Thursday, January 20, 2011

Week 13

How's it going people?! I just want to start off by thanking everyone, once again, for taking an interest in our blog and reading about our story. We've been getting a lot of hits from people around the world and that is really exciting for us! To those of you from countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, Spain, Bahrain, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and Nepal: we are really happy you are checking out our blog, please keep checking back and let us know if there is anything you'd like to know more about! Some of our friends are already leaving comments. @Travis: We miss you too bud -- when are you going to bring your guitar and come visit?!? @Minanos: Thank you so much for all the love and support. Tiffany says: Thanks also keeping up with us through the blog. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as we've enjoyed writing it! We hope to see you all very soon (maybe over Skype!)

Over the last couple of weeks we have been using our kitchen a lot more. Since we've been here, I'd say we've either gone out to eat or ordered from Sherpa's (a frequently-used-by-expats restaurant delivery service) about 90% of the time. This is because our kitchen "stove" consists of two burners (and no oven!), one of which is mainly for keeping stuff warm and doesn't work well for cooking. So the meals we can cook at home must be small (one or two dishes) or else some of the food gets cold before we get done cooking. But I am happy to report that we've found one meal we can cook in our apartment without many stove-related problems -- Tacos!! We have not found many places that have great Southern California tacos that we can get for a decent price, so we have been cooking them for ourselves over the last couple of weeks. Let me just tell you...they're amazing. One of our favorite things to do is cook for our friends (right, Nadia and Justin?!? haha), so we're planning on having a couple of friends over for a taco party in the next couple of weeks.

One of the reasons we've been able to make tacos, however, is because we've found a great place to buy corn tortillas and avocados. Tiffany loves avocados more than me, and they have been a staple of her diet since I've known her. So naturally one of the first items on our shopping list when we arrived was avocados. Unfortunately, the avocados sold in the stores we've found are mostly unripe or rotten, and they're also ridiculously overpriced: like $7-8 for two! Not sure what all of you are used to paying for these things, but I can't justify paying that much for an avocado. Well, a couple of friends told us about a small market tucked away on Wulumuqi Road, which is actually close to our apartment.

They call her "The Avocado Lady" (haha), and she has quite a reputation, apparently, among the expat community. As legend has it, one expat long ago made a deal with her that he would buy a ton of avocados from her (and other imported food) if she would sell them for 2-3RMB (approx. $0.50) over the import price. She took him up on the offer, and now she has a thriving shop that sells avocados, corn tortillas, gourmet cheese, caviar, and other hard-to-find groceries. We've gone back at least three times in the last two weeks, and we're super happy to have avocados with our tacos and sandwiches. It's the little things, people, that make us happy here in China.

Tiffany: I've been working at MADA s.p.a.m. for three months now and that means that my end of contract evaluation is coming up.  Hopefully all will go well and I will sign another contract, this time for a longer time-period. The last three months have been challenging, to say the least, but extremely exciting.  Recently I've been spending most of my time at work master-planning the landscape design for the Roman World Theme Park in Ningbo! Since it is a theme park complex, the crazier and more insane the design, the better. We're using tons of fun paving patterns and including water jets and LED pavers all over the site.  It's been so much fun to be so involved in the design process.  I can't wait to see it when it's complete!

She has been working very hard and deserves a promotion. Last Saturday was her only day off last week, so we decided to go out and see a show. We heard so many cool things about the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe and have been meaning to go see them, so we went last weekend. It was incredible. If any of you has seen a Cirque du Soleil show, the Shanghai Acrobats are very similar. The Chinese take a lot of pride in their gymnastics, in case any of you don't remember the 2008 Olympic Games where the Chinese took home medals in a plethora of gymnastic categories. These Acrobats are from the same gymnast breed, and the strength and flexibility they have to exert in some of the acts on the next two videos makes me sick. Nonetheless, it was a really awesome experience.

Part 1
Part 2

Apparently this company travels the world and tries to put on a different show each night. If these guys are in a town near you, I definitely recommend checking them out. We will likely be going back to another show, so look forward to more videos on the blog. Hope everyone is doing well. Until next week, take care.

Things To Do in Shanghai

8. Have a Stare Down

Unlike the United States, it is not considered rude to stare at people here in China. It's actually quite normal. From what I've noticed, no one is embarrassed to be staring or does the thing where they stare until the person looks at them and then quickly looks away as if to pretend they were never staring in the first place. No, here in China it is not only quite common but extremely well enjoyed.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm a foreigner or if it's just normal, but I seem to get stared at quite a bit.  So recently, I've decided to start staring people down. When I spot someone staring at me, I gaze deeply into their eyes and try not to be the first one to look away or even blink.  Quite often, I win, however, it can be quite dangerous to do while walking. I suggest to all you expats and visitors here in Shanghai, give it a try- Stare Someone Down!

Maybe It's Just Me

There is no tipping in China. In fact, I've heard it is against the law to tip for services because there is supposed to be a service charge embedded in the price. But I think the service charge is paltry compared to the standard 15% in the U.S. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I broke the law when we ordered delivery from Sherpa's (a food delivery service we frequently use because it has a lot of English menus to choose from). Our main reason for ordering in that night was because it was raining/snowing outside, and we could not bring ourselves to get on the scooter and drive to dinner. When the Sherpa's guy arrived, he was soaked and visibly cold as he handed us our warm food. Even though I was excited to eat, I felt really bad for giving him exact change, so I gave him an extra 5RMB (less than $1). Even though he was a little confused at first, he was really excited, and thanked us several times before I shut the door on him because it was getting cold. Maybe it's just me, but after working in the restaurant business for many years, I don't feel so bad about breaking that law.


  1. I love your blog, Mike and Tiffany! I am so happy to see that you're enjoying yourselves. Please keep posting!

    - Christina Togle

  2. Love reading your blog. We're about to move to Shanghai in a few months and it's helpful to hear how you're both adjusting.