Sunday, March 24, 2013

Birthday in China

 Emily & Katie both worked hard and made me these oh-so sweet cards.  They used some card making supplies from the US (thanks Nana!), and lots of creativity.  One card Emily made was all in Mandarin, and one card Katie made had a kite on the inside with a real string attached.   These made my day!
Chris came home from work with a cake, and we all had a nice celebration.

Wherever we are, as long as we are together, nothing else matters.


Sunday Brunch in Shanghai

Today we had Sunday brunch at the Westin Hotel at the Bund.  The variety of food is fantastic, with food stations upstairs and downstairs, and free-flowing Veauve Clicquot.
There were Asian food stations (Peking Duck, Dim Sum, Congee and Roast Meats) as well as the standard things you would expect:  raw seafood bar, sushi, prime rib and breakfast items. There was also a caviar bar, crepes, cheeses, charcuterie, etc.  The menu was definitely friendly to expats.  New Zealand lamb, Argentinian spit-roasted meats, taco bar, Italian pastas and breads, smoked fish.  All the bars were open, and were lined up with pisco sours, frozen margaritas and there was also a self-serve Bloody Mary bar.
  Lots and lots of desserts as well.  I think the kids loved the cotton candy and both had crepes filled with chocolate, topped with whip cream.
Roasted Meats
blinis & caviar
Prime rib & Yorkshire pudding
Macarons Pearl Tower
watch out, that crepe is hot
cotton candy for breakfast?
frozen lemonade
I think this brunch is so popular not only because the food is impressive, but because of the entertainment.  A small orchestra performs, and accompanies two opera singers.  A man and woman, and both were great.  Then a string trio (violins and cello) performs.  This group is made up of three young women, all in blue, all playing electronic string instruments.  Lastly, a Chinese acrobat group performs.  

This was a really fun way to spend the day together.  We will definitely be going back.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Random things from this week…

Whenever I am at the Kerry Center or Super Brand Mall, I see a Happy Lemon shop.  There is always a line, and all the tables and chairs are always taken.  So finally, I go and order a drink.  I had the "Special Lemon Cooler".  It is made when you order, similar to a Jamba Juice.  But the lemonade is made with bits of lemon zest and Kalamansi lime.  These are small, firm limes the size of a walnut, native to the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia.  It was fantastic!  And only 7rmb - equal to $1.12.  I will definitely take the girls next time.

Twice a week I walk to my Mandarin class, and last week I had to stop and take this photo.  The fire hydrant is on Huamu Road, across from the Kerry Center in Pudong.  "Quick, there's a fire, let's attach the hose to…er.,.   oh, …nevermind."

A few weeks ago, we went to a mall in the Jinqiao area called LifeHub.  Jinqiao means "Golden Bridge" and many expats live there.  We went to the bowling alley, and both girls were able to bowl for the first time.

Both Emily and Katie are doing great, they are thriving at school.  Emily is in the upcoming SCIS Variety show along with 6 of her friends.  Katie received an award for exceptional behavior.  Chris has been working very, very hard.  He splits his workdays - half at the Disney offices in the Kerry Center, and half on the job site.  I am trying to keep my "China moments" aka freak outs, etc., to the minimum.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring in Shanghai

Yesterday was the warmest day we've experienced in months, and it was a good day to be outside.

   Emily was staying over a friend's house so Chris took Katie to Century Park.  Century Park is the center of the Pudong area where we live.  It's a huge park with a lake, boats to rent, trails, topiary garden, etc.  They rode a pedal car(?) and later went out to lunch.

     The trees here in Seasons Villas, and I'm sure all over Shanghai, seemed to bloom overnight.  It was really beautiful taking a walk around our complex yesterday.  There is a walking path through Seasons that goes from our street to the pond at the clubhouse.  The air was clean and the sky was blue.  Buddy seemed to enjoy it too.

The good and the bad…

There is so much about China that surprises me daily.  And there is so much that makes me angry as well as leaves me speechless.

     Last weekend I trimmed some overgrown trees in our small backyard.  I had a great big pile of branches, leaves etc., heaped in our yard, and the gardener was supposed to send workers to haul it away.  I repeatedly said there was so much that they should bring a truck.
     After several calls, and missed appointments, I was getting really annoyed.  "How hard can this be for workers to get this done?",  I thought to myself.  Finally on Friday afternoon, a single old man came to the door.  He looked like he could be in his 80's, but he was probably younger.  His skin was dark and leathery, and he had a small handmade blue knit cap on.  He wore the blue coveralls that all migrant workers / cleaners seem to wear here.
     He didn't flinch when I showed him the huge pile of debris he needed to clean-up.  He had no tools with him, just a large sheet of vinyl canvas and some rope.  I watched him from my kitchen window as he worked.
     He worked methodically breaking apart all the large branches with his hands, bracing the larger pieces with his foot on the ground.  He would bundle what he could together, working efficiently, and the rest he piled onto the canvas to carry it all out.  He had to make 5-6 trips out to the curb, taking each load on his shoulder.
     This old man, a migrant worker, just did his job with stoicism and fortitude.  I am sure he's been through tougher jobs than this.  I gave him extra money, and at first he turned it down.  I insisted, knowing that he would only be able to accept the cash, if I persisted.

I gave him 100rmb, which is about $17.00.
This is probably more than he makes in a single day.