Tag Archives: Shanghai

Dinner with Linner- SOL #19

Last night, Linner (my nickname for her) and I headed out to Shook, a restaurant in the Swatch Hotel on the Bund, for a fancy Restaurant Week dinner. We both love fine dining, and when we can get it for a cheaper price, we love it even more!

Our first course was the Tomato Basil Bisque with Grilled Cheese “Soldiers.” Giggling as we ordered it, we talked about how we can’t understand why restaurants feel the need to make up names for food like that. They’re mini sandwiches, not soldiers. Just call it what it is. As far as the taste, the soup was really nice, but I personally make better grilled cheese.

Linner with her Espresso Martini…she’s brave drinking so much caffeine at night! Hope she was able to sleep when she got home. 😉

I opted for a Pina Colada, a girly drink where the alcohol taste is masked in sweet goodness. 🙂 Later, my drink would be the idea for a song I would sing whilst walking along the Bund. “Do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?”…

Our main course was the Pan Roasted Snapper with Potato Puree, Blistered Tomatoes, Cucumber, Fresh Herbs, Ginger, and Tamarind Sauce. First thought was that the presentation was gorgeous. Second thought was what’s all this cilantro doing on my plate? I despise cilantro, and would have noticed that on the menu. Ahhh…it must be the fresh herbs. Luckily, it was just on the top, so I could easily pick it off. After that, the meal was really tasty, but on the smaller size portion-wise.

Our third course, always my favorite, was dessert. Linner had the Lemon Cheesecake with Maple Cranberry Compote, Toasted Walnuts, and Whipped Cream while I had the Coconut Lime Creme Brulee. My creme brulee was perfectly done, with that crispy sugary coating you have to hit just right with your spoon to get into the creamy custard beneath. We shared both, as we sipped our cocktails and shared stories.

Linner is one of those friends who will always be there for you. Whether we’re getting together to swap funny stories, laugh at the happenings of the week, and reminisce about the past, or we’re supporting one another through a tough time, she’s a sweet, loyal, dear friend.

Tonight’s conversation was light and fun, filled with stories. We remembered the time she got the nickname Linner, and how she hated it every time I called her that….until I was relentless and she gave in, accepting that, to me, she was no longer Linnea, but the less beautiful-sounding Linner. I playfully call her ‘Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner.’ Secretly, she loves it. We also recalled the time I changed her boyfriend’s name in her phone to ‘Dee my lover’…haha, she was so mad about that one because she couldn’t figure out how to change it back. It stuck until she finally was able to change it a few days later. We talked about the time in Seoul, on vacation together, when I realized that Linner was not to be messed with in the morning. Taking pictures of bed head is not her idea of fun…haha. I’ve realized that throughout our friendship, I pick on her, but she’s a good sport and we’re still friends. 🙂 She’s the nicer one of the two, for sure!

After I passed the fifth woman taking ‘glamour shots’ on the Bund, I decided to take some myself…haha! I love being in China…you can be completely silly and it’s no big deal! 🙂

My favorite selfie of the night…Linner with her serious face and me with my silly one! She’s definitely a friend for a lifetime. Love you Linner!! 🙂

Broken Chinese + Charades- SOL #17

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Ring, ring, ring…”Ni hao,” I said as I answered the phone that’s connected to the front door of my apartment building. I had just ordered dinner, and although it seemed too soon for my food to be here, I was hopeful.

A frantic voice on the other end began shouting something in Chinese, desperate to get me to understand what he was saying.

“Sherpa’s ma?” I questioned, wondering if this was my food delivery guy.

More shouting, without confirmation that my food was here.

Thinking that maybe this guy just needed in the building, I pushed the key to let him in. About a minute later, there was a knock at my door. Opening it, I found a security guard yelling in Chinese about something, but I had no clue what he was trying to say.

“Shenme?” I asked, like even if he told me what was going on, I’d actually understand.

At this point, the Chinese was accompanied by charades. I got that he was talking about a bicycle or e-bike by the handlebar gestures.

“Yes, I have a bike,” I said as I nodded, wondering if he was trying to tell me that my bike needed to be moved or that it had been stolen.

Then, he began making the “crazy” gesture, you know the one, where you spin your finger around and around near your ear. Alternating between charades for a bike and crazy, I was so confused. My bike is crazy? You think a crazy person stole my bike? I’m crazy for having a bike?

Realizing he wouldn’t leave, I put on shoes and a coat and followed him downstairs. Once outside, I pointed to my bike, letting him know it was, in fact, still there. And nope, it didn’t look crazy to me. Another security guard joined the party, pointing in the opposite direction, yelling something I couldn’t understand. I continued pointing to my bike saying, “Wo de.” Mine.

Then I heard it. The annoying sound of a bike alarm blaring, over and over. Ohhhh…they thought the bike alarm incessantly going off was mine. The crazy gesture must have had something to do with the sound (or was it that they were going crazy because of it? :)).

Realizing that he called me outside for nothing, I was waved off with a “Dui bu qi.” Sorry.

“Mei guanxi.” No worries. It happens.

And this is why I really should learn more Chinese.

 

Birthday Lunch- SOL #14

Even though her birthday isn’t until next weekend, the two of us celebrated today. Michelle has been with me since 2010 when I first moved to Shanghai. She and I are colleagues and friends, and I wanted to spend some quality time- just us- for her birthday. It’s Restaurant Week in Shanghai right now, so I booked us a table for lunch at Porcini, a restaurant in the Radisson Blu hotel in Pudong. After a starter of spicy bread, we enjoyed a lovely 3-course meal.

I had the carrot ginger soup with herb croutons and crab meat. Even though I’m not a big fan of ginger, the soup was really tasty! 🙂

For my main course, I had the Mackerel with a creamy caper sauce and spinach risotto. The fish was okay, but I was a little turned off by the skin and bones left in it. I picked at it a little bit. The risotto was nice though. My drink was a Fun Calypso, their take on a pina colada, sans rum.

For dessert, I had the New York cheesecake. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was creamy and tasty. The strawberries were a nice complement. After dessert, we had a nice conversation, catching up on what’s new in our lives. I’m not sure how much time I have left to spend with Michelle, but I’ll definitely miss her when we no longer live in the same place!

As we were leaving, we found this random thumb statue…kinda weird, but we (well, I) couldn’t resist a thumb selfie! 🙂

So Many People!- SOL #13

Living in Shanghai, where the population is about 24 million people, is busy. People are everywhere. You get pushed around sometimes. You have to fight for your part of the sidewalk sometimes. There are long lines- well, that is if there’s a line at all; we’re still working on that concept. After living here nearly 5 years, you get used to the crowds and busyness all around, and most of the time it’s manageable. Except for IKEA. On a Saturday. I know not to do it. I know what it’s like. I know to avoid it like the plague, but I couldn’t avoid it today. I just had to get some stuff for my new office at work and haven’t been able to make it over there in the evenings. So I mustered up the strength to brave the crowds and went for it. As expected, I was there with about 10,000 of my closest friends, many of whom just came for the free heating and cheap food in the canteen- can you say 1 kuai ice cream cones?!? As I made my way through the maze of furniture and people, I kept my sanity by listening to music. This helped drown out the sound and gave me a little peace. I also avoided going against the crowd. When you’re shopping, sometimes you pass a section by, only to realize you forgot to pick something up, so you turn around and head back. Oh no…doing that here is akin to a lonely fish trying to swim upstream with a school of bigger fish coming their way. It’s something to avoid at all costs. I passed up a few items, but today, they remained at IKEA and not in my basket. Frankly, it wasn’t worth it. Once you make it to the warehouse, you breathe a sign of relief, knowing it’s almost over. Walking in, I had to chuckle when I saw the kid on the leash. And you can’t tell from this picture, but the dad was pulling on him, much like you pull on a dog’s leash when they get out of line and you’re trying to show them who’s boss. The checkout lines are insane! Every one of them open- thankfully- they are full of people just waiting to take their goods home. Once I made it through the checkout lines, I still wasn’t done. I had to wait in another line for delivery. There’s no way I was going to wait in a long taxi line, in the rain, to schlep my unbuilt furniture to school today. No thanks. I’ll pay the 100 kuai for them to bring it to me on Monday. After that, I have to wait in another line to get a fapiao, or an official receipt, so that I can be reimbursed from school. With all my tasks completed, I headed home, ready to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. I had survived.

Sweet Little Ones- SOL #12

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I love this part of my job- I got to meet a bunch of sweet little 2-year-olds today! Our newest class at school, Early Years D, opens on Monday, and we had an orientation for the families today. Ms. CJ and Ms. May, the EYD teachers, have been busily getting their room ready in anticipation of their arrival, and their room looks great! When you walk in, you see splashes of bright colors, a cozy reading nook, a kitchen corner complete with tiny dishes, tables with puzzles and coloring, just waiting to be played with, and a dress up corner full of hats, scarves, and clothing.

As the families arrived, with smiles and excitement on their faces, Ms. CJ and Ms. May welcomed them to the room and began getting to know the students and parents. They were both naturals! With their warm disposition and friendly demeanor, the families felt right at home. The students began exploring the classroom, some more timid than others at first, and the teachers began circulating the room, having one-on-one conversations with the parents.

As the principal, my part of the orientation was to welcome them, explain relevant handbook details, and take them on a school tour. On the tour, the kids loved exploring the playroom, where they quickly let got of their parents’ hands and began climbing on the equipment, scooting around in the cars, and sliding down the slide. Moving on, we traveled up the stairs to the library, where they immediately gravitated to the shelves, choosing a book and sitting down to read. I was amazed at their level of independence and confidence, especially since this was their first school experience.

As we left the library, I felt a little hand in mine. George had run up to grab my hand as we headed down the stairs. It was just so sweet! Already feeling like they owned the school, some of the more independent ones even ran ahead of me, like they knew where we were headed next! Once we were back in the classroom, they gathered their things to leave. Ka Ne, a very inquisitive boy with an obvious independent streak, turned to his grandma and said, “This is not your school! This is my school!” Guess he’s ready for Monday morning! 😉

 

My Morning Commute- SOL #10

My morning commute is probably very different from yours. Most likely, you drive your own car, carpool with friends, or take public transport, such as a taxi, a bus, or the metro/subway. Sometimes I take a taxi to work, particularly when it’s raining, but now that my new school campus is so close to home, it’s great for me to be able to ride my e-bike in to work.

Today’s commute was sooooo cold! With the temperature at 1 degree Celsius, I made sure to bundle up! In addition to my sweater, I wore a thin down jacket, my big down jacket, a scarf, hat, gloves, and my new favorite thing…my bike blanket! I’ve embraced the local Shanghainese culture and succumbed to the bike snuggie look. 😉 Yes, I look ridiculous, but I like to think of it as ridiculously warm. Not only does it protect my hands from the wind and cold, the blanket keeps the wind off of my legs, too.

On my ride to work, which takes about 10 minutes, I tend to drive like the locals do, meaning that traffic laws are more suggestions than rules. The light’s red? Well, let’s slow down, look both ways, and proceed through the intersection if there are no cars in the way. Someone’s in my way or about to be in my way or looks at me funny, BEEEEEEP! Honking your horn is just what you do here. Turn signals are rarely used, but horns…those are a necessity used many times a day.

Today, I passed the man making jianbing from his shack on the corner of Wuzhong Lu and Zhongshan Lu, several buses stopping just long enough for people to hop on and off, many Chinese shops lining the streets selling all manner of goods, the little old Chinese lady who is always on her morning walk, the security guard having a smoke break on the corner, and lots of commuters, bundled up against the cold, dressed all in black, like an army walking, heads down, toward the metro.

I long for warmer days, where my face doesn’t burn from the cold wind, but I’m thankful for my little e-bike and the freedom it gives me! 🙂

My Happy Place- SOL #3

 

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When things are tough and it’s hard to keep going, it’s good to have a happy place, a place where you can find peace. For me, that’s my apartment. I love my little haven, away from the noise, away from the pollution, away from the stuff that brings me down. At home, it’s just the way I like it.

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My apartment is comfortable. It’s large enough to not feel cramped, but small enough to be cozy and warm. I finally have a couch that’s comfy and large enough to seat many people (game nights!). I have space to display my artifacts that I collect on my travels without it looking cluttered. When I look at these sculptures, paintings, and creative pieces, I’m reminded that I lead a very blessed life. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do- travel the world!

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My kitchen, although small, is just right for me. I have everything I need to cook and have even made enough food to serve over 20 people in my tiny kitchen. It’s (nearly) always clean, thanks to my wonderful ayi who comes 4 days a week to keep me organized. I told you I had a blessed life! I love my tea station, where I have a wide variety of tea to choose from. A cuppa tea in the evening is all I need to chill. Well, that and a good book or an episode of Scandal (my recent obsession- thanks Michelle!).

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Having an extra bedroom means room for guests, a desk to do my work (although I tend to work on the couch lately), and more closet space (I have way too many clothes!). I love having a second bedroom, as it helps me not to feel cramped.

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I love having fresh flowers and plants in my house- it brings life and a touch of green. Plants make me smile, and I’m proud to say that I have kept almost all of my plants alive since moving in last August. This is a huge accomplishment for me! 🙂

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Lastly, I love my bedroom! It’s such a comforting place, where I am surrounded by plants, artwork, and pictures I love. I love my window seat and view of Shanghai. I love my comfortable bed- thank you IKEA mattress pad! I love my art wall. I love that I go to bed and wake up each day looking at my OLW from last year- Balance (thanks Andrew for the art!). It’s a daily reminder to live a balanced life. I certainly need that reminder more lately.

I love that when I’ve had a tough day, when the world has beaten me down, I can come home and be surrounded by things I love that make me happy.

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