Month: July 2017

The Lion King

The Lion King

On Wednesday at 3:52 pm Pearl texted me and it went something like this:

“Hi Marina, what are you doing tonight?”

“I thought about maybe going to the gym.”

“I just got two tickets for the Lion King!”

“That’s so cool! It’s in Chinese though, right?”

“Is it? Let me check, oh yes :(”

“I still want to see it! πŸ™‚ Where and what time?”

“It’s at Disneyland at 7 pm, so it’s quite a hurry. I have to meet my friend there who has the tickets. Let’s meet at Jing’An Temple at 5.”

“At 5?! I’m leaving work right now!”

So within 1 hour I had left work (literally ran out the door), jumped in a taxi, went home, changed, grabbed some water and a snack, biked to the metro, met Pearl and off we were to Disneyland. I’m still quite proud of myself for that achievement :).

Disneyland in Shanghai opened in 2016 and even has its own metro station. As soon as we got off the train it already felt like we were on vacation just being surrounded by the atmosphere. The theater is located in Disney Village (lots of stores and restaurants) next to the park and we even had time to grab some hot dogs before the show.

I have always wanted to see the Lion King Musical but never thought I’d watch it for the first time in China :). The show was really great, I loved the costumes and the set – so colorful, creative and with so much attention to detail. The actors were awesome as well, the little kids playing Simba and Nala were so cute and the guy who played scar as well as the women who played Rafiki were fantastic. I always had the cartoon version in front of me and recognized most of the songs and so it was easy to follow along even not really understanding any of the dialogue.

Before it started Pearl gave me quick overview of the characters: Xīn bā is Simba, Nà nà is Nala, Mù fǎ shā is Mufasa, so easy enough (Scar is Dāo bā, oh well). Hakuna Matata is also Hakuna Matata in the Chinese version by the way ;).

I probably would have never thought to go to a Musical in Chinese but you can’t beat free tickets and we even had really good seats in row 8 right next to the aisle. We had a great time and I’m glad Pearl’s friend’s boss couldn’t make it πŸ™‚


When your friends ask you for some German music…

When your friends ask you for some German music…

A few times here, we have been asked for typical German music and German song recommendations. While it’s rather difficult to say what typical is (a lot of stereotypes come to mind), Marina and I had loads of fun compiling this list of … well, let’s say very recognizable German music – at least for other Germans πŸ™‚

We tried our best to include lots of different genres from the 70s until today. It’s always interesting to find out which songs our Chinese friends enjoyed:

Helene Fischer has always been a hit (it’s called ‘Schlagermusik’ for a reason!), but it looks like Rammstein will not be very popular on this side of the world.

Eating out in Shanghai – a little Restaurant Review

Eating out in Shanghai – a little Restaurant Review

I have a confession to make. In the almost two months I’ve been here, so three months for Thorben, we have not cooked once. The only meal we ever eat at home is breakfast on the weekends – and whatever we get delivered from Sherpas. There are just so many choices, things to explore and try … and it’s too hot to cook – those are my excuses anyways πŸ™‚

So I noticed there are lots and lots of pictures of food on my phone I haven’t shared and who doesn’t love looking at food πŸ™‚ To make sure nothing gets lost, here are some reviews of most of the restaurants we’ve been to so far. So if you plan to visit us (and you definitely should!), you can already pick some places!


Thai Gallery – Thai

This was the first restaurant Thorben took me to when I arrived in Shanghai. It is located in the park next to Jing’An Temple, so it’s very pretty both outside and inside the restaurant. The food is pretty good and not too strange for Western taste buds πŸ™‚ so it was a good start for Asian food. I like their vegetarian spring rolls, the satay with peanut sauce and the sticky rice with mango. They also have fresh coconuts which they open for you when you are done drinking it, so you can scoop out the coconut meat, yummy! When Benedikt was in town a couple weeks ago I met him and Pearl there. Thanks for supplying the pictures, Benedikt!

Coconut paradise – Thai

Another good place for Thai food, though some of the food we had was a bit too spicy for me. I’m still working on my spice tolerance. They have a few locations and the one close to us has a very nice garden which we have to try when it’s not so hot anymore. I heard they also have good cocktails. I like their crab cakes, minced beef you wrap in lettuce leafs and the papaya salad, which they made not spicy for us (okay, for me, Thorben can eat really spicy). Unfortunately I thought I took pictures the first time we went, but I didn’t, so no pictures.

Simply Thai – Thai

The third Thai place we tried and our least favorite so far. The location (there are several) we went to was inside a mall, nice because we didn’t have to leave the subway station to get there which is appreciated in this heat but still the other two were much prettier. The menu was similar to the others as well and the food was good, but not fantastic. So if we had to choose a Thai place it wouldn’t be that one.

Hamasushi – Japanese

This running sushi restaurant was recommended to me as a good place for a quick bite to eat at a great value. For 10 RMB (1.30 €) per plate / drink / dessert you really can’t go wrong. We got there pretty early and got a table right away and when we left at 6:30 there was a big line. I especially liked that you can both just takes what comes by on the belt or use the screen at your table to order. When your order is ready, there is a ringing sound and message that your food is close and then you just grab the plate with your table number on it – great system πŸ™‚ My favorites were the salmon sushi and the custard pudding which tasted like creme brulee.

Lost Heaven – Chinese (Yunnan/Silk Road)

This is on the way home from the metro and we’ve eaten here twice. I liked everything we tried, especially the okra with tomatoes, the cold noodle dish and the banana spring rolls (listed under appetizers but taste like dessert). My boss, who just came back from a trip to the Silk Road, said the food really tastes like it did there and Shane also loves it, so you don’t just have to take my word for it πŸ™‚

Grandma’s – Chinese (Jiangsu/Zhejiang)

Grandma’s is a very popular local restaurant. When I told my coworker I was meeting friends there for a farewell dinner (someone is always leaving here …) she told me to have fun waiting for a table. It wasn’t too bad because we went there pretty late. The food was good (I admit, some was a bit strange but we ordered so much there was plenty I liked) and very cheap. I think including non-alcoholic drinks it was around 7 € per person. The only problem is that I can’t go there by myself because the menu is only in Chinese and there are no pictures.

Sue Hsiao Liu – Chinese

Pearl showed us this restaurant and we had some delicious xiao long bao (soup dumplings). The trick to eating them is to grab one with chopsticks, put it on your spoon, bite of the top, blow, slurp out the broth and then eat it :). I’m still working on my chopstick skills but according to Pearl I have improved a lot (she saw me in week 1 when I was really struggling). I really liked the fried dumplings and the pork ones, though everything we had there was good.


Maya – Mexican 

Maya is really close to where we live so it’s easy to go. According to a Mexican guy we met at Shanghai Supper Club it’s more Tex Mex than Mexican. He suggested Cantina Agave for an authentic taste, so that’s on our list as well (to go, we had food from there delivered already, was really good)! However, I love Tex Mex so that’s not an issue. I really liked their homemade chips and guacamole, the quesadilla were good (though nothing I would go back for) and I think Thorben’s tuna was also pretty tasty.

Le Saleya – French

I’ve been here twice, once with Thorben for dinner and once for brunch. There were many French speakers there (always a good sign) and the food was delicious both times. Great baguette and I love the lemon meringue tarte πŸ™‚ The brunch deal they have is pretty good, 160 RMB (around 20 €) for 3 excellent courses. So hopefully we’ll back there on the weekend soon.

Element Fresh – Healthy 

Element Fresh has many locations all over Shanghai. We are there once in January during our info trip and then again a few weeks ago. They have lots of healthy choices like salad, power food bowls and juices but also pasta, sandwiches and steak. The only thing I’ve tried is the salads and those were pretty good. I heard that they have buy one get one free for salads on Monday, so that sounds like a good way to start the week healthy. Or you could always use the savings to get chocolate or carrot cake :).

More than eat – Various

Right next to Lost Heaven, so also on our way home, this is my favorite quick “dinner for one” spot when Thorben is out of town. We’ve been here together a couple of times, I’ve been by myself several times and the food was always good. I really like the dips (pesto, tapenade and hummus) with toasted bread, the avocado sushi and the fresh juices, but so far everything has been tasty (the soups, salads, fries, fried fish, fried chicken …). Also, I think the decoration is really cool.

World of Beer – Bar food

And another one right next to our closest metro station which I also tried while Thorben was out of town. I had the raw tuna and fried chicken taco, both really good, although the tuna one was a bit spicy. I guess people usually go there for the beer but since we both don’t drink beer, I won’t be able to report anything about that πŸ™‚

Palatino Roman Cuisine – Italian

Sadly I didn’t take any pictures here, the food was delicious though. We had the beef and the salmon carpaccio, I had pizza and Thorben Saltimbocca. It is also very close to our apartment (like most of the places listed here) so we will definitely go back and maybe even take pictures πŸ™‚

Bar Centrale – Italian

The appetizers here were really delicious, as was the pizza. After having a glass of wine on an empty stomach I was too busy eating to take any more pictures :). I went there with a friend and some of her girlfriends because they have a pretty good happy hour (alcohol is expensive in Shanghai!) but I would definitely go only for the food.

Beef & Liberty – American

Last week I saw a burger in the canteen display before lunch so I knew I just had to have a burger that day (but not a canteen). My colleague recommended Beef & Liberty so Thorben and I went there that night and we weren’t disappointed. The burgers were juicy (all their meat is imported from Tasmania), the fries crunchy and the dessert was great as well. On Mondays they even have buy one get one free for burgers. Too bad I got my craving on a Friday and could not possible wait for Monday πŸ™‚ 


After a stream of food pictures in our family’s WhatsApp group my dad commented that at first he was worried I’d starve in China, now he is worried about the opposite thing happening. Oh well πŸ™‚





According to Thorben’s coworker it will be the hottest summer in 80 years. According to a guy I talked to in the elevator August is even hotter than July. According to me it is just insanely hot all hours of the day.

If you don’t hear from us again it’s because we melted.

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

On Sunday we went to see “Sleep No More”. Here is what I knew going in:

  • It isn’t a traditional play on a stage but the action is happening in different rooms and you have to follow the actors around.
  • The same scenes are played out three times so you can follow different actors each time.
  • It is based on Macbeth.
  • The are no words, only acting.
  • It started in New York and came to Shanghai last year.
  • It is very popular and tickets are sold out months in advance.

Pearl managed to get us tickets and because of a system mix-up we even got VIP tickets. That meant we didn’t have to wait outside but could go straight in, very much appreciated in that heat. The location is a hotel with 4 floors, especially designed for sleep no more. Each person has to wear a mask the entire time, I assume so you could tell who belongs in the play (the ones without masks).

Then we were split into smaller groups through playing cards. The first room was a cool bar where you could get drinks until your group is called. From the bar you go to an elevator which stopped at different floors and you randomly get assigned to start somewhere. There are many different rooms and things happening, so you are encouraged to explore on your own and not stick with a group (it’s pretty dark, there are a lot of people and everyone is wearing the same mask so you’ll get split up sooner or later anyways).

Thorben and I had very different opinions of the show. To sum it up, I hated it, he loved it. If you want to know more, here are our reviews.

Marina’s review:

I was really excited to see the show, I think the concept of a non-traditional play is cool and they put a lot of effort into the (dark and creepy) location. There was a lot of attention to detail and the actors where also good. BUT … Overall, I really did not like it and found the whole experience really disturbing. During the three hours of being there I could not get a grip on the story at all. It was not announced or somehow indicated when the show was starting over again so that made it impossible for me to try to get a sense of what was happening and how it could possibly fit together. I only noticed the second, or maybe at that point, third round had started because I saw the same scene twice. A couple times when I tried to follow a specific character they would disappear leaving me wandering around, sometimes by myself, until I found something else happening.

Neither the scenes by themselves nor put together made any sense to me, even with the knowledge that this was somehow supposed to be Macbeth. To me it felt like one big random nightmare made out of unrelated, crazy scenes. After a while I just kept wishing for it to be over so I could leave that creepy place. Knowing that we had three rounds I tried to stick to the same character for a while, hoping to see some sort of story line or how it tied into the other scenes I had seen … but nothing.

There were some loud fights, blood curling screaming, a dead guy on a bed, lots people jerking around possessed in various locations, a girl running to a bathtub and then starting to cry inside it, a dinner that turned into everyone making out, a kind of orgy, some sort of insane rave with strobe lights, a bloody baby (being sacrificed?) and a guy with a goat mask, a wedding, a lady singing in a bar and then everyone started acting possessed after drinking from a bottle with a snake in it, a detective trying to solve some sort of riddle and then kissing the witness(?) who than ran away, a lady bathing a man and then starting to freak out, scream and jerk around uncontrollably on a bed … and finally another dinner where a guy gets hanged, so I guess that he was Macbeth?

The whole experience left me deeply disturbed, disappointed and angry: what is the point, who would enjoy that and how is anyone supposed to get that?!

At least the title is very fitting because sleep no more is definitely what happened to me Sunday night. Even after going to a friends good bye party for a few hours and watching Pitch Perfect (something light and happy) I could not shake that uneasy feeling I had since the performance or get the creepy images and screams out of my head. Just thinking and writing about it makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable again.

If you do want to go after reading what Thorben wrote (apparently he is more artsy than me) I suggest wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes because you will be standing and walking and sometimes running up 3 flights of stairs for three hours. Also, people are not afraid to shove you out of the way and step on your toes to run after a character leaving a room, so maybe also bring some elbow and knee pads.

Thorben’s review

Sleep no more was by far the coolest theater event performance I’ve been to. I did not know anything else about it besides what Marina described before. When they let us in the hotel, you had to find your way through a labyrinth of velvet covered walls and the first stop was this amazing 1930’s jazz bar. Red velvet everywhere, almost no lights, a singer with a smoky voice, and a host in a white tux. Even the microphone looked like almost a hundred years old – the perfect illusion.

In the bar we were given a playing card – it was a five of diamonds for me – and grouped by number. Group by group we were lead into the actual hotel. The first stop was an elevator and the host gave everyone a mask and some instructions: You are to wear this mask at all times, you are not to talk, make your own way through the play.

The elevator stopped a few times and I started on the top floor – the performance had already started. I found myself in something that looked like a early twentieth century city. Dark brick walls, dim lights, a detective agency that looked right out of a film noire, a taxidermist, and a bar with bright flashing lights. There was no real music, just noise. It was incredibly loud and felt so out of place from this carefully constructed illusion before.

Inside: People covered in blood, hanging from the ceiling, jumping around, wearing goat heads, throwing a plastic doll around, screaming. And a bunch of frightened spectators in their plastic masks with sensory overload not knowing what to do next. When it was over, every actor RAN away into different directions. It was up to you to choose whom to follow.

I followed what I thought was one of the witches into her lair. And it really felt like a witch’s lair. There were herbs, animal hides and skeletons, glasses, pots, and stoves everywhere. IT SMELLED like a witch’s lair. And there she was, climbing on ropes over our heads, completely ecstatic, looking like she was having a seizure. It was up to you to decide how much time you wanted to spend there. I looked around, found some recipes for poison, some ingredients, some letters in Chinese and English in an old fashioned handwriting, some scraps of the story.

And this is how the whole performance went down: There were four huge floors with different settings. A graveyard, a hotel lobby, a taxidermist, a western-style bar, a witches lair, a smuggler’s cave, a forest, a post office and much more. Every location smelled different. Smelled like it was supposed to smell! I was completely immersed in every room. In the detective office I looked for hints for the murders, I played cards and billiard with the bar keep in the western bar, I found a smugglers cave, I witnessed murders and an execution, creepy prophecies and attended a burial with reincarnation. In between I spent around 30 minutes just walking around every floor to create a mental map of the place to decide what to do next.

The actors interacted with you if you followed them for a while. They danced with you, whispered in your ear or found some other way to make you part of their performance. It was by far one of the most entertaining pieces I have witnessed in my life. Never before was I so immersed in a performance – the smells, the sounds, the costumes, everything was just right. The story? You had to look for it. Literally. You could not just follow the story by following the actors. You had to look for scraps of paper, notes and other hints. And even if you did: the three iterations were not enough to tell you everything.

The whole place was too huge, there were too many things happening at the same time. Too many threads of the story line going on in parallel. For me it wasn’t about the story anyway. All I know is that I’ll be going again! But looks like I’ll be going alone πŸ™‚


Goodies from Home

Goodies from Home

While I’m still a little mad that Thorben went to Germany without me, at least I got to order some stuff he brought back πŸ™‚ So this is the very random stuff I wanted after 5 weeks in China:

  • Fertilizer for our plants – recommended by my dad, who has a green thumb, when I told him I was afraid to kill all our plants 
  • Home made jam from my mom
  • Mustard – in case we ever start to cook here 
  • Spelt flour and vanilla beans – couldn’t find those on the international grocery store website and will need them for baking (which I will do again as soon as it gets cooler)
  • Birkenstock – somehow I developed the weird urge to walk around Shanghai in Birkenstock, no idea why, never really had any before (they may or may not have given me a blister today)
  • Work out shirts because apparently I go to the gym now and international brands are more expensive here
  • Fitted sheet for our bed – couldn’t find one at IKEA 
  • Wet wipes – forgot to bring them, usually always have some in my purse (I didn’t specify quantity so that’s what Thorben thinks is a good amount)

What Thorben brought for himself: Boxing gloves.