Exploring Shanghai History

February 19, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

First, you may have noticed that I have not posted in quite some time. Well over a month, in fact. I, too, noticed this and pondered it for a while, because I just have not felt like posting. It is not because we have not done interesting things. It seems to be because I am so happy here. While we were in the U.A.E. I was posting to prove there were good aspects. Things to be appreciated. I needed that to offset the parts that were miserable. Now that we are in China and the job is going very well and we are finding it very easy to live in China, I am not as motivated to post to the blog. So, my apologies for the long hiatus. I will endeavor to do better in sharing our happy adventures.

We have not been idle in the last month. We took a walking tour of the Jingjiang lilong neighborhood. (CityWeekend article about the tour – here. If you look closely at the first color picture in this article, you can see DaddyBird’s bald head on the right under the lamp.) For the photos I took – click here.

brick four story building

Most of these neighborhoods are being torn down, but this one might escape that fate as there were some important historical figures who lived here and when it was originally built, it was high quality architecture and craftsmanship, so is much more durable than some of the other neighborhoods.

art deco style door in old Shanghai municipality building

On another weekend, we took a tour of the municipality buildings constructed under Chiang Kai Shek. For more info – click here. To see my pictures, click here. The library building has been abandoned for quite some time, but is now under reconstruction and will be used as a library again. I look forward to seeing it restored to it’s former glory and purpose.

Today is the Chinese New Year. I am told that the celebrations will take several days. We will be getting out and about to do some touristy things.

What we have learned so far:

1. Chinese fireworks are LOUD and not heavily regulated. Airborne fireworks are available to the average Joe. Some are the sparkly starbursts we are all familiar with and some are just designed for noise making. They make a loud bang when ignited on the ground, then fly up into the air and make another loud bang. The timing of setting them off is up to the individual, apparently. Therefore, it sounded like a war zone in our neighborhood from about 7 pm to 12:30 am. I heard more fireworks at 6:30 am the next day.

2. If one was born in the year of the Goat (Sheep or Ram), one should wear red underwear to ward off bad luck. All year. That’s a lot of red underwear.

We wish you all Happiness, Prosperity, Longevity! (fu lu shou)




What We Did on Our Christmas Vacation

January 8, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

tower lit in multiple colors at night

So, now that it is over, what did we do with our two week stay-cation? Prior to Christmas day, it consisted of going to Christmas markets around the city, drinking mulled wine or cider and eating cakes and cookies.

escalator surrounded by ocean theme painting

We took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel (also known as the Huangpu River Pedestrian Tunnel). The picture above is the escalator down to the ticket area and pretty much the most exciting part of the tunnel sightseeing attraction. The Tunnel is kitchy and corny. We will probably inflict it on anyone who comes to visit us. (One caveat, we were there on a very low crowd day. I would not stand in line for this or put up with being crammed into the tram with too many people.) To experience a video of the tunnel experience, click here. 

bowls of rice noodles with toppings, bowls of broth, and bowls of black gelatin

We ate interesting food, of course. These are freshly made rice noodles topped with peanuts, green onions, and a few other unexplained but delicious things. There are bowls of broth and bowls of black gelatin. The menu was simple – two entrees and two “drinks.” The gelatin was in the drink category. There was no English on the menu and the clerk pointed to the Chinese writing to ask what we wanted. This is how we ended up with gelatin instead of glasses of liquid. It was refreshing, so it all worked out in the end.

miniature of Shanghai city

We went to a few museums, including the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall which houses the miniature of Shanghai seen above. It isn’t exactly accurate. It contains a few flashy buildings that don’t actually exist. Perhaps they were in the “to be built” stage when this was created, but haven’t materialized. (To see all the pictures, click here.)

bronze vessel with eight yaks on top

The Shanghai Museum in People’s Square has a very interesting collection of bronze and pottery items. We need to go back earlier in the day because we were less than half-way through at closing time. (To see all the pictures, click here.)

dragon like ceramic statue

Our last vacation day was spent in Qibao Water City, which is an old city that was swallowed up by Shanghai.

crowded pedestrianized lane

It was a mildly crowded day. Not bad.

canal between old style Chinese houses

The weather was lovely. Strangely warm for January. Once we got past the entrance to the city (the crowded picture above), it was pleasant and not crowded. (To see more pictures, click here.)

extremely tiny sculptures in a display case

Here we found the Zhou Miniature Museum which contains the sculptures of a father and daughter. Entrance cost 10 yuan ($1.80 USD or 6 AED). Totally worth it (and more). Many of the items that we had seen at the Shanghai Museum (bronze vessels, bronze axe heads, porcelain sculptures) were recreated here in miniature. One should definitely go to these museums in this order. (More pictures here.)

fat golden Buddha statue

Next, we stopped in at the Qibao Buddhist temple. While sitting on a bench to give my feet a little break, a funeral procession went by – monks followed by family members carrying paper offerings to burn for the dead. Off to the right, out of sight, we could hear the monks singing and then the procession went back by returning to the temple. (To see all the pictures, click here.)


Merry Christmas Everyone

December 25, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not rebog.

red and white Christmas tree







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.


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