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Now with the News!

Here with the week-end blog update is Bruce Carabine.  It kind of sounds like a news broadcast and that`s the Blopic of week.  (Blopic = Blog Topic)  Kim is working both in school and over her lunch with some students on a TV news show.  This is an extension from a unit we did in class on reading for information.  Students all selected a newspaper clipping and had to record all of the relevant information from their clipping.  Armed with just the notes they had taken, they watched a CCTV news broadcast.  CCTV= China Cable Television. This is like the CNN of China and was the only English channel in Shanghai. (I use was because Kim and I don`t have cable anymore.  We bought a DVD player and watch movies.)    Students then had to write a news broadcast just like Wang Mang Mang does on CCTV.  The students did such a great job we decided to make our own CCTV news broadcast using her new Canon SLR camera.  Kim is now off filming everywhere in the school.  She is out on our sports field, the gym and even the streets of Shanghai.  Our next unit is on advertising and so we have students who will end up doing advertisements as well.  I plan on editing the show so that it has a somewhat air of realism.  It should be a lot of fun to show them the finished product.  The file will be too big to upload, but I promise to bring a copy home with me to Canada so you can see the potential budding news broadcasters at work.  We are especially looking forward to the blooper reel.

This week-end was a Foodie-Shopping week-end.  Kim really needed some new tops and she wanted a nice trench coat to wear, so we decided to try our luck at the fabric market.  This is like the fake mall, lots of bargaining going on and you select your material and what design you want and they make you whatever you want for a really decent price.  For example, one of my teachers is getting married in February and he needed a tuxedo.  He is about 6`4 so he was definitely not buying off of the rack.  It cost him a little under $150 to get a tux made.  Kim got a trench coat and two tops custom made and the whole deal was under $100. It sounds like a good deal.  The shirts and coat will be ready next week.  Then we will let you know if it really was a good deal.  After our jaunt to the fabric mall, we walked across the street to Wal-Mart.  It was a very interesting visit.  We didn’t buy much, but did get a smoking deal on a warm comforter for our visitors when they arrive in the spring.   We also bought some cucumber potato chips.  I must admit we are both addicted to these.

So that was the shopping portion of our weekend, next was the food part.  First Friday night, we had an invitation to go out with Greg and Chan.  Greg is the principal at Nanyang Model High School and Chan is his Vietnamese girl friend.  Greg has been so helpful to me over the start-up this year.  He patiently takes my phone calls and steers me onto the right track.  This is a lot different being a principal in China.  Chan, his girlfriend is just a delight.  She speaks fluent  English, Viet Namese (duh) and Chinese and writes Chinese very well.  She is a university student here in Shanghai.  She met Greg when he worked in Ho Chi Min City in Viet Nam.  I guess it is no surprise to say we went out for Viet Namese food.    We started the night with some nachos, some sweet potato fries and four glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon at the Blue Frog restaurant.  For Kim and I this was about $25 all in.  Then we went to the Mekong River Restaurant about an hour later.  We let Chan order and we ate dish after dish of delicious food.   She knew the chef personally so I assume we got the best of the best because the food was wonderful.  Although we really like the spicier Thai food, this food was so flavourful, neither of us missed the spicy bite of the hotter food of the south.  They use a lot of lemon grass, ginger, garlic, but nothing so over powering that it becomes distasteful.  Every dish was served with a different sauce.  A fish sauce, tamarind, soy mixed with something?  It was all so delicious.  We drank some sort of weak tea, (I think it might have been hot water) and I had a shot of Thai coffee which is an espresso with a shot of condensed milk in the bottom.  Amazing coffee.  Our share of the bill was about $40 for the evening.  Saturday night we went out to eat with Mary Lee Thomas (teacher), Lawrence Vea (Principal), Terry Watt and husband Geoff , Ron Wallsmith (Ministry Inspector), and Ron Grender (Former SD 43 principal now a BC Schools agent)  We went to one of our favourite restaurants, Simply Thai.  Kim and I love Thai food and had eaten at the Hong Mei Lu restaurant a couple of times, but never at the Simply Thai restaurant in French Concession.  This is a little weird because Hong Mei Lu is about 35 minutes away by cab and the French Concession is about 5-10 depending on traffic.  You never really think about how to travel in a taxi in a foreign country until you arrive and have to depend on them to get around.  Let me share with you that most of the drivers are over 35 and do not speak any English.  It doesn’t help to write down the address in English because they can’t read it.   So how does it work?  We text the name of a restaurant/store to  a phone number called China Direction.  They email you back right away in English with the correct address or a choice of addresses if there is more than one location.  You just select the location you want and just text back the letter “C”.  This informs them you want to have the info in Chinese.   Within 30 seconds you have in Chinese writing, the address and helpful directions on how to get where you want to go.  So handy.  Now on this particular night we had our reservations for 7:00 pm so we are getting ready to leave about 6:30.  Sometimes you have to wait a bit to find a cab.  I run my China direction text message and they only recognize the restaurant in Pu Dong on the other side of the river.  It looks as if the manager at that restaurant paid some money to be the only address to come up.  I re-entered the name this time with the address in the French Concession that we got off of the internet.  No deal, they want to send us to Pudong.  So we quickly map out the route we have to take in the cab to get there and me armed with my rudimentary Chinese we set out at now 6:50 to look for a cab.  We’re find one  right away and we are on the road.  I do my best to start explaining  we want to go down Riunjin Nan Lu, turn left at Jaojiabong the down to Wuxing Lu and turn right.  I look at the driver and he is smiling at me.  Clearly he has no idea what I am saying, and then he surprises me and says with great English.  You can’t turn right there, it’s only one way.  We were saved!   The only English cab driver in Shanghai had picked us up.  He knew exactly where we were going and we arrived at 7:05 fashionably late.  Our food again was delicious.  I have to try Vancouver’s version of Simply Thai when we get home.  The food was great.  Terry and Kim did a fabulous job ordering for everyone.  There was very little meat on our table after all of the dishes had come and gone, but the food was so good you just didn’t miss it.  Dinner was a little more expensive tonight; about $80 for the two of us.  Kim, Geoff and I went thru two very over priced bottles of wine, but what the heck.  Life is too short to drink cheap wine.   I have been bragging over the past weeks how cheap it is to eat out and some of you might remark that those prices are comparable to prices in Canada.  This is quite true.  Both of these restaurants are very high end.  This means they take Canadian Visa and Mastercard and there are waiters jumping over each other to provide you service.  The quality of the food is usually so much better and the cuts of meat etc. tend to be nicer.  There are many restaurants where we eat where the food and service is just as good, but they are not as popular so the prices are much more reasonable.  In fact, the prices are cheaper than we could buy and cook the food our selves.  It didn’t really matter we loved our dinner and took our 4 dollar cab ride home to spend the rest of the evening cuddling, drinking Kaluha on ice and watching the season finale of Community. 

Our Sunday was a typical Sunday here in China.  We did a 20 minute clean-up of our apartment.  (That’s all it takes.)  SKYPED one of our favourite daughters in Disneyworld.  Hi Danika, you gator eatin’ marvel!   Then we set out to do our average Sunday.  First a 15 minute walk to check out the stadium where the sports day was being held.  Then off to our favourite DVD store to purchase 3 movies.  That was about $3.25 for all of them.  Then to Starbucks for a nice drink and a relax.  Next it is on to City Shop to pick up our groceries for the week.  We arranged to have them delivered a little later so we can wander off and have our weekly foot massage.   We have two regular girls who have been looking after us.  They are known affectionately as 83 and 76.  We ask for them every week-end and we look forward to learning Chinese from them and of course being sent to pedia-heavan.  (This is the incredible place you go when during a Chinese foot massage)  We decided last week to go against Chinese tradition and give these girls a tip.  It wasn’t a lot just 10%; or a buck fifty.  They were over the moon excited!  When we arrived for our massage this week, the hostess explained that the girls were booked into another massage.  83 and 76 insisted that they stay with us, and so did we.   We got an extra 15 minutes this week!  They are such wonderful people with strong little hands!   Kim made a delicious chicken salad with rice for dinner.  Yummy.  What a great week-end!

 Here are some random photos of interest.

ImageThis is me dressed as a Sherpa guide.  The hat is made of 100% real non-fur material.  No animals were injured or killed in the taking of this picture, but I am sure the fashion police may talk to me about wearing such a hat!  Please note it is now November 13th and I am still just wearing a T-Shirt.Imagetill 

Yeah.  These two mannikins are supposed to attract children.  They scare the heck out of me!



The Chinese understand business and do everything they can to give the buyer every advantage on a purchase.  All of the good music stores in Shanghai are on the same street within 4-5 blocks of each other.  In fact that’s all you see on this street is music stores.  A very cool place to walk.  Note to all musicians, it’s called Jin Ling Lu.


ImageFinally, I love this picture.  Not a great shot, just showing a family going for a Sunday ride on the motorbike.  Dad is driving, while mom plays with her daughter on the back seat.  No one except expats wear helmets here.  People with colds will often wear face masks and people who don’t want to get colds will also wear them.  This happens as well in Canada, but we call these people “Bank Robbers.”

Have a great week!


One comment on “Now with the News!

  1. Great post Bruce! Love the updates!

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