Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 10

Christmas 2010 has now come and gone, and we hope everyone had (and is still having) a great holiday with your family and friends. It was nice to talk with a lot of you over Skype! We are very jealous of the scrumptious-looking food in your mouths!! (We are accepting leftovers, if you fell like freeze-dryng and overnighting them to us, haha)

Our Christmas was good on this side of the world. We started off Christmas Day by going to church at the International Church on Hengshan Road. Normally the church has two services on Sundays, but for Christmas Day there was only one, so it was packed with people. We had to bring our passports with us because only foreigners are allowed to worship there (i.e., the government doesn't allow Chinese nationals to attend these services), but on Christmas no one asked to see them. I haven't said prayers inside a church for quite a while so, for me, the experience felt good.

After church we came back home to exchange our gifts. This was our sixth Christmas gift exchange and it was different in so many ways. For one thing, searching for the right gift to give was a lot harder than in previous years. There was one thing I really wanted to get for Tiff (which shall remain nameless for the moment), but I ultimately couldn't locate stores that had the item I wanted. To be fair, I waited until a week before Christmas to start looking, whatever. The other challenge was finding places that offer gift certificates. I urge all of you to try and explain a gift certificate to someone who either 1) doesn't understand you, or 2) isn't familiar with the concept. It was a hoot. Anyways, I ended up giving the best gift of all: cold hard cash, baby! My wonderful girlfriend got me one of the best gifts ever: NFL Game Pass!!! This little treasure is only offered to viewers outside of the U.S., and it is an online subscription to every NFL game from 2009 and 2010, AND it includes the 2010 Playoffs AND the Super Bowl. I have been up for two straight nights trying to catch up on Playoff contenders, and I love my girlfriend.

Mike and I spent the rest of the day with Mike, Belle and their dog Bingo.  Mike and Belle live in the "suburbs" of Shanghai which we were excited to see. When we got there, they took us to a Wet Market, the Chinese version of a Farmers Market.  However, as you can tell from the photos below, this market is very different from the trendy, hippie-filled South Pasadena Farmers Market (we love hippies, please take no offense).  This real "working" market is open daily and growers bring in fresh fruits, veggies, sauces, spices, and meats twice a day. After showing us around and purchasing some food for Christmas Dinner, we went back to their brand new, beautiful condo where Mike and Belle proceeded to cook us the most amazing dinner.  Mike and I want to give a special thanks to our hosts for making our first Christmas in Shanghai absolutely beautiful and amazing.

 Aisles upon aisles of amazing looking fruits and vegetables!
 Mike had to specifically ask for a special cut of meat, since Pork Tenderloin is not a typical Chinese cut.
 Chef Mike and his wonderful Sous Chef, Belle, cooking us an amazing Christmas Dinner. (Bingo taking a sniff)
 Pork Tenderloin, Mushroom Risotto, Bacon wrapped Enoki Mushrooms, Holland Beans & Carrots

Mike, me, and Bingo

As you can all tell from the pictures, our Christmas Day ended up being pretty awesome. Thanks again to Chef Mike, Belle, and Bingo for the entertainment (I will not post pictures of the entertainment because this is a family blog, haha!)

Last week I talked about our trip to Pudong. Instead of paying the 45RMB to walk the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, we decided to take the subway. We thought it would be a good idea because Pudong is only one Metro station from the Bund. It was, to say the least, not exactly the comfortable ride we expected. I want to include the video this week in case anyone is coming to Shanghai and thinking about making the same mistake. I hope this will give everyone an idea of what it's like riding a busy subway in Shanghai.
We are on the brink of 2011, and hopefully it is a year that brings lots of health, prosperity and happiness to all of you who read this blog. Best of luck to those who don't, haha. Hope everyone has a great New Years Eve. Be safe, but have a lot of fun, we'll try to do the same on this side of the world!

Things To Do in Shanghai: 

6.  Visit the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market 

Located at 399 Lujiabang Lu, (or 陆家浜路399 if you’re taking a taxi).  Three floors of shops selling just about anything you could desire, all custom made.  Suits, shirts, jackets, jeans, leather coats, scarves, robes, etc., are all sold here, but most shops specialize in one or two types of items.  However, bargaining skills are a must or you WILL be duped!  Three piece suits (Pants, Jacket, Shirt) go for between 300-600rmb and Coats seem to go for about 400-600rmb. So much fun and such an amazing experience: A must see in Shanghai!

Maybe It's Just Me

I have an idea for "Things To Do in Shanghai": Don't take the subway during rush hour. If any of you has ever lived life on the edge, then you know what it feels like to ride the subway in certain parts of Shanghai. These trips can be a chaotic free-for-all where someone will throw elbows to get on and secure one square foot of space, and stand on one leg if necessary. And when people are trying to get off the train? I would say it's like watching Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris. The crowd can be overwhelming, and getting through it is a testament to "survival of the fittest". Even after you've confirmed that you still have your wallet, you still need to make sure that all of your limbs make it into the train before the door closes on you. Some Chinese people simply don't care, and want to get on the train anyways, which is scary because these nomads have nothing to lose. Maybe it's just me, but why risk your life and limbs for an extra 3 minutes of your time? It's unbelievable.


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