Early morning jet-lagged greetings to all from Shanghai, where I landed last night. This is my first time in China since the summer of 2016, and I’m very curious to see what has changed in the intervening two years. So far all I can say is that they now take your fingerprints when you go through Passport Control (hi, Big Brother!) and that while the grilled chicken sandwich at KFC is not the worst thing to eat after a 14-hour flight, I wish they still had the Old Beijing wrap.
I’m kicking off my week in Shanghai with a public event later today, a talk for Historic Shanghai about the cartoonist Zhang Leping and his most famous character, Sanmao the Orphan. After I give my talk, the audience and I will visit Zhang Leping’s Former French Concession home, which is now a small museum. I spent years waiting for that museum to open, and wrote about the wait in this essay just published at the Historic Shanghai blog. I actually began writing the first part of that essay in 2011 and have carried it with me through two computer migrations thinking that I might finish it one day. Sometimes things just take a while (like seven years) to percolate in my brain.
Next Friday morning I fly to Hong Kong, and later that day I’ll be at the University of Hong Kong speaking with graduate students about alternative careers for PhDs. On Saturday, November 10 I will moderate two talks at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival: the first by Leta Hong Fincher, who will speak about her new book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (3:30-4:30pm), and the second by novelist Ma Jian, who has recently published a new satirical novel, China Dream (7:00-8:00pm).
Aside from those events, I have a long list of places to visit, things to do, and stuff to eat in both cities, and I’ll hopefully write a few things here in the future about those. In the meantime, as long as my VPNs continue to work (I downloaded three for this trip, just to be safe), I’ll post at Twitter and Instagram along the way.
Photo: I now have TWO passports to worry about losing as I travel: one currently valid, the other expired but with a still-valid 10-year visa for China.