Posts Tagged With: western perspective

A Market For Everything

It seems like Shanghai has a market for everything. Want new clothes made, go to the Fabric Market. Need some electronics then the electronic market. How about souvenirs, luggage, knock offs? There is a market for that too. I have shown you Art Street, a sort of market for paintings. A class trip even brought us to a flower market. I needed new glasses, where did I go? The glasses market of course! Spread across the city there is a market for a variety of things, whatever your needs. I have stumbled on some, explored others and have many more to discover.

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A market I heard about my first year here has been on my ‘do-to’ list for a while. We had visitors from home last week and they love shopping.  I decided we should take them to see more of ‘real’ China and explore a market that would be filled with sights, sounds, smells and crowds. The market in question was a bird and insect market. The market promised a variety of interesting insects, many of them crickets used for fighting. Small birds and other pets would also be housed here. Now it is not your Western Pet Store, so a warning of cramped and crowded conditions was mentioned in the description as I searched for the address of the location.

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After a wrong turn we found our way jostled by people cramped on a crowded, narrow sidewalk. We eventually made our way to doorway leading to the market. Immediately cricket chirping deafened our ears. Pushy people came pouring in as we stopped and adjusted our senses to all we were seeing and hearing. Stalls and small storefronts no larger than a small closet lined the maze of rows of stalls. Our first section houses turtles, fish and crickets. At the next turn were small birds and bamboo cages. As we neared the end hamsters, guinea pigs and bunnies were for sale, housed in cages and small plastic containers or boxes.

Most of the patrons were locals with a sprinkling of tourists or western expats  like us wanting to snap some interesting photos. Most vendors did not notice or care, but some shooed us on saying ‘NO’ when they spotted us raise our camera. The market was not as big or interesting as the one we saw in Hong Kong, but a cool side trip not far from Xintiandi and YuYuan Garden. The address is:  South Xizang Rd, 西藏南路 From Line 10 get off at Laoximen. It is only a short walk from the metro. Turn right out of the subway away from the Bread Talk and Electronics store.

Stay tuned….

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Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Unexpected: Photo Challenge

This week’s theme from Word Press is unexpected. If you have been following this blog since the start in July 2010 you have read many stories about the unexpected events, sights and situations in Shanghai. Everything was new to us and very different from home. We often stopped and did a double take because things were so unexpected. I posted pictures and stories about different things we found unexpected like the “Chinese Family” motor bike where 2 adults and 1 or 2 kids are all on a small motor bike. No helmets, seatbelts, just hold on tight. I have also tried to get photos of the motorbikes with small trailers piled high with recycling, but can never get the camera ready fast enough. I caught a few smaller versions, but not the ones that seem miles high. They are also less common now as more road safety rules are enforced.

So how do I tempt you and interest you with something unexpected? As we are into our fourth year less and less seems to jump out at us as unexpected. Now it is all part of daily life. Such a shame since the awe and wonder of everyday street life made even the most ordinary fun. I went through the ‘archives’ and tried to find something new and unexpected that I haven’t shown you before. Something new and different and certainly not what you would expect.

Staff Parking:

When you think of staff parking, especially at a school, you think of a long paved area filled with numerous cars. Our parking area fits 3-4 cars only. On the street another 3-4 people park. Cars are expensive here and you must wait for a lottery system to get a licence plate before you can have a car. Some people wait months, maybe years for their name to be drawn so they can have the opportunity to buy a car. Getting a licence is a very long test and cars are super expensive. Other rules that restrict hours of driving or plate numbers can only drive on certain roads on alternating days are just some of the rules around cars. With pollution woes the government has stated they will restrict driving and new cars further in attempt to help with pollution levels. Now that is up for debate since really all the cars are probably not the prime cause, but I will leave that argument for another time.

Staff Parking -bikes and motor scooters

Staff Parking -bikes and motor scooters

If you have seen any photos of China you always notice many bikes and motorcycles on the road. Our staff parking consists of ‘bike’ parking. It was so hard to get a spot sometimes! Finally the school extended the parking area, so now there is room for bikes and electric scooters to all fit comfortably. The bike area is covered, so on rainy days your bike can stay dry. Many staff will opt for the bus on rainy days, so the bike is dry and protected allowing it to stay safe until a dry day.

Workout Gym:

Each compound has an area I thought was a play area until I looked closer. It is not a playground for kids, but an area to workout. That was totally unexpected. This outdoor gym held a variety of metal equipment similar to the fancy electric stuff you find at any gym, but needs only human power to operate. Best thing about this gym it is free, no membership and the lines are relatively small. As the east becomes more westernised younger locals are opting for the paid membership gyms with modern equipment and pools. The older residents seem to continue to use these workout areas on a regular basis. I was going everyday and really enjoying it. Having trees and flower gardens around you as you worked out was very peaceful. Now that the pollution levels are higher I have been using them. The weather is the one drawback to a gym outdoors.

Let's Get Physical and Work Out

Let’s Get Physical and Work Out

Laundry:

Back home we have a clothesline at my parent’s house where my mom still likes to hang laundry to dry clothes outside. Our house was built before the subdivision behind us and the newer homes are not allowed to have clothes lines. The reasoning was it looks too messy and draws away from property values! Crazy right? That is not the case here in China. Even apartment dwellers hang laundry out to dry. If you have a balcony there are contraptions that raise and lower so you can hang the laundry easily. If you don’t have a balcony no worries just hang it out the window! Some buildings have folding metal clothes lines while others use long poles of bamboo or metal. The best is still just a random shirt or pair of undies hanging on a coat hanger in a tree or on a pole. We went to Tianzifian a cool area of Shanghai that have lots of interesting little shops and bars. Narrow allies twist and turn in an area that has been converted into more of a tourist haven for expats and locals alike. It would be like wandering the waterfront in Toronto. Walking down one alley it was funny and much unexpected to see someone’s laundry hanging out to dry.

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

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Be sure to check out Word Press for more unexpected posts. What have you seen that is unexpected? Post your link to a post, or just comment below.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hallowe’en In Shanghai -Pixelventures

Pixelventures theme for the week is Hallowe’en and they asked for something less commercial, but I couldn’t resist showing you what Hallowe’en looks like in Shanghai.

DSC05168Our first year here in 2010 I was disappointed to learn, even though I was working at an international school, we couldn’t celebrate Hallowe’en due to some people against the ideas and beliefs surrounding the day. Many of my students who were American still went trick or treating within their compounds or had parties the weekend closest to Hallowe’en. To my surprise the local Carrafour shop had a few items for Hallowe’en like decorations and hats or wands. The next year there was more items and the third year, last year, we saw displays at some local restaurants, and the large western style Mall at the Kerry Parkside even had a haunted house display. Pizza Hut even had their employees wearing silly Hallowe’en inspired headbands. That year when I returned from work some local children had dressed up and gathered in the lobby of our building. I am not sure if they were trick or treating, but they were in costume.DSC05165

As Georgia stated in her post, slowly the American tradition and commercialism has spread to where she lives in Italy and the costumes and dressing up collecting treats is more and more wide spread. It has even reached us here half-way ’round the world in China. Slowly as I said the idea and tradition seems to spread. I am not sure if it is the expats bringing the idea to local neighbourhoods where some richer local people live, or the locals finding out more about this custom. Maybe it is just curiosity from the costumes and decorations that we use, after all they all are made here!

 

Last night we were at the Kerry Parkside Hotel/Mall for dinner and local Chinese children were in capes, wearing witch hats and face paint. Two large jack ‘o’ lantern displays were actual stalls where they were selling these costumes and doing the face painting. It all was a  little tacky and lack of true understanding of our traditions and commercialism turned into a fun night at the mall.

 

DSC05167I snapped a few photos of Carrafour today with their meager display, few tacky cheap costumes and aisles of Hallowe’en decorations. A TV has been set up playing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” over and over again to grab the attention of a whole new generation and culture. Is this what they think Hallowe’en is? I am curious to know if Hallowe’en has spread to other major cities in China and what it looks like.

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Categories: teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

World Through My Eyes: Weekly Photo Challenge

My whole blog is about the world and how I (we) see things as we live away from home. Here in Shanghai, China and as we tour around Asia I (we) show you what we see. I bring my thoughts, ideas, observations and pictures to a different way of life. All this is through my (our) eyes and how we interpret what we see. I try to see the good and humour in things and this blog has helped me not only stay in touch with home and give them updates, but keep me sane! Life here away from all that is familiar can sometimes be tough as we fight through language and cultural barriers or different rules and regulations. We must keep an open mind and remember we are only visitors here; our way is not necessarily the right way. Life here has brought to us many challenges and adventures.

As I learn and grow as a photographer I look for interesting shots and things to capture forever, frozen in time. These are the things I want to share with you all and remember as unique and special about our time here. This photo shows so many things as I saw them through my own eyes….

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It was taken yesterday around Yu Yuan Gardens which has numerous shops, stalls and markets to buy everything from fake bags and watches to pearl and jade jewelery, or souvenirs of many kinds. This photo not only shows the traffic, people and shops, but also the old and new buildings. In the back ground you can see the newest addition to the skyline (soon to be Shanghai Tower), which will be the tallest building once complete. The skyline is not clear and you may strain to see the buildings, which is due to the higher level of pollution that has plagued the city the last few months. This past winter was the worst on record (since we arrived) and we had some extreme days. Things improved for a short time, but the last weeks have been bad again. We have had a few indoor recess times with the higher levels of pollution. When levels are over 200 we stay inside.

All these things I see through my eyes on a daily basis…. or strain to see on ‘red level days’. 😉 because the skyline is blurred and fuzzy with pollution. The old and new always amaze and interest  me. The city that has grown and developed, so fast it has widened the gap between cultures and those with designer flash and those that want to (or have to) hold onto old world charms coexist in one big city.

How do you see the world? Comment below or if you have a WP account post your own here.

What do you see through my eyes photo?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Signs: Weekly Photo Challenge

Signs point us in the right direction. When a road sign doesn’t point us where to go in life we look for signs all around us to help us make big decisions and choices. Word press has set the theme SIGNS this week and I have posted on funny signs around my neighbourhood last year. If you want to see them click here.

For signDSC03768s on this week’s post I have a few photos of the real estate signs. A group of people will stand at intersections and bridges with signs advertising apartments and houses for rent. If you walk past, or stop in the car they will come over and give you flyers and print outs of information. They are out rain or shine…

 

They are on phones and chatting to each other, but quickly come to attention soon as someone passes by. They generally leave us alone since they figure we have limited Chinese. It is so different from real estate back home.

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Real Estate offices rarely have people inside them as they all congregate outside trying to catch the passing foot traffic. In these shots you can see a few other road signs in the background too.

 

Speaking of road signs I thought I should capture a few typical road signs. Stop signs are the same colour and shape… but can you spot the difference? 😉

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Another typical sign is an emergency 911 style sign, but I have only seen them around schools. 110 is the emergency number here. Luckily it is also in English I would miss the meaning altogether.

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What kinds of signs are in your neighbourhood? Tell us about them in the comment box below, or head over to Word Press to find out how to post your own examples!

 

Check our my post on the cost of Shanghai (just hit older post at the bottom of this one) that I did earlier this week… and stay tuned for more next week as I get back to report cards.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tourist in my own Town: Longhua Temple, Shanghai

I thought of a series I should do about the touristy things that we see here in Shanghai, so over the next few weeks, or longer I can post on some of the sights on and off the beaten track here in Shanghai, and then at home, when I return for a few weeks over the summer holiday. Let us begin…. Welcome to the first installment of Tourist in My Own Town.

As you know I am NOT Chinese, nor do I speak Chinese, although I do try. I am starting to understand a few words and my feeble attempts can sometimes turn into a very brief conversation which I am extremely proud. This small understanding is showing progress and a grasp I now have of a difficult language that when I first arrived was a jumble of angry, loud sounds. I thought everyone was always arguing. Now I can understand the difference between words, some of which I recognise and sometimes I catch an odd word that I can actually understand. I have never taken a lesson and I work in an English environment, so my learning curve is pretty slow 😉 Who knew that one day we would call China home? I always dreamed about living abroad and getting to see more of a city, culture and lifestyle very different from my own, but never in a million years did I ever dream it would be Shanghai.

After 3 years of calling Shanghai home I have had a few opportunities to get out and do the touristy things. Often, just like home work and every day life take up the majority of our waking hours, so we visit the same few block radius to eat, shop and explore. Our radius expanded 8 months after we arrived with the opening of the Kerry Parkside which is a complex that houses a high-end hotel, marvelous mall with Western shops like the Gap and H & M, delicious restaurants and coffee shops. Since our time is limited here I decided we should start to get out and explore a bit more of this world class city before we head home for good.

Hundreds of Golden Buddhas

Hundreds of Golden Buddhas

As you know I LOVE the show the Amazing Race and have been watching it since season 1. The Race has been in Shanghai 2-3 times and the one season visited Shanghai was just after I accepted the job here and was starting to pack for my overseas adventure. We have hit many of the spots the Race went to including Science and Technology Museum, The Bund, and Yuan Garden. One spot I had been looking for was a temple that had hundreds of golden Buddha statues. We thought it was at Jing’An temple and kept planning to go, but always got sidetracked. Finally we planned a few weekends back that we would go. After a last minute search I discovered Jing’An was not the place the Amazing Race went, nor the one with all the golden Buddhas. Instead we went to a more out of the way Temple at the South End of the city on Line 3 called Longhua Temple.

 

Off the tourist track and a little out of the way we took a subway (after a few connections and about 50 minutes from where we live) and exited in a location that had more locals and next to no tourists. The directions we found on the internet were vague at best and no signs directed us where to go next. We asked a woman who understood some English and she pointed us in the direction of the street we wanted. The directions we had said walk East for 15 minutes, but the street veered off and we were not sure where to go. A large intersection with many lanes of traffic demanded a high pedestrian bridge, so we used it as a vantage point. From this height we could see a pagoda style building and decided that was it and headed for it. Once we arrived at this building we discovered it was an apartment complex,so where to next since our only option was right or left? Still no signage to point us in the right direction and neither one of us thought to bring a map.However, to the left was something that looked like a park, so left it was. Small shops selling fireworks and other funerary style offerings lined the right side of the street, so we figured we must be getting close? Once we came around the end of this block of building we saw a small towering pagoda that was no longer open to the public, but across the road large red gates with lion head knockers and a ticket booth with a 10 Yuan sign in the window told us we must be at our destination, Longhua Temple.

The temple was actually a courtyard and a series of small

Longhua Temple - just inside the main entrance

Longhua Temple – just inside the main entrance

temples housing many different displays and offerings. As we entered we could take some incense to burn. Many people were in prayer and bowing before continuing inside the series of buildings. It was a very peaceful and quiet place. I wish I understood more about Buddhism as I saw the many gods, fruit and food offerings and some people kneeling before gods and praying. Each building was different and held colourful and golden statuary of gods. According to China Travel Guide it is the oldest temple in Shanghai and the original temple was build here in 242AD. It is also the largest in Shanghai and built in the traditional symmetrical style. The pagoda across the street is actually a bell tower which is seven stories (or 40 m) tall. It is one of the few remaining structures from 977AD and is very fragile, so its balconies and views from the top are no longer accessible to the public. Wikipedia further states it comes from the Tang Dynasty, but after most of it was damaged and destroyed in war it was rebuilt in the Song Dynasty (977AD). It was refurbished in 1954, but kept the same style and design in the newer reconstructions of the Song Dynasty.

 

Each building held something new and learning about the history and traditions of a foreign culture are quite interesting. Seeing something that is in the city where I live that I had never seen before made it even more fun and I felt like I went on a mini vacation without even getting on a plane, or needing a passport. All this was right in my own town. Why not play tourist and share something from your home town? Put a link to your post  in the comment section below (and link back to this post) and we can all learn about a new place to visit, or take a mini break without even leaving our living room 😉

Stay tuned… I will still post on the photo challenges for this week.

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, post a week, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Art Street: Shanghai

Shanghai seems to have a street or market for everything. At Science and Technology is the fake market where you can buy designer clothes, bags, watches that can fool even the best trained eye. There is also an electronics market that sells all brands of computers, phones and cameras plus more. I have even been to a glasses market that has 2 or more floors of vendors selling glasses… talk about overwhelming! It is worth going to though and for the price of 1 lens in Canada I got two pairs of glasses (frames AND lenses) all made in an hour! That was worth the trip across the city through a maze of streets and subway changes.

Art Street Shanghai

Art Street Shanghai

In September, a small group of us went to Art Street where copied or original art can be purchased. Some pieces are super cheap! The street was long and narrow and we arrived as most vendors were just setting up shop for the day. Funny how in most cities you avoid narrow alleys, but here we seek them out! Paintings were displayed outside of shops no larger than a guest bathroom and just as tight to move around. Piles of paintings 10-20 deep lined the walls in a variety of sizes and designs. Some were better than others, but looking to bring colour to your school apartment plain and boring  white walls it was worth a look. However, John and I didn’t go to buy, but for the experience.

One of the many fantastic painters on Art Street.

One of the many fantastic painters on Art Street.

We quickly saw all we could see and were at the end of the small alley. A sign in Chinese pointed up a narrow outdoor staircase, so we decided to have a look. Above the street was more shops with not only paintings, but fabulous furniture hand carved and in many designs. Upholstery was also offered here.

Who knew Mona Lisa was in Shanghai?

Who knew Mona Lisa was in Shanghai?

Back downstairs more vendors had arrived and started to paint. It was interesting to watch as they carefully copied a small  picture from a book onto canvas. The detail was incredible…. We watched each carefully laid stroke and colour to become a part of a work of art. Some vendors even copy photos! Amazing…

Often the workers bring their small children to work. Watching them play beside the beautiful elephant carvings was a great opprotunity for a qucik shot.

Often the workers bring their small children to work. Watching them play beside the beautiful elephant carvings was a great opportunity for a quick shot.

Just wandering the simple streets and watching the people made me realise why we are still here and love Shanghai. You never know what you are going to see… there is always something new to discover and the reward of finding it brings joy and builds many happy memories that we will forever cherish of our time when we once lived in China. Something I still have to remind myself…. a girl from a small 3 stop light town left the comforts of all things familiar and is living in the bright lights and big city of Shanghai! This is me… pinch me am I still dreaming?

Me trying to be artistic :)

Me trying to be artistic 🙂

Makes me think of meeting some of my old teachers and classmates at a reunion… they would be shocked to know the quiet shy girl they once knew  is living abroad. What do you think someone would find unbelievable about you?

 

Stay tuned… Immie has awarded me Blog of 2012 and I will post on that shortly…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, everyday occurances, Photography, post a week | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We’re not in Kansas Anymore…

This line from the movie the Wizard of Oz can sum up many things I have experienced in China. Old and new traditions and affluence intermingle on the streets as opportunity has blessed some, and others continue with what they know and can do to sustain life. Shanghai has been very modern and a few extra quai (slang for money) can buy many of the western creature comforts I have become familiar with. Sometimes a $12 box of Pop Tarts or Golden Graham cereal just need to fill the palate as something familiar. Generally we do without, but it is nice to know it is there is we really need a ‘fix’. 🙂

Living in PuDong is easy. Many western expats live here, shops and restaurants cater to us and with a little Chinese and English we can get by. The streets are wider, more green space and it is quieter. A good place to have called home for 3 years. For others in the search of real China, you will not find it here. The bright lights, and big modern city feel rival other major cities around the world. Seeing flash cars drive by on a daily basis really clouds your view of what lies behind the curtain.

Last spring as you may recall I went to the Magda Danysz Art Gallery. It used to be along the Bund, a popular tourist ‘must see’ as it lines the river, many hotel chains and big beautiful buildings are all within easy reach. The view of the World Financial Tower (Bottle Opener), Pearl Tower,  JinMao and progress of the soon to be tallest building in Shanghai, Shanghai Tower is awesome, especially at night. The Amazing Race TV program just filmed here recently and the first few episodes of this season you may have seen this incredible area as teams ran along the Bund looking for the abacus and pit stop. It stretches as far as the eye can see and is usually wall to wall people out taking a stroll. The gallery decided to move to another location, away from the tourist area. As promised I finally will post our adventures to the gallery.

Magda Danysz  is a small gallery with free admission. They host many local artists as well as have small accommodations so visiting world artists may come and stay and be inspired in Shanghai. Their art can then be put on display and for sale. We really enjoyed the show and you can read that post by visiting here. Today’s post is not about the gallery, so let’s get back to the adventures.

Items for sale from the back of a bike!

My Chinese co-teacher helped me write the directions for the taxi driver in Mandarin and our group of 3 jumped in a cab and set off for the gallery. A short ride over the bridge we turned off the highway into a small neighbourhood. We glanced at each other and thought there may be some mistake as this looked residential and not artsy or business like at all. We passed carts selling various items, animals, fruits and vegetables… all very interesting to look at. A short moment later the taxi stopped. We looked blankly at him so he pointed to an abandoned looking building. With limited communication between us he showed us the paper and the only recognisable symbols were the numbers which matched what was on this building. We got out of the taxi and felt like Dorothy when she left the house and realised she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. We looked around and there was no sign of the gallery and our taxi has sped off. Nothing looked like the photos of the gallery from the website. We were stuck. We decided to wander back down the way we came and look at the interesting wares the locals were selling, so all would not be lost. If nothing else today would be an interesting photo opportunity and blog. 🙂

Cute Bunnies for Sale

The local sellers had cages and inside were fluffy cute  bunnies and chicks. Another held crickets! Looking around us the streets were narrow, dirty and crowded with things. Everything was so dull and grimy my senses were overwhelmed with what I saw. Buildings were not in the best repair and there was not another westerner in sight. We didn’t feel uneasy as we were ogled by the locals, as they were as curious of us as we were of them.  I kept thinking is this Shanghai? This is certainly not the Shanghai I had become accustomed to. It was like we went to another city, or part of China. Was I dreaming? Had we been transported back in time? This is what pictures of Shanghai looked like maybe 20 or 30 years ago. It certainly was surreal.

Crickets for Sale

We are not in Kansas any more Toto! IS this Shanghai?

We decided to walk back towards where the cab had dropped us off and see if we could find this gallery. As we approached from this angle the empty building where we had been deposited had a small sign on its left side with a MD and arrow pointing back into the alley/parking area. Should we dare? We walked back and after a few hundred meters we saw something that looked like a gallery. We went inside and sure enough it was the right place. Explaining our misadventures to the people there they laughed and said the photos were from the opposite side of the building, which has no street access! Maybe finding the gallery was part of the art adventure they planned… only the brave and clever were lucky enough to enter.

Anywhere else I think I would have worried and panicked being dropped in an unfamilar, poor looking neighbourhood, but this is Shanghai where adventures await and no matter where you are you are safe. In a city this size crime is low and the occasional scam or pick pocket seems juvenile compared to other big worldly cities. Shanghai offers so much and even after 3 years there is still so much to see and do. More adventures await. Stay tuned for more…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, post a week, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

As you know my husband and I live in Shanghai, China. Before we came I worried about the language, culture shock and all things foreign. It was on the other side of the world from where home was and all that is familiar. To our surprise Shanghai is very modern, many western people  live here, and western items and cultures have a place here. Since this is our 3rd year here less and less is foreign and more everyday life. There are always a few things that still catch our eye and make us say ‘shaw-ma’? (what?) and do a double take. When I thought about this post I wondered what could I show you that was different from what I have talked about before and something that was still a little new to me. What could be rare and maybe not in other places in the world, or made it (or was common) to North America?

I decided to show you Hot Pot. What is that you ask? Well it is a way of cooking and eating… a very social and communal way to eat a meal. I was first introduced to it last spring and I was hooked. A large pot of broth is brought to the table and there are many flavours to choose from like your standard beef and chicken broth, but also more unusual like mushroom and fruit. Once you pick your simmering broth you pick what you would like to eat… the choices include a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles. The water comes to a boil and you place your thinly sliced items in the pot until they are cooked. A selection of sauces, spices and oils are spread out in a smorgesbourg bar style fashion. You pick the ones you like and after your food cooks you add it to the small bowl of sauce and eat it. The food cooks within in minutes. Large plates come to the table so everyone can share and cook what they want. Some hot-pot places do individual pots, but most hold 1 large communal table pot for everyone to use.

individual hot-pot and all the trimmings

As us westerners are still getting the hang of chopsticks slippery food often falls back in or gets lost. Fishing around for it with two thin sticks cause some giggles and fun as everyone may dive in and help you find your missing morsels. A few weeks ago one of the coordinators from school hosted a hot-pot and invited everyone from work to go since this is a rarity and unknown in so many other places. This particular restaurant in Shanghai has been voted number one. Its popularity is easy to see as the waiting area was crammed with people and a line up was out the door. Thank goodness we had a reservation.  To entertain the waiting crowds origami, games, shoe polishers and manicures await to help you pass the time. I even think there was massages available! Can you imagine going to your local restaurant and instead of having a few drinks at the bar you were pampered as you passed the time?

Hong Kong Style Hot Pot with ‘chimney’ in the centre

Amazing… some foreign things do not have to be strange or bizarre, but amazing and getting out of our home countries and experiencing things make life more interesting and exciting. What foreign custom would you like to adopt?

One last plug for the Canadian Blog Awards… they close Nov. 1st. I would appreciate your vote for best expat/travel blog… you can do that here. Thanks and figers crossed I move onto round 2!

If you would like to participate in this weeks photo challenge or see more things foreign check out WordPress.

Stay tuned… there is always more!

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flat Stanley : Seoul Man

This week was National Holiday in China and we had a weeks holiday. After getting some work completed and reports done we booked a short trip to Seoul, Korea. As I explained in my last post , my class was doing the Flat Stanley Project where each child would take a paper cut out of Flat Stanley with them on their vacation. I of course also participate. My class enjoys hearing about our adventures as much as sharing their own. Many excited 7 year olds left with Flat Stanley and  a journal tucked away safely in their backpacks, so they could embark on their own personal adventure. Their imaginations soared with ideas of what they would encounter and pretend to be a part of a story.

Thanks to Henricus for the idea for the title as our adventure began in Seoul.

Traditional Palace Grounds

My best score for a photo had to be getting Flat Stanley into a photo shoot with a woman in traditional garb. A photographer was taking photos of a woman and with motions and asking we had the woman hold Flat Stanley and quickly took a few photos. I snapped a few pictures and didn’t even notice that the photographer also started to get into it until Henricus pointed it out! How funny would it be if Flat Stanley ended up in a Korean ad campaign or magazine?

Posing for Pictures

Weaseling his way into a Photo Shoot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also had a picture of him taken with the military inside the DMZ. They posed for the photos, but with security warnings inside the DMZ I don’t think I should post the photo. Could it cause issues?  Regardless I am sure the Koreans think we Canadians are a little nutty! I don’t have children with me, nor look in my teens where I could get away with this stuff. I am sure I caused a few giggles and raised some questions around the dinner table that night!

Stay Tuned for more…

Visiting the DMZ

Flat Stanley at the “Underground River”

Categories: post a week, strange adventures, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,