Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fujian Specialty: Sha Cha Mian

When I was in Fujian last week, I really enjoyed trying the local specialty called Sha Cha Mian. It is a peanut-based thick soup, with just a little bit of a spicy twinge to it. You get to choose from a wide selection which seafood items you want to have included in the soup, and then it is all added together with noodles and veggies. It comes out to be a very nice dish! For my Sha Cha Mian, I added in a shellfish called "hai li" and some shrimp, and it made a very nice combination. My two godchildren were excited to get to add duck's heart to their noodles, being the ever-adventurous sorts. We all tried the duck's hearts, and they were quite good too.

"Sha Cha Mian" is literally translated into "sand tea noodles." We asked around trying to find out why the noodles are named this, but didn't really get an answer. The response we got when we asked "Why do you call this sha cha mian?" was something like, "Because that's it's name."

Oh well. It is really good stuff, and not to be missed when you travel to Fujian province! As with any seafood dish we had while there, the seafood was really fresh, making for an excellent meal. If you are a seafood fan at all, I think you will really enjoy travel in Fujian! And if you are at all like me, I would suggest that you stop in the small noodle shops and try what the local people are eating instead of only looking at the bigger establishments that most tourists frequent. The food is better, and the prices much more reasonable at the local shops.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Love Story of Sam and Sally

Don't miss out on the upcoming staging of The Love Story of Sam and Sally at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center. Shows will be December 4-6.

It is billed as "a karaoke journey of a Hong Kong style love story." What could be more fun than that?

Book tickets online here.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Shanghai Marathon

The Shanghai International Marathon is coming up in 2 days' time!

Obviously, it is too late to register, but you might enjoy watching the event on November 30. Check for details at the website.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kuala Lumpur International Buskers' Festival

It will be bright. It will be noisy. It will be exciting.

In December, the annual Kuala Lumpur International Buskers' Festival will take place in KL once again. This is a huge street entertainment extravaganza — one you won't want to miss if you have the chance to see it.

When:Dec 2008
Where:Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours:5.30pm-10.30pm

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Health Museum

In Houston, you will find some of the finest hospitals in the world, especially those dedicated to treatment and care of cancer patients. It is fitting, then, that there is a Health Museum in Houston, The John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science. It is an interactive center where you can learn more about the history of medical and health care in one of the country's finest cities for medical research.

The Health Museum
1515 Hermann Drive
Houston, TX 77004

PHONE: 713.521.1515

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dream in Shanghai

A Midsummer Night's Dream, always a favorite, will be coming to the stage in Shanghai. It will be staged December 4-7 at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center. Tickets run from 100 to 200 RMB.

Sadly, that begins right after I depart from my present stay in Shanghai, and I am going to have to miss it. But if you are going to be around, I'd think this would be a very fun one to catch!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Putrajaya 12- Hour Walk

The Putrajaya 12-hour Walk 2008 is coming up on 13-14 December. You can download a registration form here. The walk will take place from 8 pm to 8 am. It should be loads of fun, and Putrajaya is a great place to walk. I especially love the views at night.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cooking Classes in Shanghai

The Kitchen at Huaihailu offers cooking classes for all learning levels, and for all types of cuisine. The school is located in the old French Concession, at House 40 (ground floor), 1487 Huaihai Zhong Lu, Shanghai 2000031.

I've met some of the staff from the school, and was quite impressed with their approach to it all. They offer a very wide variety of courses, including both Western and Chinese styles. There are several guest chefs who come to teach their specialties at the school, and so many of the courses are very focused.

Whether you are a beginner or already an accomplished chef yourself, there is a lot to learn at The Kitchen at Huaihai Lu.

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Friday, November 21, 2008


While staying in Fujian province, I have plans to finally visit the Hakka Round Houses. These amazing buildings represent a traditional style of architecture dating back some 1000 years. The lifestyle maintained there is very traditional, with many people having spent their whole lives there oblivious to the way the outside world has moved on.

It should be loads of fun seeing this place!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seeing a New Place

It's been a while since I have had a proper holiday to a new location. Ironically, that seems to happen when you live a migratory lifestyle. You get into the routine of traveling, but it isn't so much for holidays and seeing new locales.

I will be heading to new territory today, uncharted on my map. I'm off to see Fujian, a province in the far southeastern corner of China (the one nearest Taiwan). It will be a nice break, and a nice chance to see something new.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Deer and the Cauldron

Beginning Dec 18 (shortly after my departure from Shanghai this time around), you can catch The Deer and the Cauldron at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Theatre. It will run until Jan 10 (not quite long enough for me to catch it on my next trip, I am afraid!).

Tickets run from RMB 100 to 280. You can visit this site for a little more information.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hysteria in Shanghai

This past weekend, I saw one of the best performances I have ever seen. Hysteria is a funny, funny play, and I don't think I have ever seen such remarkable timing from a troupe of actors and technicians. The use of the actors' bodies, lighting, sound, and even audience participation, all work to make the show top-notch. The script is brilliant, but would also be very easy to botch. The group from Inspector Sands didn't botch it at all, but played it out perfectly.

But the play is not only funny. It also has a lot of depth to it, and will certainly make you think long and think deeply.

If you get a chance to see this play inspired by T. S. Eliot's poem of the same name, don't miss it. This really was one of the best performances I've ever been to (and I've been to a fair number).

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A Christmas Carol in Houston

You can catch the most popular Christmas play of all times, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, at the Alley Theatre from November 21 through December 28.

A Christmas Carol is always a fun play to watch, no matter how many versions you might have seen over the years. If you get a chance, get your family together and join in the fun at the Alley Theatre. It will be sure to be a fun night out for all.

By Charles Dickens
Adapted and Originally Directed by Michael Wilson
Directed by James Black
Previews start November 21, 2008
Opens November 22, 2008
Ends December 28, 2008
Hubbard Stage

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Penang Jazz Festival

The Penang Jazz Festival is coming up on 4-7 December at the Bayview Beach Resort. This is Malaysia's most popular jazz festival after the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching. Lots of tourists gather to get a feel for the local musical talen, and just to relax and enjoy the show.

Some names and events you'll find on the programme:
Denise Mininfield
Jimmy Boyle Young Talent Jazz Competition Finals
“Jazz With A Heart” Gala Dinner
Community Drum Circl
Local and international artists on the three stages
A variety of workshops

Tickets to performances on the main stage are RM53.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Nutcracker in Singapore

The Nutcracker is coming to Singapore!

12 to 13, 17 to 20 December 2008
Esplanade Theatre
8 pm

Ticket Prices: $48, $68, $88, $108, $138

Tickets can be booked at Sistic. "Sweet 16" tickets are available for full time students and NS men

SISTIC Hotline: 6348-5555
Or email Singapore Dance Theatre at

If you are lucky, you can buy tickets at the door on performance nights.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Poetry Reading

The most recent poetry reading at Creek Kitchen was a lot of fun for me. I read a poem I'd written that seemed to fit in with the theme set for the night, transitions. After reading it I was explaining the form to the other participants. One of the regulars, a guy from Taiwan, is a professional guitarist. He looked it over and said, "This one could be set to music." We all talked about it, and our Taiwanese friend took out his guitar, played some "mood music," and one of the other guys (an American) read the poem again, fitting it in with the music. It was, to me, a lot of fun!

This was the last session at Creek Kitchen. We will be moving to a new venue for the next session. Keep a lookout here. I'll definitely post the new location. And I will look forward to seeing you there!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Announcement of Rescheduled Performances

The Grand in Galveston suffered a good deal of damage in Hurricane Ike. They have been working overtime to get the place back into operating condition, and are planning to reopen in January 2009 for performances. They have announced the dates for all rescheduled events, and you can view that information at their website.

This is a good opportunity to support the community as it rebuilds. If you haven't purchased tickets to view shows at The Grand yet, maybe doing so now would be one good way to help them get back on their feet and back into the routines of life in Galveston.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good XinJiang Cuisine on Nan Dan Lu

On Nan Dan Lu, you can find the newest branch of Yeshari Xinjiang Restaurant. The food is very nice, and the atmosphere is quite comfortable. It is usually a little crowded, so you'll want to be prepared to wait for a table, if necessary (I didn't have to wait when I was there, but there is often a queue.)

I enjoyed the lamb on a pita-type bread. The bread alone is very good too, and I didn't see until after I'd ordered that they also serve it with a plain dip, if you are not a fan of mutton. The bread and lamb are both specialties of Xinjiang cuisine, so it is well worth trying.

My favorite dish of the day, though, might have been the eggplant. It was cooked just right, and all of us enjoyed it very much.

The Nan Dan Lu branch of Yeshari is at number 147. There are several other branches, including one just down the road on Xie Tu Lu. I have heard that the atmosphere is not always as nice as this one, but that the food can be even better!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Drama Reading at the Ke Center

Over the weekend, I had the chance to attend a reading of Martin McDonagh's play The Pillowman. It was a Chinese translation (nicely done), and the readers were very good.

The stage was set up with the three characters involved in the early scenes sitting front and centre, while the narrator sat off to the side. Later, the narrator played the fourth character in the drama, with one of the other actors taking over as narrator, and the action moved to the left side of the stage then. Of course, in a drama reading, "action" is a bit of an overstatement. It is more that the readers relocated, and so the audience's attention followed.

Having said that, I was impressed with how active this reading was. The voice is much more than just a container for words and ideas. These actors really used their voices to perform, and it was impressive. Equally engage was the use of facial expressions, gestures, and body language. You could see that the text was alive for the readers, and they did a nice job bringing it to life for the audience as well.

There will be more dramatic readings coming up at The Ke Center. If you get a chance, it is very well worth attending.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Todd Boss Upcoming Poetry Readings

I was very excited when I first learned about the release of Todd Boss's poetry collection Yellowrocket. Boss is one of my favourite contemporary poets. In conjunction with the release of this collection, he is giving several readings in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I just received an email about the events. Since it isn't exactly in the vicinity of Shanghai, I won't be able to attend the readings, but thought I'd put the information up for those who can.

Boss's poetry is fun to read, and especially fun to listen to him read (I subscribe to his podcast). If you like hearing poetry read aloud very well, then Boss is someone you will enjoy very much. And if you get to hear him read in person at one of the upcoming events... I envy you!

The following information is taken from the email I received. (You might check in at Boss's website for updates. It looks like there might be a few more events listed there.)

November 17 (7pm)
Micawber’s Bookstore, Como and Carter Avenues, St. Anthony Park

November 20 (7pm) with Tim Nolan
Loft Literary Center, Washington Avenue, Minneapolis

December 16 (7pm) with a long list of other great local poets
University Club, Summit Avenue, St. Paul

There will be books available at all these readings, and we’ll probably go out for a celebration drink after each, depending on who’s around.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Biomedical Thriller Onstage

You can still catch Secret Order at the Alley Theatre in Houston now through Nov 23.

Biomedical thrillers are often fun to read and watch, but I don't think I have seen one onstage. Clyman, the plays author, doesn't necessarily go in for that label place on the play, seeing it instead as a dark play "with a science backdrop". Either way, it sounds like a fun night at the theatre!

The Neuhaus Stage, where this play is performed, is set up nicely, with the audience seated all around the stage. This sort of viewing is always lots of fun, and I think it allows for very innovative staging techniques.

Here are the details, if you'd like to catch the show:
By Bob Clyman
Directed by Charles Towers
Previews start October 24, 2008
Opens October 29, 2008
Ends November 23, 2008
Neuhaus Stage
TUE - THU, SUN evenings 7:30 PM
FRI and SAT evenings 8:00 PM
SAT and SUN matinees 2:30 PM

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chinese Art Gallery Tea & Cafe

Tucked into the alleys off of Taikang Lu, you can find many tea houses, cafes, restaurants, bars, and art galleries. I have a favorite spot there, the Chinese Art Gallery Tea & Cafe at Number 34. It is a bright spot, and can be very quiet in the afternoon. I've spend some afternoons there working in the quiet space upstairs, and found it pleasant to sit and daydream, read, or perhaps even doze off, when I've finished up whatever work I have to do. The art pieces hanging in the upstairs room are very pleasant, perfect company for both work and daydreaming.

The tea and fruit juices I've had there are all quite nice. The owner of the spot makes her own cookies, and they are both tasy and nutritious. She always gives a couple away free if you order a drink, and is quite proud of her handiwork (and rightfully so).

If you go into the alleys off 247 Taikang Lu looking for this spot, the best way to do so is to go in from Taikang Lu itself at the first entrance after Ruijing Lu. You won't have to walk too far before you find this place on the left. Take a book with you (unless you prefer daydreaming and dozing off) and plan on spending a quiet afternoon. It is a perfect place to relax in the middle of the big city.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

SAF Yacht Club, Sembawang

The SAF Yacht Club in Sembawang is a pleasant spot to sit in the afternoon with friends and have a nice cup of lime juice. I've been there often with different people, and we always enjoy the quiet spot to chat in a breezy setting by the sea. It is not the most picturesque location you will ever see, but the view is not all that bad, and it is a pleasant, cool, and quiet spot.

At night, there is sometimes a live band. I have not actually eaten there, mostly only going for an afternoon or late night spot to sit for a refreshing cup of lime juice, but I have heard that the food is not too bad. It is a good spot for cyclists to stop and cool down too, though they don't allow you to bring your bikes into the area near the jetty anymore. You'll have to make sure and bring your lock if you plan to stop here nowadays (pity, because I hate leaving my bike out of sight in places like this).

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Xi Bei Lang

I've passed by the Hong Kou branch of Xi Bei Lang many times, but only recently finally ate there. It is mostly BBQ, and the food is quite nice. I was surprised to see how much the people at the tables around me could eat — it is very filling, but it seems they had more and more food coming to the table all the time!

The condiments bar at Xi Bei Lang is nice. You have lots of different sauces available to accompany your flame-grilled goods. There were several spicy types of chili, and I took a good mix of those. The red cut chilies were good, as was the Guizhou-style chili sauce.

You can find the Hong Kou branch right next to the football stadium. If you take the lightrail, you can alight at the stadium, then walk north, and it will be in the first strip of shops as you walk. (No. 500 Jiang Wan Lu)

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Something Pretty

It's been a while since I took this picture of a dragonfly in Singapore, but I thought it was pretty. The contrast in the greens of the trees and the red of the dragonfly doesn't show up nearly enough here, but maybe just enough to give you a feel.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Booking Air Tickets in China

If you are traveling from China, you can book tickets at really good prices from C-trip. I recently bought tickets to travel from Shanghai to Xiamen at the end of the month, and got the tickets for a little less than half the normal rate. I think that as long as it is not peak season, it is not hard to find deals like this.

Also, I made a rather stupid error when booking the tickets, but caught it right away — unfortunately, it was after I'd paid for the tickets. I immediately called the number on the email. The staff was quick to help, and extremely polite. And it is no problem if you don't speak Chinese, as they speak English too. So far, I am very happy booking through C-trip. It is some of the best service I've ever seen in China.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival

It's that time of year again... time to get ready for the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival

This year's theme is Celebrating Cultural Diversity." Films will come from all over the world. Watch for more news on the screening of films from 26-29 November in various venues in KL.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Faust at Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre

On Oct 26, I was at the final show of the recent run of Goethe's Faust. I actually very much prefer Marlowe's version of the Faustus myth, but still enjoyed this show very much. As a text, Geothe's version is a bit melodramatic for my tastes (which is part of why I prefer Marlowe — what an amazing wit the man possessed!), but the actors did an excellent job of bringing the story to life. It was some of the best acting I have seen in a while.

The three main characters, Faust, Gretchen, and the devil, were wonderfully enacted, and the audience was clearly appreciative of the actors' skills. The play was a bit long, and slow at some parts, but these three made it work all the same. The ending was a beautiful montage involving these three actors, and I thought it to be one of the prettiest effects I have seen on the stage in a long time.

The choice to use traditional costume and sets might have made the play seem slower in parts than it had to. But, with the mix of some special effects for the Devil's tricks, and a hugely extravagant spectacle of dance and music appearing from time to time, it all worked out quite well. As with most shows I've seen at the Dramatic Arts Centre, this one was well done, and certainly worth the cost of admission.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Something Else

Something Else is an event kids won't want to miss. It is at the Ulu Pandan Community Club Theatrette, running 10 to 15 November. You'll get to see The Players Theatre, Singapore's leading children's theatre company, follow up on their previous successful events, including Ferdinand the Bull, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Alice in Wonderland, and Roald Dahl's "The BFG".

Tickets are $20 per person, or you can get a family package for $68 (4 people, including at least 1 child).

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