Sunday, March 24, 2013

June 30; Hanging with Heys

Day 146

Our friend came to Shanghai from Beijing today -- Hey Heys, we saved the day for you!
We had lunch with a great view of the financial district and the World Financial Center (aka the bottle opener, because the building looks like a bottle opener)
Photo Cred: Cat

perfect on a hot and humid day like today
Mango Slush - 19 RMB (~$3 CND)
XO Fried Rice
Our host brought us dessert -- she's too nice!
We wandered around the Bund area, taking Heys on a mini tour of the most popular areas of Shanghai. We covered a lot of ground actually:
Pearl Tower
Huang River - never realized how dirty it was.
Ferry Ride - 2 RMB for a 10 min ride.

smoggy day today
We found a Muslim Chinese restaurant to have dinner at and to remind us of the good times in Xi'erqi (our home in Beijing), and our friend went off to England after that. It's sad to say goodbye (again), but coincidentally we are planning to arrive to Beijing on the same day he comes back! So see you soon Uncle Heys =)

Oh, but before ending off the night, we look for some Canada Day celebrations on Laowai Street (foreigners street). It looks like there are quite a few places that will be celebrating. woo hoo!

June 29; feeling home-y in Shanghai

Day 145

Waking up to beautiful blue skies, especially after the past days of dull grey and gloomy weather, was absolutely wonderful.To add to the good looking morning, we have a lovely patio breakfast our lovely host.
patio view
After preparing breakfast, we helped do the dishes and sweep the floor.
It's so nice to live in an actual home.
         It's so comfortably home-y.
               I can't wait to have my own place.
birds near the pond
Before exploring the city, we make a stop at the bakery to grab some food. I was never a fan of bakery food back in Canada, but I admit... I'm really enjoying it here in China. It's not that it tastes better here, but I think it's just the familiarity of it that makes me actually enjoy it.

We explore the French concession area again. The architecture and trees found in this area are not of Chinese origin (unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the houses). Sometimes, I forget I'm in China.
Sycamore tree lined streets
And then you see Chinese people and you are reminded that you are in fact still in China.
We found a nice park where the locals were engaged in many activities like badminton, chess, Tai Chi, and even karaoke!
Kristie and I went to Carrefour to buy some ingredients to make our ever so hospitable host dinner. 2 girls who love food and have been away from a multicultural Toronto for far too long, walking into Carrefour's imported products section results to crazy squealing and uncontrollable excitement.

 On the menu tonight, fish with spaghetti and a side salad.

cooking in the kitchen =)
I definitely wanna cook more when I get back :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

June 28; "its never the right time to say goodbye" sung by TanG

Day 144
This is an extremely bittersweet morning. On the sweet side, we wake to up a buffet breakfast, and our adventure is finally going to commence. On the bitter side, it is the last buffet breakfast, and Sigrid and Tanjin are heading off to Beijing. 
Gonna miss these girls :(
After saying our farewells and bon voyages, I felt that the real summer vacation began. So we head to the (dreaded) train station to buy tickets. Whenever I go to a hospital or airport, I get this unpleasant, sad, anxious feeling. I get the same feeling whenever I walk into a Chinese train ticket office as well. We don't get the tickets we want, but I feel so fortunate to get something.
The next thing we do before enjoying Shanghai is finding our host, LL. There's a bit of walking, but we find her with ease. She's so nice, her place is amazing, and she even made dinner for us: homemade pasta.
our host =)
Photo Cred: Cat

Later that evening, we went to a couchsurfing meet up in the financial district. 
Apparently, there's a bar on the 94rth floor. of the tallest building. Can't see the tallest building in this pic because of the fog, but it looks like a bottle opener.
fantastic view on the patio.
It's always really nice getting to meet new people and hearing their story about how they ended up in China. After the story of why we're there, people tend to me curious about 2 things: age and ethnicity.
Its always fun to let people guess. One person thought I was a 17 year old from Hong Kong who studied in the States because I sound like I have a bit of a L.A accent. Although not accurate, it makes a pretty good story. 
One thing I learn this evening is that Hakka is an ancient language. That makes me feel a bit cooler.
yummy mango pudding =) 
Here's to a good start on couchsurfing (- def recommended if you're travelling)!

June 27; were singing/dancing/walking/riding in the rain with tea.

Day 143
The great downpour didn't stop us from all the outdoor activities this morning.
umbrella-ella parade
We started off our day with a boat ride on the West River. The rain wasn't too much of a vibe kill -- the fog was actually pretty enchanting. The only vibe kill was the bloody tour guide who kept on pestering us about watching the damn special Chinese acrobatic show (with an extra fee for 200 RMB, about $25). I've watched quite a few of these shows already back at home and personally, they're cool and all but it's not my thing. I understand that these performers pour their heart and soul into these performances and practices. I applaud their work however, it is not something that I can truly enjoy and appreciate.  Kinda like how people appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of teachers, but are not interested in going into the profession themselves. Anyways, the view from the boat:
Temple of Yuefei
(pretty close to my naaame!)
We went for cover in the tea house museum where we sampled tea and listened to all the health benefits.

They put iodine in the water to represent the toxins in our body. After they added the tea leaves, the colour changed, which represents the tea's ability to eliminate toxins. Magic.
got bored and crushed the tea leaves into little pieces....

After lunch we headed back to Shanghai (yay) but once we reached, the tour took us to ANOTHER jade store where we were served tea (boooo). I would have rather sat on the bus and sang songs with the dad sitting in front of us for 2 hours. It wasn't completely a waste of time though. I ended up researching things to do in Shanghai and Hong Kong as the man was going on and on about jade. I will never return to another jade store again. 

We were on our own for dinner and the rest of the evening. The tour guide gave us 30 RMB back for dinner. As the rest of the tour group were watching the Chinese circus, we wandered around the shopping area happily. The tour guide clearly did not know what he was talking about when he said there was "nothing to do".
We had Korean foood then DQ for dessert! Yummm.
Nameyeong and ddeokkbokki 
Dairy Queen Blizzards are served upside down or else it's free! I thought that was pretty cool - wish Toronto did something fun like that. I tried the green tea blizzard for its Asian authenticity and it was quite nice. It's something I'm glad I tried, but I won't miss.
On the final trip on the bus, we were given an evaluation form. Oh did we have things to say...
Back at the hotel, our tour friend helped us plan our Japan trip and helped me brush up on my Japanese. Which brings me to my final thoughts: I'm soooooooo ready for Japan. And oh no, last night with all the girlies :(

Something I'll miss: the cool Chinese familes we met and the girlies!!!!
Something I won't miss: the tour guide.