Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fusion Art

New art in the office!  It's commissioned.  A mix of old and new, west and east, whimsical and serious.  I really, really, reaaaaally like it.  What do you think?  Yay or nay?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Visit from the Lil' Sis

My sister just came through Hong Kong for a couple of days to hang out with me.  She is on her way back to New York, having just completed a most fulfilling, enriching and challenging Fulbright fellowship in Thailand.  I am so glad that I got to see her, albeit just for a few days. 

I was really upset because I had to work most of the time that she was here. It was truly depressing to be sitting in an office cubicle, wishing that I could make the most of every minute, but not being able to, and knowing that time was steadily slipping us by. 

Hanging out with your loved ones; is there anything any more precious?

I just put her in a cab for her long flight back to the U.S. and I miss her so much already it hurts.

Friday, October 25, 2013


It's not a huge deal, but I woke up a few days ago with a saggy, swollen right undereye.   I thought I looked like a grumy bullfrog that had slept on the wrong side of his lily pad. 

It turns out that I had an acute case of allergies, where a bunch of little nodes (ew) sprouted up in the underside below my eye (double ew) due to "irritation from particles in the air."  That, my friends, is codespeak for pollution. 

Maybe it's time to pack it up and move to Fiji.  Or Tasmania.  Somewhere pristine.

I have been in glasses this whole week, which always makes me feel frumpy.  Boo.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Propaganda Posters

I couldn't help snickering at this when I passed it in the MTR subway.  I actually thought it was an advertisement for a soap opera.  Hehe.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Living In Scaffolding

Lately I feel as though we live in and amongst scaffolding.  Every day a new building near us gets mummified and entwined in bamboo poles.  These are pictures I took of the new Ralph Lauren store that is going up on the corner of the street across from us.  They must have received a super urgent mandate to get their store up and running, because after months of silence they are now working at all hours of night.  

Check out these super high powered (and annoying) lights shining down as the construction workers violate probably ten different safety standards, drilling and shooting sparks all over the sidewalk on a Sunday night.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Plaza Mayor - Spanish Tapas on Moon Street

There is a place in the Hong Kong universe where the stars, the moon and the sun come together to play.  Where?  On Star street, Moon street and Sun street - a most quaint, local but also trendy area in Admiralty/Wan Chai.  The other night, Michael and I went to eat at Plaza Mayor, a restaurant that serves Spanish tapas and delicious wines.  Large Iberico hams hang in the window of their grocery store next door.
I love their olives and whole, peeled raw garlic (which are oh so pungent).  This time they gifted us a small taste of their egg and potato torta.
Tomato and onion salad (with the same tantalizing green and red olives):
 Iberico ham croquettes:
 Roasted variety of peppers, meltingly tender, marinated in vinegar and garlic.
 Warm, fresh bread drizzled in olive oil:
 Assorted platter of ham (I chickened out from ordering the $45 plate of Iberico acorn-fed ham):
 Vinegar-marinated anchovies in olive oil and garlic.  This is so good.  I know anchovies turn a lot of people off (Michael included) but I love them.  These were tender fillets that were just so flavorful.
 This is a view of the apartment above as we sat outside eating and drinking.
I really like the atmosphere and dishes of this restaurant, but having gone a couple of times now I admit that it can be a bit too heavy.  Everything is really tasty as you are chowing down (and the salt definitely makes the wine flow freely) but when we finished eating, we felt kind of bogged down.  There is a lot of salt in the dishes - whether it be the aged cheese, cured meats, smoked fish, or the "salads."

The most salient ingredients in the menu are garlic, garlic, and more garlic - which can be to your liking (or not), but it packs such a pungent punch that when my breath is still permeated with garlic the morning after, I can't help but think of it as an unintended souvenir...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blue (Shopping) Streak

Do you ever, without even realizing it, gravitate toward a particular color or pattern or theme when you are shopping?  It took me a while but I finally realized that recently, I have been picking up the color blue.  A lot.  A year ago you would have been hard pressed to find anything blue in my wardrobe (except jeans - my preference tends to be dusty pinks, gray, white, or else really floral patterns).  But now, it's a different story.

Without further ado, here are my recent blues (in reverse chronological order).

I picked up this Rebecca Taylor silk dress in Shanghai.
This is true to the dress's color.  It has pockets (yay!) which blend in pretty well with the pleats around the waist
I love the tie dye print.  I love the drop tie sleeves.  I love the luxurious, creamy feel of the silk.  
I think I kind of love everything about this dress.

I picked up this (quite heavy) S. Nine dress by designer Susanna Soo during her recent sample sale in Hong Kong:

I was pretty mesmerized by all of this bunched up fabric.  I think it is kind of crazy overwhelming awesome all at the same time.
I was also very enamored with the patches of mesh strategically scattered throughout the dress.
I have not yet had a chance to wear this dress... I am hoping to wear it to a friend's wedding at the end of this year.

I bought this blue cotton sheath dress designed by the French brand Moncollet, which I really only wear to work:
The arrow print was irresistible.
I loved this one so much that I decided to get another:
This one I like a little less because the blue is not a true, deep navy like I expected.
Now it just remains to be seen whether this blue streak is a good or a bad thing?   What do you think?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Then and Now

I don't know how many of you were reading my blog when I lived in Shanghai for a month in 2007, but I thought for today's post it would be kind of interesting and fun to take a look at how I viewed things in Shanghai six years ago.  Unfortunately some of the pictures seem to be missing (I guess blogspot has gotten greedy about hosting pictures for free). 

So much has changed since then, both in my own life, and in the city, that I am really grateful I have these little posts to capture my experience and thoughts.  While walking around on this trip, I could not help but think that Shanghai will always have a special place in my heart.  It is the city I associate with the beginning of my career, a time when I was just beginning my work and travel adventures.

Here are just a few for a trip down memory lane:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dove Grey Polish and Ice Cream

Currently loving this new nail color I just tried out:

It's been a long week.  I wish I could have a lot more of this...
cantaloupe melon and durian (!) ice cream.  The durian flavor was surprisingly pleasant, although I couldn't have handled it without the melon to cut the flavor...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Di Shui Dong (滴水洞)

We had dinner at on one of my favorite streets (Maoming street) in one of my favorite areas in Shanghai on Sunday night, to check out a wildy popular Hunan restaurant called Di Shui Dong.

Michael complained about the plentiful number of "laowai's" present in the restaurant - this to him is usually a sign that the food is too commercialized and not sufficiently authentic.  In this instance, I agree with him - the restaurant was overrated. 

In Shanghai's gold star food scene, I am surprised this restaurant has so many followers.  There is of course always the possibility that I just ordered poorly...but I am doubtful.

Appetizer was slivered duck gizzard(?) with marinated sour string beans.  Slightly spicy.  Packed a delightful, tart punch.
We ordered the sticky rice wrapped meatballs - these were tasty and served piping hot, but they pretty much consisted of one flavor - hot meat.
These cumin rubbed and chili-pepper flaked spare ribs were on every food reviewer's list of "must-have's" at the restaurant - however, I found them lacking. All you could taste was the cumin.  My expectations for this dish must have been way too high, because I was completely disappointed.
The "dry" tofu pot with pork slices and mushrooms was okay, but I thought it kind of lacked flavor too (other than the spice)!  The dish would have been made much better with several different kinds of tofu (fried, frozen, tender, tough, etc.) as well as different kinds of mushrooms.  I am usually not a texture eater, but in this instance I think the dish would have improved with more textures to tantalize the tongue.

Verdict?  I so wish we had skipped this restaurant and headed to the Anhui restaurant I was considering instead! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dinner and a Show

On one of the nights we were in Shanghai, we battled the rush hour subway traffic leaving Pudong and headed into Puxi for a pre-show dinner and a musical:
And I thought NYC subways were bad!  This is the crowd to get to the tollbooth!
For dinner, we ordered XO stir fried beef with tender asparagus shoots:
 bacon wrapped taro sticks:
 and one of the restaurant's house specials - beautifully plated "four taste" chicken (chicken paired with mushroom, carrot and bacon slices):
Doesn't he look like he's still flying?  My dad asked, "but what happened to his legs?"
Yes, don't freak out, his head was perfectly preserved.
Then we went to the theater for our first musical theater experience in China, full of anticipation and not at all sure what to expect.

The show was called "Do Women Really Need Money?" which to me already foreshadowed all kinds of musical acts in bad taste.  Shanghai, and China in general, has been a maelstrom of materialism as of late.  The general perception is that the society is obsessed with wealth, money, fame, status, material status, material goods, etc. etc.  This musical may have been an attempt at turning the tables and showing that love truly does trump a new bag or another fancy dress.

The musical traces three girl friends, following their romantic interests and careers as they grow up .  (I tend to be embarassingly lenient in my regard for musicals, especially romantic comedies masquerading as musicals about girl friends, love interests, etc. etc.)  But, guess what, in this case my instincts were pretty much spot on.  

Even I could not really stomach the flat musical numbers, with subjects like "If I had a million dollars" and "What would I do if I had more money," or conversations amongst the characters like "Let your wife buy as much as she wants and don't you dare complain!"  The most disturbing part of the show was that the creators seemed to be trying to be open minded and empowering, when in reality they still portrayed all kinds of stereotypes.   I mean, it's not feminism if the wife can throw a temper tantrum to convince her husband to buy her things, if he is the sole source of income and holds all the money.  ...and don't even get me started on their cloying, cutesy voices.  Blergh.

The production itself aside, I was thrilled to be a part of a local Chinese audience during a musical.  What an experience:

First, we could not find our seats - and that was not only due to the complete lack of instructions from the usher and the bizarre numbering in the theater (odd numbers completely on one side and even numbers completely on the other), but primarily due to the fact that our seats had been occupied by another party.  The show began and the usher nonchalantly stood there, shining her flashlight on the guilty parties, as she evicted them from the very center of the very long row.  At that point I did not even want to climb over all of the people to get to our seats!

When Michael tried to squeeze past the schoolgirls, they could not stop giggling  - let's just say that he was the only white person in the theater.

Second, many members brought in their own food and snacks.  We smelled sausages and cured meats in the row behind us.  The schoolgirls next to us had brought in something crunchy.

Third, as expected, people were texting all throughout the show.  At several points, the man next to me crouched down low in his seat and had entire telephone conversations.  To be fair, he was very quiet and you could barely hear him.  And he was very considerate - when his third phone call came in, he climbed over everyone (remember, we were in the very center of a very long row) to leave the theater.  Now that's courtesy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

IFC Residence Pudong Shanghai

We obviously camped out in Shanghai this past week.  We stayed at the ifc Residence, one of the new corporate apartment complexes in the Pudong area. 
You would be very clever and very correct if you gathered that it was located right next to the ifc mall.
 To be specific, it is located next to the glitziest Louis Vuitton ever.
This entire mall complex and elevated walkway did not exist when I lived in Pudong last time.  Granted, that was six years ago... but still. This huge building (rumored to be 108 floors when complete) was not here then either.
Jinmao is on the left, another skyscraper is behind it, and then the one one the right is new
No joke when they say things change quickly in China.

The amenities in the ifc residences are really, really nice (the gym and pool are especially nice perks):

Entrance to the gym
A really lovely pool (no deep end though) and hot tub
I love the tapestry and chandeliers in the lobby:

The hallways are a bit dim, but still really nice.
Our room had brand new televisions, a washer dryer and a dishwasher (a dishwasher!  I could kiss it).

The only incongruous element was the level of service.  The wait staff and front desk are a little clueless at times.  When I first showed up and asked for a second key so I could go up to my room, they appeared not to understand and instead called Michael in the room and said "A lady is downstairs for you.  Do you want to come down and pick her up?" This left a rather bad taste in my mouth.  What am I, a concubine?

We stayed here for a week and after seven days they still weren't clear on exactly who was staying here.  When our in-room wireless signal disappeared it took two hours to convince them to send someone to come up and check it out.  The cleaning crew doesn't so much clean as try to hide the remnants of dirt - sweep it under the carpet literally, you could say.  Other than these points, this was a really luxurious and wonderful place to stay.  Missing it already...