Month: September 2017

Sister Act at the Shanghai Culture Square 

Sister Act at the Shanghai Culture Square 

On Saturday we went to the Shanghai Culture Square, which is just 1.5 km down the road from us, for the first time. It’s a cool building which was built to mostly show musicals and seats around 2000 people.

They often host traveling shows from Broadway which then play for only a few weeks. This year they already had Wicked and Bodyguard and right now they are showing Sister Act, which we went to see. The music and costumes were great and it was a fun evening. At least this time we can agree that we both really liked the performance 🙂

In comparison to Germany, it seemed to me that people dress much more casual and there were a lot more small children. I already noticed that at the Lion King but thought it might be like that because it’s at Disney but it looks like that’s just how it is in Shanghai. Also, they have a big screen on each side of the stage to show Chinese subtitles.

In November they’ll show “The Producers” for 2 weeks, then in late November/early December “Westside Story” is coming to Shanghai. I kind of want to see both, I’ll see what I can negotiate with Thorben 🙂

Some like it hot

Some like it hot

Last week I finally tried hot pot. I guess it is usually more of a cold weather experience but I felt after 3 months in China this was overdue. Ellie, Pearl and I went to Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, which is famous for its good service and has many locations. The service lived up to the hype, we got wet towels several times, hair ties and even aprons (though almost no one else was wearing those so we probably looked like dumb tourists). We “unfortunately” forgot to take the plastic roses the waiter brought us ;).

Hot pot is kind of like fondue, so you cook your food in oil or a soup and eat it with different dips. We went for the non spicy variety and got tomato soup and mushroom broth. You order with an iPad and can get all sorts of meats and veggies. We got some scallion pancakes to start with and then cooked fish, beef, bamboo, mushrooms, potato and lotus root. Everything we had was yummy, including the sesame sauce and the soy one Pearl mixed for us.

Something that was recommended by a colleague who has been there a few times is the Kung Fu Noodles. When you order them, a chef comes out of the kitchen and does a little show hand-pulling the noodles in front of you. Then you can cook them, I especially liked them in the mushroom broth. It’s both fun and delicious, so I’ll definitely get those again next time 🙂

To cool down after dinner we got some ice cream at a stand in the same mall. After taking a picture of us with my phone the vendor also took one with his, so maybe we’ll end up on an advertisement for this place 😉

Seoul Food 

Seoul Food 

Right after we arrived we went to a Korean restaurant. They gave us some appetizers, including kimchi, the Korean spicy Sauerkraut. I had cold buckwheat noodles: cold as in there was actual ice cubes swimming in the broth. Thorben got pretty much the opposite: a boiling beef dish. It was alright, the flavor was good, the noodles a bit slimey, so nothing I’d come back for.

The next day we ate at another Korean restaurant in Insadong for lunch. We had a stew with veggies, beef and giant dumplings in it. The dumplings were probably my favorite Korean food. Of course it came with a side of kimchi 🙂 After lunch we went to a cafe and had a mango dessert which was mostly shaved ice and syrup under the ice cream. And yes, those are pine nuts in my pomegranate tea.

We also wanted to try some Korean street food so we went to the shopping district Myeongdong where they had tons of carts lined up. I had a tornado potato Thorben said tasted like old oil but I thought it was good 🙂 Also, I got some fried cheese on a stick that came with a sort of condensed milk sauce which was a bit of a strange combination but still pretty tasty, and an bread thing that was sweet on the outside but had a hard boiled egg on the inside. On the last day I also tried the Korean honey ice cream in a fish shaped waffle which sadly looked much better than it tasted.

Thorben had some octopus, which they torched before serving it. Not sure if that adds flavor or is just cool to watch. After that he got lemon honey shrimp, also flamed, then sweet potatoe chips and Korean sushi.  It was really fun to see and try the different foods. There were so many to choose from so I’m sure there is something for everyone.

Overall, I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the food in Seoul which was a bit disappointing because I kept reading how amazing it is. Maybe my expectations were too high. There were some things that were pretty good but overall I don’t think Korean will make it into our diet on a regular basis. 

On our last night we didn’t really feel like eating Korean again so went to Outback and had some delicious steak 🙂

Seoul: A cat cafe visit and other adventures

Seoul: A cat cafe visit and other adventures

Besides doing 5 walking tours, here is some of the other things we did, discovered and experienced in Seoul.

The cat cafe

After having some street food on Sunday, we saw someone dressed as a giant cat advertising for a cat cafe. We’re both dog persons and usually I don’t really like cats but going to a cat cafe still sounded like something you should try 🙂 So we headed over there, changed in the stylish slippers they provided, got our hands disinfected, ordered some tea and continued to hang out with 30 cats. Most of them were pretty lazy and didn’t really want to be pet (see happy cat face below), at least not by me. I finally found the fattest and cutest one to snuggle with. I guess it was just too lazy to move 🙂 Thorben found a few more active ones. So it was pretty fun and I think we might go back to one when we visit Jana in Taipei in October.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

There is an 11 kilometer long stream which runs through the city. From what I read it got covered with concrete at one point and a highway was built there. In 2003 the city started to restore it and it was opened again in 2005. It is below street level and there are lots of trees and greens, so it’s nice for a stroll and to cool off your feet in 🙂 We even saw a heron and lots of little fish.

Shopping

Korea and Seoul seem to be very popular for shopping so I kind of felt like we had to experience it a bit. We walked around the streets in Myeongdong and it was pretty cool so see all the stores and adverts. Apparently people in Korea don’t think I’m very cute, at least all the cosmetic stores kept trying to get me to go in with promises of free masks and make-up ;). The only thing I was interested in buying was socks. They had so many fun ones! Sadly Thorben said I could only buy 5 (I admit, after I had already bought 4 pairs, so I got a total of 9).

We also headed across the river to the Times Square mall and walked around a bit. I especially liked the food market (surprise), where they had crazy prices for some of the fruit. 38,000 KRW, that’s 28 Euro, for a watermelon, anyone?

Metro

The metro system is extensive and the stations are massive, even bigger than in Shanghai. One time we accidentally walked to the next station instead of to the tracks, so I guess at least some are also connected underground. Just getting from an entrance to the tracks takes forever, especially when you switch lines. Also, Korea doesn’t seem to believe in escalators so on top of all the walking we did I also climbed about 3864 steps (rough estimate) in the stations.

It looks like the metro stations also serve as bunkers. They were signs outside pointing to the closest entrance and gas masks and supplies everywhere. I guess it’s good to be prepared but I also found it kind of scary. There are also lots of shops and food places down there, so you could probably survive underground for a while.

Other discoveries

When walking around on our first day we somehow stumbled upon a sort of pro war/pro America demonstration. Again, kind of scary.


Dyeing and curling your hair seems very popular, much more than in Shanghai. Most of the old ladies were rocking a perm. There are make-up advertisements everywhere and we saw more than one person recovering from plastic surgery (trying to hide it under face masks).

1 Euro is around 1300 Korean Won, so taking money out at the ATM made me feel super rich 🙂

Of course we also ate in Seoul, but that’s enough material for another post 🙂