Planes and Trains

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Welcome back!

I am currently doing lunges across the room to stretch out my jeans, like a couple wise people told me to πŸ™‚ Well, well, I just figured out a strange little statistic all by myself. I have been on a plane or train at least every five days in China. In about two hours, I’ll be on another plane! I feel like such a little world traveler.

Car’s here, so posting will resume in Shenzhen!

Bye bye birdy!

C

What I Like Most About School

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

The fact that I don't have to be an adult just yet.

Travel Diary: An American in China, 6

June 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

I am off to Shenzhen tomorrow! That means more fun family times and lots of seafood! Gahhhh!

Before we get to all that good stuff, we must first rewind to my last day in Shanghai+a longtime favorite food experience.

So, our train back to Nanjing was at 5 pm. What’d I do before then? Obsessively stalk Facebook, snuggle in that perfectly silken tofu, and of course visit Nanjing Road for some of my favorite street food! Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s most well-known street, crowded all day and every day as people shop and eat.

We started off with some of this good stuff. It’s Wang Lao Ji herbal tea! It’s soooooo good- very herbal, but just enough to handle, very sweet, and very refreshing. This is a favorite paired with hotpot (more on that later), but on this day, it readied us for…

Mini wontons! These were SO GOOD!! With only a teeny tiny scoopful of filling, these wontons were flavorful and generous in number. Imagine my glee once I realized we had ordered the last bowls! Suckers behind us, better luck next time πŸ˜› (Wanna find em? Go to Yunnan Road, just a short walking distance from Nanjing Road, and find a restaurant called Xiao Cao Xing.) Enter at the risk of major belly expansion!

What’s waiting at the end of this insane line?

This. And, oh boy, was that line worth it (although, to be completely honest, my mom might’ve braved it while I fought for seats?)! The deliciousness you see above are fried soup dumplings from Xiao Yang Sheng Jian (Xiao Yang’s Fried Dumplings). Would this make it on my last meal on earth list? You betcha. Take another look:

What an Oh. My. God. moment! A tender meat filling and ample natural sweet soup is encased by a delicate skin with a satisfying crunch. The crunch. Mmmm, I live for that salty crunch. Douse these beauties in some vinegar and it’s heaven on Earth. I have literally waited a whole year to gobble up some of these, but it was so worth it. I don’t hesitate when I say this may be my favorite food goodie in all of China…

Want some? Visit the second floor of the Snack Emporium on Nanjing Road and head straight for where the line is longest. Prepare to bow down to the saviors behind the glass screen.

Back in Nanjing, I was obsessively trying to finish The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell, prequel to Sex and the City. Verdict? I really liked it, but I’m not familiar enough with the series to compare it with the show/book/movie. Such a pretty cover too, no? And look, how fitting… I’m reading it in a yellow taxi!

Okay, so let’s talk about hotpot. It’s definitely one of our favorite things to do/eat in China. Hotpot is fun! First, you pick the base. Our staple is the yin-yang pot- half yummy chicken broth, half super-spicy, literally mouth-numbing spiciness. Then, you make your own sauce and pick your ingredients for the pot.

Hah, that’s only about one-sixth of our ingredients! My personal favorites: potatoes, seaweed, radish, SPAM (don’t judge me), quail eggs, mushrooms and tofu skin. So once all the ingredients arrive, you dump whatever goodies you want into the pot, wait for it to boil, scoop em up, and savor the yumminess! There are other treats that stay out of the pot:

Pumpkin pastries, for one thing! The golden, crispy outer layer gives way to an ooey-gooey, not-too-sweet but satisfyingly pumpkin-flavored paste with a delightful crunch.

Time for bedddddddddddddddddd,

C

Pliiiink Goes Plinky!

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hi!

Hope all is going well with you!

I just wanted to interrupt these travel posts with a little note that I am using Plinky now. It’s a cool little web service that jogs up some awesome thoughts and stories.

Here’s how it works: Plinky comes up with some sort of a prompt or activity every day and you answer it! How fun πŸ™‚ You can link it with your blog or even with Twitter or Facebook.

Try it!

C

Travel Diary: An American in China, 5

June 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hiya earthlings πŸ™‚

It’s finally hitting me that I don’t have too much time left in China. Two weeks to go, it’s getting a bit bittersweet. How weird is it that I’m still recapping events from my second week here?

Shanghai Expo. This is an event as eagerly anticipated and heartily prepared for almost as much as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wowza. What is it? It’s a world exposition– each country readies a pavilion and showcases their business ventures and plans for green living within it. Expo lasts through the entire summer, all the way through October, and each day welcomes crowds upwards of 10,000+ (the line for each pavilion lasts anywhere between 3-7 hrs).

Personal tips:

  • Unless you are truly interested in the more technical/factual aspects of these exhibits, I would make my visit between 5 pm-9 pm. The lines are a lot shorter and the view is amazing once it gets dark and the lights are turned on. Plus, the tickets are half price!
  • Wear comfortable shoes! You walk, a lot.
  • Bring an empty water bottle. Water’s not allowed through security, but water bottles are and there are plenty of water fountain stations for you to fill em up.
  • Concentrate on the scenery and architecture; it’s probably best to visit one or two pavilions, but the prettiest place to be is outside!
  • Find a map and study it! The area is humongous. Figure out how you want to wander about. We couldn’t find the North American area at all!

Expo tickets! Notice: the two yellow ones were 160 RMB, but the purple ones were only 80 RMB…

Really cool ripply effect at this pavilion… Loads of umbrellas!

The Outer Space pavilion? These effects were pretty cool, but the inside wasn’t really spectacular… just a few tidbits to observe.

This rotating Coca Cola FIFA World Cup pavilion attraction tickled me πŸ™‚ That’s as close to the USA as I got though :/

The crowd literally swarming to get onto the ferry from the Pu’xi section to the Pu’dong section

Samoaaa… The Pacific Islands pavilion was one of my favs πŸ™‚

We ate in the Food Pavilion right by the Pacific Islands pavilion. There are food stations from every major city in China, each offering their most renowned specialties. I picked the Hong Kong station and had the shrimp wonton soup with noodles and bokchoy. It was a bit bland, but the shrimp wontons were delicious πŸ™‚

The China Pavilion… Ain’t it purty?

Overall, I had a good time at Expo even though it was drizzly and we were sort of mindlessly wandering around and ended up with aching feet. It’s all good!

Nighty night,

C

**Note: A huge pet peeve of mine is poor quality pics 😦 Unfortunately, this is what an iPhone at nighttime with no flash or zoom gets you. My sister’s camera contains most of our Expo pics, including some super-cool panoramic ones, so I shall be posting those maybe sometime in August? Bear with me until then!

Travel Diary: An American in China, 4

June 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hay, hey, haiiiii…

Imagine me saying that in Finnish! Wonderful.

Last we talked, I showed you what I was up to for the first few days in Nanjing. On the fourth day, my mom, aunt, and I took a train to Shanghai to pick up my sister. Trains are all the hype here in Chinaland. They are extremely convenient and a lot cheaper than planes. Planes here also have the tendency to be delayed for hours. Me and my big sis, though, happen not to like trains very much. They are smelly and uncomfortable. The good news is that the one we took to/from Shanghai only took a little more than 2 hours.

Here’s the train station in Nanjing:

Imagine it with about a million other people. It’s crowded. We usually pitch in some extra dinero and buy first class seats. They aren’t anything to write home about, but the cabin is a lot cleaner and the waiting room doesn’t feel as claustrophobic.

I heart Vera πŸ™‚

I snacked on these:

Who doesn’t love Haribo gummy bears?

This is my travel footwear. In case you were wondering… Oh, and that’s how the floor looks like πŸ˜›

Observe my excitement at being reunited with coffee and sleeping in a soft bed again. In fact, one night, I mumbled in my sleep “sleeping in silken tofu is splendid.” Crazy much?

Noodles with beef- not the yummiest, but I was ravenous!

Finally reunited with my eight-year-older twin πŸ™‚

Soup dumplings are perhaps Shanghai’s most renowned delicacies. They are little pockets of ground pork and other yummy fillings (there was crab in this one) with a load of soup within them. The trick is to suck out all the soup before starting to eat the actual dumpling. We ate these at Nanxiang Soup Dumplings inΒ Chenghuanmiao, one of Shanghai’s most famous attractions.

And apparently, this is the new trendy way to sample soup dumplings. Drink the soup out of a straw and throw the rest away.

What a beautiful name for a bubble milk tea cafe. Didn’t change the fact that it was deeeeelicious!

OBAMA MART!

We celebrated the Chinese holiday Duanwu, which commemorates a wronged poet. The story goes that ‘zongzi’, which are the pretty little objects you see above- sticky rice with all different types of fillings wrapped in a banana leaf, is thrown into the river where the poet drowned to force the fish not to eat his body. Dragon boats are also used to celebrate this holiday. Every year, on Duanwu, Chinese people eat lots and lots of zongzi, which is so very scrumptious.

Exhausted after a long touristy day. I like my braids and I like my beaded top. Just sayin’.

Oh, and this is the look I have on my face 24/7 here. Everything excites me and makes me go either ‘ooooh’ or ‘whaaaat?’

Up next- Shanghai Expo πŸ™‚

C

Travel Diary: An American in China, 3

June 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Good morning!

We left off with some traveling and some settling in. I was jetlagged for quite a bit, groggy in the afternoon and bouncing off the walls in the morning. I think I’m still a tad imbalanced. I’ve been sleeping at around 9 or 10 at night and waking up at like 7 am. Haven’t done that since fifth grade.

Today, I’ma show you what I was doing for the first three-ish days in Nanjing.

There was a lot of this:

I hung out by myself at home a lot when my madre was sorting out gifts for the fam. This place is teeny tiny, so there’s not much to do. Chinese soap operas + a healthy dose of Facebook-less Internet.

There was a lot of chilling in the hospital when I visited the g’rents. They are adorable people, but there’s only so much to do in a hospital room. You know what I did? Play LineUp Pro on my phone. New high score πŸ™‚

There was also a lot of this:

Substitute a million other tasty treats for that tiramisu, as well. I’ve been eating NONSTOP. It’s like: eat, walk somewhere, eat, eat, drink something, eat, restaurant time, eat, visit people, eat.

Oh, oh, look! Cherries πŸ™‚ This was quite possibly the only serving of fruit I’ve had in the past three weeks and it was a delicious one at that. I just wanted you to see that I’m not really loading up on all things carbs and fat.

Then:

…I tried to steal a baby. Just kidding! No, I went to go pick up the little one from daycare with my cousin, aunt, and mommy. They told me to go on ahead into her classroom and see if she could recognize me. I did so. We conveniently forgot that the teachers don’t know me and it would be kind of weird for a total stranger to appear in a room of 3-year-olds. Yeah. Anyways, we got our baby out of there and towards something fun, which I don’t remember.

Finally, we had a big family dinner! My mom has 3 sisters and a brother, so when you include their families, I have a very big family indeed. It gets pretty raucous.

Know who I hung out with?

Yep, guessed it in one. See that innocent, darling little face? Looks are deceiving. The little heathen was swatting me with a fly swatter. So I said “No, sweetie, those are used to hit bugs.” She replied, “YOU’RE A BUG!” Swat. Therefore, I stole her jelly bean necklace and she was mad at me.

But, you see, I’m weak. And, as a weak person would do, I gave her back the necklace and even threw in a slice of watermelon. All is forgiven. We’re BFFs again πŸ™‚

Peace out, dear ones, I’m off to see what awaits my tummy.

C

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