Friday, February 27, 2009

a typical Shanghai day

I am often asked by friends back home (either of my other two homes) what a typical day in Shanghai is like. My life is so lacking in routine that it is hard to give a rundown of what I do day in and day out, but I did manage to capture an experience typical of my life in Shanghai here.

If you want a feel for the every day here, that should do it. I think every foreigner who lives a "local" lifestyle in Shanghai would say that this experience is pretty much the norm.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Element Fresh

Element Fresh is a pretty nice blend of East meets West. The atmosphere at the Kwah branch (at the corner of Donghu Lu and Huai Hai Lu) is pretty snazzy, and you get a really big crowd there at lunchtime. We couldn't even get a table there last Friday afternoon! I've been to the Xujiahui branch as well, and it is somewhat less crowded in the middle of the day, so it might be a better bet if you want a quiet place for lunch.

The sandwiches and salads are good. I haven't eaten any of the Asian dishes there, but my friend last week said the sweet and sour duck was especially good too.

There's a pretty extensive menu, with lots of choices for both Western and Eastern taste buds.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

some good resources

I finally got myself signed up with C-trip last year, and now wish I had done so sooner. I've always seen it here and there, but had not paid much attention before. But then, last year when I went to Xiamen with my godchildren and their family, I signed up when I booked my tickets online. It turned out that we used C-trip to locate good prices on hotels several times, even getting an excellent deal on a huge suite in Xiamen when we returned, right on Zhongshan Lu.

I've come across another good resource recently for travelers in China, Sherpa. At Sherpa, you can find all sorts of good tips on places to eat in Shanghai and Suzhou. It is a good resource for scouting around and finding good food.

Of course, if your taste is much like mine, you'll find some recommendations for food here too, from time to time. But then, it is sure not to be as extensive as Sherpa's, as I haven't been to as many places as the writers there.... yet!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Decision Made!

I recently said in a post here that I had a decision to make — where to go for my visa renewal trip at the end of the month.

Being that the day I need to travel falls on a Friday, I talked a friend into going with me when she is off work. With our schedules being what they are, that means going on Friday night and coming back on Saturday. So.... best choice seems to be Hong Kong this time around. We'll travel via Shenzhen, then make our way around Hong Kong for a day before heading back.

In March, I'll need to make a similar trip. That time, my departure day falls on Monday, so I will most likely travel alone. I checked out prices to Seoul, and that is looking pretty good.

On the other hand, a friend from Singapore may be visiting then. If that is the case, I'll make travel plans with her. So, one decision down, and one still to go.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Man Who Came to Dinner

It's preview night at the Alley Theater again, and this time the show is a romping comedy. Moss Heart and George S. Kaufman's The Man Who Came to Dinner will run from Feb 25 - Mar 22 on the Hubbard Stage, with a preview tonight.

The performance will make use of a pretty big portion of the Alley Theater's cast, putting them to work in some funny, extravagant roles. Do get your tickets early, and enjoy the wild ride!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Youngest Poet

Last night at the Open Mic gathering at Friends Cafe, we had our youngest poet ever reading some of her work. Here's a picture of everyone's newest favorite poet, Edoukou.

In the second picture, she is chatting with William, the organizer of Open Mic. He does a great job, and was especially good helping our youngest participant ever feel comfortable enough to read some of her work.

If you can join us at the Friends Cafe (60 Xinle Lu) one Wednesday evenings at 7:30, maybe you'll get a chance to hear Edoukou read more poetry.

(She's planning to send me a few pieces, and I'll either post them here or at my other blog. Either way, I'll post an announcement at both sites to let everyone have a chance to see her work.)

*** Edited to Add:
Sorry I can't access the comments portion here, but I saw yours via email, ff&f. She is 10! ***

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bear and Chicken Go Camping

It's a good time to start making your plans for the upcoming March holiday in Singapore. From 5 March - 11 April, you can catch a showing of Bear and Chicken Go Camping, a play about the sun, moon, and shooting stars.

The performance is geared at ages 2-6, and is hosted by Little Company. Shows will be at the DBS Arts Centre. Katerina Tiapula is the writer, and it continues the series that began with When I Grow Up.

Gather up the little ones and make your plans to attend!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wanna Know How We Spend Valentine's Day in Shanghai?

Valentine's Day is getting to be a bigger and bigger holiday each year in Shanghai. You can read about my weekend at my Tai Shan blog. The sappiness of it all is somewhat shocking. I couldn't believe the traffic jam here on Valentine's Day... apparently caused by the flower vendors!

Stop over at Tai Shan for the whole scoop.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Games

Happy Games will be on the program for Saturday, Feb 21, at 10:15 am at the Little Friends Theater in Shanghai. Tickets are RMB 60, and they are selling quickly!

The Little Friends Theater is located at 4th Floor, New Building No. 4, No. 64 Yan'an Road (W), China Welfare Institute Children's Palace. It is an excellent place to bring your kids for entertainment, and also as an early exposure to the stage. Get your tickets now, and do make plans to bring the whole family to enjoy a program planned especially for the little ones.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

How New York City has changed

My 9-year-old nephew has done an interesting question for his homework this week, and said I could share it on my blog here. This is the set question, and his answer. (He'd like to hear your answers in the comments below too.)

In 2000, New York City had a population of over 8 million people. How do you think life has changed in New York City since 1776, when the population was 22,000 people.

Life in New York City has changed a lot since then did not have cars in 1776.

Having so many people would be a lot of change. People might have gone away, like recycled cans that get thrown away when they are old. There gets to be too many people. They might not understand each other's languages. There might get to be too many people. There's a lot more work for workers to do when there are so many people to take care of. If there are too many on the island, there is not enough land, so they cut down all the trees and build tall buildings.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Open Mic

The Open Mic session at Friends Cafe was especially fun this past Wednesday night, requiring us to get the creative juices flowing. We all wrote poems for the Lantern Festival (a couple of days late, but so what!).

If you'd like to see the outcome of our efforts, I've posted it at my Tai Shan blog. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you have fun reading the poems there.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Fantasy Oz Woods

At the Little Friends Theater on Feb 22, you can catch Fantasy Oz Woods. Showtime is 10:15 am, and the show is geared for kids. Tickets are RMB 60.

Bring your little ones down to join in the fun!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

lots of friends coming over

It's funny how it seems things always come in floods or in droughts. It seems that a flood is coming, having begun with a trickle last year.

The flood will be a flood of people. My friends and acquaintances, several from my hometown. All coming to Singapore for an extended period.

It began last August. A couple from my hometown moved to Singapore, and will stay for 3 years. (Of course, immediately after they moved to Singapore, I was away in Shanghai for two months!)

I just got word at the beginning of this year that one of my best friends will be stationed in Singapore for a while. (The couple will arrive while I am in Shanghai on this stay.)

And, a couple of weeks ago, I got word that my friend's daughter is moving to Singapore too, from my home town. (I'll be in Shanghai when she arrives too!)

It is going to be a fun time with all of my friends living in Singapore — too bad I'm not there to enjoy it with them! :-p (But not to worry, I'll be back before you know it.)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Defending the Caveman

Is Neanderthal behavior toward women defensible? Well, according to the longest running solo comedy in Broadway history... yes, it is.

Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman will be staged at the DBS Arts Centre 11-15 March.
Tickets are $40
Showtime is at 8 pm

All the reviews say it is a hilarious show, one that can be enjoyed by both sexes. Ads recommend the event as a perfect hen/stag night. It does sound like fun!

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Chinese New Year, I know, but...Scottish New Year?

My Singaporean friend is married to a Scottish man. During recent Chinese New Year celebrations, she told me that he brought some of his own Scottish New Year traditions over, wanting to apply them to his visitation during Chinese New Year.

There's one custom that, while it is very nice, just won't do during Chinese New Year. In Scotland, on Jan 1, you can visit any party you come across. There will be drinks and snacks, and you are welcome to stop in at any gathering to wish the hosts and other guests a happy new year — even if you don't know anyone present! For Chinese New Year, visitation is very much a time for family and friends, and not so much for outsiders, so you can imagine how this Scottish tradition might go over at such a time.

Still, when my friend told me about the customs of Scotland, I found it kind of nice. That open hospitality has a certain charm, even if it doesn't quite fit the Chinese way of celebrating. You can certainly see how nice it would be to feel welcome anywhere you wanted to go during the holidays.
What a warm, hospitable custom!

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Decision Time

With the recent good happenings where my visa is concerned, I have a decision to make. I've decided not to just extend my visa, as that means my multi-entry visa might get cancelled. Instead, I am going to leave the country for a short period (a day or two) and come back in as a means of renewing the length of time I may stay. I'll have to do that twice this time around.

So, here are the options:

• Hong Kong is the obvious one, and is where most people go for this sort of trip

• Japan, probably Fukoka — I've never stayed in Japan, though I've stopped in Narita Airport more times than I can count

• Korea, probably Seoul, but possibly Incheon

I am sure there are other options I've not yet thought of, but this is what comes to mind first, and I will probably do one of these (or maybe two different ones) during this 3-month stay in Shanghai. I'll be checking around for details in order to decide, and decision time will be upon me by the end of this month.

Any suggestions will be appreciated!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Poetry Reading

I was able to get back to the Open Mic poetry and music session this week, and it makes me all the more glad to be back in Shanghai. The group has moved to 60 Xinle Lu at the Friends Cafe (it's on the second floor). The staff there is really friendly and helpful, and the tuna sandwiches are really good.

There were a lot of new faces (at least new to me) at the Open Mic session, and we had a nice size crowd, despite the fact that some of the regulars were traveling. The theme for the evening was "Giving," and there were some fun readings and fun discussions.

Next week, the session will be two nights after Yuan Xiao Jie, so the Lantern Festival will serve as the theme. It will be at 7:30 each Wednesday at the Friends Cafe.

It is good to be back in Shanghai.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Chinese New Year in Singapore

I had a very fun Chinese New Year in Singapore this year. Here's a little video I put together of some of the activities we enjoyed.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Back in Shanghai

I am back in Shanghai, having just arrived yesterday. I'm looking forward to another extended stay. I've got plans to be here through the end of April.

On the agenda for this stay, I've planned for more language studies, hoping to continue with both general language studies and reading of Chinese literature. I'm also planning to see some shows while I am here (though at the time of writing I am not yet sure which ones I'll attend). I might travel to Hong Kong for a night or two, and perhaps make another trip or two to nearby places. And I have plans to do a good bit of writing, and hopefully catch up on some reading too.

The thing I most look forward to, though, is catching up with friends here. It seems that everyone has a very scattered schedule for the next several months, so having an extended stay here will be the only way to catch up with everyone. I'm very glad that the schedule has worked out for me to do so, and am really looking forward to the time here for the next few months.

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