Monday, October 29, 2012

Another day in Shanghai...

One of the things I have noticed is there are many appliances here that don't work as well as in the US (dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners), but others that are far better.

1.   Mosquito killers that looks like a tennis rackets.  I tried one back home, but it didn't work at all.  The one we have here is a death taser for mosquitos.  I touched it myself and got zapped - lots of voltage stored on it.
2.  Electric hot water kettle.  This metal pot sits on a round base that looks like a hot plate.  You plug in the base and the water in the kettle will be at a rapid boil in just a few minutes.  I mean a rapid, roiling, hot lava-ish boil.  It's scary how quickly it heats.
3.  The water pressure here is really high.  No low-flow conservation here.
4.  We also have an adapter we bought for our Keurig coffee maker.  The adapter is the size of a small loaf of bread, but weighs about 25lbs.  It enables us to use the Chinese voltage with our US coffee maker.  But when it gets turned on, it sounds like a jet engine getting ready for take off.  Emily said "that's the most annoying sound in the world. ugh.", then I said "no, it's the second most annoying sound in the world".
mosquito swatter
super tea kettle

A few weeks ago, we went on a tour of the city of Shanghai on a double-decker bus.  It was really nice.  We toured around the city and relaxed while we listened to the tour audio on headphones.  We stopped for lunch in an area called Xintiandi, which translated means "new heaven on earth".  This is the historic site of the first Communist party meeting.  It has beautiful old architecture, and houses lots of trendy shops and restaurants.  It reminds me a little of Old Town in Pasadena, but without the teenagers.

happily waiting for the bus
Katie and her friend Sarah riding on top
skyline at the Bund

Chris went on his first long bike ride on Sunday.  They rode out into the country and saw lots of very poor villages and shamble housing.  The kids still all came out smiling, saying hello.  The air quality in China is not very good, and is a lot like it was when I was a kid growing up in LA.  We would have smog alerts, and if the air was bad, we would not be able to play outside.  It would hurt to take a deep breath.  In Shanghai, some days the air is healthy, unhealthy, or even hazardous.  That's why you see so many people wear masks while riding their bikes.  They are driving in traffic, and gasoline here is still leaded.
Bike stop
There is a concern in the Chinese media lately about the separation of the classes.  There is so much growth and money in this country.  China is the largest retailer of luxury items right now.  All designers have outlets in Shanghai, and everywhere there are high-end luxury and sports cars.  We see Maseratis and Porsches that are not even available in the US yet.  But there is still lots of poverty inland and in factory towns.  The younger tech-savvy workforce is really into designer goods, pop culture and fashion.  To them the future is bright, but they still have a duty to their families.  I think this is true in many developing countries where the younger generation has opportunities that their parents aren't able to imagine.

I think it's a really interesting time to live in China.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting ready for Halloween

We brought some Halloween decorations with us, but I honestly thought we would be able to get more here.  I mean, it is all made here.  The girls and I decorated a little and we have a few small pumpkins.  Large carving pumpkins are very, very hard to find.  And are too heavy to lug home in a taxi or subway.  Halloween is a new thing out here to most Chinese.  But the younger people (teens, young adults) seem to be excited about it.  I saw some people in their twenties trying on hats and looking at masks at Carrefore, and they were laughing and joking around.  Even many of the European Moms I spoke with said Halloween is not such a big event back home.  Maybe it's mostly an American tradition.  This is when I miss living on Grand Oaks - sigh.  Halloween was always so much fun in the neighborhood.

1.    Buying imported makeup.  I really needed a new blush.  Clinique blush in the US is $20 -$24 each. Here is it $45.00!  I had not idea the price when I chose it, but it would be cheaper for me to have it sent from the US.
2.    This is a really hard Mandarin lesson:  Shì (am), Sì (4), Shí (10) !!  The accent and tone of words when spoken make all the difference.  The classes are very challenging, and worst of all, the kids are better at Mandarin than I am.  They correct my accent all the time.
3.    We are on the third person to come out and try to fix our super low water pressure in the back yard.  I have a hose on the faucet, but the water is a light trickle at best.  This is how things oftentimes are here.  It takes about 3-4 different people to come out and even agree there is a problem before anyone can fix it.
4.    The hair color I bought made my hair kinda purple-ly.

1.    Chris bought the girls new bikes last weekend.  Katie, who was always afraid to ride back home, was so happy she rode and rode with her Daddy.  Emily is already talking about riding her bike to the bus stop for school.
2.    Went to see Jeri (plant lady) at her shop.  Ordered lots of house and garden plants.  She potted them, and delivered them that same afternoon.  She also planted some outdoor plants for me, and gave me some good advice about gardening in China.
3.    Made a big pot of Chili with Beans Sunday night.  We had it with cheese, onions and tortilla chips.  It was a cold night, and it was just what we needed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Buddy's blog

I'm still here...
Trying to figure out this China place.  Everything here is loud.  Streets are loud, machines are loud and the people are loud.  don't get me started on the taxis.  The other night there were bombs going off in the sky - I was told by the poodle princess next door that they were "fireworks" and they were invented in China.  Whatevah miss know-it-all.  She also said that China is the birthplace of all dogs.  I'm cool with that.

Had my first bath in Shanghai yesterday at Mignon Dog Boutique.  It was more than alright, I came outta there fresh as a pee-d on daisy.  They even used the furminator on me, and my hair is super soft.  I know I look good cuz when I walk down the street people stare.  Sometimes they can't stand it and have to step away from me like they're scared.  Seems like most of the dogs I see are all small, yippy-yappy dogs.  She who is called MOM says that "it is very trendy in Shanghai to have a small, precious lap dog" and "some people are afraid of big dogs".  Talk about a miss know-it-all.

R U kidding me?
I'm official now - got my Chinese dog license cards.  Could the dogs on the cards be any more annoying?  They look sooo fake.  Bows?  Really?  Makes me want to growl.

I'm gonna show people what a real dog is like.  I should go around Shanghai and strut my full doggy-ness.  Let it flow, right?

 If I can only figure out how to ride a bike...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eating baked goods...

There are lots and lots of really good bakeries here in Shanghai.  They are French-Japanese style, and have great croissants and red-bean mochi.  They all all similar that they have pastries displayed in clear plastic cases, and all self-serve.  Customers take a small plastic tray, line it with pre-cuts wax paper sheets.  Then take clean plastic tongs, and put the items you want on the tray.  When you've made your selection, you take the tray to the counter and your order is rung-up and bagged.
I walked over to Thumb Plaza (shopping center, outside mall), and also checked-out Layas Plaza (luxury mall) across the street.  Between these two shopping areas, there were (5) bakeries, all the same style - mostly interchangeable.

This was the best one ever - Japanese sweet beans, and melted mochi inside a toasted sesame roll, served warm out of the oven.  Lots of cute cakes and pastries too.

Pizza rolls, raisin rolls and pumpkin seed
WS Cake & Coffee
These were mostly French pastries, except they had Floss rolls.  They are covered by what looks like flaky, cotton candy.  It's actually dried meat, like a very dry jerky, that has been finely shaved.  They have them at all the pastry shops and even sell containers of floss to take home.

Q&T Cafe
Very Japanese-style.  Lots of creme filled pastries and custard cakes.  Best Cafe Au Lait I've had since arriving.  

Ichido Cafe
These are all over Shanghai, Japanese pastry shops.  They have one back home in Little Tokyo too.

Paris Baguette
These shops are also all over Shanghai, and I think there is a Paris Baguette in Monterey Park or Alhambra as well.  This was the biggest shop by far, and they also make sandwiches for lunch.  
lots of bread rolls with hot dogs in them

curry donut