Tag: shanghai

April

April

I’m a bit behind with my blogging, so I thought I’d do just a post about the whole month of April. Due to the current situation we didn’t leave the country or even the city, so it was a month full of Shanghai adventures.

Qingming Festival Weekend

The month started with a long weekend due to Qingming festival. Our friends Ling and Hutch had us over for dinner at their place. Ling first did a Chinese tea ceremony with us and then we ate lots and lots of food they had made. Friends who can make great food are the best friends πŸ™‚

The next day, we had an early birthday brunch for Thorben at the W hotel. As always, the food and views were awesome. We had fun taking pictures on the terrace. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing the skyline.

On the final day of the 3 day weekend, we had a little GrΓΌnkohl party at our house. Originally, we had planned it for 12 people the day Thorben got back from Germany. Due to the rules at the time, we couldn’t have anyone over and it all went into the freezer. Half of it has been completely demolished now and hopefully round 2 will happen soon πŸ™‚

Thorben’s Birthday

We extended the long weekend by another day to celebrate Thorben’s birthday a bit more. We had some cake at home and then dinner with friends at our favorite Chinese place, Lotus Eatery.

Easter

Easter Sunday was exciting for Thorben and many of our friends because that’s when archery finally started again. To properly celebrate the occasion, Thorben brought Brezeln to archery – it was a big success. Overall, Thorben was on a Brezel mission and made some 4 times in April … Someone is trying to steal my title of baking queen of the household πŸ™‚

I had a great, sunny Easter brunch with friends, ate some ice cream, went pack to Jing’An Sculpture Park and then stopped by to watch some archery. It’s fun to watch but I’m definitely sticking with not playing and staying bruise free on the side lines. Also, we had a family Easter WeChat Video conference πŸ™‚

3 More Birthdays

Besides Thorben’s birthday, we went to 3 more celebrations. 2 belated ones, now that everyone is back in town and places are open again, and 1 on the actual birthday.

For Boramy’s belated birthday we had brunch, which turned into drinks, which turned into ordering pizza at her place and binge watching Hulu πŸ™‚ Sadly, I neglected to take pictures of any people. I guess I was too busy eating and having fun!

For Lars’ birthday, we had dinner at a Sichuan restaurant and then there was cake, which means, my all time favorite birthday tradition. Not just eating the cake (which is pretty great, too), but cutting the head of the man, who is drawn onto the cake while everyone screams. Gotta love Denmark.

And finally, for Kate’s very belated birthday, we went for drinks and dinner at Heritage. It was my third time there this year – the food is so good! Also, there was cake (but no killed cake men) and a photographer, so there are actually more pictures of people than of food.

More Lunches and Dinners

Besides supporting the local economy and going out to eat, we also cooked and baked. I tried out some new recipes as my weekly meal prep continues. I stopped going to the canteen because it was operating on a very limited scale for a while due to Covid-19. And now I don’t want to go back, so cooking it is.

Boramy had us over for amazing lasagna, veggies, dips and salad, plus she made her version of Disney’s Dole whip. It was super good and I managed to sneak another piece of lasagna for lunch (Yes, that’s Thorben in the background finishing up a call while we had Prosecco).

Freddy made us a Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern lunch plus his grandma’s lemon pie. Yum. His compound is a crazy urban jungle, I think it’s the largest in Shanghai. Also, it’s right by the river and you have a great view of the “1000 trees”, a cool building on Suzhou creek, which is still under construction.

Tiger King

The final weekend of the month was really only a Saturday for me, because Sunday was a make up working day, due to the upcoming May holiday.

We made the most of the one free day … by first having lunch with Freddy (see above) and going to another birthday, that’s number 5 for April. To celebrate his birthday a couple of days early, Hutch had a Tiger King viewing party. Which meant we watched 4 episodes of Tiger King while dressed up in questionable outfits, and then went out for dinner.

So that was April. Looking back, quite a lot of things happened. I guess Shanghai just never gets boring. πŸ™‚

Not pictured: A couple of girls’ nights, more dinners, WeChat video workouts with my sisters, trying to plan a trip for May, game nights, a Zoom call to Rich in Paris, still wearing a mask everyday … and we also went to work (with masks on).

Staycation

Staycation

After most of our friends returned to Shanghai and finished their home quarantine, we decided to do a Staycation together. We hadn’t seen each other much this year, no one is allowed to really go anywhere plus many places are running specials, so it was the perfect opportunity. Two weeks ago our destination was the W Hotel located on the North Bund. This is the whole crew during Happy Hour and again after breakfast:

We booked a special package with happy hour, massages and breakfast the next day and it was amazing. The hotel was not full , so we had the spa to ourselves and we all got upgraded into incredible rooms with an even more incredible view! Being on the Bund, we set an alarm for 5:30 to watch the sunrise … me mostly from the comfort of our bed. I only got up a couple times to take a picture πŸ™‚

Those are all phone pictures, and here is one that Thorben took with the pro equipment. Looking at the Skyline never gets old and seeing it in the morning light was really cool.

It was a great weekend and it was really nice to get “away”, even if only a 15 min taxi ride away. If things stay the way they are and we cannot travel, I think we will be due for another Staycation soon πŸ™‚

Shanghai at night

Shanghai at night

Shanghai is slowly getting back to life. Slowly. It is still quite empty – during night, and day. A couple of weeks ago I tried to capture this eerie emptiness. The silence at night is almost unbearable.

A few month back I spend a few nights in the middle of nowhere and noticed how quiet it is – Shanghai at night is exactly the same.

COVID-19 in Shanghai

COVID-19 in Shanghai

Shanghai right now

The Corona virus situation in China and Shanghai has been improving a lot in the past weeks and we’re maybe 60-70% back to normal. I thought I’d try to sum up how things developed and what the current status is.

As of right now, schools are still closed but we are back at the office and many places are open. The city is running again, though with a lot of precautions. Everywhere you go, there are temperature checks: you cannot enter malls, restaurants, parks or our building without having your temperature taken first. To go to our office, we have to fill out a form everyday which asks about travel and symptoms. Many places also want to see a QR code which shows if you have been in a high risk area in the past 14 days. If the code is green, you’re good to go. Most places have hand sanitizers and everyone wears masks … like me at the park yesterday, or pretty much everywhere I go that is not our apartment.

So overall, life has returned to fairly normal here. The metro is busy again, there are some traffic jams and you can meet friends and go places. Last week, we went to a birthday party, I went to the first GGI event of the year and we met friends for dinner.

The only big impact on us at the moment is, that we can’t really leave Shanghai. I was supposed to spend the weekend in Singapore with my sister, nephew and parents, but many countries, Singapore included, won’t let anyone who has been in China (and now also other high risk countries) enter. Our company has the policy that if you leave Shanghai, you have to quarantine at home for 14 days before coming back to the office. All business trips are cancelled, which means we are staying put for the time being. Not having a vacation planned or even knowing when our next trip will be is definitely something new.

Starting at the beginning

People in Shanghai first started the talking about the virus the week before Chinese New Year. I left for India on January 23 and the days leading up to it, I heard about it more and more at the office and the number of people wearing masks on the metro increased daily. We were not really worried about it then. Life in Shanghai wasn’t affected and the night before I left, I went out with friends. We were still making jokes, drinking Coronas and and had a blast at the bowling alley.

The next day at the airport, EVERYONE was wearing a mask, and in India, passengers from China had to go through a temperature screening. While I was on the trip, things got really serious and we got more and more bad news. It was announced that schools would stay closed, we heard masks were difficult to get, and whole cities went into lock down. People even messaged me saying I should stay in India longer or go somewhere else, but to not return to China. I wanted to go back and was convinced it would be okay and I would go back to work on Monday. I did buy a pack of masks at a pharmacy in Delhi and returned to a very quiet city on February 1.

When I got home, it was announced that the CNY holiday was officially extended for another week, so our company, and pretty much everything else had to stayed closed until February 10. The week after, everyone was advised to work from home. That meant that I was mostly at home for 2 weeks and left the house only 4 or 5 times. The few times I did leave the compound, I walked through a ghost town. Everyone in Shanghai really isolated themselves as much as possible. The only people I saw outside were delivery drivers and people buying food.

I’ve been back to the office since February 17 but was there almost by myself for the first week. Many people still worked from home or were stuck in other provinces longer. My commute to work only took around half the normal time during that first week. Since March, most people are back and businesses are slowly opening up again. Everyone is wearing masks, big meetings taking place virtually and I think I have at least 3 conversations a day about corona, but it’s still good to be back to normal, or at least a new normal.

Thorben was supposed to return to Shanghai on February 2 but decided to extend his stay in Germany. He had a business trip to Morocco planned and didn’t want to get stuck. It took him until February 23 to return to Shanghai because getting his flight rescheduled was complicated and the date kept getting pushed back. In the end, he and a lot of masks and sanitizer made it back safely. After 2 weeks of home office, he’s also allowed to go back to work now.

Getting tested

Our friend Silvia works for a lab which developed a test to check if you have the Corona virus. She needed samples from people to get more data, since they were working to get the test approved. Therefore in mid February, a few friends and I could say with confidence that we definitely do not have the virus πŸ™‚

Staying sane

The first 2 weeks after India were tough for me. I was home alone and most places were closed. I watched a lot of TV the first week, the most since I had pneumonia 2 years ago. To be exact, I caught up on the past 1 and a half seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and finished the last 3 seasons of Suits. I also caught up on all the sleep I didn’t get during my India trip. Other than that, I cooked and baked a lot, read 2 books and also worked much more than usual.

I spent some time video chatting with my family and friends but after 5 days home alone without real human contact, I was getting pretty desperate. Luckily, he situation in Shanghai never got really bad. According to official figures, we have less than 400 cases here, most of them already recovered and by mid February the number of new infections was below 5 a day. I was always able to leave my apartment, as there was no mandatory quarantine by the government for us. With everyone wearing masks and keeping a distance, I never felt unsafe or worried about my health. Of course that’s easy to say not being in any at risk group.

Since most restaurants were closed until March, and some still are, we had private gatherings. Tim and I made wontons together, Silvia and Gabor made pasta for me (twice!), I had some people over for dinner and brunch, went to a games and pizza night at a friend’s house … Thanks to the awesome people who kept me sane and provided human contact and excellent food πŸ™‚

Now, I’m hoping, the measures which are taken across the globe are effective and soon, infection numbers will go down, so normal life can start up again. We’re continuing with our safety measures here and I really hope it is enough to keep the virus at bay.

Stay healthy, everyone!

2019 – Another Year in Review

2019 – Another Year in Review

I had so much fun doing my 2017 and 2018 review, so here we go again, starting with the exact same sentence:

2019: it’s been a crazy year!

January

I spent half of the month in Germany combining work and seeing friends and family, while Thorben returned to Shanghai a bit earlier. He brought some North German culture with him and hosted a GrΓΌnkohl dinner. I also finished the planning and booking for our big 2019 vacation – a long awaited trip to New Zealand.

February

Over Chinese New Year, we explored New Zealand. We spent 1 week on the North Island and 2 weeks on the South Island and went skydiving! It was a great trip, maybe my favorite one so far, and I wish I was already planning the next one.

March

March was a food month: It was restaurant week again, and I had fun eating and also making lots of food. I also started my BonApp “career” (I’m now a power user πŸ˜‰ ). My mom turned 60, so I surprised her on the morning of her birthday and spent a fun week in Germany.

April

Spring really started in April and brought beautiful weather and even more beautiful cherry blossoms which I enjoyed with friends at Gucun Park and during Thorben’s long birthday weekend. Work took me to Wuzhen Water Town, another amazing place in China. There was lots of great food as always, for example the dumplings we made at our friends’ house.

May

As usual, May was the best month of the year because it’s my birthday, which we celebrated with lots and lots of food (surprise) and great people πŸ™‚ Other highlights were my sister and Timo’s visit and a trip to Disneyland. I also started a new job in May and Thorben went on a trip to Thailand with his colleagues for their annual outing.

June

June was filled with travel: We took a trip to Kuching to celebrate Eid and see Orang Utans and I went on a business trip to Germany which I could combine with some belated birthday celebrations and a trip to the BUGA. I also said good bye to a friend with a fun food tour through Shanghai.

July

Work, dinners, brunches, birthdays, walks with Khan … July was a pretty normal Shanghai month for me. It was hot and humid, but not as bad as the 2017 summer. Thorben started a new role in July and went to Germany for business.

August

August continued with work and food and friends and fun πŸ™‚ I also tried crayfish for the first time and talked about it on TV. The month finished with restaurant week and a party at the W, neither of which I blogged about. Oops.

September

In September, I finally went to visit my sister and Timo in Singapore. We had lots of great food and I enjoyed their pool. Back in Shanghai, Jana came to visit and we did a tour of a chocolate factory and ate a lot.

October

Our Golden Week trip took us to Indonesia. A few days with Marlyn’s family in Jakarta and a week on Flores: we saw Komodo Dragons and other beautiful islands close to Labuan Bajo and explored traditional villages in Bajawa.

November

In November, I baked a lot of Christmas cookies, while Thorben was on another business trip in Germany. I took advantage of 11/11 to get started on my Christmas shopping, in preparation for the annual US trip. We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona, eating, shopping and having fun with my host family.

December

The biggest event of the year happened in December: I became an aunt! Christmas parties, cookies, dinners … December in Shanghai went by really fast and on the 19th we flew to Germany to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and spent time with friends and family.

DIY Food Tour

DIY Food Tour

We just got back from our Golden Week vacation a few days ago and I’m very behind with the blogging. Spoiler: We went to Indonesia and it was great! Before I get into it (still got lots of pictures to sort), I still have a couple little things to share from before our trip.

Marlyn and I had been wanting to recreate the food tour I did in June, and we decided it was time in the middle of September when it finally got a bit cooler. We met after work at the metro, booklet from the tour in hand and ready to eat our way through China and take selfies πŸ™‚

Stop 1 – Cantonese

Our personal food tour was off to a rocky start because the planned first stop, the Xi’An Burger, had been closed down πŸ™ It didn’t get much better at the second stop – a Cantonese restaurant. They had sold out of the barbecued pork, this dish I was most excited to eat again at that place. Fail. We tried duck instead, which was okay, but not nearly as good as the pork. The pineapple bun and a mango tapioca dish were good; those cheered us up again.

Since we met around 20 min before the food tour starts, we kept seeing one of their groups. They usually came into the restaurants when we had already started eating. We made sure to hide our booklet and pretended we were just in the know about local restaurants. Not sure we succeeded πŸ˜‰

Stop 2 – Ningbo

The second stop – the Ningbo place – was much better! We got my favorite 2 dishes from the tour, fava bean puree and crispy bamboo chips. Marlyn was skeptical at first, but came around after giving it a try. The beans really taste much better than they look!

Stop 3 – Sichuan

Third stop: Sichuan Noodles, no rabbit head this time πŸ™‚

Stop 4 – Shanghai

And finally, some xiaolongbao to finish the night.

Just as we were about to call it a night, we saw the guide again. He ducked into a small bakery, telling the group “I’m just gonna buy something for later”. So obviously we went in right after he left and requested 2 of whatever he bought … which gave us our dessert πŸ™‚

To anyone who wants try food from across China: Come visit and eat with us – Marlyn and I are ready!