Sunday, September 25, 2016

对味精和油的恐惧

酒店的食物有点恐怖。我那盘¥52的干炒牛河是在一滩油里枕着。何况每天早上在酒店吃都腻了。晚餐还是要吃的。还是打车出去了。走了几条街,发现在浦东区近外高桥夏碧路这边没有什么旅客,很local。心想,完了。应该回到昨天浦东另外一边的那间餐厅。

就是一间很普通的菜馆。点了几道熟悉的红烧牛肉面、肉菜云吞、阳春面、葱油面、苏州汤包和扬州炒饭。要求少糖、少油、少盐、别放味精。最后到桌的食物,看起来像样,但统统都含有一摞的味精和盐。汤包的馅更是超咸。哪能吃呀?再饿也吃不下。我们随便扒几口米饭和面条充饥就算了。

说真的,在酒店里煮水泡杯面都比这一餐来得好。至少味精没那么多。再加个燕麦棒或麦片棒,营养充足。我已经这样吃了几餐,挺开心的。再吃多几餐也无所谓。我吃街边摊很少拉肚子,是吃太油腻才会往厕所冲。幸好酒店前有间Lawsons可以买点巧克力饼干之类的零食。这里不是云南,没有淡一点的菜,没有我爱吃的云南佳肴。可能深圳靠海,又近香港,难免餐馆和食客的口味近香港菜肴,也容易找到合口味的食品。但这上海的local口味还真重,又油腻到极点。受不了。

Possibly the saddest meal of the trip. Virtually inedible because it was full of salt and MSG.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

自己冲咖啡


I brought granola and muesli bars, cup noodles and instant packs of coffee. Sustenance. And to feed the friends when we don't have time to sit down to breakfast or lunch. Luckily I did so. There're some mornings with only time for a shower, boil a kettle of water, get the coffee ready and it's go-go-go.

The cup noodles are for days I rather have less MSG in the system. Ugh. Every meal we ask for 'NO MSG, LESS SALT, LESS OIL', but it doesn't always work. I briefly considered buying eggs from the supermarkets and convenience stores to boil them in the kettle that every hostel/hotel room provides. It's a clean business and will fill me up instead of getting more MSG. But I didn't. Clearly I'm not desperate enough.

Coffee is a MUST. The instant packs are filter bags in the style of kopi-o-siu-dai. Otherwise I'll be damn grouchy. Good coffee isn't easily accessible on this trip and I'm preferring coffee without milk. There're Starbucks and Costa along the way, but I don't quite want those.

The breakfast buffet spread at the hotel has three coffee machines that seem to spoil all the time because when it blinks 'to empty tray' (in English), the staff enthusiastically fills it up with water. Zzzz. Yup, I watched it happen. In this case, I wasn't about to intervene because the supervisor was so fierce to his staff and insisted he was right. I rather have my kopi-o-siu-dai. Heh.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Tiger Beer on Tap


Rolled my eyes a little in Shenzhen when the gig venue's official beer was Tiger. Didn't come here to drink Tiger. I wanted Tsingtao Chun Sheng (青岛纯生). The cans of Tiger Crystal weren't bad though. They tasted okay chilled, and better than what the average can of Tiger taste like at home.

When we rocked up to Shanghai Brewery and realized they offered Tiger on tap, we promptly ordered a pint to try. IT WAS BLOODY GOOD. Ordered more. I've always known Tiger tasted better overseas, but it seems to taste even better now. Like they tweaked the brewing formula and hops for export, but never quite bothered with the range at home. WHY LIDDAT? WHY AH?

While waiting for our Uber ride back to the hotel, we saw two fights erupt in front of us in two languages- English and Mandarin. WAH> HA! So not getting involved man. We literally stood aside to watch the 'shows' and exchanged meaningful glances with one another. Saved the discussion till later when we were safely out of sight and out of hearing.


The bar had chased after a group to remind them about an outstanding bill. The people in question were openly aggressive right from the start and said they paid their share and it was none of their business. We figured they probably had separate bills and someone didn't pay. It degenerated into a full-blown fight with yelling and punches thrown. In the end, someone from the table threw a bill down on the floor and yelled, "Keep the fucking change!" That outstanding amount was either ¥15 or ¥50. Either way, it was an embarrassing amount for the unhappiness created. Totally the table's fault.

Then a cab dropping off a passenger on the sidewalk clipped a cyclist. Naturally, the cyclist went up to block the cab from driving off, and got down to give the cab driver a piece of mind. Loudly. Luckily the cab driver didn't even bother to get out or wind down the window. The cyclist didn't physically attack the cab. That kinda stopped the argument fast. Whewww.

These are fairly common sights in China lah. Less sensational than what we read online. But pretty dramatic. Before drinks, we already witnessed another heated argument between an errant stubborn driver and a bunch of traffic police over stopping and waiting at a no-waiting zone. Okay, I think the friends' China immersion program is more or less complete. Hahahaha. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Keeping Fit On The Road With Amanda Ling

Screenshots from one morning's video.

Being on the road means we don't have the luxury of a gym, But we can carve out 30 minutes to easily make do with what we have in the room to stretch out. Strength training is easy- there're always gear to carry and stairs to climb. Hahahaha. Plus, we have our very own yoga teacher Amanda Ling dispensing fitness advice daily.

There're instructional videos Amanda sent to our group chat, but I can't be bothered to adjust them to blogspot's specs. Anyway, in one video for the morning (see screenshot above), it's using a face towel, the common sort even hostels provide. Go into plank position, elbows close to the sides of chest to engage triceps, hold, and draw towel into chest with legs using lower abs. Do not cheat. Do not exert quads more than the abs. Repeat 10x. IT WORKS.

Amanda will be hosting a complimentary 'Satori FlowYoga' class on 28 September at 6.30pm at Lululemon Duxton, with instrumental soundscapes from In Each Hand A Cutlass (IEHAC). Wooohooo. I think there're still free slots (as of last night when I took a look). For a preview of the music, here's IEHAC's 'Satori 101' on bandcamp.

Check on Eventbrite to see if this complimentary class is full.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

上海雨天吃火锅

Thanks to Typhoon Meranti, the rain washed down in sheets over Shanghai. Best weather for hotpot. Stared at the name of one recommendation. The address is familiar. Realized it's one of my favorites in Shanghai and I've been there numerous times- 捞王锅物料理. Heeeheeehee. It's the one in Jing An (静安) on Wuding Lu (武定路) right across from one outlet of Enoterra.

On a crowded evening, while the friends waited outside for me to do magic.  I stealthily waltzed in, and grabbed a table for 10 at peak dinner hour. Hahaha. What luck! Didn't have to get a queue number and didn't have to wait long. :P Everyone else was waiting in a long line; this group even tried to snatch my table, but the servers decided to be really awesome to us. We sat down at a table within 10 minutes. WOOHOOO.

I'm not this huge fan of hotpot. But this 捞王锅物料理 hasn't disappointed. I especially love its cloudy stock boiled from chicken and pig stomach. It's beautifully peppery. Although I'm also not a fan of pork or its innards, I do have a soft spot for the bovine's stomach when it's all sliced up thinly. At this restaurant, drink the soup first before cooking the other ingredients, and always cook raw chicken last. Loved how the servers gave us so much attention that evening. We left a nice tip.

Since nobody bothered to read the menu or whatever, yours truly ordered whatever the heck I wanted. Sure, there were the token platters of beef and crab balls, slices of beef, and more chicken, and seafood including squid. But that also meant eight different kinds of mushrooms and loads of spinach and my fav type of baby cabbage, 娃娃菜. LOL. Apparently the friends loved how everything made the soup taste fabulous. Had so much Tsingtao Chun Sheng (青岛纯生) that we couldn't even roll across to the other side for more beer at the bars. The table was completely stuffed. It was bedtime! One fantastic meal in Shanghai.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

混凝草音乐节 :: 上海

Of all weekends, Concrete & Grass Music Festival 《混凝草音乐节》was held on the weekend of two typhoons swirling in the region. Super Typhoon Meranti brushed by Guangdong and Fujian provinces and swept big winds and torrential rain over to Shanghai. The season's 16th typhoon in the form of Typhoon Malakas was headed for northern Taiwan and up to southern Japan and would likely make the weather report for Shanghai be 'blustery'.

Day 1 of Concrete & Grass was a wash-out by the evening. Amps, speakers, extension sockets and all were cling-wrapped. The wet cables on stage were a scary sight. Didn't even know how the organizers managed to set up the stages and tents in the howling wind in the previous days.

Managed to catch Perth's Rag N' Bone in light rain during their early afternoon set, along with Beijing's Birdstriking. We didn't stay long. By the evening, the huge thunder and lightning and horizontal rain caused Silverstein's 7pm set was canceled.  Really liked a new-to-me Shandong death metal band Zuriaake | 葬尸湖, but their set (after Silverstein's) was cut too. What a pity. Yup, mud all over, but nothing mud-ostronmic like Glastonbury.

Day 1: Rag N' Bone.

Day 2 was fabulous. Blue skies!!! Hot! Wow. Typhoon Malakas clipped Taiwan and went up to Kyushu, but drew the winds and rain away from Shanghai. What a huge difference it made to the vibes at the festival grounds. The crowds rolled in early. All the Shanghai peeps came to the festival even though this venue is a good 45 minutes away from town. Ugh. But the fair weather more than made up for it. YAYY! Good seeing everyone and got many hugs.

I literally walked around with a cup of Chicago's Goose Island IPA (only this and no other choices of beer styles lah) all of Day 2. Heeeheee. Plenty of food available at the stalls including Bumbu that sold Indonesian satay and corn begedil. Got SAMBAL. Pretty all right. Woot.

Our very own Singapore progressive rock band In Each Hand A Cutlass rocked out LEFT Stage. Hurrah!!! Not impressed by The Cribs. Stayed on for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. And couldn't resist watching Health and they did a really tight set. It was a really well organized festival. The crew, staff and volunteers worked so hard to get the artists comfortable, and ensured logistics ran on time with as few delays as possible. Kudos to the organizers.

Monday, September 19, 2016

上海,我们又见面了

In the rain. Along the Shanghai Bund facing Pudong.

Our hotel in Shanghai is lovely, spacious and comfortable, but it's all the way out at the free trade zone at Waigaoqiao (外高桥保税区). Seriously the boondocks man. Never mind that it's one hour each way to and fro town, but the area itself doesn't have anything much by way of half-decent restaurants for half-decent non-MSG-laden meals. There isn't even a McD's in sight. The nearest Starbucks closes at 5pm. Zzzzzz.

Our appointed drivers who picked us up from the airport had a miscommunication among themselves and initially delivered us to the wrong address where the hotel was shuttered and abandoned. WTF. We've had enough curveballs okay. They did get it right in the end. It was storming like crazy. The rain wouldn't stop. However, a day out and about town, and tummies to be fed with good food was sorely needed. Cabs and Uber-cars (now it's really Didi Chuxing 滴滴出行) were still plying the roads, so we pulled on raincoats, hopped into an Uber-XL seven-seater and went to the city.

Took the tourists to eat soup dumplings at Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包). Must eat good dumplings in Shanghai lah. There were only two choices left this late afternoon, which happened to be my favorites. Hurhurhur. Hopefully no one is too allergic to crab. The two choices of dumplings were crab with pork, and with pure crab meat (蟹粉鲜肉和纯蟹粉汤包). Bits of roe included. I think the tang bao definitely hit a spot with everyone's tummies. Yummy.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Skipped Xiamen :: Onward to Shanghai


Shenzhen was bloody hot and humid. Mosquitos abound. There was barely a breeze. It was constipated because of the incoming typhoon. You could see it in the clouds, feel and smell it in the air.

I'm OCD like that. Such a trip to China is never easy. And China loves throwing me curveballs to sort out. (Not as bad as Malaysia though. I'll take China anytime over Malaysia.) Am resigned. Hence I was fixated on meteorological sites tracking Typhoon Meranti. Its path could mean that we might have to cancel our second stop in Xiamen.

With Super Typhoon Meranti bearing down on Guangdong and Fujian provinces, one muggy afternoon in Shenzhen, we made the logical but painful decision to skip Xiamen. We have a date in Shanghai that can't be missed. When news and photos of the wreckage in Xiamen came through, our hearts skipped a beat with worry for our friends and relief that we weren't caught in middle of it.

I'm secretly glad that we didn't have to take the D trains to Xiamen then Shanghai. If the rather nice local organizers seriously think our gear can fit, they're grossly mistaken. They've taken those trains up and down the cities. Call me Miss Skeptical. I've done those routes too and I'm extremely acquainted with how the D trains work. Some things don't change. Our keyboards, guitars and pedal boards would have to go into the cargo carriage with no guarantee that every piece will arrive intact. One would need to be pretty optimistic. We can't run things based on optimism. At least I'm not trained to do so.

At the last minute, we managed to secure seats on Air China (国航) from Shenzhen to Shanghai. You know what, it was a full flight and we probably got the last few seats. I resisted smirking. Air China isn't too bad on this route. From a speedy group check-in to in-flight services and all, I honestly think Air China fares better than SilkAir. (We didn't have a pleasant experience with SilkAir from the moment we deposited our luggage at Changi Airport.) We took off more or less on time from hot hot hot Shenzhen, and landed in rainy and grey Shanghai as scheduled. Whewww.