Friday, July 30, 2010

Pollution

View from my apartment last Saturday:



and this Saturday:



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dongbei comes to Shanghai

Two weekends ago (July 9-11) I flew to Shanghai with a few friends from Shenyang to meet up with other friends who work at our Shanghai consulate. Shanghai is only a two-hour flight away, so it's an easy weekend trip, even if it's always too short!

On Friday night, we got in fairly late but still managed to grab enchiladas and lots of frozen margaritas (plus tequila shots) at Cantina Agave (review: http://blog.friday-nite.com/?p=979). The food was delicious, but I might be biased, due to my Tex-Mex deprivation in Shenyang. I'm also always super excited to experience outdoor seating with lots of other expats, so that was another plus. We finished the night at Shelter, which is a cool underground club, converted from a bomb shelter. Kind of a dive bar, but perfect for a late Friday night, post-Tex-Mex.
http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/nightlife/nightclub/has/the-shelter/

On Saturday, after a rough start, we all met up at Azul, right down the block from the U.S. consulate building in the French Concession. Really solid brunch - eggs benedict and a bloody mary. http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/285_0/Azul.aspx


Afterwards, we wandered through Taikang Lu, which is a new-ish art district located in an old Shanghai neighborhood. It has lots of boutique shops and art galleries, as well as lots of small restaurants. I almost bought some art, but we didn't have time. There's always next time! http://www.taikanglu.com/

Later, Ruth, Emily, and I visited the fabric market, where I got a few things made. They can make clothes in as few as 2-3 days, but since I was leaving so soon, they just mailed everything to me. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/expat/josephinemcdermott/10135676/a-good-yarn/

After the fabric market, we went to a happy hour at Cotton's (http://www.cottons-shanghai.com/), which is located in an old French Concession villa and has a really chill outdoor bar area. The happy hour was for Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni - which I'm not - but luckily there were a lot of other interlopers as well.

For dinner on Saturday night, we had Shanghainese food at Amao on Fumin Lu and Julu Lu. It was pretty good, but the menu had some outrageous Chinglish, which I really didn't expect to see in Shanghai.

"Chongqin style blood with other stuff"


Man-made shrimp?


And the coup de grace: "drunk stuff." YES.

Before we went out, we took a few pictures on the Bund. Most were too blurry, since I took them with the iPhone, but here's one of me, with Emily:


Clearly we had an awesome night because I forgot to take any pictures. We started with sangria at Glamour Bar, overlooking the Bund. http://www.m-theglamourbar.com/ It has a great atmosphere, an amazing view, and delicious drinks, but it was just way too loud where we were sitting. We quickly left for M1nt, which is where we spent the rest of the night dancing to a really awesome DJ and checking out the shark tank. Seriously, there's a shark tank.
http://www.m1ntglobal.com/club-shanghai
Dancing was followed by a very late brunch at Kabb in Xintiandi (http://www.xintiandi.com/english/index_e.asp). This might've been my fave meal of the weekend, made even more delicious by the do-it-yourself-bloody mary.


Emily's banana walnut French toast clearly trounced my breakfast burrito.



I'll have more pictures of real people as soon as I can pry them from the cameras of others :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rainbow Pancakes and Ziplines

Once a month, Consular sections around the world take a day off from regular duties like visa interviews and spend the day conducting teambuilding and training exercises. Or at least, they're supposed to. Bigger consular sections like Beijing and Guangzhou craft detailed training plans with 30+ slide powerpoints. We just decided to have a pancake breakfast and visit a park.

Behold, rainbow pancakes!



We spent hours crafting perfectly round, mini rainbow pancakes for Scott's son Yuri. Well, it was more like 30 minutes, but there was lots of craftsmanship involved. Yuri was probably the least impressed of all the attendees. Here's Yuri with his ayi:



After the pancake breakfast, we visited the Horticulture Expo gardens, about a 45 minute-drive away. We thought it would just be a large park, but little did we know there was a giant ropes course over water!


Me, on the zipline:


Wangbo, Liu Jing, Cai, Brandon, and Natacha crossing the swinging bridge:


The whole obstacle course was rusty and clearly not well-maintained, but it was a lot of fun. In the U.S., this kind of park probably would have been shut down years ago over safety concerns.
Tiffany tries out the zipline:


Wangbo tries hard not to fall into the stagnant water:



I also ended up breaking my #1 rule in China: never ride on a roller coaster.



I probably shouldn't have broken that rule, because it gave me a splitting headache.
And below, a candid shot of Scott, our fearless leader:


The park is a really nice getaway, especially because Shenyang is completely devoid of greenspace and trees. We saw a lot of spindly windmills, some of which were in operation. I seriously doubt that they were actually producing any kind of usable energy though.



Tiffany and Beth, basking in their triumphant win of the stuffed pig -



Bs unite! Me (Bridget), Beth, Barry, Brandon, and Wangbo:

And finally, the whole group:
We'll miss you, Scott!!!