Showing posts from 2008

Eating my way through Shanghai

Saturday was a day for eating. It started out a little scarily, though, being out on my bike in a cold wind doing errands. I got really hungry and succumbed to a street vendor's late morning remnants. I asked for the pancakey thing to be heated up but the seller insisted it was already hot so I bought it, goo and all. But when I took the first bite I knew that I had headed into dangerous waters because it was sort of luke warm at best. I was so hungry though I just ate the whole thing. Then worried that it was a bad idea...luckily everything stayed in.

Later after checking out a new children's book store, Naomi and I headed for the chocolate buffet at the Swissotel, but we had arrived too early. Next heading for a venue where I'd left my hat last weekend, the wait staff seemed unpleasant and unhelpful at the Velvet Lounge, like it was a major inconvenience for her to even take my request to look for my hat. But upstairs was Casanova, a Spanish restaurant, where we a…


5:30 am - I awaken with a cramp in my back surprised to have slept all night with a pulled muscle in my back from coughing too hard yesterday. Ease my way to the bathroom and swallow a gel Advil with a piece of dark chocolate to aid in absorption. Back to bed.
6:30 am - I awaken again knowing this time I have to get out of bed for real. Into the shower and time to get dressed. I turn on heat this morning in the living room.
6:58 - grab a cup of coffee and check for online connectivity and I'm in...need to check email for a pianist I'm in search of and reload money to my phone card for calling the US from my mobile phone
7:02 - run a load of laundry in hopes it will be by the time my parents arrive on Sunday
7:10 - finish drying hair
7:30 - it is 36 degrees fahrenheight outside... former viola student opens a chat online from Seattle
7:40 - down some vitamins and medicine for this nagging cough
7:45 - turn off all the heat, put on shoes and load up
8:00 - I am out the door and th…

Sweet Potato Festival

Today the Japanese kindergarten celebrates...

It's the sweet potato roasting day. Yes, we are still in Shanghai!

Beautiful Bottoms

I kid you not, this link came from China Daily news.
What is just as funny is the link to the Chinglish commentary.

Is your child or student using drugs? Just take a quick x-ray...


feeling juicy?

Naomi and I went shopping a few weeks ago and afterward decided to get some tea and some early dinner at a teahouse across from the market. We went to the second floor, looking for a view, and apparently there weren't any booths open. Well, there would have been if about 6 staff members hadn't been sitting around in one, so I said where's the boss? Would he approve of this? So they quickly cleared out and we took the booth. We had a laugh at the menu, because not only was it funny but the couple in a rather secluded booth behind ours seemed to have literally taken some 'love juice!'

Brown Cloud Findings

World Economic Woes and International Education

China's economy is pretty stable, considering that it is a developing country and continuing to build infrastructure like mad. So far I have not felt any effects of the outside economic meltdown, except in my retirement investments abroad. But our student population where I work is predominantly Korean and the Won has dropped significantly in recent weeks, making it more expensive for those expatriates to survive here. A student came to me today who is suddenly returning home to Korea. I worry a little that many more in coming months will follow suit. But it could also be a blessing if that population is reduced in our international school as it could become more of an incentive for other nationalities to enroll. I was only half joking with colleagues that if worse came to worst the laws governing internationals schools could be changed to allow local Chinese students to also enroll in our institutions. Time will reveal more on this issue.


A few photos from dishes eaten on Sunday. There were actually about 4 more but they looked so good we started eating them before I had a chance to shoot them. I got to looking at a bag of candied dates that I've been enjoying and the label reads "Donkey Hide Flavored" mmmmm, no wonder I loved them so much!

Weekend Fun

After the day's festivities of Halloween, our kind boss invited teachers to relax at his house. So a bunch of us filled up his place and ordered pizzas and debriefed over many laughs and funny stories. One poor Swiss visitor got to hear lots of 'mMericanisms' after a long spirit week winding up with Halloween. One colleague came as a cowgirl - she was great. I happened to be wearing red socks, black pants, red shirt and then tried on another colleague's black wool hat and someone said, wow what are you, a checkerboard?? I said "Yeah, wanna play?!"

Saturday was all about shopping. Naomi and I trudged around a Chinese market and asked my tailor if he could sew on leather as my mom wants to bring some deer hides of animals my dad has bagged over the years made into clothing. I think it's a good idea. Later went to a Phillipina's housewarming party/dinner/karaoke bash at her house. She and several friends were able to get apartments across the hal…


A student wanted to draw on her face for Halloween so I dug out the colored markers supplied by the school to check whether they might be water soluble. So we got the laugh of the day out of this...later the kindergartens came trick or treating and the terrible thing happened - we ran out of candy! The boss supplied bags of candy to teachers and I even added to it with a bag of my own, but apparently the candy wasn't counted. Bummer

dirty games day

Dirty day. Cake, delicious, by "Awfully Chocolate." Cats lived in the WC. What the pictures don't show is us playing Uno, virtual bowling, virtual boxing, virtual tennis, pick up sticks and Jenga and drinking tea. We are on the upper floor of an old lane house in downtown, the kind that are fast disappearing.
New friend Juoum's photos of Shanghai and other spots in China...his pictures tell wonderful stories.

Spent all afternoon yesterday in a lane house game club, much like what I imagine a parlor was like in the 1800s. Though this was a modern one too with Wii sports, but we also played Uno and pick up sticks, ate chocolate cake, Chinese snacks and drank tea. There were 2 guitars, several rooms and an outdoor balcony room where we enjoyed ourselves. Afterward we went out for Shanghainese food for dinner. Somehow I didn't manage to get home until 10 pm!

student newspaper

Our students now publish their newspaper online. It is a work in progress, of course, but I'm really proud of them. Keep in mind our students are about 95% ESL students!

Connections Class

My students were required to produce a 'team' poster with their name and reflecting their class as we enter spirit week next week. At first they wanted to be the "Do Re Mis" until the name was laughed to death by their peers outside the class, so it was changed to "Do Your Best." Here are a few photos of their work. Connections class is like a home room; I see them for about a half hour in the morning and another 20 minutes at the end of the day when I convey any important information or they can study if they need to.

Autumn Image at LAS Shanghai

Students in our school, many of whom are not native English speakers, try to swear and it comes out sounding like "shee tah" . You can guess what they are trying to say. But today I learned that in Korean, this means "no" or "hate" so when a boy kept saying it over and over to another boy I told him to stop. But he was just saying no to the student next to him, not swearing. They at least pretended to understand that it didn't sound like good English. I told him to just say "no" in English.

I just saw an incredible article about a Japanese designer using crystals to create furniture. I am most impressed.

weekend madness

silk worms above, beer chicken below

Over the weekend I was invited to go to Bubba's chili cook off, which I did attend, but was so crowded I missed the chili tasting. My friends were smart enough to have nabbed a table upstairs away from the crowd with really comfy seating and a good time to be had. After that we moved to Big Bamboo, another rowdy restaurant where we sat outside until it was time to meet up with a dirty sista at a fabulous Yunnan restaurant in another part of town. Yunnan is a large, beautiful southwestern province of China. Included in the banquet was mashed potato, rabbit, Yunnan cheese, soup, yak, silkworms, fungus, eggplant, tofu and a yellow-alcohol-honey beverage. Also the restaurant let us try a new dish they hadn't named yet made with chicken and beer. It was a fantastic meal. Friends were from China, Israel, US, and South Africa. Sunday had brunch with friends that lasted ehm, 8 hours or so. It was so nice out, such low pollution and gorgeous …
So here I am, teacher, in Shanghai. Only not teaching much of my specialty, orchestra and violin. And no quartet to play with. It's like a mini-identity crisis...who am I now that I'm not front and center leading the quartet and being a professional violin player. This is the first time in my adult life, okay, second (first time was my first year in China) that I wasn't focused on being a professional player. I love to read - it helps me feel a little still connected to the violin world. And am dreaming of trying a David Burgess violin. Some people are all about fame and earning money, getting rich and investing well. I'm not against these endeavors at all. I'm more about investing in my life right now and on a moment by moment basis going after quality of life decisions. This is definitely a gargantuan and life long task. I'd love to have more money and become famous but I also live under the weight of making a living wage as a sel…

Japanese food

I ate BULL PENIS! My friend Naomi and I went to another friend's place in Songjiang, kind of a Shanghai suburb of only 700,000 people, spending several days together. We took an arduous day trip to Xitang, a little ancient water town, that was swarming with people because of the 'golden days' national holidays going on. We stayed an hour...then back to Songjiang where we went to "Little Lamb Hot Pot" - a familiar chain of 'hou gou' or fire pot in English. We ordered a ying yang pot, which is half "la" which means hot peppers, and half not-hot broth. We cooked tofu, lamb, beef, mushrooms, potato, bull penis, cabbage and spinach. The penis was a little chewy, kind of like chewable gristle. I don't recommend it. Not for the hot pot, anyway! And dessert was fried mantou, a kind of small bun, that we dipped into condensed milk. A Chinese treat.

I decided I better study Japanese while I am here because my friends are Japanese! We have a fe…

A Day on the Bike

street food dinner
Being the proud owner of a second bike I had to do it the honor of giving it a good workout. My first stop, okay actually second after succumbing to an egg mcmuffin, was a grocery store. The better language for this kind of store is actually "hypermarket" and hyper is putting it mildly. It happened to be the store's 4th anniversary so a cake was being offered to customers and I was there just before the store opened. I had only a few minutes to wait when suddenly the hands of every customer went flying to cover their and my ears as eight lines of M80s were lit off in the celebration.
Street musicians...

Visa Applications

Visa rules to enter China are about as stable as a bowl of jelly riding on horseback! My parents would like to enter China twice to see me and my brother in Japan. Apparently there is now one fee for all Americans, regardless of number of entries up to 2 years, and it is about 3 times the price that other citizens have to pay. But according to the visa third-party people who have to take your application for you to the embassy unless you're close enough to one to do it yourself - the 2 year multiple entry visa is not yet available - but according to the Chinese Embassy website it is! Maddening, really. I will just have to appease the fury by attending a polo championship match...

Eating Korean

The vacation has officially started. Nine days of freedom and they're getting filled with fun fast. Today, Naomi and I tried a Korean restaurant on the recommendation by the mother of one of her kindergarten students. It took us some wandering around but we found it. First, you can see a snapshot of the 18 - yes 18 - dishes of cold appetizers. And we only ordered 2 things: a pancake with green bean and a hot bubbling pot of intestines and other more recognizable things like noodles and vegetables. We had a great meal and a good talk. I told her the spicy food made us talk about the most passionate and hot topics - which will stay between us girls! - and of course how it is to live internationally in Shanghai. I even ate intestines...

The weather has finally turned lovely with a cool breeze, sunny, perfect to ride my other "new" second-hand bike home from Xujiahui district. I picked this up from another expat who's moving back. The bike is a dream to ride and I…

air raids

I was happily browsing online grocers when air raid sirens began to go off. I looked up the news of late and found out Shanghai is conducting air raid siren tests this morning, the first at 10:00 a.m. to sound a warning that an attack is impending; a second at 10:10 to indicate an attack in progress; and a third at 10:20 to communicate that the attack has ended. Being interested in the people, events and history surrounding 1949, I feel an eerie connection to people living here then. The sirens just made it more creepy but at least in the event of an impending emergency, I now know what these mean.

Paralympics China

The end of the Paralympics is in sight - I regret not having watched more of the events. But I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing a few interviews with athletes and have the greatest admiration for their accomplishments. What a feat to overcome physical obstacles to reach higher and higher goals. They are an inspiration. I also learned the vernacular for wheelchair polo - "motorball." So far, China is ahead in medals overall including golds, then UK, then the US. I feel nothing but awe at the challenge these athletes have aspired to. Also international athletes have mentioned that they felt they may have done better overall because of the warm support of the Chinese spectators, and I don't mean that as propaganda. There is definitely an enthusiasm for life here that is rather exciting to observe. China has definitely begun to spread its wings for international cooperation and appreciation even if it is not yet a household phenomenon.

Bike No. 3

I admit I did feel disappointed when I realized my bike was stolen. Again. That after that downpour I was caught in, brought my lock inside to dry it off, and forgot it, someone took advantage of an unlocked bike - on the 12th floor! The storm was pretty spectacular though. I had left my bike at school, again, and gone on a bus to do some shopping while the day was bright. Maybe it was only the eye of the storm.

I decided I didn't want to leave the bike at school overnight, even though it was raining and my rain gear was drying out, at home. I took my bike for a ride home in the drenching rain, glad I was wearing a bra the same color as my shirt. But a rusty lock is no joy to live with so I had taken my new bike cable lock inside to dry out, but silly me forgot it. So I get to go shopping for bike number 3 today. Ah well, it was getting really rusty anyway. And for less than the price of a tank of gas...

Value of Trees