Shikumen Open House Museum

December 23, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

narrow lane between brick buildings

Shikumen neighborhoods are disappearing all over Shanghai. Thankfully, some are being restored and repurposed, like those in the Xintiandi area which now house restaurants and shops. One house in the Xintandi area has been set up as a museum to show how the houses were used in the heydays of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

desk with abacus, papers, other items as museum display

The home would have comfortably housed a middle class, multi-generation family. Later, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the houses were divided and shared by as many as 3 or 4 families.

canopied bed


room with small desk and trunks

The room over the kitchen was often rented out to writers or foreigners.


To see all the pictures, click here.


All About the Eats

December 7, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

It has been a long time since I posted. I looked back through my pictures to see what have we done that I can post. Not much. We have not been to any touristy sights lately. There is always food, however. We, like you, eat multiple times a day and have been exploring the marvelous foods of Shanghai. So, here are a few highlights.

dinner plate with meat and potatoes

So, let us begin with the beef tongue served at Flamenhot, a brew pub with “eclectic” decor. This was amazingly delicious.

plates of sliced raw meat

On another evening, we wandered into a Korean BBQ restaurant. The round slices are beef tongue (again).

coals and grill

This could have been a delicious meal, but the waitress decided that we were not capable of cooking our own meal and stood there the whole time cooking it for us, one ingredient at a time. She saved the onion until last. Next, time we will say “NO thank you” when a waitress butts in to show us foreigners how it is done. It was anything but relaxing.

meatloaf, potatoes, spinach

DaddyBird has a favorite brew pub, Boxing Cat. So, he tells me that Monday is cheap beer night, then when we get there he orders the seasonal beer, which is not at happy hour price. I see how this works! Despite that, I had a lovely meatloaf with great spinach …

onion rings

… and onion rings.

bowl of udon noodles, beef, and broth

Just down the street from my school is a little noodle shop that is always busy. I walk by there every afternoon on my way home and there are always customers enjoying their themselves. So, one evening between work and an evening music recital, we decided to have our dinner at this noodle shop. Luckily, another customer was bilingual and offered to help us order, because there was no English on the menu and no pictures to point at. We got beef with noodles and mushroom with noodles. VERY GOOD. This is why the shop is always busy. Now, we just need to learn how to order beef noodles for ourselves.

salad made of apples, grapes, walnuts

Then came Thanksgiving. We had dinner at Peter’s Texmex Grill which was offering a set menu special meal. It began with Waldorf salad.

bowls of pumpkin soup and mugs of apple juice

Then came pumpkin soup and (lukewarm) apple “cider” (really just apple juice).

plate of turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing

This was the main entree. It was all delicious, but small portions with no seconds. I get more mash potatoes from the school lunch lady than that.

slice of pumpkin pie

Finished with pumpkin pie and a tiny bit of whip cream. The filling was good, but the crust left a lot to be desired. On the whole, the dinner was good, but nowhere near a Thanksgiving celebration of home cooked turkey with all the fixin’s with second and third helpings.

purple milk shake

On a Saturday, we arrived at Bastiaan’s too late for breakfast, so no omelette or bacon. I ordered the berry milkshake. They know how to make milkshakes in this country – thick and rich, not thin and runny.

thin crust pizza

I tried their thin crust pizza and it is definitely the thinnest crust I have ever had. The toppings are prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese.

a coconut with a straw sticking out

A new Thai restaurant has opened up across from Peter’s TexMex, so we decided to try it out. I ordered coconut juice, expecting a glass of juice that possibly came from a bottle or can, but was pleasantly surprised to be served a coconut. This was fun because after I drained the juice, I pried it open and scooped out the coconut meat. Yummy.

three dishes of meat entrees

On the left is chicken, middle is shrimp and cashews, and on the right is pork neck (which along with ox tail and beef tongue is one of my favorites – amazing how delicious the meats that Westerners throw away or grind up for dog meat are.)

beef in a lettuce leaf

The beef was marvelous. If memory serves, this was sirloin cubes.

plate of cooked spinach topped with scrambled egg

This brings us up to yesterday when we ate at Coco Curry House – a Japanese comfort food restaurant. We ordered spinach with scrambled eggs.

breaded pork cutlet with rice and gravy

Pork cutlet, rice and gravy – the gravy is called “curry,” but it is just brown gravy. The menu has a spicy graph so you can point to the level of spiciness you desire.  I love this because I got the mild which has zero chilies. It is not very pretty, but it is comfort food.

glass of purple drink

I also got a very pretty blueberry shake. Not as thick as Bastiaan’s, but still good.

bowl of yogurt with strawberry syrup and strawberries on top

On our way to the Metro station we passed a yogurt stand. I noticed that it was Yak Yogurt, so we decided we had to give it a try. It was very good yogurt, although next time I will skip the strawberry. The menu listed “flavored yogurt” which DaddyBird ordered. This turned out to be plain yogurt served with a pitcher of honey on the side, so flavored is really plain yogurt. I expected my strawberry to be mixed in, but it was plain yogurt with an overwhelmingly sweet strawberry syrup on top. Not too bad when I mixed it in, but will go with just plain next time.

So, there you have it, the variety of foods we’ve been eating. To see all November photos, click here.



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:






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.


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.


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.


Life is a Cabaret

October 19, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.


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


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


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


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)


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


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