The Wasabi Challenge

During lunch today, Yimo & Chris – the brilliant people that they are – challenged each other to eat their entire  glob of wasabi in one bite.

This was the result:

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Escape to Baiji Mountain

The past two weeks have been extremely hectic.  Last weekend I found myself indulging in some random “Shanghai Water Fight” that a group of people organized…basically, a flash mob.  I was sent a text the night before with instructions for the following day.  We were to meet at 3pm by the water fountain at People’s Square.  The fountain was not running at the time, but turned on precisely at 3pm, which was our signal to whip out our concealed water pistols, guns, super soakers, etc. and just go at it. It started out small, but people kept appearing and kept it going for awhile. The best part was all of the tourists and local families just stopping to watch us.  Even some of the little kids joined in.  It was a good half hour of kid-like fun in the sun.  Last year’s “Shanghai Pillow Fight” resulted in a YouTube video, so if the same happens with this, I’ll be sure to post.

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Later that afternoon, I went to the bar with my friend, Fi, to watch a rugby game and cheer on her Aussie team.  Afterwards, there was an organized Rubix Cube party outside of a convenient store, called ‘Lawson’s’.  Since alcohol is sold in just about every corner store, the idea is to raid their stock of beer and hang outside, in front of the store.  The Rubik’s Cube theme didn’t stretch too far, as only a few people showed up in 6 different colors of clothes.  So they were undressing and exchanging clothes in the middle of the street to become one color – quite funny. Of course their stock was too low to handle the number of people flowing in and out, so they actually had a truck deliver more around 11pm to keep the party going.  It was a day full of random events…a good Shanghai day.

I actually had to work both that Saturday and Sunday, so that was the extent of my fun all weekend.

This past week was probably the most stressful, workwise, due to a project deadline.  Thankfully, my team managed to get everything done, just in time for my long weekend away.  Work has really drained me the past few weeks, and I just needed to get out of the city, away from everything and everyone I know.  I found an organized group trip that was traveling to Baiji Mountain in Anhui province for hiking and rafting, so I booked it without hesitation.

The buses departed Shanghai around 5:30pm on Friday and the drive was a good 7 hours because we stopped so many times, and with 60 people, each stop takes at least 20 minutes.  We arrived in Tunxi by midnight and spent the night at a hostel.  We woke early, had breakfast, and got back on the bus to head to Baiji Mountain.  This drive up the mountain was unsettling.  It reminded me of a trip I took with my family to New Hampshire and we drove up Mount Washington, which has the smallest driving path up the side of the mountain, no guardrails or anything to keep your vehicle from rolling down the mountain.Image

I think this drive topped that, in scariness, though, since we were on a coach bus. We had to get off the bus half-way up the mountain because of a landslide, along with other vehicles trying to get past. At one point, our bus stalled out and started rolling backwards. It may have been 10am, but that’s when everyone started to pass around the liquor to help settle nerves. A few swigs of “Big T’s” scotch, some TsingTao beer, and I was able to make it through the rest of the ride. Image

We arrived in a small village at the top of the mountain where we sorted out rooms and ate breakfast before setting out on our hike.  It took about 45 minutes until we reached the first waterfall.  It was beautiful – in the middle of all the green, feather dusting, Suessical-looking bamboo trees. Image

The hike there wasn’t difficult, though very rocky and damp.  We were able to swim in the waterfall, which was extremely cold, but very refreshing.  There was a strong current due to the weather the past few days, so we weren’t able to go directly under the waterfall. Image

After hanging around for an hour we decided to walk further to see two other waterfalls.  They were too strong and water levels too high so we weren’t able to swim in those, but still a beautiful site!

The hike back was a little over an hour, and a little more difficult because it started raining and it was uphill. I preferred the rain though; I think I would have been miserable trying to hike in the extreme humidity we are often subjected to in Shanghai.  Once back at the farmer’s house, I took a short nap before enjoying our traditional Chinese dinner.  After dinner, a mini-bonfire was created and the drinking commenced.  There were groups playing catch-phrase, card games, etc. and we created a beer pong table, using cups two sizes smaller than the preferred solo cups, and indulged in some college-drinking-game fun.  It was the first time I’d seen beer pong played in China, and quite amusing to explain the rules to other foreigners who have never played.  Since there was a fire going, we had to have the traditional campfire treat: s’mores!  A fair amount of foreigners had never heard or tasted a s’more, so it made it fun to teach them how to create one and watch their eyes grow big and light up with a “this is so f***ing good!” look when tasting it.

The party continued on, I was tired by 11pm so I decided to call it an early night since we were expected to be ready early AM for the next day’s activities – also, I really wanted to read more of Fifty Shades of Grey (this book is addicting).

The next morning, after breakfast, we set out down the mountain – a much smoother ride – to the rafting site.  A small van took groups up to the top of the river where we picked out our 2-person raft and were pushed down a considerably steep drop to begin our rafting adventure. Image

ImageThe water was mild compared to any other rafting I’ve experienced in the states, but it was very jerky and there were a lot of surprise drops that made it quite fun.  It was a short run, maybe 40 minutes long before we reached the bottom, or end of the course.  Everyone changed into dry clothes and we left Baiji Mountain, headed for Shanghai.

I had such a great time meeting new people, taking part in fun activities and experiencing a completely different area of China than what I’ve seen living here thus far.  It was so nice to just pay, show up, and have everything else taken care of for me.  If I’m looking to get out of the city for a weekend, I don’t have the time to plan on my own, so this was an extremely viable option, and I plan to take full advantage of their future organized trips, which usually happen once a month.

Xx

Spring in Shanghai

It’s been so long since my last post that I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

Let’s see…shortly after my last post, my project manager left the company, leaving me in charge of a big account. So, needless to say, the past month has been a busy one.

On top of that, our office moved from Puxi to Pudong. Which means I no longer have the luxury of waking up 20 minutes before needing to be at work. Now, I wake up almost two hours earlier every day because my commute is close to an hour each way. I do love the new office though.  It’s in a great location – right across from Times Square – so there are plenty of shops and restaurants (and foreigners!).

ImageImageThe first week has been hard to adjust, but it is working out lovely because now, my roommate and I practice our English/Chinese – her English, my Chinese 😉 – to and from work each day.  I think I learned more in this past week than in 9 lessons of Pimsleur.

Anyway….The weekend following my last post, I went to the fabric market, again. This time, I was having a dress tailor-made for the black-tie event, Brawl on the Bund – more on that later.  I spent almost two hours in a corner stall, with no air conditioning, trying to decide what style I liked.  The one I wanted, conveniently, couldn’t be made.  So, I ended up mixing three different style dresses into one.  I had no idea on color, I just knew I didn’t want to stand out too much, so I decided on black with sexy red silk as lining. The following few days I was beyond nervous for how it would turn out.  Reason being, if I didn’t like it, I would be left running around searching the malls for a dress to fit me – something I had no time for.  Thankfully, my first fitting ended up being the only fitting – it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. The slit on the side was originally 3 inches higher, but I showed her, by breaking out into dance, that it was in no way suitable, unless I wanted to give everyone a show! She laughed and sowed it in 10 minutes and I was out the door!

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That same evening my co-worker/roommate, Tracy, and I met up with some of my friends for Ladies Night.  A few bars near our house offer free cocktails to Ladies from 9-11pm on Thursdays – free Mojitos and champagne are hard to pass up, especially after a long day(s) in the office.  On our way home, we stopped for a bite to eat at a shop near our apartment.  The shop owner had the cutest puppy tied up outside & in our state, we thought – more like thought – buying this puppy would be the best idea ever. Image

We talked for almost an hour & got him to agree on 200rmb ($35) to cover his cost, or else I could have had the puppy for free.  Good thing I had trusty Tracy with me, who talked me out of buying the pup that night because, clearly, we do not have the time to take care of a pet.  I was initially upset, but very grateful the next morning 🙂

Friday, a group of co-workers organized dinner and KTV (Karaoke) after work.  Image

Karaoke was definitely an experience.  First of all, my co-workers are all Chinese, so every song they sang was in Chinese.  Except for Yimo, who performed a few Eminem songs – hilarious! Image

What I liked the most was that every party is given their own room. I have never been to a Karaoke place like this before. So, for someone like me, who does not like to sing in front of a crowd – unless I have had a few to drink – it’s perfect because you’re just with friends. After KTV, Tracy and I met her friends at a club & ended the night soon after her friend’s phone was stolen.

Saturday! The big event – Brawl on the Bund.  It is an annual event, this being it’s 6th year, where about 1,200 people gather to watch white collar boxing and raise money for a charity. ImageI knew a few of the guys fighting & I am so happy I was able to attend, because this event was just plain awesome.  Everyone is all decked out in their best black-tie wear, receiving free flow of drinks, enjoying a four course meal, all while watching our peers fight in the ring. Image

The boxing event lasted close to four hours. Afterwards, shuttles drove everyone to a bar on the Bund for the after party. Of course there’s an after party for the after party, so I ended up at another bar with some friends until 5am. What an enjoyable night.

So enjoyable, that a bunch of us had to reconvene for brunch and more drinking the next day!  Image

It was a perfect Sunday.  Unfortunately, I had to call it an early night, not because it was Sunday, but because I hadn’t packed yet, and my flight to Macau was at 7am the next morning!

I slept a total of 3 hours before heading to the airport at 4:30am.  The flight was a quick two hours, which put me in Macau by 9:30am.  Check-in wasn’t until 2pm though, so to kill time, Chris and I decided to take a tour of the city via rickshaw. Best idea ever.  Our guide was too funny, posing us in front of the landmarks as if he were a professional photographer.  It was only an hour long, so afterwards we walked around to other sites, got our pictures, and went back to the hotel to relax by the pool.  

I should have prefaced, this trip was arranged by our boss, because our visas needed renewed, so it was a short stay. Since I had 48 hours away from the office, I just wanted to relax and not do anything that required great effort. Once I saw what I came to see, I rested by our resort’s pool until there was no more sun to soak up. That evening we went back into the city for a big dinner and to check out the casinos. Macau is a neat place to visit, but you only need a day or two there.  It’s very small, so you can literally see everything in that amount of time.  It reminded me of Portugal, which makes sense, since it is a former Portuguese colony. It’s not nearly as beautiful, but it does have some areas that resemble the streets of Lagos.  

The return flight landed us back in Shanghai yesterday afternoon.  Literally, as soon as I turned my phone on I was bombarded with work.  There was no way in hell I was going to the office at 5pm after a flight – you gave me 2 days, so I will take 2 days!  I really think these people don’t know how to have a life outside of work. It is really starting to wear on me – if you couldn’t tell!

Apologies for the mini-rant – it’s the stress talking. I love Shanghai, the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, and I would still stay here if that option were available to me.

xx

Ladies Day

On Saturday, I enjoyed meeting up with some friends for Ladies Day with the Shanghai Tigers – a local Australian football club.  Two buses took the lot of us to the field in Pudong, where they had tents & refreshments set up.  I don’t know the first thing about AFL, but I do know that I enjoy watching the men play!  

After all the games, everyone stuck around to drink a bit & take part in a kicking contest – a traditional event – for ladies only.  We were to steal a “footie” from a player & then attempt to kick the “football” into the goal.  I did not do that well – it didn’t help that the shoe I had on was twice the size of my foot! It was all in good fun though.

Shafl Mascot

The bus ride back was rowdy, as you can expect after a day of drinking, & more games were played until we reached The Camel (sports bar).  I had my friend Joey, this cute little Irish gal, meet me so we could catch up & then Chris and his friend Ray joined later to play some pool.  It turned out to be a great day – can’t beat free champagne, homemade treats, & good company!

Sunday, I had to pick up my skirt at the fabric market.  To my dismay, it was not ready, so they offered to deliver it to my apartment that evening free of charge.  I was disappointed because I had hoped to try it on there, in case it needed alterations, & if I liked it, I planned on having another made.  Chris’s shirts needed alterations, so he was having them delivered also.  I kid that if he keeps eating 20 eggs a day, like Gaston, he’ll need alterations every week!

We went back to the fake market to look around for some good deals, though I wasn’t too pleased with what they had.  Of course, the only time I am looking to buy a pair of flip-flops – I have previously seen in almost every store – they suddenly disappear from the shelves!  I did a lot of haggling and got good deals on a dress, some jewelry, & a purse.

Bargain shopping is fun, but takes skill, in my opinion.  You have to go from shop to shop to see what is offered, & find out the different asking prices of whatever item you’re interested in buying. Most of the time they are all in the same ballpark, but you have to find the right seller that will really bargain with you.  Some of these sellers will tell me my offer is a “joke price” & let me walk away, while others will chase me down & work with me until we meet a price we’re both satisfied with.  I think my skill level has increased twofold since arriving here. Now, instead of taking them seriously when they say “joke price” & walk out empty handed, I just tell them their price is “joke price” & I can get the exact same thing for much less at another shop. That’s when they change they’re attitude & call themselves my friend & give me “serious, friend price”, which still isn’t good, so I haggle more until I pay what I want to.  They say “you very clever girl” & tell me to come back again – ha!

So, I had to cancel dinner plans with some girlfriends that evening because my skirt was supposed to be delivered.  It wasn’t until a quarter after midnight that the doorbell rang! Can you believe that? Thankfully I hadn’t fallen asleep yet.  And I am very pleased with how the skirt turned out, so I will most likely make a trip back to the fabric market next weekend.  I wish custom clothes were this inexpensive back home – I may return with a whole new wardrobe!

Speaking of my return…I’ve been here just short of three months, & the one question that always pops up in conversation is “will you stay longer?”  At this point, I could see myself staying past September.  My boss brought it up the other night, & I shared my thoughts. I think it surprised him to hear how much I enjoy Shanghai.  If that will actually happen, I cannot say, but should an opportunity arise, I would go for it.

On another note…it’s Shanghai’s first Beer Week this week! Hopefully I will find the time to check out some of the events.

Xx

New Places, New Faces

Last work week was tolerable being that it was only three days! Friday wasn’t much of a work day at all because I spent the entire afternoon in a studio.  My boss asked me to record the narration for our newest children’s story app.  It was a neat experience, though strange hearing my voice after. I’m not sure if they’ll ask me to record for the other stories or not, but I wouldn’t mind – it’s a day out of the office!

The weekend was great.  Saturday afternoon, I met up with Chris and our new friend Yana at Zhongshan Park (I shared pictures of this park in my previous post).  The weather was beautiful, although a bit more humid than I’d like, and the park was packed.  We walked around for a little, grabbed some lunch, and then ventured to the Qipu Market, also known as, the “fake” market.  This place is five floors of pure chaos.  It was late afternoon when we arrived, which is when it supposedly winds down, so I would hate to see it at its busiest.  We only managed to browse two floors, clothing and accessories – the most important two anyway 😉  There are so many shops that sell the same products or items, but different variations, so I found myself walking back and forth several times before actually deciding on something to purchase.  I ended up with a pair of Ray Bans, chunky summer heels, and a maxi dress – totaled under $20 🙂  It was extremely easy to bargain since we were with Yana, a Shanghai native, who translated everything for us.

Afterwards, Chris and I went to dinner in the French Concession and ended up at the Cantina for some Cinco De Mayo celebrations.  It was a vibrant crowd, mainly all foreigners, which made it easy to mingle.  I probably had one too many margaritas, but it was not nearly as bad as last year’s festivities in Philly – when my purse was stolen! We finally met some people closer in age to us – every one we have met thus far is in their late twenties or older.  I always enjoy meeting new people, especially here though.  It’s such a diverse crowd, in that everyone has their own story of how they came to live in Shanghai, yet we all form a large community to share our experiences here – I love it!

Sunday, after sleeping inI went to the fabric market with Chris.  I hadn’t planned on having anything made, but the stall across from the one Chris was in had awesome summer fabrics that I just had to check out.  I have been wanting a long, light and airy skirt. So, after choosing the fabric I liked, I described to the tailor the style I was looking for and he gave me a good price.  They normally like to take a week to make things, so I will pick it up this Sunday.

Good news, my boss gave the OK to Chris and I for taking a couple of days off to travel.  So, now I am just looking into places to go – if anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

Overdue update

The last few weeks have been hectic at work, leaving me with little time to update, and no internet at the apartment made it even harder.

Last weekend I went to Painter Street to check out pricing on custom made paintings.
I had around 40 different shops to choose from, all of which had beautiful art work.  I came across one shop that offered the style painting I was looking for, and to my luck, the woman spoke enough English that I could communicate exactly what I wanted.  She took me to a hidden gallery where the artist was, an older man and apparently a famous Chinese actor.  The self-portraits on the wall made him seem important, if not to anyone else, at least himself ha! He was a kind man, complimented me [or so she claimed] and gave me a good deal on a painting.  I was able to watch him paint, which didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  They were very generous and even offered me food to take home. Needless to say, I will be returning for more!

I also went to a nail salon near my apartment to check out prices, and the woman greeted me in English, so I figured I would give her the business as long as she understood what I wanted.  “Hello” was one of maybe ten English words she knew, but she was hilarious.  I taught her how to say “cuticle” and “manicure” and she taught me a few things in Chinese – one of which was a Chinese name that she insisted on giving me: “Qián duō duō” (chi-en do do), which supposedly means “lots of money” ha! She gave herself the name Rosa, and said I am her new best friend so she gave me her number and wants to go out with me to meet a tall American or German with a big nose, haha!  That was the most entertaining manicure I have ever experienced, and although her prices are a little more expensive than other places, she gives me “best friend discount” so I will keep giving her the business.

Last Sunday’s weather was beautiful, so I ventured to Zhongshan Park and spent a few hours relaxing on the grass by a pond.

It was packed with families picnicking, playing games, and flying kites.  A lot of people were taking advantage of the paddle-boats, which I will have to go back and experience myself at some point.  There was an American fellow that sat near where I was and played his guitar for a while.  He intrigued many of the older Chinese, so it was amusing to watch them watch him.  Before I left, I took a walk around the rest of the park, but it is very large so I do not think I saw everything.  There was an area where dozens of couples were dancing, what looked like a traditional Chinese dance, and other areas where music performers attracted crowds.  I hadn’t realized it was Earth Day until later, so I’m glad I can say I enjoyed the outdoors!

I stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant the other week, more specifically, The Cantina Agave, and I was ecstatic because I miss The Cantina in Philly.  Especially in the springtime with their outdoor seating, $10 Margarita pitchers and free chips&salsa – can’t beat it! Anyway, Chris and I went to this Cantina for dinner one night. The food was good, although they don’t offer free chips&salsa, they have discounted Margarita pitchers, outdoor seating and seems popular with the westerners – so I think I found where I’m spending Cinco De Mayo this year!

This past weekend I had to work Saturday, due to the May holiday, and had Sunday through Tuesday off.  I wandered around the city by myself on Sunday.  There were a lot of sales because of the holiday, so I bought a pair of sandals since I stupidly forgot to pack any.  I went out for drinks that evening and met some newcomers to Shanghai, which was nice to be in similar company.  Yesterday, Chris and I went to the Strawberry Festival.  It’s a three daylong music festival that is usually based in Beijing, but they brought it to Shanghai for the first time this year.  Bands started around 1:30pm and the last band went on around 9:30pm.  There were four different stages set up in the Expo Park, which made for beautiful scenery. We stayed for the entire day [had to get our moneys worth!] and had such a fun time.  I think we spent the majority of our time at the Electronic Stage, as did most westerners, or so it seemed!

It was situated right along the river with the Lupu bridge in the background. The bridge lights up at night, so it looked awesome in combination with the colorful lights from the stage and display screens.  We made friends with a bunch of people and ended up going out in the city with them afterwards.  We started at a random hostel because they had cheap beer and then roamed Nanjing Road – similar to Times Square – tons of stores and restaurants and always crowded.  We passed several restaurants that kept yelling “English menu!” to lure us in, until we finally decided on one and had a nice feast at 10pm.  We ended the night at a House of Blues & Jazz, awesome atmosphere and great live music.

This workweek is only three days, so it should fly by just as the rest of my time here has! I can’t believe it’s May already!

A Nice Getaway

Last week our company worked Monday through Sunday – due to the QingMing Festival, which required us to miss work this Monday through Wednesday. The 7 day work week left me worn out, so come Monday I set out to find a decent place to get a massage.  A small place, called YuanMei, where they offered a package deal, 1hr foot & 1hr body massage.  Everything, down to the tea & white fungus, was perfect…it was exactly what I needed! [white fungus is an ancient traditional chinese medicine, good for the lungs and skin]

Yesterday, my boss invited me to his country house along with his wife & Chris.  It’s located in the Songjiang District, about an hour or so outside of the city.  When I heard country, I thought old villages, small housing, lots of land – I was a little off.  Yes, there is a lot of land, however, it’s occupied by lavish villas & country clubs.  I felt as though I was driving through Disney’s resorts – you know, how each resort has a different style & theme – that’s how this area is.  One section looks rustic italian, another looks modern, etc.  My boss’s house is apart of a country club community  – the golf course might as well be his backyard!  It has beautiful landscape & gorgeous design.

Country Club

Last evening they took us to Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town.  It’s a touristy site, but we arrived later & avoided the crowds.  It’s a small town that has done well to preserve its traditional architecture.  Water runs throughout, hence being named “water town”, & boat tours are offered, though we did not take one. The river is lined with the homes & restaurants of families that still live there. It was neat to see, especially at night when all the lights flicker & reflect in the water. We ate at a tiny restaurant along the water – not sure what all I ate, but I do know the snails were good!

Zhujiajiao

Once back home, we split a bottle of wine, watched a movie, & called it an early night.

Today, my boss & his wife had golf plans with friends, so Chris & I ventured out into the town.  It is such a drastic change leaving the country club into the small town – dilapidated housing, empty store fronts, etc.  We decided to climb the Tianma Mountain, which they call “Pegasus Mountain”.  At the top, there is the Huzhu Tower, which leans a considerable amount & it is surrounded by old temples.  From there we could see the town & the city far away – this mountain is said to be the highest “hill” in Shanghai.

Today is QingMing, or “Tomb Sweeping” day – a day where people honor the deceased – so there were many families on the mountain lighting candles & fires of some sort.  It was neat to see.  We spent a good hour or so walking around since it was such a beautiful day.

On our way down, a family approached me & I thought they wanted me to take their picture, however, they wanted to take a picture with me! I was slightly embarrassed & very confused as to why…& no sooner did that family leave, another came over & did the same thing – as if they had never seen an American before!  We headed down the mountain & hung out on some swings in the middle.

Some of the Chinese phrases I learned came in handy when a young girl approached me, asking something – I asked her if she spoke English [Chinese phrase #1], which she replied “a little” [Chinese phrase #2], & then proceeded to keep asking me things in Chinese…so, I had to just say “I don’t know” [Chinese phrase #3].  I think the only thing she knew in English was “Buh-bye” as that is what she yelled to me when I left!

We walked back to our boss’s house, walked around the country club for a little, & I soaked up some sun in the backyard until we had to leave.

Now, I only have two days of work to get through before the weekend!

To view more photos, visit my album here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2805228377427.2115784.1460160047&type=1

Did I just eat that?

This past work week went by quick, thankfully.  Wednesday evening I went out to dinner with a new friend.  We went to a nice Italian restaurant in the French Concession area. Italian is my favorite cuisine, & being that I used to work at two amazing Italian restaurants back home, I was curious to see how this one compared. The food, wine & atmosphere were all up to par – I was pleasantly surprised! I will definitely be going there again.

The weekend came & went too fast. I stayed in Friday evening – mainly to finish up some work & to relax.  Saturday, I did more work in the morning so I could enjoy the evening.  I wanted to show Chris around the French Concession area because there is a big expat community there & it feels more like home.  We found a cute lunch spot, Settebello, where I had a delicious burger.

After lunch, we walked around the area for a few hours to familiarize ourselves.  There are a lot of cute boutiques, cafes, & bars that I am sure I’ll frequent.

As we were deciding what to do for the rest of the day, I ran into James, an Aussie I met last weekend & he invited us to happy hour at The Camel [a sports bar].  James is a part of an Australian football club, here in Shanghai, & the team was hosting a happy hour there – so, I got to meet the team & I think they convinced Chris to join! James’s wife, Fi, convinced me to be a social member…which means I’d get into all games for free & receive discounts at The Camel because they sponsor their team.  I had a fun time making new friends & learning about the sport.

Chris left after a few hours & I stayed behind to hang out for a little.  I met up with a different group of people I met last weekend at a club called The Apartment.  The music, atmosphere, & crowd made me feel like I was back in Philly or NYC – so, of course I loved it!  I think I was there until around 4am & then decided to grab some food.  There were a few eateries open, but my friend insisted I try street food.  So, there we are, at 4:30am sitting on tiny step stools in the middle of the sidewalk as we watch our food being made.  I didn’t recognize anything that he ordered, nor could understand since they were speaking Chinese. Judging by the looks of it, I knew I didn’t want to know, or else I wouldn’t eat it.  I’ll try almost anything, at least once, but sometimes I prefer to not know what it is until after I’ve tried it.  Well, it turns out I ate pig feet….& really liked it!

I was invited to get brunch today at 11am with a few of the women I met last night. However, there was no way I was going to wake up in time, considering I didn’t get sleep until after 5am.  Instead, I got “brunch” at 2:30 at Mr. Pancake with other friends.  I was thrilled to have a familiar breakfast – omelette, pancakes & home fries!

Unfortunately, I had to go into work at 4:30 today to finish up a project & to go over some things for tomorrow. Afterwards, Chris & I went out to dinner with my project manager & his fiance to a popular Japanese restaurant.  It’s similar to a pub…a very, very small pub.  They say it’s just like being in Japan – I wouldn’t know, so I’m taking their word for it.  I would compare the serving style to tapas.  There were a few things I have never tried before & a few things I have had, but prepared completely different.  I ate cow tongue, chicken heart, chicken cartilage, chicken wings, oysters, bacon wrapped mushrooms, pork ramen, veggie dumplings, squid, & shiitake mushrooms.  I loved it all, but my favorite was the cow tongue – it’s so tender & juicy!

Now, I must rest because I will be attending a very important event tomorrow – details to follow!

Xx

St. Patty’s Day in Shanghai!

This past work week was a long one.  I don’t think I left the office earlier than 7pm any night. I can’t complain too much though, considering the clients I get to work with.  & the next week or two are going to be just as demanding as the last – on a tight deadline.

[ Highlight – my boss took a few of us out to dinner the one night at Pizza Hut.  The Pizza Huts here are like Applebee’s back home. The menu is quite extensive & their food is about 50% less greasy. I was surprised & have to say I liked the pizza. ]

So…needless to say, come Friday night, all I wanted to do was relax.  I decided to check out the McDonald’s right around the corner because it’s just mandatory that I try it in every country I go to. Their menu had a slightly different selection & is about half the price of U.S. McDonald’s. I paid 26rmb = $4.11 — I wish that’s how much meals cost back home! I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich, not knowing it was spicy, & indeed it was! It was good, though I have had better fries.

I stayed in Friday night, watched some U.S. tv shows & caught up on sleep.

As you know, Saturday was St. Patty’s Day & I was itchin’ to have a green beer!  I read about a few bars hosting events in honor of St. Patty’s day & one was right near me.  I almost didn’t go because Chris was stuck doing work & I didn’t have anyone to go with. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go, so I went alone & planned on having one or two beers before heading back to the apartment. Luckily I packed a green shirt too!

Well, as I was walking down the street towards the bar, I could hear the live music & I instantly got excited – I walked in to find a huge tent with hundreds of people, the majority were all westerners, so I fit right in!  I walked around to scope the place out while drinking my green Carlsberg & was stopped by a woman who was about my height [maybe an inch or two shorter] – she introduced herself as Kelly, & she said she had to meet me because I am the only other girl she’s seen that is about her height & American – I got a kick out of that!  She proceeded to introduce me to all of her friends, who I hung out with the majority of the day/night. As the night went on, I met more people & their groups of friends – all of whom are either a teacher or an engineer. I ended up at another bar, called the Bulldog, with another group of people I met & hung out there until around 10, & called it a night [I had been drinking since 5pm]. I exchanged numbers with a few people with hopes to meet up again soon.  All in all, I am extremely happy I went out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I have to catch up on some work before tomorrow morning. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Xx

First weekend in Shanghai

This weekend was full of explorations!

Saturday, Chris & I met up with our boss’s niece.  She showed us around popular spots in Shanghai & was very knowledgeable.

We first went to the Yu Garden, which is a very historical site located in the “Old City” of Shanghai. It stretches over 5 acres & is considered the most famous garden in Shanghai for it’s design. This is where you’ll find all of the oriental architecture – so beautiful!

This is known as the Lotus Pool. The entrance to the Zigzag Bridge is to the left & leads you across the water. The building on the left in this picture is a Tea House where you can sit, drink some tea, enjoy the atmosphere & maybe feed the fish!

At the end of the Zigzag Bridge is the entrance to the Inner Garden. We decided to take a tour of it, which is full of  ponds, pavilions, & rockeries.  It was such a serene, peaceful place with the most amazing designs.

Since I couldn’t spend all day in there, we roamed around the Yu Garden & decided to wait in the ever so long line to try these famous traditional Chinese dumplings.  They are called Xiao Long Bao – steamed dumplings – unlike anything I’ve ever had.  They are filled with pork & a souplike juice…well worth the wait!

Afterwards, we toured the City God Temple, also located in the Yu Garden. I find myself very interested in this part of the Chinese culture. This particular temple places a strong emphasis on the Taoist spirituality & still have clergymen/monks living within [I saw a few!]. I really enjoyed learning about Taoism in a class I had in college, but to see & learn more about it while in it’s origin was just awesome.

If you’re familiar with the Chinese Zodiac, like I am, you may know that each year is represented by a different animal. If I understood correctly, each year also has a guardian god & there is one room within the temple that has all of these guardians on display.  This year happens to be the year of the dragon, which is the year I was born, & I asked if she could point out which god represented my year – sure enough there he was holding the magnificent dragon! I was told that the dragon is considered the greatest of all & much luck will come my way this year 🙂

Once we were done touring the Yu Garden, we walked to The Bund – a large pathway that follows  along the Huangpu River [which divides Pudong & Puxi]. The variety in architecture is crazy! It’s like someone took a bunch of different country’s cities & placed them into one: Shanghai. One side is all of the Chinese buildings which are very sleek & modern, then another side that is lined with buildings made by the British, & then another area that is built by Americans. So, I felt like I was in London, New York & Shanghai all at once.

We ended our day by visiting Nanjing Road, very famous for it’s shopping. It reminded me a lot of New York City.

Today, Chris & I decided to brave the city on our own.  We walked around the area near our work & found a shopping mall.  Then we took the metro to the Science & Technology Museum where there was an underground shopping plaza – aka bargain shopping. I think I’ll do all my shopping there from now on! Chris & I spent hours walking around & haggling prices with people for the best looking designer knock-off stuff I’ve ever seen. I decided to wait on the designer stuff, & went for some souvenirs to decorate my room.  I got two small figurines of a Buddha & a dragon – to bring good luck of course!

I am loving this city, so far.  All of the potential shopping is killing me! I found so many stores I like, I just have to figure out how I’ll get it all back home at the end of six months!

Xx

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