Cantonese, If You Please

August 30, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

a plate of fried rice

We followed the suggestion of a coworker and had an early dinner at Bi Feng Tang, a Cantonese restaurant a short distance from my work. I like Cantonese food because there is less use of chili peppers.

cooked lettuce in a sauce

This is cooked lettuce. For those of you Americans who are now saying “cooked lettuce?!?” with a turned up nose, you should try it. Lettuce isn’t just for putting on burgers or in salad. You should cook lettuce more often. It is good in fricassee and it was good in this sauce.

drink glass served with carmel popcorn on top

Our drinks came with caramel popcorn. The container had two parts – the bottom contained the drink and then on top was a separate cup with the popcorn.

steamed pork buns

Steamed pork buns.

steamed buns made to look like pigs

The red bean buns were made to look like little piggies, but contained no pork.

pork buns

Pork buns with squid roe on a bed of onions.


Pork dumplings. This filling feast cost us 208 yuan ($34.00 USD, 124 AED). I think it bears repeating.

For additional photos from this week – click here.


Zotter Chocolate Theatre

August 23, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

uncrowded metro train

We left the apartment at about 11 am on Saturday to travel by metro and foot to the Zotter Chocolate Factory. This is the best time to travel by metro. Not crowded at all.

building with scooters parked in front and laundry hanging from the awnings

From the metro stop we walked through an industrial/residential neighborhood. We saw lots and lots of laundry hanging everywhere. Some was on the sidewalks and looked more like it was for sale, except that is was usually one pair of panties, a bra, one shirt, and one pair of pants as if someone had just washed what they wore yesterday and hung it out to dry.

tall building labeled Shanghai Fashion Centre

We passed the Shanghai Fashion Centre not realizing that this is where we needed to enter. The chocolate factory is at the back of this complex, near the river.

unpaved street

We reached this street and Google maps was telling us that the factory was down this street. DaddyBird double checked and we headed back to the proper entrance.

Roasted Cocoa Beans

We found the factory and paid our entrance fee (180 yuan, $30 USD, 107 AED) each. The young woman at the counter was caucasian and spoke English. Later we found that she is the daughter of the factory owners. The tour starts with a short film about how the company started, and where they get their organic, free trade cocoa beans. Then it is on to tasting. The above picture is the roasted cocoa beans. Not bad even though they are bitter and have not been sweetened. Unfortunately, they did not sell bags of these in the store.

There were many forms of chocolate to taste. They give you a little ceramic spoon to do the tasting with and you can keep it as a souvenir. Our tour group consisted of our guide and just one other couple, so we got the real personal touch. A bigger group, consisting of several families caught up to us by the end and spoiled the relaxing atmosphere we had enjoyed for most of the tour.

We purchased a LOT of chocolate bars. Apparently, when you purchase over 1000 yuan of chocolate, you get a free insulated bag and two ice packs. Real customer service.

With our bag of chocolate in hand, we were off to find some very late lunch. We had passed a restaurant just around the corner that looked very good, but when we got there, it was clearly shut down for the afternoon. It was 3 pm, after all. We kept walking toward the nearest metro station until we found a restaurant that seemed to be open and serving. It was a hot pot restaurant. However, the menu was all in Chinese, there were no pictures to point to, and the waitress didn’t speak English any more than we speak Chinese.

a menu all in Chinese with no pictures

DaddyBird attempted to use a translation app on his phone, but some of the translations were amusing and irrelevant. We figured out what to mark for a not spicy broth. We marked the items that said “garlic” and “chicken.” We marked three other items, one of which was something about “without stems” which we deduced was probably mushrooms. AND we took our chances. DaddyBird asked for shui (shway) meaning drinking water, but what she brought was a carafe of hot water, so he ordered two beers so that we would have something we could drink.

ceramic bowl of meat and potato stew

We ended up with two pots of food. The first was apparently what had been labeled “garlic” on the menu. It had meat, potatoes, garlic, and onions. Very tasty. The second pot contained chicken and, on closer examination, bullfrog. Yes, we ate the bullfrog. Not bad. Tender meat with light flavor. We also received mushrooms, an egg, and noodles. It was an interesting adventure and very tasty.

We paid 110 yuan ($18 USD, 66 AED) including the two large beers. DaddyBird tried to tip, but she insisted that we take that back.

To see all the pictures, click here.


Second Week and a Little Bit Over

August 22, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Much happened in our second week. Oliver and Bert came home from quarantine a day early. This is because Oliver had gone on a hunger strike and they were concerned about him. The cats have settled in very quickly, are eating fine, and are doing well.

white cat laying down

We’ve been exploring the neighborhood and eating a variety of food. My favorite, so far, is the hot pot restaurant under the Carrefour Supermarket. There is a marvelous “food court” that doesn’t really deserve to be called a food court because it is definitely a cut above that. There are a variety of restaurants serving freshly made food. At the hot pot restaurant, each person has their own pot and you can order any ingredients off the menu.

ceramic bowl containing broth

I can have the non-spicy broth and DaddyBird can have the one with all the chilies in it.

basket holding a variety of mushrooms

A basket of mushrooms.

thinly sliced meat, sliced lotus root

Sliced lotus root, sliced meat – toss it in the boiling pot to cook.

carafe of limeade

A carafe of limeade, and you’ve got it made. The two of us ate for 128 yuan ($20.00, 76 AED). Very healthy and very tasty.

To see all the pictures from the second week (and a half), click here.


Saturday Evening on the Bund

August 17, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

pearl tower lit at night

After a laze about Saturday, we headed out in the evening to explore. We took the metro train to Nanjing Road. It is a popular pedestrianized street between the Bund and the People’s Square. We walked the length of it and back again.

store display of pork jerky

We were happy to find a shop selling bakkwa. It was quite pricey, but we had some anyway.

After walking the length of Nanjing Street, we joined the crowd heading for the Bund. The street between the two isn’t pedestrianized all the way, but it might as well be. On the right side was a sea of people walking to the Bund and on the left was a sea of people walking back from the Bund and a few cars managed to squeeze in between.

The Bund is along the side of the river. We found a place to sit and people watch for a while. There are many people to watch. Surprisingly, we did not find the crowds oppressive or annoying. Everyone is just out for a stroll and polite. The weather was cooperative as well. It was not very humid and the temperature actually goes down after sunset here, unlike the UAE where it goes up.

We headed to the Captain Bar on the roof of the Captain Hostel. It has a great view if you are early enough or lucky enough to find a seat on the deck. We sat inside and had a pleasant dinner.

By the time we made it back to the metro stop, they were locking up for the night, so we had to find alternative transportation. There was a lot of competition for taxis, so DaddyBird opted for Uber. We were picked up within just a few minutes and had a very pleasant ride home. (It is so relaxing to ride in a car that isn’t traveling at the speed of sound. I don’t miss 120+ kph.)

All the photos – click here.


Breakfast Food Tour

August 10, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Chinese crepe

I was awake for a few hours in the middle of the night and then drowsed back off. This is not abnormal, so it isn’t just jet lag. I woke up to find that DaddyBird was dressed and was waking me just to tell me he was off for the breakfast food tour. My brain had to kick into gear fast to decide if I was going to roll over or scramble to go along. My feet are shot from the last four weeks or so. This was a tough decision. I opted to push my poor feet further than they want to go so that I wouldn’t miss out.

The tour is conducted through UnTour Shanghai.

bowls of noodles

It was all very delicious. The path of the tour went through the former French concession which is very beautiful.

For all the photos, click here.




Ni Hao Shanghai

August 9, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Shanghai skyscrapers seen from the river

We have arrived in Shanghai, safe and sound. The cats were on the same flight. In retrospect, I would not recommend this. It would have been better if they had departed a couple of days after us. We touched down in the late afternoon and were taken directly to our apartment. In the evening, just about the time we are thinking of calling it a day (because I needed to get up first thing in the morning and head off to new staff orientation), we get a communication from our pet relocation agent that there is a problem with Oliver and she is heading to the airport to find out what his condition is. Long story short, our agent was at the airport after midnight having a vet called in to take care of Oliver and he spent the rest of the night under observation and getting medical treatment. Meanwhile, I laid awake most of the night worrying about him. The happy ending is that he survived. Both cats were moved to quarantine and are cooling their heels there for a few more days.

white cat on a metal surface with completely dilated eyes

This is not the face of a happy cat. Poor thing.

We have a lovely little apartment. It is an older building. We are on the second floor. There are two other newbie teachers living in the same building. Our apartment is located in a neighborhood that seems to be “gated.” Outside the gate, along the street is a park. We look out our windows and we see the trees of the park, hear music in the mornings, and see people doing tai chi.

view out the window obscured by trees

We have two bedrooms, a smaller room for an office, living room, bathroom, two enclosed balconies, and a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. (Been there, done that.)

The cidadas are in full “bloom” currently and are astonishingly loud. It is currently raining. We are loving the green, wet, living world we now live in.

Traffic is interesting, but nothing compared to the reckless driving of the United Arab Emirates. Everyone just seems to patiently navigate around each other with a small amount of horn honking. Pedestrians step out and trust that they won’t be run down. Most of the time, it works out. Bicyclists, scooters, and motorcycles travel down the sidewalk, honking at pedestrians. It is a short distance from our apartment to the school, so I may just get a bicycle. The school provides a bus to transport us to work, so I will get there one way or another.

For more photos, click here.


2012 in Retrospective

August 2, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

2012 was a year of exploring the UAE, especially our new home Fujairah.

close up of a camel - head, neck and hump

Early 2013 involved a day trip to Ras Al Khaimah to visit the Pearl Museum. Original post here.

We enjoyed the Sharjah Light Festival. The fire display at the Blue Souk park was amazing. That is a tough act to follow.

Other activities on our list were the Bithnah Fort, the Bidyah Mosque, Sharjah Archaeology Museum, Arabian Wildlife Centre, Dubai Museum and Creek, Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature, and Al Ain Jahli Fort.

Our summer trip was to Singapore. The sights and food were wonderful.

Near the end of the year, life took an unexpected turn when my mother died. I traveled home for the memorial service and time with my family.

I got my fair share of jet lag, because we traveled in December for Christmas with DaddyBird’s family.


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