Tag: food

First hometrip

First hometrip

Happy New Year!

I got back to Shanghai with my 46.4 kg of stuff on Sunday so I I guess it’s time to kick off the blogging for 2018, now that I’m not busy anymore having fun at home.

Here is a quick photo recap of my first trip home after almost 7 months in Shanghai. Not pictured:

  • My sisters and I in a pikatchu, minion and panda onesie. They said I couldn’t post it.
  • Our golden VW rental car. It was beautiful. Thorben was only slightly embarrassed.
  • Lots of fun with family, friends and my former co-workers

 

My favorite things about Germany

1.) Seeing friends and family. Obviously.

2.) Food. No surprise here 🙂 It was fantastic to eat Butterbrezeln, Hefezopf, Maultaschen, Käsespätzle, Sauerbraten mit Knödel … I could go on and on.

3.) Drinking the tap water.

4.) Crusing down the Autobahn at 180 km/h.

5.) Having your phone battery last forever because it’s not getting used up by the VPN. And just  being able to quickly use google and watch cooking videos on Facebook without preloading for 5 minutes 🙂

 

Now I’m back in the land of Alipay and Sherpas, which is also pretty great. Always remembering cash was really annoying.

2017 – A Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

2017, it’s been a crazy year.

January

Our China adventure started in January with a look and see trip to Shanghai. We spent 5 days and half the time I thought Thorben was crazy for wanting to move here. I got used to the idea when we visited Jing’An, the Bund and Xintiandi and our relocation agent showed me where to get Nutella and cheese 😉

February

In February we started our preparation with an intercultural seminar followed by a 2 week intensive language class, which made my brain hurt and showed me how difficult learning Chinese is. While Thorben got over this traumatic experience and started studying again towards the end of the year I still haven’t recovered quite yet 😉 I also got my job offer and started the visa process.

March

My host sister got married in California and I was happy to be part of the wedding as a bridesmaid. We also used the time to visit San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park and spent time with my American family in Ventura.

April

Thorben turned 30 in April and we took the chance to celebrate both his birthday and a farewell party. We also packed all our stuff into 25 boxes, handed over the key to our apartment and I dropped him off at the airport at the end of the month.

May

While Thorben was busy starting this blog, a new job, exploring China and finding us an apartment, I spent the month saying good bye to family and friends. I also took a trip to Budapest and celebrated my birthday winning at mini golf before hopping on a plane to Shanghai.

June

During my first week in Shanghai I met Pearl and we visited Zhujiajiao together.  We also received our air freight, which helped us settle into our new apartment. Thorben went to Japan with his coworkers while I discovered the avocado lady and spent a day exploring the city with Shane.

July

In July it was a bit rainy at times so we had fun playing board games and making travel plans. I also visited some touristy places as a friend from university was in town. Thorben went on his first business trip to Germany and we saw “Sleep no More” which he loved and I hated. We also faced some crazy temperatures – above 40! – but that didn’t keep us from trying lots of different restaurants and seeing the Lion King in Chinese.

August

During the summer we went to quite a few brunches and also cooked for the first time, not at our home but someone else at a home-style cooking class. In August we also met Ellie (at a brunch) and had some adventures with her and Pearl at a murder mystery dinner and trying to eat lung. At the end of the month Thorben and I took our first trip out of the country together and spent a long weekend in Seoul.

September

September was a mix between food and culture: I tried hot pot for the first time, we went to see the musical Sister Act. I hoarded cheese after hearing of a coming ban while Thorben took some pretty pictures at night. During our trip to Beijing we visited famous sights such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall and had some delicious Peking duck.

October

The month started out with a week long break – Golden Week – which we used to travel to Hong Kong and visit Jana in Taipei. I also had an epic scone bake-off with Ellie. Most of our weekends we spent at brunch, shopping for tailored clothes and getting Christmas presents at the Pearl Market.

November

Thorben tried some hairy crabs while they were in season and I indulged in yummy breakfast street food. I also got some more Christmas shopping done during Single’s Day. After months of eating out and Sherpa deliveries I finally cooked for the first time. We got to check off a big item on the travel bucket list and explored the magnificent temples of Angkor. After 4 beautiful days in Cambodia we also visited Singapore.

December

In December we had to say our final good bye to Ellie at the airport. The rest of the month was much more festive: We ate Raclette, baked some Christmas cookies and went to a Christmas market. After a crazy half a year we got on a plane to Germany to celebrate Christmas with our families and catch up with friends.

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 so fun. Let’s see what 2018 has to offer!

Hoarding Cheese

Hoarding Cheese

On Saturday at brunch we got the shocking news: Imported Cheese is now banned in China!

There was an article on City Weekend with the title: “China Bans Imported Cheese, Baking Powder, Canned Soup“, which details the situation. Of course that’s all we talked about for the rest of the brunch. It’s not as bad as it sounds – not all cheeses are banned, there is a list of almost 50 cheese including mold ripened ones like Brie, Camembert and some goat cheeses – but bad enough!

I haven’t really bought a ton of cheese since we moved, just the occasional piece to snack on. Just knowing I could get it anytime I want is mostly enough, but now … I want cheese! All of it! The stocks the stores have can still be sold, but after that they can’t import more. So I did what any normal person would do and ordered a bunch of cheese from epermarket, an online grocery store. I don’t think all of the types of cheeses we got are banned, but better safe than sorry 🙂

While I was at it I also ordered some baking supplies including the now banned baking powder. I’m starting to miss baking. I think I’ll try out the oven this weekend.

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 🙂

10 things I love about Shanghai

10 things I love about Shanghai

Shanghai and I – it wasn’t love at first sight.

In 2016, Thorben traveled to China 6 times and was offered a job in Shanghai. We kind of already made the decision to move here before I ever stepped a foot into China. In January this year, our company sent us on a 5 day look-and-see trip to check out the city, look at apartments, neighborhoods (and in my case for a job) and make the final decision to accept or reject the offer.

After the first 2 days in Shanghai I just wanted to go home. I couldn’t believe Thorben would want to move here. It was cold and wet, grey, the air quality was bad, the chicken in the restaurant still had its head and feet attached, plus lots of skin and bones and eating with chopsticks was a nightmare.

I think part of it was that many cities aren’t that great in the winter – blue skies and green leaves make a huge difference – and our hotel (which was very nice) was outside of the city center and not in the prettiest neighborhood. The next few days were much better. We walked along the Bund, Nanjing East Road, toured Jing’An and Xintiandi, ate some good food, looked at an international grocery store, some nice apartments … so after that I was still skeptical but also thought that we could maybe somehow manage.

Now, after living in in Shanghai for almost 3 months, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I really like the city. According to what we learned in the intercultural seminar, I’m still in the Honeymoon Phase of the cultural adaption curve. Up next: Culture shock, recovery and adjustment 🙂

Hopefully, it won’t be that bad and if it is, I can always read this list and remember all the great things about living in Shanghai!

1. The Food

If you’ve read a few of our previous posts you might have noticed that we LOVE food. And the food in Shanghai is great: No matter where it is from … local Shanghainese, other regions in China, Asian or Western. Not only is there great food, there is tons of it! Even if we ate at a different restaurant every day, I don’t think we could even go through half of the ones in our district. And no matter what I crave, I can most likely get it here. Usually the restaurant is in walking distance or just a few metro stations away.

2. Travel Possibilities

For me, one of the best things about living in Shanghai is the possibility to travel all around China and Asia-Pacific easily. Until the end of this year, we have 4 trips with a total of 6 destinations planned (Seoul, Beijing, Hongkong & Taipei, Cambodia & Singapore) and many more are on this list for next year. Hello, Australia!

3. Cheap services

Ever since the first time I got a manicure in Shanghai, I’ve gotten one about once a week. Thorben asked me when I’d become such a girl but what can I say? They are cheap (7 – 15 Euro), it’s fun and my nails always look pretty 🙂

Not only manicures are cheap, you can also get awesome foot and back massages for a fraction of the price they charge at home. Thorben can get behind that one, in fact, he’s already gotten way more massages than I have.

4. Having an Ayi

An Ayi, which literally means aunt, is a maid/housekeeper and everyone in Shanghai seems to have one. She can do a number of things for you including cleaning, laundry, ironing, shopping, cooking, taking care of you children … A lot of families have full-time Ayis, some even have 2. We got an Ayi, recommended through our landlord, a few weeks after we moved in. She comes 2 times a week, once to clean and the other time to iron. The only chore we still do is laundry. It is the best.

5. The diversity

Shanghai is a city of contrast – old and new, traditional and modern, Chinese and Western. You can meet people from all over the world and from all over China. You can see a Lamborghini parked on the street and next to it a rusty bike. There are traditional lane houses, old temples and tall skyscrapers, small stands selling chicken feet and huge shopping malls, big compounds with more than 10 buildings next to a quiet parks – it really never gets boring and there is always something to discover.

6. Public transport

Though often very crowded, the metro system in Shanghai is great and it is cheap. I could write a whole blog post about the amazingness that is the Shanghai metro (maybe I will soon). There are 14 lines going all over the city and both airports as well as all major train stations are connected to it. Then there are tons of buses (I haven’t figured those out yet) and thousands of taxis. Our street seems to be a popular break spot for taxi drivers and so far, we have always managed to find one quickly. And, I have to admit, the bikes you can just pick up anywhere are super convenient as well.

7. Alipay

I’ve only gotten cash on my first day here and I still haven’t spent it all. I pay for everything with Alipay or WeChat Pay (apps connected to my Chinese bank account), it is so easy and convenient. I even pay for our electricity with Alipay, it just takes 5 seconds every month. It’s not just Alipay that is awesome, there are so many great apps making life easier in Shanghai, even someone as direction challenged as me can get around with them 🙂

8. Delivery – especially Sherpa’s

You can get anything delivered here. Grocery, furniture, train tickets, you name it. Taobao is like Amazon, Zalando and Ebay combined and while it is in Chinese, there are also Apps that translate and buy it for you from there.

My very favorite delivery thing is Sherpa’s. Words can’t express how much I love this app. For a fee of 15 RMB (2 Euro), they bring you food from almost any restaurant within a 3 kilometer radius (and from all the restaurants further away for a slightly higher fee). I tried to count from how many restaurants I can order, I stopped after 100 and those were all within 2 kilometers. I just click on the things I want, pay with Alipay and within 45 minutes the door bell rings. It is magic.

9. Our neighborhood and surrounding areas

I love the area we live in. On our way home from the metro, we walk past a fancy boutique, tiny soup kitchens, a new nail salon, someone fixing their scooter on the street in their pajamas, a local wet market, a craft beer bar, laundry drying outside, people sitting outside cooking, … all within a few hundred meters. The streets are lined with trees and it is so much greener than I expected. Everything I could ever want is within walking distance. The French Concession, Jing’An and Xintiandi are all pretty to walk around in and I love the view of the Pudong skyline from the Bund.

10. Endless entertainment possibilities

There are tons of restaurants, clubs, bars, museums, movie theaters, spas, malls, gyms, parks, comedy clubs, concert halls, shows, events … There is Disneyland, a water park, golf courses, you can play Laser Tag, get locked inside an escape room, sing karaoke, go ice skating or bowling. I heard there is even an indoor ski arena. Whatever you want to to, you can probably do it in Shanghai.