Well it’s February 24th and tonight is the last night of the New Year’s Celebration. This is called the Lantern Festival. Kim and I decided to treat ourselves to a very expensive fancy boutique Thai Restaurant for dinner. Although we spent a modest amount by North American standards for our meal, by Chinese standards we spent a fair amount. We ordered the Pad Thai, Chicken and cashews in a spicy sauce, two small bowls of rice and some vegetable rolls. We topped this off with some cold bottled water and two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon. After eating the real meal deal in Thailand, this meal was a great disappointment. We dropped almost $70 on this meal and the same meal in Thailand was about $9 and three times as delicious. As well, the service at any Thai restaurant is friendly and efficient. Well, we still have our two other favourite Thai restaurants here “Tamarind Thai” at the Cool Docks and “Simply Thai” in the French Concession. We will go there when we need a Thai food fix.
We have just been doing a bit of a walk about this week-end and were delighted to have dinner with Terry and Geoff who are also just back after a golfing vacation. I have mentioned them before as they are also a principal and a teacher who are married and living in Jiaxing (very close to Shanghai). Their blog is very funny and informative. If you get a chance check out the Jiaxing Express@wordpress.com. They tell the story of two folks from BC living in rural China. With them were Greg and Chan, Lawrence Vea and a new arrival to Shanhai, Steve Heinrichson and his wife Helene. It was a wonderful evening of delicious food at the Lost Heaven Restaurant.
The highlight of the week-end was a visit from Paul Cassidy and his wife Sybil. Paul is the brother to my best friend who lives in Montreal, John. I haven’t seen Paul in ten years so it was delightful to see him and tour around our neighbourhood. We did a nice lunch at the SML mall. Sybil and I feasted on Chinese Udon noodles with a wonderful curried sauce while Kim and Paul went for the more traditional Chinese lunch; a subway sandwich. We then went for a wonderful foot massage at Kang Dao and then finally home for a delicious pasta dinner with red wine, garlic bread and of course an evening digestive of Grand Marnier!
Paul and Sybil visit us. They leave for Hinan (China’s version of Hawaii) on Monday. By the way we are outdoors and we are in short sleeve shirts and it is February. It was a sunny, but smoggy day so it was quite warm. 12-14 degrees out.
You can see that Paul and I are drinking in the middle of the street. This is perfectly legal. There does not seem to be any restrictions about what age you have to be to drink alcohol in China. However, we have yet to see even one under age drinker here.
Even Kim was wearing her short sleeves today. We brought our spring coats, but ended up carrying them as it was quite warm.
Here are some of the things we saw in our travels:
The people of Shanghai do so much better than we do in the hot season because they are always dressed warmly. Remember Kim, Paul Sybil and I are all dressed in short sleeves. Take a look at what these folks are wearing. There is no doubt that we Canadians are a lot more hardy.
You have heard of China’s one child rule and this is certainly in effect in Shanghai (Not so much in the farm villages). This has created what ex Pats call the “Little Emperor” syndrome. This is when male children are doted on to the point there is little or no discipline from the parents. It makes school a little challenging, however, teachers and principals are highly revered here so if students think we will phone home, and we do, they never misbehave. This little guy is wearing a tradition New Years outfit.
This is also very traditional garb? Walking around town in your night robe. It was about 1:00 pm in the afternoon. This guy woke up and decided to go out for some tea and dumplings, but didn’t want to get dressed. So he didn’t. This is pretty common.
Kim and I are totally addicted to the Soy green tea lattes at Starbucks. We usually treat ourselves every week-end. They sell them in Canada too. Try one they are delicious and very good for you. Here is one of the 3 Starbucks within 2-3 blocks of our place. Very fancy!
This photo is for my daughter, Danika in Disneyworld. This is China’s version of a Disney ride. For a couple of cents you can ride the scariest looking MIckey Mouse I have ever seen.
Everywhere we went today were red lanterns to celebrate Lantern festival. It’s 9:30 at night and it sounds like a war zone outside with the amount of fireworks going off out there. As Kim and I walked back from the restaurant we were fascinated by the number of fireworks displays, the lights and laser shows that are going on in the city on the last night of New Years. Despite the amount of smoke that will add to an already smoggy atmosphere, thousands of dollars are poured into these fireworks over the celebration of New Years. This has been going on nightly since January 28th. Ironically, the people of Shanghai seem immune to the explosions going off. Kim and I were the only ones stopping to enjoy the ongoing show that unfolded all around us as we walked home tonight.
There are very few people who have clothes dryers and the result is everywhere you go you can see laundry hanging to dry. It is affectionately known as the flags of Shanghai.
I can’t remember if I put this up on our blog yet, but I love this picture so much I will put it up again. We have become close friends with our massage girls and they come to visit us at home and we teach them some English. In return they bring us gifts of fresh fruit and tea and give us a massage once in a while. Here we are in our apartment, Dong Ling is giving me a back massage while Shau Kway is washing my feet in preparation of trimming my callouses off with a razor and a quick foot massage. Kim and I want to bring these girls home with us.
Finally, there is this guy. The window washer at the middle school right next to our school. He throws this rope swing over the side and without the use of any safety harness or other equipment, he hopes over the side and starts cleaning windows!
Look closely, he is at the top! It’s a long way down. You can also get a sense of how smoggy the air is here. This is actually a sunny day. Have a great week!