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Ajinai

November 18, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

band on stage

Mongolian Folk Rock Band is a string of words you may not have expected to encounter. I was intrigued, so made the sacrifice of staying up past my bedtime on a Friday night to hear Ajinai play. SO TOTALLY WORTH IT!

lead singer on stage

The music is wonderful. It is like Irish folk music meets Mongolian throat singing. The whole concert was enjoyable, song after song, but the encore topped it all. It was a rollicking number and the young Mongolians in the audience began to dance. It was a bit like the “dance off” one sees in the movies. Amazing.

I am already fascinated by Mongolia and hope to travel there within the next two years. This experience just strengthened my desire.

Some songs on Youtube:

Grass

Bunburei

Ajinai

Lullaby

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Two Days in Seoul

November 17, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Welcome to Korea arch in Itaewon

Earlier last week I spent two days in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea. It was a work related trip for training, so I went without DaddyBird. I was with a coworker instead.

The weather was colder than that of Shanghai, so I enjoyed the autumn nip in the air and the brightly colored leaves on the trees. It was warm enough during the day that I didn’t need a coat, but at night it was advisable.

communications tower at night lit up pink

With just one night for sightseeing, we went to the Namsan Tower. This was a bit of an adventure. The tower is on a hill. At the base of the hill you can catch a free funicular elevator to the cable car station, then you can take the cable car (8500 won) up the hill to the base of the tower. We got in a taxi at the hotel with a card on which the hotel staff had written our destination in Korean for the taxi driver. The taxi driver was confused by this, but headed in the right direction. Once she saw the tower, it clicked and she confirmed that that was where we wanted to go. In broken English, she explained that only tour buses could go up the hill to the tower. In broken English, we tried to get through that we wanted to go to the cable car. She took us to the cable car station. We bought our tickets and stood in line for a long time. Eventually, we were packed into the cable car like sardines and went up the hill. The cable car lands a bit shy of the base of the tower, so there are more stairs to climb. I didn’t see the accessible ramp until later. Once you get to the base of the tower there is another fee for actually going up in the tower (19,000+ won). We decided we could see just fine from where we were and skipped the full experience. It was a great view and, aside from the crowd experience, was pleasant. So, we looked around and took pictures, then headed down to the cable car return trip.

city night lights

Then we were off to dinner. I insisted that we eat Korean food because this was my one night and one dinner opportunity.

Korean food

I ordered a lovely bulgogi stew and bibimbap. It was a lot of food, but I made the sacrifice and ate it all. Yummy!

As usual, click here for more pictures.

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Oliver the Loud, Eater of Steel Wool

November 16, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

You may have noticed that there has been a nearly month long gap in posting to this blog. One reason is that we were a bit preoccupied with our dear cat Oliver who had major surgery. He is quirky, funny, loving, charming, and loud, but he is not the smartest penny in the coin purse when it comes to aluminum foil. He thinks it is tasty, so we endeavor to keep it out of reach. This has worked for over five years.

Unbeknownst to us, there was a steel wool scrubber lurking under the kitchen cupboard, left by a previous tenant. Oliver found this one day, proceeded to play with it quietly in the kitchen, tear it apart and eat some of it. Long story short, this resulted in a three inch piece of steel wool becoming lodged in his intestine. The answer to that was major surgery to remove it.

white cat with plastic cone and belly suture

Surgery always carries the possibility of not making it through, so we worried a bit. After surgery, there was the possibility of infection, so more worry about that. There was also the ridiculous number of pills we were supposed to shove down his throat. If you haven’t tried to administer pills to a cat, count yourself lucky. By the second week, he became complacent enough to swallow them without too much fuss.

As with his experience in quarantine, Oliver was majorly stressed just by being in the vet clinic, so they resorted to giving him Valium just so he would relax enough to eat food. Once he was home again, he was much happier.

man with white cat laying on his shoulders

DaddyBird had to play nursemaid for two weeks – minding feedings, litter box activities, medications, and supervised “baths”.

Happily, it all worked out and Oliver is back to his old self. He was in the vet clinic for five days. The interesting by product was seeing how lost Bert was without him. We have always assumed that Bert puts up with Oliver, but he was very lonesome without his buddy. Everything is back to normal now, for both.

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Changfeng Park and Aquarium

November 15, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

One Saturday in October, our school hosted a staff day trip to Changfeng Park and Aquarium. It was an interesting experience.

green pond surrounded by trees

It is a beautiful park with lakes, ponds, trees, and lots of peaceful spots.

paddle boats on a lake

After everyone gathered for a group picture, we took a long walk around the park to the seal and beluga whale show.

two whales and two men swimming in a water arena

After that show, we walked all the way back to where we started to enter the aquarium which is literally under the lake.

aquarium tank with anemone and sea horse

The aquarium displays seemed to be very good, but the crushing crowd made it impossible to really enjoy the experience.

glass tunnel filled with people

It was the worst crowd experience we have had so far. It was especially fun to have the children pushing me from behind. If we go again, it will have to be on an off day like a rainy or extremely cold day, when other people don’t think to go to the park.

Click here to see the rest of the pictures.

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Life is a Cabaret

October 19, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

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Saturday evening we attended a production of Cabaret at a charming little theatre called The Pearl by the East West Theatre company.

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It was way past my bedtime, but I enjoyed it anyway.

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Sunday, under amazing blue sky, we went to breakfast at our favorite American style breakfast restaurant, Bastiaan’s.

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Then we traveled downtown to find a board games store. We were successful and bought a couple of games, because you can never have too many board games. (Asmodee at the Hongkong Metropolis No. 489 South Henan Road)

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Lovely blue skies today. Some days it is smoggy, some days it is not. It all depends on the wind.

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Dongtai Lu Antique Market

October 12, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

display of various items for sale

We made a second visit to the Dongtai Lu Antique Market. The buildings will soon be demolished to make way for new buildings. The stalls have a mixture of trinkets, reproductions, and old stuff. There may be some treasures in there somewhere, but hard to know what is of value.

a variety of toys cars

Here’s a variety of toy cars and even Cinderella’s carriage.

tricycle cart with a variety of dried fruit

You have to be careful not to be run over by the scooters or dried fruit carts.

variety of things for sale

Some stalls are like an out of control yard sale.

old sewing machines, statues, suitcases

Having recently moved, thereby packing everything up and letting go of much more stuff, helps us pass by most of this. There is often a beautiful teapot or dish, a set of stacking turtles, jade bracelet, or mechanical bird clock.

 

 

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Serenity in the City

October 1, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

table full of breakfast plates

Every good day starts with a good breakfast. It is difficult to find a truly good American style breakfast while living abroad. Some UAE restaurants would list “American breakfast” on their menus and when it came, it included baked beans and a grilled tomato. NOT American.

Not having any eggs in the house, we got up and walked to “foreigner street” where there was supposed to be a restaurant with a good breakfast. The first good sign was that the menu was on the placemat. It is a weird, tacky thing we Americans do. The second good sign was that the menu indicated I could get refillable coffee. That’s big on my restaurant critique scale. DaddyBird ordered steak and eggs with blue berry pancakes and I ordered the breakfast combo (two eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, toast, and fruit). The blue berries were IN the pancakes instead of just poured on top. My coffee was actually refilled twice and the hashbrowns were so good that I ordered another helping. The service was as good as the food. The review DaddyBird had read that led us here indicated that the crispy bacon would actually be crispy. This was very true. Five stars to Bastiaan’s. We will definitely be return customers.

What to do next? Since this is a holiday week for me, I thought we should do something touristy. I chose Yuyuan Garden. To be honest, I thought “it will be crowded and I’ll be on my feet too much and that will be painful, but I’ll be able to say we did some exploring.”

We hopped on a bus which took us to the metro train which took us to the neighborhood of the garden. It is a bit of a walk from the train to the garden. Along the way were a few beggars. DaddyBird usually drops a few coins or small bills in their cups. This brought him to the attention of a young Chinese man walking the same direction we were. He struck up a conversation with us, one that I began to fear wasn’t going to end. It became clear that he wasn’t just being sociable, but had a shop that he wanted to take us to, not just one shop, but several. We went and it was worth it. The first shop was silk products, but the hook is that they have a “museum” which is actually just an educational display on how silk is made. It was very educational. Silk is rather amazing. After the “museum” came the shop with bedding, scarves, and clothing – all silk. DaddyBird tried on a shirt, but their largest size was just a bit too small. The same with me. I tried on a really lovely jacket, but needed a bit more room. So, they had to settle for selling me scarves which have no size constraints. THEN he wanted to take us to his family’s tea shop. We thanked him, but made our excuses and moved on.

busy pedestrianized street

The area around the Yuyuan Garden is a busy maze of consumerism. There are many shops full of marvelous things, as well as dumpling shops, etc.

We finally reached what appeared to the be garden.

pond and bridge

This is what often appears on the advertisements. We both thought, if this is IT, what a disappointment.

This was not IT. We found the ticket office and the main entrance. The entrance fee is 40 yuan per person ($6.52 / 24 AED). [A bit of advice here, eat before you go in. The garden is large and will take some time to see. We left early, about 2/3 through, because we needed to eat.]

pond and traditional Chinese building

There were plenty of other people in the garden area, but it was still a pleasant and relaxing experience. There were places to sit and enjoy the fish, turtles, birds, and nature. It is an amazing little bit of serenity in the middle of a highly urban and populated city.

The garden is a large area with many buildings, gardens, and winding paths connecting them all. One building housed a few tea shops. If you know DaddyBird and his tea addiction, you know that we went in, sat down, sampled 4 or 5 teas, and bought two boxes of the best teas. Expensive, but worth the experience. Another building housed artworks for sale. They were quite amazing, but we refrained.

As I mentioned earlier, we had to exit in order to find something to eat, so it was back out to the tourist mart area, hustling and bustling.

doll in traditional Chinese robes

We are used to tourist areas where the merchandise is cheap stuff (made in China) and the wares of each store are almost identical to the wares of their neighbors. This is not true of the Yuyuan Tourist Mart. The wares vary from store to store and there are quality items that you might actually want to buy. I suspect we will have little trouble finding Christmas gifts this year.

plush toy dragons

These dragons are pretty spectacular as plush toys go.

entrance to Fangbang street which is full of food vendors

We walked a short way to Fangbang Lu (street) which is known for it’s food vendors. We walked down the length looking at what was available and then came back through to actually make our purchases. I had decided that I wanted to try stinky tofu, so we began with that with the idea that if it was terrible, we could cleanse our pallets with something else afterward.

a plate of stinky tofu

Stinky tofu, we can attest, smells like poo. For DaddyBird’s tastebuds, it also tasted like poo. Mine, however, reacted differently and I found it pleasant and almost pedestrian. Therefore, I ate the bulk of the stink tofu. We followed this up with noodles and bok choy and discovered we were full. There were many other enticing tidbits on offer, so we will have to go back without having a big breakfast first.

I took many, many photos, so click here if you want to see them.

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