A Walk through Shanghai’s Marriage Market

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Feeling lonely? Head over to Shanghai’s Marriage Market, a regular city institution where lonely souls, and especially their parents, come to find suitable partners.

“Female, born 1981, 1.62 meters tall, bachelor’s degree, project director at a foreign company, monthly salary above RMB 10,000, looking for someone born between 1974 and 1982, bachelor’s degree or above with a sense of responsibility for the family.” This is just one of the thousands of sheets of paper that decorate Shanghai’s lively People’s Square on weekends, when hundreds of local parents come here to “advertise” their single children. In a city where being single is a real stigmata, this little matchmaking corner is a last resort for lonely people and parents who hope to see their offsprings settled down. But it’s not about finding someone, it’s a bout finding the RIGHT one, a person who fits a certain description, both physically and socially.

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Bian Lian – The Ancient Chinese Art of Face Changing

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Bian Lian, or Face Changing, as it’s known in the western world, in an old dramatic art associated with Chinese opera from the Sichuan Province. It is considered a part of China’s cultural heritage and is the only art form to be ranked as a level two national secret.

The skill and speed with which Chinese artists change their beautifully-painted masks has captured audiences’ imagination for centuries. Performers gracefully raise their hands, turn their heads and swing their arms, each time boasting a new mask. The secret of how they manage to change from three to twenty masks during a single performance without anyone realizing the trick has fascinated people since it started being practiced, during the Qing dynasty, around 300 years ago. It is said Bian Lian actually started out as a survival technique. People painted all kinds of designs on their faces to frighten wild animals, but as time went by it became a dramatic art performed on stage. Another legend tells of a people’s hero, a Chinese version of Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, who whenever cornered by guards would change his appearance to confuse them and escape.

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World’s Most Expensive Sheep Is Worth over $2 Million

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This whole economic boom is just making China weirder with each passing day. Just last week I read they inaugurated their first gold-dispensing machine and now the country’s big bosses are paying millions of dollars for sheep.

Dolan sheep, to be exact, a rare breed which according to breeders has very special features that make it the latest collector’s item for China’s rich businessmen. They have a distinctive curved nose, long floppy ears and twin tails, but the thing that really makes them special is there are just around 1,000 of them left in the world. Dolan were originally bred from sheep in Kashgar, north-west China, to grow more quickly and yield more meat, the priced breed has since become purely ornamental. It reaches maturity and weighs over 200 lbs at just six months, but no one is thinking about sacrificing them for meat anymore.

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Taiwanese Artist Uses Nail Gun as His Brush

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Artist Chen Chun-hao, known as Howard Chen in the western world, uses a nail gun, an air compressor and millions of small nails to create incredible works of art.

Chen isn’t the only artist in the world using nails to create impressive artworks. Marcus Levine is perhaps the most famous nail-using person in the art world, but mosaic master Saimir Strati and Shannon Larratt have also experimented with the medium. But whereas the above mentioned artists hammered the nails into their canvases, Chen Chun-hao uses a nail gun, which allows him to use up to hundreds of thousands of mosquito nails (headless metal pins) for each of his masterpieces. He shoots them one by one into white canvases stretched over wooden boards, creating reproductions of traditional Chinese ink paintings.

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Chinese Pharmaceutical Factory Looks More Like the Palace of Versailles

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This is what you’d expect to see in the lavish Palace of Versailles built by Louis the XIVth, but it’s actually the inside of a pharmaceutical company in Harbin, northeast China.

Citizens of Harbin were outraged to see what the state-controlled Harbin Pharmaceutical Group spent their funding on rather than solving more pressing issues, like the factory’s sewage problems, but representatives of the company said the recently emerged photos are part of a smear campaign. They claim the photos show the museum, which takes up three floors in the same building as the factory, where the company showcases local art. Now I’m not an expert on Chinese art, but those gold-tinted walls and lavish chandeliers look pretty European, and some of those rooms look an awful lot like conference halls…In fact, photos of the museum on the company’s website showed white-painted walls, brown wooden floors and none of the opulence in the photos.

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Chinese Mother Theresa Has Adopted 80 Children in 22 Years

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In Yaopu village, Shanxi Province, Li Yanping is known as a one-person orphanages who has taken care of 80 abandoned children over a period of 22 years.

49-year-old Li Yanping lives in a modest 40-square-meter country house and barely survives on a meager income, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking care of dozens of abandoned children, most of them mentally or psychically handicapped.  Born in 1964, in Mu village, Li married at the young age of 21 and soon had her first baby. Her story as a modern-day Mother Theresa began in 1989, shortly after her natural child was born, when her husband found a toddler abandoned on their doorstep. After examining it more carefully, the two realized the child suffered from deformities, but they took it in, fed it and took care of it, despite their financial shortcomings. But they could only take care of two babies for a while, and when milk shortages and lack of money became too much too handle, they made a desperate decision to give their own healthy son up for adoption. They figured someone would adopt a healthy baby, whereas the disabled child had almost no chance of survival.

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Chinese Couple Convert Cargo Truck into Mobile Home

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Unable to buy a real house, a young couple in Kunming, China, have opted to convert a small cargo truck into a comfy mobile home.

It’s hard to imagine someone living comfortably in the back of a truck, but the high housing prices in China have forced young people to be resourceful and find all kinds of original alternatives. Last year, a young Chinese student from Beijing built himself a sustainable egg-house from bamboo and insulating materials, and now a young couple have turned a cargo truck into an 8.5-square-meter living space.

It’s not the spaciest home ever built, but it features just about everything anyone needs to live a decent life, including a small kitchen with a sink and electric stove, bunk-beds, refrigerator, flat screen TV and even a computer. The only thing that isn’t shown in the photos is also one of the most important – the toilet, but, even if they haven’t improvised one on their truck, I’m sure they have some way of dealing with personal hygiene.

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Chinese Inventor Takes Off in Home-Made Flying Saucer

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Shu Mansheng, a Chinese farmer with no mechanics or electronics educations has managed to pilot a flying saucer he himself built.

The simple fact that he only has a basic school education hasn’t stopped Shu Mansheng from fulfilling his dream of building his own flying machine. He taught himself everything he needed to know about mechanics and electronics and finally completed a successful flight in his own flying saucer. I say finally because this isn’t the first time the resourceful farmer tried his luck in aviation. Last year, on April 30, Shu completed his first home-made aircraft and though he managed to take it off the ground, he got injured on the second trial flight.

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A Dream on Two Wheels – Man Rides Bicycle from Shanghai to London

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Zheng Sheng, a 23-year-old college graduate from Shanghai, has fulfilled his dream of cycling across Eurasia, traveling 14,000 kilometers all the way to London.

When Zheng tried to convince sponsors to finance his daring dream, they all thought he was crazy, but he wasn’t about to let something as meaningless as money stand before him and his goal. With the help of his sister and a few friends, he managed to raise 13,000 yuan ($2,000), which he used to buy all the necessary gear for a bike ride from his home city of Shanghai to London. Before setting out on March 5, he posted on his microblog: “A journey 14,000 kilometers is the goal – here I go!”. He went though all kinds of challenges throughout the 136 days he spent cycling across 11 countries, but believe it or not, this ambitious young man reached his destination on July 18.

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China Converts Aircraft Carrier into Luxury Hotel

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Just days after the Varyag, China’s first aircraft carrier was taken out for sea trials, a second carrier, the Kiev is stirring up interest as the first aircraft carrier hotel in China.

The Kiev, a retired former Soviet aircraft carrier was sold to a Chinese company back in 1996, and was used as part of a military theme park in the Tianjin Province, since 2004. But since the acquisition of a working carrier, the Varyag, people have begun looking at these mighty ships as symbols of their country’s military might, so the owners of the Binhai Aircraft Park decided to cash in on their interest. They spent over $15,5 million restoring the old attraction and converting it into a luxury hotel.

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Chinese Man Builds 600,000-Cigarette-Pack Fort

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Wang Guanyi, a 46-year-old cigarette pack collector from Longnan, China, has recently built a fort model using 600,000 empty cigarette packs.

Wang is a famous person in his home city because he usually greets everyone with “hello, do you smoke? do you have cigarette packs?” He says he has been fascinated with cigarette packs ever since he was a little boy, and collected his first one off the street, when he was just seven years old. He was first attracted by the bright colors and nice images on the packs, and kept collecting them until he reached an impressive 600,000. As you can imagine, every corner of his house was filled with them, but just when he was running out of space, he saw a TV show about a man who had built a house out of wine bottles, and was inspired to do the same thing with his cigarette pack collection.

It took him about a month to finish his 30-foot fort-like building made with 600,000 colorful cigarette packs. It was 6.06m long, 4.68m wide and 1.68m wide, and won Wang Guanyi a certificate from the China Record Office for the world’s largest cigarette pack structure. Unfortunately, he had built his unique fort on rented space, and since the costs were apparently too high for him to handle, he was forced to tear it down as soon as his record was acknowledged.

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Chinese Craftsman Builds Functional Bicycle from over 10,000 Popsicle Sticks

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A craftsman from Kaiyuan, northeast China, has created a rideable bicycle using more than 10,000 wooden popsicle sticks.

It took him four long months to finish it, but 35-year-old Sun Chao doesn’t regret one second of the time he put into the world’s first popsicle stick bicycle. At 1.5m long, 0.55m wide, 0.95m high and 25 kg heavy, it’s smaller than the average bicycle, but works just as well. Sure, those wooden wheels don’t provide the comfort of air-inflated ones, but Sun Chao rode it for 20 minutes, when he unveiled it in the city square, on June 1, and he didn’t complain. It’s worth noting he is 90 kg heavy, but the popsicle stick bike easily handled the weight. The only metal parts used on this unusual bicycle were the chain and bearings.

Sun Chao says he first became interested in working with wooden popsicle sticks 12 years ago, after seeing a guy make a ship model from them and giving it to his girlfriend, on TV. He was so inspired he started making a small desk lamp from popsicle sticks. Since then he’s made all kinds of stuff from them, including photo frames, building models, tissue boxes, but nothing nearly as impressive as this working bicycle. Just in case you were wondering, he didn’t actually buy 10,000 ice-creams, only the sticks.

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Chinese Men Turn to Pole-Dancing to Tone Their Physique

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After noticing the positive effects pole-dancing has on the bodies of female practitioners, a growing number of Chinese men decided to get past their inhibitions and started practicing pole dancing as a way to strengthen their muscles.

China is the home country of popular martial arts like Kung Fu and Tai Chi, and engaging sports like dragon boat racing, but young Chinese men seem to prefer more modern activities that, until recently, have been considered a feminine activity. According to Yan Shaoxuan, a young instructor at a pole-dancing school in Beijing, pole-dancing is a really effective workout that strengthens the muscles and helps define men’s chest and abdomen.

Until recently, pole-dancing was a taboo topic in Chinese society, associated with sex and nightclubs, but as more and more men take up these classes, general perception is starting to change. Some gyms have even started offering pole-dancing classes to attract clients. All around the world, pole-dancing experts are trying to change people’s minds and get them to see their passion for what it really is – a sporting activity that requires great skill and years of practice to master.

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Chinese School for Gold Diggers Proves Big Hit

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Why bother building a successful career, when you can just marry yourself a rich guy that will pamper and take care of you, forever? A Chinese school, ironically named the Beijing Moral Education Center for Women, claims it can teach single ladies how to get their hands on a billionaire. I know, it sounds like new you’d expect to read on The Onion, but this one’s for real, folks.

According to a popular Chinese saying “Marriage is a career. A good marriage is the most successful career for a woman”. So, considering many Chinese women rate a marriage by how rich the husband is, it comes as no surprise that the courses offered by the Beijing Moral Education Center for Women have been pretty popular. Since the school first opened its gates, in August 2010, over 3,000 students, aged between 21 and 36 have attended its courses, hoping to find Mr Rich Right. Most of them are middle class women who can apparently afford to pay around 20,000 yuan ($3,100) for 10 to 30 husband-hunting classes.

But what does a gold-digger study at one of these schools, you ask? Well, instead of acquiring skills that would help them make a living, these young ladies study the art of being charming. Teachers at the Beijing Moral Education Center for Women are all top-class professionals in their fields; for example, one of them is a Beijing Radio host, and he teaches the girls how to speak with a soft and charming voice. Others teach the art of applying the perfect make-up, and tea-pouring techniques, in short everything a Chinese woman has to know in order to snag a rich husband.

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Chinese Couple Sell Their Three Kids to Play Online Games

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A young couple, from Dongguan, China, have reportedly sold all their three children for money needed to keep playing online games at Internet cafés.

According to Chinese newspaper Sangxiang City News, Li Lin and Li Juan, both under 21, first met back in 2007, in an Internet café. It was their obsession with online gaming that fueled their relationship, and a year later, the two welcomed their first baby. Actually, “welcomed” is a bit of an overstatement considering that just days after they brought him home, the couple left him alone and went to play video games at an Internet café 30 km away.

In 2009, the irresponsible couple had another child, a baby girl, whom they decided to sell in order to fund their online gaming obsession. They managed to get RMB 3,000 ($500) for her, which they spent in a matter of days. Having run out of cash they proceeded to sell their first born as well, this time for ten times as much, RMB 30,000 ($4,600). At this point they probably decided having kids could be pretty profitable so they had a third baby, a boy, that got them another RMB 30,000 ($4,600). They would have probably continued like this for years, if the boy’s mother hadn’t learned of their deeds and alerted the authorities.

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