

like The Force Awakens reminded me of Episode IV , this made me think of Episode VI. there seemed to me a congruence between Rei’s and Luke’s offer to join from the Emperor (thwarted by a final “redemptive” act by Kylo Ren and Darth Vader respectively) and the “ruse” which was actually an ambush. there is nothing wrong with paying homage and parallels to the original trilogy but, for my taste, it was a little to close to home which made them predictable – i’m guessing that’s what some fans wanted.

but, all-in-all, i thought it was a valiant effort as ending something “gracefully” is always hard.

it’s been over a month since my last entry – this post is not an excuse but an explanation.

for nearly the first fortnight of December we were overseas: Taiwan-China-Hong Kong. my wife had to present a paper so we took the opportunity to explore afterwards

it’s true that i had my phone with me but condition were not “conducive” for blogging for me. never mind our nearly full-schedule but the “small” on-screen keyboard is extremely challenging for me – this requires significant time and effort, not to mention my frequent mis-hits. i prefer a full-sized physical keyboard and “big” screen so i can “easily” type.

the second half of December was mainly allocated to my wife’s sister. seeing as she went through a long and arduous journey from America to spend Chrissy with her family in Australia, we had to make the most of her “short” time here.

now that she’s back home, i will endeavour to get back to the swing of things and try to post more “regularly” ( sometimes life gets in the way and i have a tendency to “process” things before i post – “overanalyses” is my proclivity i’ve been told numerous times).

that’s my story and i’m sticking to it!

40 days (and nights)

September 22, 2019

we had the 40th day death anniversary of my mother-in-law today. when i researched why the number 40 was such a big thing Biblically (e.g. Jesus in the desert, Noah and the flood), it had something to do with purification in the Torah.  The real question is where did that practice originate from?

maybe it was serendipity that today was also the last mass of a Filipino priest in our parish. a new chapter?  who know?  all that i’m certain about is the mind is skilled in finding patterns…

aspiration vs. inspiration

October 23, 2018

it might just me being pedantic but I prefer the latter term. Sure, there’s a need to be careful that it’s not presented as ‘inspiration porn’ (as it’s known in disability circles).  In my view, if it makes you want to become a better person and it’s not a short term thing then that’s fine with me. It’s the temporary fixes that I’ve got issues with (I know the rules of grammar state you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition but sometimes it just reads and sounds better).  It’s when people look at others in a worse situation to (effectively) feel better about themselves or their lives.  If you had empathy (in my mind at least), you’d feel sadder and not necessarily more thankful – I’m not a very positive person but that feels like the focus is more skewed towards the negative – like the schadenfreude people get from reality tv or the internet.

I consider (big surprise) Prof. Stephen Hawking to be inspirational but not aspirational.  I’m nowhere as smart as him (nor do I pretend to be anywhere close). It’s unrealistic reference points that seem to me the source of so much unhappiness and ‘malcontentment’.  Be your  best self, not what ‘others’ expect you to be (much easier said than done).  Measuring up to certain aspects of him (he’s only human after all and thus imperfect) is foolhardy.  To paraphrase from the book:  “The Spirituality of Imperfection”, it’s not about the outcomes wise men achieved but seeking what they sought – it’s more of the process of ‘enlightenment’.

There’s always a danger with role-models:  emulation is desirable but putting someone on a pedestal can easily morph into ‘blind’ (pardon the pun) idolatry or ‘paragonism’.

heart and mind

October 24, 2017

saw an exhibit of an artist friend of mine who did a Ph.D.  My wife and I met her at the Adelaide Convention Centre – it’s been a couple of years since we last caught up but it feels like it was just yesterday that we met.

she said something of interest to me: the colour yellow sometimes indicates psychotic disturbance –   I had a feature wall at our home painted that hue.  I shared that when the lines on both palms (often referred to as the heart and head lines) align it is said that (I’m of course paraphrasing) that you’re either a genius or crazy – both of us share this rare trait while most of the populations’ lines do not meet.  It might be a case of self-aggrandisement but I subscribe to that belief.

That said, why can’t it be two sides of the same coin?  The traditional notion is either-or, binary thinking. Surely, the interstitial side (often with the grooves) is more interesting.

My upbringing and training often focused on the ‘how’ but psychology  and art has led me to believe the ‘why’ is just as important.

closing time

October 18, 2017

technically the Repatriation Hospital didn’t close down today but it was my last day at the free student physical therapy clinic.  I wasn’t really that sentimental before but I’m feeling a bit sad.  Maybe since I spent several years there and was so used to the caring people there or maybe because I’ve been more in tune with my emotions since nearly a decade of  living with an ABI.  Regardless, it was probably a combination of these factors.

More than my very slow improvements, I’m more of a homebody but it was a weekly “excuse” to get out of the house.  I’m not very big on socialisation but it felt good to be around other people who truly understood the challenges of daily life and the “simple” acts most people don’t give much thought to but are difficult for us.  It was never about commiseration but having a shared experience.

Many thanks to Dino for the rides; to Sandy and the other girls at Reception; the Physios in charge and the students assigned to me (hopefully you learned a lot from me as I did from you).

Rehabilitation is so much more than “mending” the body.