Nihao and greetings from Shanghai. Fresh off the flight Monday evening – straight to the new pad. I swapped apartments – let go of the 1 bedroom plus study in the highrise for a 2 bedroom plus study in a lowrise, but facing the river. Got it for the same price so figure I made a pretty good deal.
Nikki joined me for part of this trip and I figured that it would be an entirely new adventure to have someone else with me sharing the pad. Especially someone who had never been to China before. I reckon there will be a plethora of blog fodder during her stay.
You may be wondering about the title of this blog. So am I. OK – so I have this box that I leave in China. I do not want to leave it in the apartment as it is shared so I give it to the office to hold in the left luggage room. It contains non-perishable food items, personal products like a blow dryer and ear swabs and assorted kitchen items for the western minded cook. Included in those kitchen items are 4 bamboo-ish placemats, a lint roller and a can opener. Well, at least the box used to contain those items.
When we arrived, I unpacked and then tackled the box. I was dumbfounded when I opened the box (still sealed) and the placemats, lint roller and can opener were missing. I cannot explain it. The only thing I can think of is that either David Copperfield stayed in Yanlord Gardens and needed these things, or some Chinese cook is now in possession of my placemats, lint roller and can opener and learning to prepare Spaghettios or something.
Boy was I pissed. You see I had to conquer the whole Chinese department store thing on my first trip as a temporary citizen to procure the western cooking gadgets that I needed – and this is NOT an easy task in Shanghai. I was even more pissed when I found out I had to pay 60 rmb for 2 placemats to replace the 4 I lost. And don’t get me started on the can opener. They are as rare as high speed internet in these parts. But at least the Chinese chef will not get any lint in his food.
But – for the sake of not being a whiny biatch, I got over myself and off we went to do the necessary chores required when one does not stay in a hotel.
First stop, Paris Baguette. After breakfast, Nikki decided she could live in Shanghai. I swear she had an oralgasm.
Off to City Shops for groceries. Normally I am just shopping for one, but with Nikki here and then John coming after she departs, I went a little – well – overboard. After checking out we hauled the bags and backpacks out the door. I am not really sure what happened while we were shopping – I mean I know intellectually we have to carry all this stuff back to the apartment, but reality set in as we tried to pick everything up and start walking. We made it 1/2 a block and surrendered to the inevitable and got a taxi. Failure #1.
This apartment has western user-friendly appliances mostly. Except for the stove. What is it with me and Chinese stoves? The cook top does not light. We tried for probably 15 minutes to light the stove and finally found the correct combination of movement and timing to light the burner. In case you ever stay in Bldg 5, Apt 6B – here is the secret. One person has to place their right hand on the knob for the desired burner, and lean far back out of the way (the gas comes out under serious pressure). The other person should hold the lighter in their right hand while keeping hair, clothes and anything else flammable away from the burner. The leader then calls out 1 – 2 – 3 – GO. At the exact same moment person 1 must press down and turn the burner knob 45 degrees to the left while person 2 sparks the lighter next to the burner and then quickly (as in nanoseconds) pulls her hand away from the burner to avoid a trip to the hospital. Person 1 must then hold the knob down for 5 seconds and then slowly, very slowly release the pressure and then turn the knob an additional 45 degrees. If the timing is not perfect, the burner will go off and you must repeat the above until you get it right. I wonder what I am going to do after Nikki leaves. I wonder if my neighbor will help. Either that or I am on cereal and pop tarts for the rest of the trip.
Despite the technical difficulties, the Thai Red Chicken Curry was amazing – if I do say so myself!
Wallace invited us for lunch the next day with the family. Abby is so dang cute and I even got an Ai Sue this time. This is the first time she has ever said my name – normally she just calls me Aunt (Ai). We had a good lunch (mostly – except for the bullfrog) at Super Brands Mall and bid goodbye after eating as Nikki and I wanted to walk home. I took her along the waterfront (Pudong Bund) as it was a nice day. I played tour guide a little bit – pointing out this and that along the way. At one point I highlighted a riverside restaurant called The Red Dot that I had eaten at when John was in Shanghai last. Nice Italian restaurant. Nikki looked at me – dead serious – no joke and said:
Is it an Indian restaurant?
If you don’t get it – just think about it.
So I got an iPad 2 to replace the iPad 1 I had. It has a neat feature called Face Time. I Face Timed my sister and realized that I could show her the apartment (which is hard to do on Skype from a laptop). So I walked around to show her the apartment and then the view. Note to self: OPEN THE SLIDING GLASS DOOR BEFORE TRYING TO PASS THROUGH. Failure #2.
At least Nikki got a good laugh out of it.
On Thursday, the gang at the office suggested a Noodle House for lunch. I saw the evil gleam in Wallace’s eye when he told me they could bring something back for me. I could see they wanted to get Nikki alone in the Noodle House. So I said I would also like to go – thinking that this would negate any evil plans to ply Nikki with beaks, feet or other exotic body parts. I have to say we loved the dumplings with the soup in them. Yummy. But then came the noodles. Now I love wanton/noodle soup as much as the next person, but when I looked down and saw the tiny little shrimp swimming around and looking at me with those tiny black eyes – I could not do it. Neither could Nikki. Our eyes met and we instantly started to try to stiffle our laughs. Wallace then told Nikki that these shrimps are very expensive and considered a delicacy, and that they were very good for woman health. At this point Sullivan started cracking up and we figured out that Wallace was still trying to stick with his evil plan. Henrik ate my soup. Wallace ate Nikki’s shrimp.
After lunch, Nikki said she could not live in Shanghai.
They invited us to dinner. I stayed home and sent Nikki out on her own. Sorry Nikki.
So the blog would not be complete without a discussion about the maids. I figured that since I have used the apartment without incident for the past couple of trips (at least as far as they know), things would have settled down around here. I got a false sense of security as, due to Tomb Sweeping Holidays, no maids were in sight the first couple of days.
Thursday came and the cleaning maid came. No problem. Friday came and the linen maid came. This is where things get weird. Nikki and I were heading out to the office when she arrived. When we got home later than night from the office and I went into my bedroom to change, it was really freaking cold. I realized that the maid had opened my windows and left them open all day and evening. I thought that was weird. I checked Nikki’s room but there were no open windows.
So – apparently I stink. That is the only explanation we have been able to come up with. Nikki doesn’t stink as they did not open her windows. But apparently I do. I shower every day, brush my teeth and keep up my personal hygiene duties. But apparently despite my best efforts, I stink. Too bad you cannot buy Febreeze here in China.
Nihao: Ok so my turn now - China Nikki style… (not for the soft hearted) I knew this was going to be fun when we got off the plane after a year long trip over and I immediately was being pushed around – note to self do not get in front of the Chinese when they are in a hurry.
Firstly, let me point out and hope I do not offend anyone here but, come on – RED DOT… ?? It has to be Indian – why would it not and I think that I made a very valid question at the time. Although, I would like to think I was kind of joking!!! Red Dot, clever and to my defense while walking back from underground market today Sue pointed out that the owner was standing behind and BAM – yep he was Indian. So, there is logic I believe to my question, as the name.
Second, Sue is not crazy “she who wipes face with sanitary napkins” as, they are well, very good napkins. Really they are – and I am still having a hard time trying to figure out how they are used otherwise. We use them to this day for the coffee spoon as they are pretty absorbent, just saying. Going to leave that one at that before, I go on the tyrant I did with Sue about these dang things.. I am however, taking a few back home so, everyone can see exactly how these can be well – misinterpreted.
Third, the maids really do come, I believe to keep an eye on the crazy American now, Americans - which I feel makes them even more uneasy. And everytime the maids come, things shrink, I am not kidding. I had the biggest / softest towels and now I am using what I would call a hand towel to dry off with and a pillow that you would let your poodle sleep on. Oh well, things could be worse I guess. I will add that I heard nothing but, where are my placemats, who would take my placemats for days before thankfully we found a store that sold placemats. Although now, the issue is that they were so dang expensive – which I agree but, apparently Sue is extremely keen on her placemats. I think we should keep this on our list for Birthday and Christmas items. She is right – good luck to you finding a can opener without going on Mission Impossible 6 to get one: Can someone please send a can opener to Shanghai.
Fourth, Wallace is pure EVIL – yes Wallace you are pure EVIL!!! Noodle house was hilarious, absolutely hilarious – those itty bitty expensive shrimps were the size of your pinky nail and thank god for Sue (I know the first time I have ever said that one) she knew what the boys were up to by asking me if I wanted to join. As I did tell them that I wanted to try as much of the food as possible that I can when in China so, I guess no pity for self inflicted wounds. Except there is a line but, boy will they cross it especially with me. It is good fun though – if the shrimps were shelled and were not staring at me with those little precious baby eyes I could eat them – I felt like they were just so sad so, I couldn’t do it. Dumplings with soup in them were however, delicious!!! I want them again.. At least Wallace has an adorable child to make up for his evil ways!! At dinner that evening, I felt very special as this is not even a restaurant that they have taken Sue or John (big boss) too. Very authentic Shanghai food and majority of it was unbelievably good – radish soup, seriously who would think of this and would think it was good, but, was delicious, whole fish sauteed in some kind of spicy sweet sauce (skin and all) GOOD, duck GOOD, pig meat with skin, meat and fat GOOD… Pig liver that was according to Mr. Evil – Chinese tender beef, I knew something was off on the beef as I could not taste the beef but, afterall it was not that bad… I think it is the thought of what you are eating – if you do not know and think it is Chinese tender beef, not too shabby actually. Pig stomach – which when it came out I said to myself and apparently showed on my face “I don’t think I am going to like that” – looks like stomach or something of that nature – I tried it, could not do it. I think I should get mega points for at least trying, after all we are in China and I do not want to eat Western food ALL the time otherwise, what’s the point. I have learned now that I know this is going to be fun when you either a) have no menu to look through or b) have a menu in all Chinese and no photos… Photos should be mandatory. Have to try some things – cannot wait until AWEA, I told the boys that in America there is a saying that goes a little something like this “Pay back is a biatch”.
Lastly, I thought the Europeans / Scandinavians knew how to make their sweets but, I tell you what – they certainly DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING ON THE CHINESE!!! I am not a big sweet eater and is a good thing I do not live in China as I am afraid I would be about 500 lbs for all the sweets I would eat. Some of the best candy, chocolate, cake, fruit rolls, etc etc that I have had in all of my 27 yrs. SERIOUSLY – come to China and eat some sweets!!!!
On that note, I will conclude my take on China for now.. We do have a whole week to get through and I am sure that some more stupid things will come out of my mouth and I am sure that I will have to have one last joke played on me before I leave to go back to America. Note: we WILL be having Paris Bagette for breakfast or brunch everyday this week, that place is capital F – antastic.
Keep well and we will continue the saga later this week.
Oh – and Happy Easter to those who observe. To the rest, Happy Sunday!