Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I Brought Back With Me

After a long trip to the US, I think I'm mostly re-acquainted with being back in Shanghai - and I'll admit, seeing the same old streets brought a big smile to my face!

For all my incessant whining about how poorly Shanghai interprets foreign food, the selection of things American in Shanghai is pretty good. One easily could live the California lifestyle: shopping at the mall all weekend, only popping out for the occasional Big Mac or Cold Stone Creamery Sundae. So going to the US isn't a supply run for me. I did pick up a few things, here's a quick list:

Top Shelf Booze:

Top-shelf tequila, rye whiskey, and brown rum, are my favorites, but basically not available in Shanghai - Havana Club 7 is great but a growing boy needs more variety. Painfully enough, I had to leave behind a bottle of Pyrat XO!

Hot Sauce:

A friend of mine claims Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce is just spicy ketchup, another tells me it makes cardboard taste good. Personally, I tend towards the second opinion. It can't be found in China - sometimes a Thai Sriracha can be found but it's not nearly as good. I brought back a few bottles of it. And I'm guessing this green salsa is sorry but I'm a huge fan in general, it'll probably fall into the "better than nothing" category.

Li Hing Mui:

I grabbed these Hawaiian-style snacks right before getting on the airplane. There's a lot of similar Chinese variations of spiced dried fruit, but the Hawaiian ones are better, or at least different. I brought a few different bags, all of which I either gave away or consumed immediately upon arrival.

Long Rice:

In the coals-to-Newcastle department, I brought a small bag of long rice aka long kou mian aka mung bean noodles - it's a Hawaiian food. I know this package works for making decent long rice, so my quest is to find the Chinese long rice that matches it the closest! It seems like a basic thing, but the long rice I've made so far in Shanghai has the wrong texture, or something...


I'm tall, and definitely what's hardest to find in Shanghai is clothes that actually fit me. When I was first in Shanghai I wore the same beaten-up pair of shoes every single day. I've slowly gotten a basic wardrobe together, so I just quickly stocked up on a few basics while I was back around.

Ear Plugs:

Although I live in the center of town, I don't think my apartment's neighborhood is all that loud. Still a pair of these is pretty much necessary anywhere in Shanghai, where for example the garbage truck sometimes comes at around one in the morning. Surprisingly enough, ear plugs are impossible to find in the drug stores or foreigner shops. I pop them in at night and take them out in the morning.


While Shanghai bookstores have decent-enough selections, they're often at 25% over the cover price, and used books are few and far between. Recently I've decided I want to read up on Chinese culture, and I'm not about to read Classical Chinese, so I took the chance to pick up a few translations when I was around.

Indie Press:

A friend's underground comics, 'zines (about being a hipster in the Tenderloin - I recommend to check it out!), and a book by a friend of a friend, I love that sort of stuff.

A Camera Lens:

Specifically, a Canon FD mount (meaning film only), F2.8 28mm lens. I accidentally left behind the F1.4 50mm, and the F2.5 135mm, it's a real bummer. I need to pick up a new FD mount camera - if any of my gentle readers have tips, it'd be much appreciated. Anyway I'm looking forward to getting back with film and with a camera that can actually take decent-quality pictures without direct sunlight - I just hope I'm not throwing good money after bad!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hawai'i Calls

I haven't updated my blog in a while purely because I am in the alien environment of Honolulu! I'll have wise words to say soon, in the meantime check out which Chinese chain has made its way halfway across the Pacific:

For those not in the know, it's a clothing chain store that is all around the trendy areas of Shanghai. I looked around the Honolulu location and it didn't look so great, but I'm no fashionista and I'll have to return with someone who is. Also interesting is the backwards Chinese, reading Tang Hai Shang - it doesn't go along with Shanghai's Shanghai Tang, and Chinese signs in Honolulu go forwards, but signs in Scenes of City Life did often read right to left. I wish there was somebody I could ask about that.

There's a little more of Shanghai over here, but in general even the things that are brand-named Shanghai don't have so much of a connection. This restaurant offered xiaolongbao, but aside from that was some kind of Asian fusion.