Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Funnies

I arrived in Hong Kong late this afternoon, and I will be spending the next two days in the Ricci House Jesuit Community with Stephen Chow, SJ, a member of the China Province and administrator of two high schools the Jesuits run in Hong Kong. Stephen and I knew each other at Loyola Chicago and again at Weston.

I’m going to write about Hong Kong tomorrow, but because I don’t have any pictures yet (and you really have to see pictures of the night skyline to appreciate how amazing Hong Kong is…) I thought I would instead show off some of my favorite humorous photos from the trip.

Strangest Road Sign:

I discovered this road sign on a street in the little town of Yangshuo, about an hour's drive from Guilin. The closest I come to an explanation is it's a warning against venturing into the street. The guy is putting his foot out there; uh oh, the sign's saying, better be careful!

The thing is, the street's not that busy. Maybe a little perspective would help?

Maybe not.

So Familiar, It's Creepy:

Recognize the decor? Yes, that's right. It's Starbucks. In fact, it could be literally the Starbucks you went to yesterday. It's just...in China. (Xi'An, to be specific.)

Where To Go For Your Birthday:

That's right. KFC. Party Central.

And in case you think it's just an advertisement -- actually, before we go on, what the heck is with the green puppy making eyes at the nina?

Weird anime creature aside, it turns out in parts of China, KFC is considered a place to go for a special occasion. A pal of mine in BeiJing told me not long ago he offered to take a colleague out to dinner for their birthday. They could choose anyplace they wanted. Their choice was extra crispy, and keep the biscuits and cole slaw coming. His explanation: KFC was the first major American brand to get into China, and it's more expensive than most restaurants. That combination of price and Western origins apparently makes it a little more upscale.

Who knew?

Here Come... the Olympic Mascots!

Just can't wait to find out who the mascots of the 2008 Olympic Games are? Well, look no further: It's the Fuwa! Yes, that's right, cuddly adorable Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini will be making a home in your living for about a month this summer.

Wikipedia informs me the five represent not only the five Olympic rings but the five traditional Chinese elements -- metal, wood, water, fire and earth. And when you say their names together in order, BeiJing Huanying Ni, you get, in English, BeiJing welcomes you. They've also got a 100-episode cartoon series that came out last year, and make a cameo in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (which I suspect is a video game). Wikipedia has loads more information on them. To me, they appear vaguely Telly-Tubby. What I want to know is, can we expect individual sounds to suit each character, or perhaps trademark schticks?

One thing is for sure: they can't be worse than Atlanta, 1996. Lest you blocked it:

And You Think Your Rush Hour is Crowded:

It's so crowded on the subway at rush hour in BeiJing you literally can't move. Strangely, it's not exactly uncomfortable. Everybody sort of rests against everybody else.

Jim McDermott, Power Ranger

Highlight of my trip: I was given a Power Coin and inducted into the Power Rangers. Bring it on, Lord Zed!

And last but not least...My new favorite brand of bread:

I understand it's very cheap.