Archive | October, 2014

The NBA in Shanghai

25 Oct
NBA in Shanghai!

NBA in Shanghai!

A couple of weeks ago we went to an NBA pre-season game in Shanghai between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.  I had read about it on a website a long time ago and convinced Li to get tickets back in August.  They weren’t cheap – even far up the tickets were over $100 USD, but I figured for once in seven years – why not?

They held the game at Mercedes Benz Arena – the last time I was there was when I went to the Elton John concert a couple of years ago.  This time I realized that the Chinese name is actually Mercedes Benz cultural center (文化中心).  I suppose Elton John and basketball are cultural events – but it’s not a literal translation of arena – that’s for sure.

We got to the game a little early to make sure we were able to soak in the experience.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like – and I haven’t been to an NBA game in over 8 years, but it was pretty much like I remembered.

Li had a great time too!  We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Li had a great time too! We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Our seats were great – we were right above one of the entrances so nobody was sitting in front of us and we had extra leg room which is always a plus.  I had a hot dog (seemed appropriate, though the chicken sandwiches appeared to be the more popular choices) and some popcorn and we enjoyed the dancers and people warming up the crowd.

Looking up above the big screen, I noticed that there were the Chinese and American flags at the top of the arena.  Basketball is fairly popular in China – Yao Ming is retired now, but he made an appearance court side and still caused a stir.  There were a couple of players who were definitely more well known than others who got huge rounds of applause.

A pair of flags - one in sport

A pair of flags – one in sport

It was obvious that some folks had never been to a western style sporting event before.  They had the “kiss camera” and the first several couples they zoomed in on seemed oblivious.  Finally one couple got the idea and the entire arena erupted into applause.

The game itself was high scoring with the lead changing constantly.  Players rotated throughout to get their minutes and things weren’t decided until the last two minutes or so – which meant everyone stayed until the end.  One highlight that occurred during the fourth quarter was that Shaquille O’Neal showed up as an ambassador for Meng Niu – which is a Chinese dairy company, in a cow print T-shirt to help judge a dance competition.  It was pretty funny and not something I think he would necessarily do in the US.

Enjoying the game

Enjoying the game

After the game was over we made our way slowly back to the subway.  I had never gone to an event there during the day, so we were treated to some nice views of Lujiazui across the river.  Development appears to be continuing in the area (which was the old 2010 World Expo site), but still not very much has happened, considering the Expo ended four year ago.  The Chinese pavilion still seems to be a big tourist draw – I have heard that it is a decent museum, so maybe one of these days we’ll go explore it.

We had a great time and am glad that we planned far enough ahead to enjoy it.  What was the last sporting event you went to?  Have you ever gone to a sporting event in another country where the culture is different?  Any fun stories?

 

 

The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth quarter review

22 Oct

I am trying to play catch up with my blog after such a long hiatus, so the content posted in the last nine months was not up to previous standards.  That said – I was reminded by my friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia that it is not a competition and I should continue to blog for the pleasure of it.

The eleventh quarter (like the last 12 months) was one of lots of travel – I had just finished six months at my new job and was definitely in the swing of things.  Unfortunately, that meant that the time I had to blog was reduced quite dramatically – meaning that I had to cut my post schedule, but I did manage to continue, which is more than I could say for June, July and August!

Even with the reduction in posts there were some fun elements and wanted to take the time to relive a couple of my favorites.  Do you remember either of these?

  • I posted on part of our trip to Greece and taking wedding photos in front of a certain church in “Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot).”  Every time I walk into my apartment I am reminded of that wonderful trip because our “money shot” has been blown up and framed on the wall above our couch.  Believe it or not, I have even more photos from Greece that never made it onto the blog – but at least I was able to give you a sense of the wonder of that honeymoon.  I would go back again in a minute!
The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

  • Replacing things in the new year (part 2) – My saga regarding the main air conditioner in our apartment where I narrowly missed an electrical fire thanks to the circuit breaker flipping.
    Would you use this plug?

    Would you use this plug?

    We have continued to have to replace things in this apartment, but did decide to stay another year when our lease came up in September.  The price is right, the location good and the landlord very responsive.  That said – I will predict now that this is our last year in this place (but I’ve been known to be wrong before.)  The most recent change was we got a new refrigerator at the end of August which we used as part of our negotiations.  It is larger than our old one and does not frost over every other week, so both of us consider it a good trade-up.

The eleventh quarter also contained Chinese New Year – introducing the Year of the Horse and after the official holiday we did slip off for a lovely vacation, so I’ll see if I have the energy to post on that one.  Any guesses where we went?

The twelfth quarter I also managed to get a handful of posts together – though this is when my work travel really started to pick up.  I’ll be posting retroactively on some of my trips (like the Hong Kong post earlier this month) to give you a sense of where I was and what happened – so more to come, but I did want to call out this post on living in Shanghai that I posted in May:

  • Door to door service – talked about the convenience of a big city – the good and the bad.  I’ve had even more things delivered since this post – not having to carry them and getting lower prices is a strong incentive, but luckily I have not had any more visits from the police recently.

I also thought I would leave a teaser – not all my travel in the twelfth quarter was for work.  Li and I managed to slip in a trip to Bali at the end of April that was absolutely phenomenal.  Here are a couple of photos.

A temple - and beautiful blue sky

A temple – and beautiful blue sky

Exotic Indonesian fare

Exotic Indonesian fare

Finally – the thirteenth quarter when I started posting again.

My most popular post was on Taxi Roulette – trying to figure out the best way to get a taxi and get around this city.  I have downloaded a new taxi app recently and am trying it out as well.  We’ll see how the taxi situation continues to evolve here in Shanghai.  Also – as per one of the comments – I have finally seen the new gold taxis on the streets.  They look like London Black Cabs, but they are gold – and since I was in London in June, I have a pretty recent comparison.  I haven’t ridden in one yet and don’t know if they are more expensive or have any special features, so more to come.

There are a couple of posts that continue to rack up the page views – even when I wasn’t posting which I find very interesting and thought I would call them up here as well.

1) Buying a jade bangle – which I did in Hong Kong two years ago AND

2) The pineapple cake wars – my descriptions of the two main competing pineapple cakes in Taipei in the summer of 2013.

I am guessing that somehow these two posts have gotten picked up by one or more search engines and they provide a steady stream of visitors to my blog.  It was definitely strange when I came back to see that traffic had not dropped all that significantly – which could be a good thing or a bad thing!  Folks don’t tend to leave comments on those posts now though – so I really appreciate those of you who stayed with me during the hiatus and your support as I share about my jumbled life.

Now I am (kind of) up to date, so hope to be back here soon with more stories in Shanghai and looking back over the last year.

Did I miss any posts you would have put at the top of your list?

 

More dumplings! Discovering Paradise Dynasty

18 Oct
Eight different types of soup dumplings!

Eight different types of soup dumplings!

I was lucky to have my mother visit me over the recent October holidays.  We had clear skies, readily available taxis (because so many people were out of town) and we ate like queens.  Each day we tried something special – either something I hadn’t had the opportunity to try before – or that I thought she needed to experience while in Shanghai.  It was a great visit.

On one of her first days, we tried something that had been on my list – Paradise Dynasty (乐新皇朝) – a dumpling restaurant that is known for its varied types of Soup Dumplings (小笼包).  I had been eating with colleagues at another restaurant talking about Din Tai Fung but one said she like Paradise Dynasty better.  One late afternoon we were in the new iapm mall in Jing An and I noticed that they had a branch there.  It seemed destined that we try their dumplings.

Their most famous basket of dumplings is the picture at the start of this post.  They give you a sampler of all of the different kinds of flavors you could think of.  In the middle is the traditional pork and then surrounding it there were cheese, foie gras, spicy Sichuan, black truffle, mushroom, crab and spinach dumplings (in no particular order).  Some of them we loved – the crab and spinach especially, others like the cheese were pronounced kind of strange.

In addition to the soup dumplings we ordered steamed veggie dumplings and the traditional pan fried shengjianbao (生煎包) pork dumplings.  They were lighter than Xiao Yang‘s and very good.  I would go back for more.

Finally, because we ordered the traditional basket and I shared it on my WeChat group they gave us a free basket of durian dumplings for the publicity.  My mom had never had durian before and Li really likes it so I went along.  They were okay – but I’m not sure I would get them again – I find durian has a strange after taste that lingers for a very long time.

All in all a very successful dumpling experience that I would recommend if you’re in Shanghai.

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When you have visitors do you take them to tried and true favorites or do you experiment?  This trip we tried a little of both and I think the balance worked out great.

What is your favorite type of dumpling?

Happy Valley – a night at the races

8 Oct

Since I took my hiatus from the blog earlier this year, there are lots of places that I have visited in the last six months – both for pleasure and business – that I’d like to share now that I have some more time to go back through my memories.  Enjoy!

During my trip to Hong Kong in April I went to Happy Valley for the first time.  Happy Valley is Hong Kong’s horse racing track and they have races every Wednesday night there.  We were doing a launch for a new product, so had invited partners to celebrate with us and hear a product overview.

Because of the crazy rain the three days previous I wasn’t really sure what to expect – or even if the horses would race, but luckily the rain started letting up just before we headed over.  The box was packed with people ready to gamble and eat (I think our product launch was just the excuse).  They had a mix of traditional Hong Kong favorites and classic western dishes and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The last time I had been at the races was when I was still working in Chicago at a summer outing to Arlington Race Track.  I didn’t remember much about betting and so had to ask advice from others and study the guide.  In addition – some of the names for the types of bets you could place were different as well because Hong Kong follows the British system instead of the American betting system.

I had decided before I went that I would be leaving after the third race because I had a phone call later that evening.  I was so caught up in eating that I missed the opportunity to place a bet on the first race, but for the second I studied my book and my horse came from behind!  It was amazing – my odds were pretty much the highest on the board and I won at a 9 to 1 ratio.

After such a great win, I didn’t bet on the last race and slipped out as the rest of my colleagues and partners settled in for a late night.

The lone photo I took as I headed back to the hotel.  I'm not sure I would describe Hong Kong as the "Equine Capital" - but it was a fun night!

The lone photo I took as I headed back to the hotel. I’m not sure I would describe Hong Kong as the “Equine Capital” – but it was a fun night!

I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Happy Valley and would gladly go back for another Wednesday evening of fun next time I’m in Hong Kong.

Have you tried something again after a long absence and had a great experience?  I am not a gambler (despite many actuaries being very serious about playing the odds, especially for poker) – but the win was a bit addictive.  Share your travel or local explorations!

A telephone booth with a twist

4 Oct

Telephone booths in Shanghai are disappearing with the modernization of the city, but there are still quite a few.  Most of the remaining ones have been changed into wireless hot spots and I can’t remember the last time I have actually needed to use one since my mobile phone is always in my pocket or purse.

I was heading back home from somewhere and the taxi was waiting at a red light.  I looked to the left and saw this advertisement stuck on the side of the phone booth.

The color of the ad matches the phone booth!  Have you seen an ad for ketchup recently?

The color of the ad matches the phone booth! Have you seen an ad for ketchup recently?

Look familiar?

Ketchup is a staple food in China, though it is more likely to be used with fried eggs and tomatoes than French fries.  I can’t remember the last time I had seen a print ad for ketchup and it struck me as very funny – a US brand advertising a product on a telephone booth in Shanghai.

Behind the phone booth you can see the bamboo scaffolding which is used on the traditional row houses each year as the roofs are checked.  Another part of life in Shanghai.

What ads have you seen lately that have caused you to smile?

There’s always time for sunsets

1 Oct

Autumn is my favorite season in Shanghai.  The winds blow away the pollution, the nights get cool and there can be beautiful, beautiful sunsets.

The first glance out the window

The first glance out the window

We saw this one from our kitchen window on a recent weekend.  Dinner waited as we both stared in awe at the colors that splashed across the sky.  The sunset felt prophetic – the light leading into the heavens.

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IMG_20140921_180318

Ten minutes later – it was gone, only a memory.

Just before it disappeared

Just before it disappeared

I’m glad I took the time for this sunset.

Happy National Chinese holidays to you all.  Today kicks off a week of vacation during the best time of the year.  We’ll be staying in Shanghai – too much travel for me this year – and enjoying the fall.

Hopefully there will be some more sunsets soon!

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