Justin.Lina M

Joined January 2018
  • Day5

    Uptown?

    February 20, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    The Bel Air Hotel a clear attempt at misleading potential guests into thinking this establishment might have any of the qualities of the up scale Bel Air neighborhood. This miss direction might work if you are under the impression that Bel Air is in Jacksonville Florida and is connected to a 7/11 and a vape shop and has free HBO. These types of obvious attempts at trying to build up a businesses image purely by name alone always evoke a smile out of me. Enter Uptown Records. The record stores in Shanghai seem to be in short supply with only a hand full of hits. While most indicated permanently closed. There was one named Uptown Records, so off we went. Following the directions we arrived at its supposed location with no trace of a record store in site. The block was scoured and still nothing. Just as we were about to write this off as google maps error,we noticed a poorly photo copied black and white paper attached haphazardly to a wall beside a door that looked like the last door you would enter before being murdered in a bad horror film. So in we went. The aroma of the dimly lit hallway matched its decor perfectly. Pipes seeped rust color sludge, assorted dried meats hung beside drying laundry. A staircase was barely visible at the end of the hallway, and as we approached it we could hear a very faint muffled sound of what might be music. It could also be the grinding gears of a killing machine. So we pressed on. Descending the stairs we arrived at a large open steel door that resembled a submarine hatch requiring us to step over its threshold if by chance this door swung shut our fates would definitely be sealed forever. Once inside the hatch a quick left and impossibly there it was a small record store. We entered and were greeted with a nonchalant "hey guys" by the potential owner of the establishment. The causal greeting seemed appropriate had we just stepped off the busy streets of Manhattan, but we had just descended into the bowels of this building like Indiana Jones and the owners lack of shock at seeing other people was quite alarming. We staggered through the shop in shock that such a place in fact existed until we noticed another door in the very back corner. Situated in the furthest corner of this shop stood a wooden door that appeared to have been on the receiving end of a boxing match and hanging in the middle was a sign that read pump hour 11am-1pm.Read more

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  • Day4

    The line

    February 19, 2018 in China ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    Arriving in Shanghai was layered with question marks. We only bought our tickets a few days prior and with no visa (which is mandatory) we had hoped we would qualify for the 144 hour free visa. While standing in the customs line we were aware that we might be turned away from entering. But with minimal questioning (less than entering back into the US) we were let through. Now for our true purpose here Shanghai Disneyland. After finding out that it was in fact open for Chinese New Year we quickly found out that it was sold out.
    We then had a one day window before our visa expired to make it into the park. After several failed attempts at securing tickets we found out that an account must be made and a Chinese bank account was necessary. It appeared as though our efforts were in vain. That was until George stepped in. The hotel concierge using his own personal bank card secured us two tickets and armed us with all vital information for our visit.
    We had arrived, and our sixth a final Disneyland park was about to be checked off the list. The entrance was lined with police barricades in long switch back formations that ended in the actual turnstile. This was our first not so subtle bit of foreshadowing. After entering the park and basking in the castle (which is enormous) and the main street area we headed for the Shanghai version of Pirates of the Caribbean. We placed ourselves in line, it was here that we learned that "line" was in fact a relative term and forward moving crowd was more appropriate. If there is a type of line other than single file I'm not aware of it, but here it exists. Any free space beside you on either side would be filled/pushed past. The only exception seemed to be when someone looked up and saw that we were foreigners and a semi wide birth would be given. This was a panic attack on a turbulent plane during a Black Friday sale. Patience was our only tool and it was being used at an alarming rate. Very near the breaking point and after what seemed like an eternity we finally boarded our boat and experienced Pirates. This ride is what I imagine my very first
    ride on the original pirates was like. We glided through wide eyed and in awe the entire time leaving behind the "line" issue and finding ourselves totally immersed in this extremely convincing world. Deciding to eat immediately after our new line understanding was in fact a mistake. I found myself standing in the middle of the food court feeling unplugged from my normal grid and reinstalled backwards in an incompatible configuration like trying to play a VHS tape in a CD player truly chaotic. The remainder of the day was spend walking the park getting familiar with the layout and soaking up its attention to detail. Endured yet another "line" was just to exhausting so as night fell we perused a few gift shops (which also resembled Black Friday) interestingly enough when it came to paying people seemed less eager to push there way to the front of the line. A few metro stops and we were safely back at our hotel greeted by George and just a bit shell shocked from it all. Our sixth and final Disneyland checked off the list.
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  • Day3

    Welcome to Shanghai

    February 18, 2018 in China ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

    The skyline is dark and eerily silent,the streets vacant except for us. In a city full of millions of people it appears as though everyone has vacated and Shanghai is closed. At first it seems like our late night arrival might be to blame for this desertion. But as the sun rose and illuminated the grey blanket the covers the city we soon realized the truth. We had inadvertently arrived in Shanghai smack in the middle of Chinese New Year.Read more

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