Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years!

The calendar New Years here seems to be the calm before the Chinese New Year storm. For a city of 20 million people, I have to say that Shanghai was rather subdued last night.

We went to a restaurant that overlooked the Pudong River for appetizers and drinks, and then went onto the rooftop to watch the city fireworks at midnight. The fireworks show was impressive in terms of sheer number of rockets ignited, but lacked the passion of Dad's Hatch Road displays.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Now that the holidays are over, I can reveal a few of my shopping secrets. The DVD's almost came from a place called Movie World, but then I looked right next door and saw a video store that was called Move Star: Even Better Than Movie World. And I have to say the advertising was true -- it was better than Movie World.

Maglev Ride

After 48 hours of travel time, I got to take the Maglev train from Pudong airport in outer Shanghai back into town. Maglev, of course, is short for magnetic levitation -- that's right, the train floats and is also one of the fastest trains in the world.

The ride reminded me of Thomas Friedman saying that going from an airport in the US to an airport in China is like traveling from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. We entered through a futurisic looking terminal and there were large luggage racks at the entrances where you could store all your bags. The train hit a high speed of 430kph, or about 270mph, and the ride was smooth and quiet the whole way. For the final quater of the trip it slowed to about 200kph, and at that speed it seemed like were were crawling at a snail's pace. The entire 19-mile trip lasted just about 7 minutes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Back in the States

This is supposed to be a blog about me in China but I didn't want people to think I'd abandoned my writing so here's a quick shot of the log cabin I've been helping Dad reconstruct. Putting floor joists in at right angles has gotten the best of the Guiteras men.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Street Vendors

One of the best parts of Shanghai is the city street vendors you can find on so many corners around here. Once you become accustomed to the sidewalk crowd/chaos they cause and find a few you like, they're actually a great thing to have around. My favorite is the orange cart right outside our office. The owner sells her bags of Mandarin oranges for 10 RMB (about $1.30). Many of the neighborhood shops open right onto the sidewalks, so they essentially operate as open-air sidewalk stores as well and add to the hum of commerce.

Other things sold by vendors within a 3 block walk of work:

Fake nike, adidas and puma jackets
winter hats, mittens and gloves
sweet potatoes (cooked on the spot over a metal drum)
cooked chestnuts
Ginko nuts
live frogs and fish
bike parts

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Interesting culinary experiences

Tried yakitori for the first time the other night. Yakitori is actually a style of Japanese barbecue, but it seems to be pretty popular in Shanghai. The restaurant we went to was a hole in the wall type place with only four tables and a few seats at a bar. All the food came out on skewers, prepared by a single chef behind the bar with a tiny grill (as you can see). Menu included:

beef tongue (delicious)
quail eggs (pretty good)
bacon-wrapped asparagus (incredible)
chicken hearts (terrible)
chicken liver (blech)
grilled ginseng nuts (amazing, why haven't these caught on in the states?)