Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Every Day at 4pm

I crash.
I don't know I'm crashing until I'm sitting on the bed with my laptop on my lap.
Next thing I know, I wake up with a start a couple of hours later.

I don't think I'm getting used to the 13 hours difference very well. I know I'll adjust when it is time to leave for Bangalore on Saturday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obama in China? And other sights...

Had the best time with Lilly today.
She truly is my sister.
We went shopping today.
And sat in a restaurant and chatted when we chatted and enjoyed the silence.
I made editorial observations to myself about people I saw and she let me.

We went to a section near the hotel where the locals shop.
We got some great bargains and buys.

Around the corner, we were greeted with this:

It's a different take on Obama. Maybe the Chinese have it right.

We also stopped at a leather carver's booth. I bought 5 or 6 of his work. All made of stiff cow hide that is translucent. I got the two gatekeepers, Confucious, the Phoenix, and the red faced man. I will need to get them framed for the house. Wish I had taken pictures of those.

I also bought a bag since I haven't been able to buy a black bag at home. This one is perfect. About the size of my orange Prada, zip top, and light weight leather. Good for winter.

And around the corner and into a square, we saw an entire section devoted just to chopstick.

Some of the chopsticks were works of art.
And the carvers were right there making them:

And a close up of the carvings:

And a whole row of them that doesn't begin to do justice to the array that they had:

We took a break and stopped into a restaurant.
A shot of the small pot of hot and sour soup I had. It was truly hot and sour. Not filled with soy sauce. It was so good. I asked them to put in some rice vermicelli.

And the best pea tendrils in the world!

We walked around and ducked into a few more stores. I bought a pair of glass tea bottles with built in infusers. Glass is better than the hard plastic bottle that I have. And I also bought some wonderful Jasmine Tea. They gave me a free container to put it all into.

Afterwards, we went to yet another market. Small stalls and some good bargains. I got a pair of shoes for JJ. And a pair for me, since I wasn't sure that I was going to get the suitcase tonight. They had assured me I would get it but they did that yesterday and it never showed. So...

I also bought a beautiful hard sided orange suitcase. I bargained them down to about 48$. And I have a coat being tailored for about $50. And some little metal people that will sit on the kitchen window sill in the new house. Lots of bargains!

We got back to the hotel and was told my suitcase was on the way!



And it arrived.
With everything in it.
A bit squished and a bit worn out but still there.
My beautiful wonderful suitcase.
The hotel sent someone to the airport to pick up the suitcase for me and delivered it to my room.
Crazy good service at this place.

Tomorrow I am leaving for Beijing.
And have packed for about 5 days.
I will leave the rest of the stuff with the hotel for my return on Friday.
I love this hotel.
The good news is that I have all the supplements I need to ward off further pollution here in China.
Especially Beijing.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Replenishing Supplies

Ok. Had to go shopping to replenish the stuff I need that is in the Unarrived Suitcase.


I thought I bought blush but I couldn't find it this morning.
They either didn't give it to me even though I paid for it or they didn't give it to me and I didn't pay for it.
Not sure I want to go back there and argue with them about it.
This being China and all.

And of course they have never heard of trial sizes so I had to buy full sizes of everything.

2 bras.
2 underwears.

I think it cost arouns $600 USD.
I also got socks.

Since this is a business trip I can expense it all.
I know my boss probably won't say anything about it but what will he be thinking??
He won't even know that the stuff I usually use is much more expensive and I went the cheaper route of what is in my Acceptable to Put on My Skin list.

The bars and underwear were on sale.
I suppose I could point that.
As it is the guy in India who reviews all this will probably get a shock when he reads "Undergarments" on my expense report to beging with.

The Fishing Place

This is the Fishing Place. I have no idea where it is or what it's called. But I do know you go here for crabs, which are currently in season, and it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive outside of Shanghai, on a moderate traffic day with only about 6 car accidents on the way. Yes. Six. It was a light day, I suppose.

We parked the car, walked up a cobbled path, took a right, and came upon this...

A bridge.

It lay there between me and the crabs.
Mostly importantly, between me and lunch.
And the bathroom.

I am sure it was much shorter than I imagined it to be, as I tiptoed across the length of what seemed like an interminable distance.

When we got there, we were shown to our table.
In our very own little room.

I wondered about this because we passed a buncharooms like this one before we got to ours.

And it had it's very own private bathroom.

Shortly thereafter, the food and the drinks came.

Plate after plate.
Some kind of root that you crack open and inside is a water-chestnut and taro mix textured and flavored meat. It was wonderful. Can't get it in the US though.

And edamame, and a cold goat meat plate (yes, I tried it), and fish (which was literally AMAZING), and eel (tried it, the sauce was great but I was put off by the fact that it was literally an eel that had been chopped into 1 to 2 inch long pieces), a tortoise (I kept calling it a turtle and they kept correcting me... uh... ok... Again the sauce was great but I was a bit put off by the piece of shell and the gelatinous casing of the underbody - it is a very boney creature though), and lettuce stem (YUMMY), and fresh sauteed lettuce (YUMMY) and fresh shrimp in shell (so soft and sweet and tender that I just pulled off the heads and popped the rest in my mouth, shells and all), and a fish soup with freshly made tofu (which was not made using the Nigari chemical but salt water solution which is, once again, illegal in the US - and thus heavenly delicious).

And then the crabs.

These were not your Maryland blue crabs for sure. They are farmed right here at the Fishing Place.

The shells were so tender and easy to crack.
The meat was so fresh and so sweet!
You didn't need any sauces to accompany the meat because it was that sweet and flavorful.

The owner came in and I asked what the name of the place was.
He said he just called it his Fishing Place.
He used to come here to fish - his fishing place - and then decided to farm crabs and put up a restaurant.
So I couldn't even tell you how to get there or where it was.
The best things in life are like that.
You happen upon them and serendipty.

We left full.
Another 2 1/2 hour drive back.
But not before one last view outside our room at the Fishing Place.

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100 Things About Me #8: I live in my head

It's been a while.
I don't really remember what I wrote before.
But since I am on the path to self-re-discovery, this is a good time to reaffirm for myself all the things that I am.

My therapist told me that I live in my head.
That I have high intellect.
I knew I was smart, but high intellect?
I never thought of myself in those words.

As a result, I can withdraw from the world.
Taking things into my head and processing them there, away from the opinions and views of the people around me, allowing me to keep my own counsel.

I mull things over and rationalize.
I tend to thinks things through before coming to a conclusion.
And sometimes that can take years.
But once my mind is made up, it's done.
I figure I am entitled to my conclusions since I've worked on them for so long.


Miracle Toilet

This is the Miracle Toilet in my room. The longer I stay here, I discover more miraculous feats that this toilet performs.

First, let me say that the tile floors in the bathroom, the tub/shower area, and the toilet area are warmed with radiant heat.

If you approach the area of the toilet, a little light in just that area goes on automagically. So as not to wake whoever is in the bed or you from your bleary eyed zombie state as you go pee or potty in the middle of the night. No fumling around in the dark for a blaring light switch.

Then you life the toilet lid and it sort of comes to life with a low and comforting humming sound.

As you sit, the seat is heated. It's sort of like seat warmers in your car if you get the winter package. Or heated steering wheels.

It has a bidet function with an air dry option afterwards. You can move it from focused to gentle. And from the front to the back.

You then get up and walk away if you want to.
But it flushes itself and it closes the lid for you.

This is the convenience and laziness taken to new heights.


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The Unarrived

The second bag still has not arrived.
It was supposed to be put on a plane in Detroit so that it would arrive here tonight around dinner.
But somehow the luggage mixed the flight.
I guess it forgot to walk over to the right gate.
Or maybe it was getting a dinner to go.

I mean...
You had a WHOLE DAY to figure it out!!!

Deep breath.

I have been assured by Delta Airlines that it will make the plane tomorrow (as in the next one) and arrive tomorrow night at dinner on DL 181.

My trust in Delta is to great that I have asked the hotel concierge to send someone to pick it up.

In the meantime, I went shopping for makeup, skin care, hair spray, underwear, bras and socks.
And I am going to expense it.
Wait til they find out that this is going to cost them about $700 USD.
I do not use cheap skincare or makeup.
Underwear is something I might pick up a six pack of on the cheap, but skincare?

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Closing Down the House

This is the scene from across the room last night when we were the last customers in the Thai restaurant. They were all staring at us and then someone came by and asked us to leave.

It was pretty funny.
We knew what we were doing.
And I was curious as to what would happen.

This would never happen in the US.
At least not the places that I frequent.

Another observation is that China still charges for napkins and tissue that post as napkins. I am glad we brought out own!

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Arrived in Shanghai Minus One

I packed two bags.
Only one arrived.
Usually my bags appear within the first five to ten minutes, mostly due to the PRIORITY sticker that they usually get tagged with.
The first bag appeared just in time - within the first five minutes.
But after the 10 minute mark, I got that sinking feeling.

Forms to fill out.
People to talk to.
Blah blah blah...


Ok. Deep breath.
It could be a lot worse.
It had shoes, toiletries, gifts, SHOES!!! WAH!!
The bag that made it had clothes.
Like I said it could be worse.
I knew the connection at Detroit was too short.
And I wasn't the only one with the problem.

Made it through customs.
Lilly met me.
My little sister.
The driver took the bags.
We talked the whole way back to the hotel.

I am staying at the Langham Xintiandi.
Supposed to be the best in Shanghai.
Pretty amazing.
I have to take pictures.

We went to a local restaurant for a late dinner.
Lilly's friend Xin met us.
We ordered a bottle of wine and lots of wonderful Thai food.
So much better than in the US.
Except for the wine.
The wine was questionable.

I got a little sleep on the plane on the wonderful "bed" so I wasn't as jetlagged as I could be and I got about 5 hours sleep last night. This morning I feel pretty good.

Off to breakfast and sightseeing.
Oh. It's 13 hours ahead right now.

11/12/2011 - 8:43AM

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Business Class to Shanghai

When I got seat 3A for the 15 hour flight to Shangai, I was bummed out until I got on the plane.

Instead of two seats, there was only one. Two seats in the middle and one seat on the other side.

Every seat is private like this.
Config is a bit weird but I don't have to crawl over anyone in the middle of the night.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Test drove a mini cooper today.
Actually, I took the BMW in for new brakes and rear light bulb and they gave me a mini as a loaner.

It's quite peppy.
I was surprised!
I wouldn't mind having one but not to replace the BMW.
And not to replace the Miata.
I would like a Z4 to replace the Miata.

If I got a Mini, I would just add to the car collection.
And park it next to the Smart Car that I want.

Which means I need more parking spaces.
Which then means that I need to buy a new house with a larger parking area.
And I can't really do that right now.
I mean, I haven't even moved into the new place yet.


Is done.
I hope to get the condo refi'd before the end of the year.
I didn't know it would take this long.
If I had, I would have started sooner.

At least I'm getting a good rate!