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

Hello Kitty Book Series for Children


“HELLO KITTY’S MAGICAL BOOK – THE UGLY DUCKLING” IS AVAILABLE NOW ON IPAD

BST is pleased to announce that its new app “Hello Kitty’s Magical Book – The Ugly Duckling” is available now for iPad.

Children will be immersed in the magical world of Hello Kitty and interact with Kitty, Badtz-Maru, and My Melody on their adventures.
Pleasant audio narration guides your child from page to page without your help, allowing them to learn how to read and develop cognitive skills. Moreover, Hello Kitty’s “The Ugly Duckling” contains educational games which keep children entertained and also enhance their memory and word recognition skills.

Hello Kitty’s Magical Book series will be a pleasant way to spend sweet and enriching moments with children.

Download now Hello Kitty’s Magical Book – The Ugly Duckling on iTunes for 1.99$

Download the press kit (Screens + artwork)

Watch the video on Youtube


Visit our website : www.gobeta.com.cn

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

.

Shanghai: end of work week 1

So, I managed to break the key trying to get into my apartment last night. Apparently, they did not give me the right key for that particular door. Although the key I used fit, when I went to turn it, snapped in half. I was alone at that point & had no clue what I was going to do, but thankfully Tracy showed up a few minutes later.  We had to get the guard to unlock it for us & this morning the other half of my key was no longer in the keyhole, so someone fixed it! I now have the correct keys & hopefully that will not happen again!

This morning I tried another traditional Chinese breakfast, which I would consider a crepe (Chinese style).  Tracy (roommate) was trying to explain what I was eating & called it a “cruller”, which I didn’t think seemed right, so I did a Google search & found out exactly what I ate: Jian Bing (Chinese Breakfast Crepes) . That link will take you to a blog where you can watch it being made ^^

The work week went well, although it was only two days for me.  My hours changed from 9am-6pm, but I haven’t left before 7pm yet.  Chris & I were supposed to get dinner with our boss, Michael, but he made other plans & told us to go wander the city.  I asked a co-worker for suggestions so I would have some sort of idea as to where I was going.  We ended up at the China 1 mall, which is pretty big & filled with some great stores [can’t wait to go shopping].  The top floor is a food court type area, so we chose a restaurant that had the menu in English because I did not want to rely solely on pictures!

After dinner I decided to unpack my things, so now I can show pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above you see my room, the view from my room’s balcony, the kitchen, living room, & bathroom.

& now I must get some rest. Tomorrow, Michael’s wife and/or niece is showing Chris & me around Shanghai!

Xx

Arrival in Shanghai

The flight to Shanghai was a long 14 hours. I slept, though not as much as I had anticipated, & watched three movies the remainder of time. I have to say, everything went very smooth the duration of my travel; my luggage weighed in under 100 lbs (shock!) & there were no long waits during security & customs. Shanghai’s airport was quiet at the time of my arrival, & it is one of the cleanest I have ever seen.

My boss’s receptionist waited at the gate for my coworker & me, then took us on the metro towards our place of work. The metro reminded me of the tube in London, mainly for its cleanliness, but also it’s design. It was about an hour & a half commute before we reached the office, & at that point I was fading fast.

I was introduced to a few of my new co-workers & managers, all of whom speak English well & were very welcoming. Since I traveled by metro today, I did not see much of the city itself. It was a dreary day of fog & rain anyway. One of my roommates showed me back to our apartment, which is conveniently less than a block away from where I’ll be working. I have 2 roommates, Tracy & Grace, who are also my co-workers. Tracy had beautiful flowers waiting for me at the apartment & a silk handkerchief embroidered with blossoms as a welcome gift! The apartment is adorable! I felt right at home when I saw Hello Kitty things all over the place 🙂 I was too exhausted to unpack & I wanted a good sleep so I would be well rested for today!

This is the view from my office.  Today is very cloudy, as you can see, so the city doesn’t look too pretty. I had a standard Chinese breakfast, which consisted of dumplings & a hot beverage that I think is made of soy & chick peas (not anything like coffee or tea).  So far, I haven’t had any issues with food, then again, I’ve only had one meal!

I will try to update as much as possible. I believe I’ll have access to Facebook & Twitter – thanks to a friend 🙂

Miss & Love you all!

Xx

‘The Flowers of War’ Movie Review

I attended the advanced screening of ‘The Flowers of War’ this past Wednesday. This film served as another history lesson for me.  It was a very dramatic look into the lives of a select group of innocent Chinese women during an extremely traumatic event [Sino-Japanese War].  I could not help but feel for these women.  There are a few graphic scenes that were sad to watch, however, I did not get close to a point of expressing emotion.  I was looking forward to seeing Christian Bale, who is one of my favorite male actors.  He was the only Caucasian in the film, with exception of a cameo from Paul Schneider.  His character [in the beginning] slightly reminded me of his character in ‘The Fighter‘.  I only say that because, in this film, his character is a drunk, & extremely selfish, but when faced with a serious event, turns for the better.  I thought the cinematography in certain scenes was great, as well as the musical score [the trailer gave me chills]. However, this was another film that could have been shorter.  While watching it, I felt as though I could see it as a made-for-TV movie on the History Channel.  I also think if I were to see it again, it would be in the comfort of my home.   It’s one of those movies that ends on a bittersweet note & you leave the theater in silence.

‘The Flowers of War’ was released in U.S. theaters on January 20th, 2012.

‘The Flowers of War’ Trailer