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March, 2010

  1. The Dumpling Controversy

    March 26, 2010 by admin

    Our Mandarin school set up a dumpling making class for students to learn the art of dumpling making while practicing their mandarin at the same time.  Unfortunately for me, I am unable to speak Mandarin and push dough into small formations at the same time.  It’s just too much for a brain that’s been fairly pickled every night for the last two decades.  Anyway, it was still really fun.  When I was finished I walked home and ran into Mr. Zhai in front of our place talking with another driver.  I showed him the different shaped dumplings and said with excitement, “Mr. Zhai!!!!  Kan kan!  Wo zuo zhe ge zhao zi (look, i made these dumplings)!!!”.   He inspected my plate and said “piao liang, hen hao! (beautiful, very good)” and then he proceeded to tell me in Mandarin that this one particular shape was indeed called Zhao Zi but the other shape was called something else.  The other driver chimed in saying, I believe, that in Beijing they are called Zhao Zi, both shapes.  Mr. Zhai, a  full bred Shanghainese man, wasn’t having it.  They went back and forth for several minutes when all my dumpling pride started to fade, I went inside, carefully placed them in the fridge and counted the minutes until Ken came home.

  2. Looking Back

    March 26, 2010 by admin

    In the sixth grade my english teacher, Mr. Boisvert (bwah vare), thought it would be fun if we all brought in a baby picture and then we’d put them on a big board and everyone would try to guess who’s who.   An overwhelming portion of the class thought I was Calvin Chung, the only Asian kid in the class.  If only I knew then I’d be living in China one day.

    So Natalie and I went for a little shopping at Carrefour, or Jia le fu for those in the know.   It’s two huge floors of everything you may ever need in the home, food or otherwise, for the rest of your life. They have Chinese and imported products, bicycles, plaid shirts, Rummikub, curling irons, a huge organic produce department, nice bakery, live and frozen fish section and, well, er, a meat department that could make Henry VIII faint like a little waif.

    These pictures are courtesy of Natalie, I was busy putting my blinders on.

    Yes, this IS what you think it is

    Nice young girl wearing a “Chris Brown” trucker hat

  3. Year of the Tiger, umm, not so much

    March 23, 2010 by admin

    Sometimes I think if PETA has enough time on their hands to throw ketchup on Lindsey Lohan’s fur vest and do photo shoots with Khloe Kardashian then they need to pack their bags and come to China.  They probably did a site visit already and just threw up their hands and were like, “where do we start??!”.

    Apparently there is a zoo in a northern province of China where 11 tigers recently died from malnutrition.  There was a lot of press on this situation and after “investigation” they found that the zoo just didn’t have the funds to feed the tigers enough.  The government has since given funding to the zoo to help the animals out.  Two weeks ago, one tiger in the Shanghai zoo just took matters into his own hands and ate the zoo keeper.  I’m not kidding.

  4. Elvis?!

    March 23, 2010 by admin

    This rare gem rode past me like a bat out of hell and I tried my best to catch up to him/her  so I could get a look at the front but I couldn’t, he/she was just too fast and then turned a corner and was gone.  I should have just followed him/her seeing that I had more than 3 hours to kill but I was out doing “wine bar research” and that comes first, natch.

    Should you find yourself in dire need of a drink and you’re in Shanghai to boot, pop on over to Bell Bar and Cafe in Taikang Lu area.  It’s just the nicest neighborhood bar/cafe and the owner, Amy, will make you feel warm and welcome.

  5. Ba Er San, Ba Er San!

    March 15, 2010 by admin

    Come on, sing it! “Si ling ling Ba…Ba er san, Ba er san”

    That’s a little jingle I learned from watching TV here.  It’s actually the telephone number if you want a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (that’s KFC for you young’ens) delivered to your door.  It’s pretty catchy and I can’t get it out of my head.  The actual number is 4008 823 823 if you want to place an order.

    About a 10 minute walk from my house is Fuxing Park (that’s pronounced “fooshing” not fu, well, nevermind).  It’s a big, beautiful park in the middle of the city where you can find the Chinese doing their tai chi or kite flying, there’s even karaoke.  The only thing missing from this park are DOGS because they are not allowed in.

    NOT FAIR!!

  6. Flowers of the natural and unnatural kind

    March 14, 2010 by admin

    In an attempt to paint the town Shanghai Red, Natalie, Megan (Meghan, Maygan, Meigin, I really don’t know) and I went to dinner and a night out on the Bund.   For reasons that aren’t important right now, dinner consisted of a high-falutin club sandwich at the Peninsula Hotel piano bar which we all shared and I washed down with a really nice pinot noir.  Following dinner we  headed over to Chinatown Shanghai,  a really cute theatre that showcases a campy, burlesque/cabaret type show.  Just the thing for three gals right?   They had plenty of champagne and we had a plenty good time.

    See if you can guess which girl is part of the show…

    That’s right, the delicate little French Flower

    The exquisite Chinese Magnolia just now blooming

    “Absence doth sharpen love, presence strenthens it; the one brings fuel, the other blows it till it burns clear” — William Shakespeare

  7. And in not-so-exciting news…

    March 10, 2010 by admin

    Ken left today for the States for the next 10 days.  Droopy Drawers (formerly known as Chicken Killer) and I are sitting here eating pizza and watching “The Brady Bunch” movie.  Normally that might seem like fun (???) but It’s been raining and cold just about every day for the last month and now with Ken gone I am considering missionary work in Cambodia where it’s at least warm and the beer is cheap.  I thought about throwing a “Mad Men” style party complete with bouffant hair, bullet bras, cigarettes and endless gin martinis (which are all quite easy to find in this town oddly enough) but that would require friends and they aren’t so easy to find in this town.

    Don’t fret my pretties, I may just find some trouble yet…

  8. Clean air, bamboo forests…and chickens

    March 8, 2010 by admin

    WARNING:  This story is not for the faint of heart or anyone vegetarian.  (Yes, Jenny already knows about this)

    This past weekend was spent at the rustically lovely, eco resort, Naked Retreats and no, it’s not a nudist colony.  After a 3-hour drive south of Shanghai, this small bungalow type hotel is nestled among the bamboo forests in an area called Moganshan and it’s beautiful.  The manager, Doug, is American but most of the people handling the day-to-day operations are local villagers who live in houses dotted amongst the resort.  They cook wonderful dishes from the most fresh ingredients like eggs, local organic vegetables… and chicken.   The chickens sleep in coups at night but during the day they roam free and happy until someone’s crazy city dog gets a hold of one.   On our last morning while Ken had Bernie out for a quick walk, Bernie spotted about 25 chickens and roosters walking about 50 yards down the path.  He darted after them, chased them mercilessly and then before Ken could catch up, he got one in his mouth and shook it like only a rat terrier can.  He, the chicken, wasn’t dead but would have to be “put down”.  Our bungalow’s “Ayi” was there when it happened and brought the half-dead chicken to our bungalow, literally carrying it like it was a Louis Vuitton handbag (although they don’t tend to look you in the eye), to find out how we wanted it prepared for our trip home to Shanghai.   We paid her for the chicken and told her to keep it, thank you very much.  The manager told us we paid generously for the chicken and was surprised we didn’t keep it.  Which may explain why 15 minutes later I saw the Ayi and a few other villagers having a smoke and a very good laugh.  Ken wasn’t laughing so much and Bernie has a new fury in his eyes.  I found out later that this has happened more than once and the villagers don’t seem to mind as they make out pretty well.  We, on the other hand, will never be the same.   That little dog that’s afraid of his shadow, balloon’s and plastic bags blowing in the wind is a cold-blooded killer.

    Look, it wasn’t a beauty contest, okay?!

    Murderer in the Mist

    Man Make Fire

    Unknowing victims in our backyward

    Amazing views and hiking

    A Killer rests

  9. You better shop around

    March 4, 2010 by admin

    Many years ago my sister and I were driving along La Brea Blvd. when we stopped at a red light and on the corner there was a store called “The Rocking Chair Store”.   From the passenger seat, my sister glanced over at the store and said, “when I look at that store I feel nauseous”.   I thought it odd that there would be a store that sold only one thing.  Remember that Saturday Night Live skit about the store that only sold scotch tape?  People kept coming in and asking for staples…or nails…or duct tape but no, only scotch tape.

    Shanghai has so many streets where there are tiny, one-off shops that sell specialty items.  It’s really fun to wander each street, you can find gems around every corner.  Fruit, jewelry, tea and sometimes you come across the shop with the live fish, frogs and chickens but I don’t look at those if I can help it.

    Specialty Greek store of all things


    I’ve always loved a dark, seedy bar.  (Alison is rolling her eyes because I used to make her go to the Alexandria Hotel in downtown LA when it was absolutely NOT SAFE to do so)

  10. Get Well Soon, Natalie

    March 1, 2010 by admin

    Tomorrow is the day that Natalie must say goodbye to her Audacity (read gall) Bladder.   I mean listen folks, that’s what happens when you get in the way of a Texan and their red meat.  Buhbye!

    I am wishing her the most speedy recovery!  (whisper because Ken will be gone next week and she’s the only friend I have to spend time with…Wahhhh!!!!)