Category Archives: chengdu

body maintenance

I believe it is and will be one of most growing industries – body maintenance and enhancement. There must be a lot of local practices worth revisiting and possibly spreading. Some intimate snapshots from Chinese ear cleaning (making sure your ears are in good working order and cleaned) and suction cup treatment (boost your circulation) sessions, thanks to the co-adventurers who were not camera-shy.

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bodycareexp_earoperation

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bodycareexp_suctioncups

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the suction cups left my back in red polka dot pattern for a couple of weeks afterwards.

Expanding the boundary of your space

In Chengdu, you see various objects are hanging or arranged to be used in what some of you and I might call public space. Without the familiar layer of protection that is common in other places, like an extra glass wall or plastic wrap. I could not help thinking of the word ‘exposed’ for these objects: Exposed to the open air, exposed to potential germs and dirts, exposed to public eyes, exposed to theft. But obviously my perception is contrived – as I spent the whole of my life living in densely populated cities where houses did not include much of outdoor or semi-public space. Where do you draw the boundary of where your ‘private’ space ends?

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hanging_rooftop

hanging_tops

hanging_mirror

hanging_wokpan

hanging_sausagecourtyard

hanging_sausagelaundry

hanging_meatmarket

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Approaches to sustainability

Do you remember shops in the movie Blade Runner where people could buy spare parts, whatever it is you are looking for, like eyeballs? When you use things beyond its expected or intended duration that they are designed for, spare parts are inevitable. People live longer. Second-hand goods trading extend lifetime of things.

Among those things, there are a lot of battery-operated devices, increasingly so. I personally don’t remember having used any electronic device long enough to see its battery life drained of it, except my first electronic tooth brush. The very first model from Braun lasted 7 years of use with me before its battery gave up, which was not replaceable. My father once collected 7 motorola startec batteries from his friends who were changing their phones to newer models because he did not want to ever change his mobile phone (as it was the last simple model in the market, he claimed). He did survive on those scavenged batteries for a couple of years, but eventually had to give up as it became impossible to get more batteries for that model and repair service too costly. He was alone; too few people shared his interest in the market to support him to use his mobile phone that long.

batterycharger_consumableparts

In the back alleys of the huge mobile phone district in Chengdu, you will see many ‘inofficial’ shops serving the popular needs of their customers – including repairs and spare parts. Easy-to-lose items like stylus, consumables like battery, and cosmetic items like phone covers and protective cases are all vibrantly traded here. They are offered alongside of numerous mobile phones that are made more affordable.

Who do you think would buy extra batteries, and why? Some design decisions, intended or not, have the bigger impact on products’ lifecycle in the hands of people.

Bonus:
In the market – I noticed this universal battery charger, which was sold to me at 10 yuan (~1 UK pound). This charger can be adjusted to fit any type of popular mobile phone batteries. Recently we saw many nice ideas to reduce waste generated around charging, like a smarter charger to prevent overcharging or making a universal charger standard. I am not sure how safe this product is, but thought it’s quite a neat idea.

batterycharger_overview

batterycharger_topview

batterycharger_sideview

batterycharger_inshopuse

hints of a welcome

chengduhotel_01

One of the sweetest moments in staying at hotels is to find the adapter in the room that accepts plugs of all shapes. This hotel added on a whole extension unit to accommodate all possible gadgets a traveler may carry.

chengduhotel_02

Managing to get the Internet connection in the room first time is a moment of relief. Many hotels, or the ISP prepare customized start page for that first moment. Regardless of how wisely the start page is chosen, or how jet lagged you are – this first page adds to your notion of where you are. On a side note, I understand that Internet connection cost varies a lot depending on the country and hence there are many reasons why some hotels still cannot afford to provide it for free for guests. But I loathe at hotels in the Internet-developed world, especially large corporate hotel chains that still offer internet connection at the ridiculous cost of almost 10% of daily room rate. It will be increasingly comparable to the concept of charging for the use of toilet separately from the room rate for guests.

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At a hotel I stayed in Chengdu, China in November 2008.