In Expo News...

What people are talking about this week in Expo-related news.

Preparations on track (sort of) ... It's down to the wire, folks. Preparations for the Expo are now in the final stages, said Yang Xiong, deputy director of the Shanghai Expo's executive committee and Shanghai's vice mayor. At a Beijing press conference last week, Yang also announced that 90 percent of the pavilions' construction was complete, and that 80 percent of the 42 pavilions built by foreign countries were in decorating stages.

But it seems someone isn't doing their math right. Over the weekend Hong Hao, director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, stated that nearly a fifth of the 100+  Expo pavilions might not be ready to receive visitors when the big show kicks off in May.

Norway Pavilion uniforms ... We wouldn't mind snatching up one of these ourselves. With Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Trond Giske, paying a visit to Shanghai, the Norwegian Pavilion launched their uniforms with a fashion show earlier this month at the Pudong Shangri-La. Haute couture designer Wenche Lyche was also here to show off the red hot uniforms, which she says were inspired by the classic Norwegian mountain anorak.

Check out TALK's February issue (which hits stands next week!) for an exclusive interview with Lyche in our new Expo Talk series.



Shanghai in Numbers

2 – The number of dimensions that you won’t be able to watch Avatar in Shanghai. That's too bad – from what we’ve heard, the special effects are a little over-the-top and get in the way of a very thought-provoking story. No, we haven’t seen it.

384,000,000 – The number of Chinese netizens who were potentially treated to uncensored search results after announced it may heroically cast off its filters in orgasmic defiance…kind of. Having been met with bemusement by the government, everyone’s wondering what Google will do next. We hope they’re feeling lucky. 

7 – The number of Chinese cities, including Shanghai, which will begin a program with the goal of going smoke-free. The decision was made at a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday. On a completely unrelated topic, we heard last year that China was committed to its goal of becoming the world’s biggest tobacco producer in 2010...

1,400 – The average nightly cost in RMB of a five-star hotel during the Expo – roughly a 20 per cent rise on the norm. Ha! Take that, tourists! What’s that you say? That’s still a bunch cheaper than where you came from? Oh.

13 – The number of ‘vulgar content’ keywords being used to judge the purity of SMS messages sent in Shanghai, in an effort to curtail pornographic spamming. Don’t panic – only those sending over 50 ‘yellow messages’ per minute will face consequences, so only genuine spammers and sickening perverts are likely to be affected.

70,000 – The number of Expo volunteers selected from the 560,000 that applied. Applicants ranged from ages six to 99. Meanwhile, the war on pyjamas continues.

- Compiled by Alex Taggart

Expat Health: 2010 – New Year, New You … Again!

Sarah Shivnan is a British personal trainer living and working in Shanghai. In this regular blog, learn tricks and tips for healthier living in the big city.


It’s a start of another new year – better still a new decade – and I know people around the world are making “must lose weight” “must get in shape” resolutions once again. We do it every year and only a few stick to it. Why is weight loss so difficult? Why do we find it so hard to make the commitment? I know a few of you are thinking; well, it’s Chinese New Year soon I might as well wait until after that. But if you put it off another, day, another week, or another month, pretty soon another year will have passed you by.

Most people psyche themselves out to a point where they dread the thought of exercise, or a gym. They think they have to starve themselves or kill their bodies in order to achieve results, which is why most weight loss resolutions only last a few weeks. There’s only so long you can cut out food groups, or eat cereal diets or soup diets until you feel so weak, you pass out and only so long you can push yourself beyond your capability in a gym before your burn out or injure yourself.

So, I’m going to give you some sensible tips to make step by step changes in your lifestyle, nothing drastic, just realistic and achievable goals that will gradually lead you to a better lifestyle and stop your current one spiralling out of control.

I’m not going to give you a diet to follow but I am going suggest that you cut out 300 to 500 calories from what you are currently eating per day. This could be as simple as a chocolate bar a day, those afternoon chocolate biscuits you dunk in your tea, a latte and muffin that you grab on the way to work, or drinking two glasses of wine on an evening out instead of five. Doing small things like this can make a big difference, especially if you combine that with a bit of activity.

This is a quick 15 min exercise program that doesn’t require a gym or any equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Set your alarm 15 minutes early every day and do this first thing in the morning not in the evening. Don’t make excuses about not being a morning person, I’m not asking you to get up an hour early and go and join Boot Camp, this is only 15 minutes. Exercising first thing energises you and speeds up your metabolism and psychologically it’s over and done with.

1. Warm up with a high knee drill for one minute. While jogging on the spot, keep your knees up and get your arms moving.

2. Squats. Do 15 to 20 repetitions. Be careful with your knees, if you need to hold onto something to start with, then do that until you feel more confident. Start by placing your feet shoulder width apart and holding your arms out in front of you. Proceed to squat down like you are going to sit in a chair. Your upper body will lean forward slightly and your hips will shift backwards while going down. Remember to keep your knees from going out in front of your toes while squatting. 

3. Wall Pushups. Start with the wall and then build up to doing them on your knees or make it your goal to do ‘full push up style’ on your feet. Remember to take it step by step! Start by placing your hands on the wall at shoulder level, with your feet approximately two feet away from the wall. Bend your elbows so that your chest gets closer to the wall. Once your elbows are bent to about 90 degrees then press back out to the starting position. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.

4. One Leg Balance Squat. Start by standing on one leg with the other leg elevated. Bend forward, keeping one leg semi-straight and reach for the ground with the other leg lifted up behind you. Beginners can hold something until they feel more confident with their balance. Keep your back relatively flat during the exercise. Repeat for 10 reps then do the same with the other leg.

5. Jumping Jacks for one minute (aerobic exercise). Start with your legs side by side and your arms next to your body. In one motion jump and spread your legs out to the side while your arms raise out and up over your head. Land in this position and then return to the starting position and repeat for a minute, you’ll feel your heart rate rise and shortness of breath, each day will get easier the fitter you get so persevere.

6. Stationary Bodyweight Lunge. Stand with your feet hip width apart. Take your left leg and step back approximately two feet standing on the ball of the foot. Start position: Feet should be positioned at a staggered stance with head and back up straight in a neutral position. Place hands on your hips. Lower your body by bending the right hip and knee until your thigh is parallel to floor. Your body should follow a straight line down towards the floor. Do 10 reps and then repeat on the other leg. Remember to keep head back, with hips squared and in a neutral position throughout the movement.

7. Tricep Dips. You can do this on the edge of your bed or on a chair. Do 10-15 reps and build up each day. Start by placing your hands on the chair and your feet on the ground with your legs semi straight. Proceed to lower yourself towards the floor until your arms are bent to about 90 degrees and then push yourself back up to return to the starting position.

8. Bicycle Crunch Core. Lie back on the floor with your knees bent and hands behind your head. Keep elbows back and out of your line of sight. Your head should be in a neutral position with a space between your chin and chest. Straighten your right leg.   Leading with the chin and chest towards the ceiling, contract the abdominals and raise your shoulders off floor. During the crunch, bring your right knee towards your chest. Return to start position and repeat with the left leg for a total of 15 to 20 repetitions.


Repeat this program for two sets in the first week and then build up to 3 sets in your second week – make sure you do it every day!

Once you get in the swing of doing some simple activity like this every day and make slight dietary changes, you will see the difference after just a few weeks and hopefully this will motivate you to pick up the intensity or even join a gym, a dance or yoga class or hire a personal trainer. After a few weeks, however, your body does get used to doing repeated exercises so to see long term results you must change both the exercises and the intensity but this is a good start.

Good luck!

Email: [email protected]. Web: /

Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center Celebrates 1st Anniversary

Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center celebrated its 1st anniversary this past weekend, opening its latest exhibition "Exotic Flowers" by Xiao Hui Wang.

Revolving around the theme of life, death and rebirth, the artist's works are large scale photographic prints, showing different stages of a flower's life cycle as an intimate story of personal life.

The challenge is to gaze at the images and capture the stories within them -- to see each stage as an aspect of creation, vivacity of life and beauty, but also fragile as their life comes to an end, to then experience rebirth in spring.

Also a professor at Tongji University, Xiao Hui Wang's journey with photography started at the age of 13, at the time of the Cultural Revolution.

Using a her uncle's camera, she began taking pictures of everything she saw. The impact of those times also meant finding alternative ways of expressing stories, she says, and she wouldn't be where she is today if she hadn't taken so many photographs then. 

Recording stories seems to be Xiao Hui Wang's raison d'etre. So it's not surprising that even with flowers as her photography subject, she can portray life's changing tides.

Until 28 February. Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center, 299 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Huashan Lu. Tel: 6466 7428


Spa Talk: Toni & Guy with Comfort Zone

The newly opened Toni & Guy hair salon in Pudong offers exceptional service and is a place to be visited again. Here in Green City on Hongfeng Road, they have partnered up with Italian high-end day spa Comfort Zone to offer head-to-toe treatments in one place.

As a combination of constant dry air in the office and at home on top of the normal styling damage can have one's hair lacking of lustre it was time for a hair treatment.  Sitting down, the first thing noticed was the lighting. You know how bad lighting can be totally unflattering? Well, the lighting here was perfect and the salon staff was meticulous in their service, making sure the water was at the right temperature during shampooing, that there was something to drink and another bonus was to have the latest fashion magazines to browse in English! The products used in the salon are from Toni & Guy's own product line as well as Kerastese. In terms of Kerastese treatments and depending on the need of your hair the cost can range between RMB 250-650. Another thing to mention if going for a haircut RMB 150-520, is the not to be missed service of the possibility to within seven days of the haircut, get a complimentary shampoo and blow dry or styling by the same stylist, perfect!

The facility's interior design is stylish and like Comfort Zone itself, Italian. A wide range of treatments are on offer in the form of massages, facials and waxing as well the possibility to buy their products for the home, but most likely will be returning for their Aromasoul massage at RMB 480 for 60 minutes.

Comfort Zone’s products are natural and come in a range of body and face treatments for both men and women. It's a great fit for the company's philosophy: that beauty starts from one’s natural inner state and becomes complete with what's on the outside.

Toni & Guy, Unit 376, Hongfeng Road, Green City, Jinqiao, Pudong. Tel: 5030 5521/5205

Live Talk: Guangzhou DnB Crew Trilithium

After organizing China's first ever drum and bass festival last month, Guangzhou crew Trilithium will be making a whole lot of noise at Shelter tonight.  The three-piece act features MC Savant, VJ Alex and DJ JCC, the first female Chinese DJ in South China.

DJ JCC tells us about the DnB scene in China, her pursuit of a Phd in neuroscience, and what to expect from their Shanghai show. 

What draws you to drum and bass?

When I first heard drum and bass, I didn’t even know that it was called drum and bass. I was introduced to a couple of tracks, and afterwards I just couldn’t stop searching for similar music, which gave me so much energy. Pendulum's famous track 'Vault' made me a fan.   Also, when I started to do lots of crime scene investigations and autopsies for my forensics degree in college, I completely got into drum and bass. People need suitable music for their lifestyle and work.  

Forensics? We also heard you’re working on a neuroscience Phd...   

Yeah, I'm doing research on neuropharmacology, focused on finding treatments against hypoxia-induced neuronal injuries at high altitude, and cellular mechanisms which have remained unclear for centuries.  

Is it hard to find time for both your music and studies?

It’s not that hard to balance them. When I’m not working on science, I just have to give all my spare time to music; and when I’m not working on music, all my spare time goes to science. Thank God I can fully arrange my own time! I’ve been fine so far though – I have equal passion for both things.  

You're from Sichuan but currently based in Guangzhou. How is the DnB scene there? What are you doing to help it develop in Guangzhou, as well as across China?

MC/DJ Savant and I first started to do drum and bass parties in 2007 in Guangzhou. Compared to other major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, we are quite late. And due to the lack of professional DnB promoters in Guangzhou, everything was so hard in the beginning.  

But in 2008, we started our 'Starship Mission' nights at PingPong Bar in Guangzhou. So far we’ve done 10 drum and bass events there with different DJs and MCs, such as DJ Grant Stetski (Canada), DJ Siesta (Shanghai), DJ Eddie (Guangzhou). And we've also thrown several parties at C:union with great artists like Delacrew (Beijing, originally Spain). We have collected lots of fans already and converted many people to DnB, but I'd rather say the scene is just starting, there is a lot more to do this year that's already planned in our Trilithium notebook.   

So how would you describe the growth of DnB in China? 

Well, the drum and bass scene in Guangzhou is just in its early stages. I’d say the DnB scene in Shanghai is the best compared to the rest of China, including Guangzhou.  Looking at the DnB scene in Shanghai can always stop me from thinking of giving up. No matter how hard it was before, I believe if the promoters in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou can collaborate more, the DnB scene in China will get bigger and bigger.  

What will your show on Saturday be like?

We'll start with jump-up and then play techstep, dubstep and hardstep. So the DnB fans will be musically satisfied, and there’s also a whole sci-fi concept in our show! Expect dark, techy, upfront DnB with enough variety to keep you on your feet and enough punch to knock you off them.  

Our crew members are MC Savant and VJ Alex So. Savant is a very talented hip hop MC from North Carolina. He’s been in China for five years now, and he made a big impact on the Guangzhou hip hop scene before making the jump to DnB. Alex So is one of Guangzhou’s most well-known and well-respected photographers. Until recently, he was mostly involved with the art scene, but when our previous VJ left, Alex decided to turn his hand to live visuals, and it’s working out really well.

RMB 50. 10pm. Saturday 16 January. Shelter, 5 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Lu.


Students Strut Their Stuff

This month Interkom Youth and Community Center Shanghai present ACE 2010, an 'Arts Charity Extravaganza'. Now in its third year, the fashion/visual arts/music showcase is run entirely by students. Linda Zhang, a Shanghai High School International Division student who's helping to organize ACE, gives us the low down on the fundraising event. 

So what's ACE all about?

There's so much that ACE is about! Our main goal is to touch the lives of those less fortunate through arts, music, fashion and charity by uniting high school students in Shanghai to cooperate in a joint effort to help others. But in the process, we also work to acquire organization, leadership and teamwork skills, develop long-lasting friendships, and just have fun.

Which do you have lined up for this year?

For our fashion show, we're still in the process for designer clothing sponsorships, but if all goes well, we'll have American Apparel, Chloe Chen, Juicy Couture, and Burberry.

This year, we've also set a limit of 50 pieces of artwork to be displayed, to ensure that only the best artwork reaches the eyes of the attendees (of course, I'm sure that the artworks not displayed are just as brilliant).

As for performances, we're trying to get a wide range to highlight skills in all areas. Our goal is to get dancers, singers, jazz/rock bands, instrumentals, beat boxers, maybe even someone who can do spoken word!

And which charity did you choose this year? What does it mean to you?

In ACE's first year, we chose the Starfish Orphanage and sponsored baby Emily's gastrointestinal surgery, and last year we helped fund the creation of the Shanghai Healing Home.

Now, in ACE’s third year, we have moved from helping orphans to helping older children through the Charles Foundation, in which ACE will sponsor two students through high school.

What does this charity mean to you?

Well, we are all aware of the importance of education for success in today's society, and I believe that everyone should get an equal chance to success. Being someone who enjoys school – especially the part where I learn new things, meet new people, and make new friends – I hope others will be able to have through this wonderful experience too. Besides, why not share the wonderful experiences of tests, all-nighters, and more tests with others?!

And tell us about the craziest thing that you’ve planned this year for ACE?

Hm, this is a good question. Maybe it's the Coach purse in the raffle, or the awesome food served (we have 11 stations!), or maybe a special performance by the whole ACE crew! I guess you'll just have to find out during the event…

Sounds like a lot of fun… but there must have been some challenges, right? Any meltdowns so far?

Communication is by far the biggest challenge that we are still working to overcome. As most of the members of our team are from different schools all over Shanghai, it is really hard to get everyone together on the same page. Thankfully, we haven't had any meltdowns so far; we're only melting down with excitement in anticipation of the amazing ACE show to come!

Tickets can be purchased at participating high schools or at the Community Center.
1pm-4.30pm. 30 January. LifeStyle Centre Jumen Site Event Hall, 436 Jumen Lu, Luwan District. Tel: 3382 1170

In Expo News...

What people are talking about this week in Expo-related news.

Pandas... The 10 ‘World Expo’ panda cubs flown in from Chengdu have surprised experts by rapidly adapting to their new environment. The notoriously picky extinction-baiters deemed Shanghai bamboo acceptable to their refined palate, but rejected their new climbing frame apparatus as “puerile and embarrassing”. 

A taste of Shanghai... In anticipation of a shortage of hotel rooms during the Expo, Shanghai Tourism Administration has launched a home stay program, designed to let visitors get a taste of the everyday life of a Shanghai family. Guests may or may not be issued pajamas and a caged bird upon arrival.

Traffic control... The metro line that will run through the Shanghai World Expo site was tested for the first time this weekend.  Metro Line 13 will link the Expo zones in Puxi and Pudong, and is expected to be one of the busiest subways during the event. 

Meanwhile, Shanghai is also putting together a plan to help ease traffic pains during the Expo (as if it's not bad enough already...) Apart from encouraging public transport, the city may also limit the use of private and official cars in the city on certain days. According to Xinhua, if traffic becomes chaotic, Shanghai may implement limitations used during the Beijing Olympics, which banned driving on alternate days to cars with odd-numbered plates and those with even-numbered ones. 

- Compiled by April Fong and Alex Taggart; photo by Flickr/le niners


Interview: Great Lake Swimmers

What is it about Canadian bands and China? The Great Lake Swimmers, yet another Canuck group making its way east , are in Shanghai this weekend to show music lovers their sweet soundscapes (often compared to Nick Drake, Iron & Wine, Red House Painters). In the lead-up to their show at Yuyintang on Sunday, lead vocalist and guitarist Tony Dekker chatted with TALK about what to expect from their Shanghai concert.

So, tell us what's going on this Sunday.

We will be performing songs from our latest album, Lost Channels, as well as some select songs from our earlier catalogue. We are traveling as a four piece band: Bret Higgins, bass; Greg Millson, drums; Tony Dekker, guitar and voice; and Erik Arnesen, banjo and guitar. Our music can be considered to be on the quiet side of folk-rock.

How did it feel to be shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize?

It was really a great honour to make the shortlist for the Polaris. I felt that we were in good company, musically speaking, and it was nice to be recognized for our album, especially in light of the work we've been doing over the past year. It was also special because it is a critical award list, made up of journalists from across the country.

Andrew Bird is also coming to Shanghai this month, and you guys have toured together before. Any connection there that you're both doing a China tour in January?

No, there is no connection, though we have done some touring with him. His music is excellent. I hope that more North American bands will tour in China. [For more on Andrew Bird, check out this month's Live Talk]

For those in Shanghai who aren't familiar with your sound, how would you describe it?

We are a quiet folk band from Canada. People have described us as "indie-folk," "folk-rock," or "ambient-folk," because our albums are recorded in special acoustic places. Our music is not party music. It's meant to calm the spirit.

This is your official debut in China. What other places in the world have you toured? And which rank among your favourites?

We have played extensively in Canada, the United States, Europe, and the UK. This is our first tour in China. Our band members' favourite tour stops have been: Manitou Springs, Colorado (Erik); Wakefield, Quebec (Tony); New York City (Bret); and Brest, France (Greg).

9PM, 10 January. RMB 120. Yuyintang,1731 Yan'an Xi Lu, near Kaixuan Lu.  Tel: 5237-8662.

Shanghai in Numbers

10 – The number of ‘post-earthquake generation’ pandas flown in from Chengdu in preparation for the World Expo. A special exit route was installed at Hongqiao Airport, as the normal arrivals hall was found “unsuitable” for pandas.

3 million – The number of US dollars of registered capital you will need to qualify for a newly introduced five-year business visa. The figure was recently reduced from 30 million in an effort to boost economic growth. Where do we sign?

60 – Number of x-ray scanners being installed in Shanghai’s metro stations. Don’t argue – refusal to undergo checking could result in up to 10 days detainment.

7’3’’ – The potential adult height of current Shanghai resident Yao Ming’s unborn child, according to a Guangzhou Daily report. No scientists are thought to have been involved in the calculation.

2 – Where best-selling Shanghai author Guo Jingming was placed in the end-of-year list of China’s highest-paid authors. The 26 year old was dethroned from his 1st place position last year.

0 – The number of degrees Celsius that Shanghai’s temperature will be grazing in the next few days. Wrap up warm and count yourself lucky – it’s minus 30 in Harbin.

- Compiled by Alex Taggart




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