Friday, June 27, 2014

Thank you.

To my reader(s?!),

Thanks for following our journey and seeing us through these last two years.

Believe it or not, this little blog kept me sane on many days. It kept me busy and gave me purpose when I wasn’t sure what my purpose was. I hope you enjoyed reading about the experience, the travels, the ups and downs. But most of all, I hope I’ve done you proud by keeping Shanghai’dLex alive and engaging.

Before I sign off for good, I should also thank my husband for giving us this amazing opportunity. There’s no one else I would have wanted by my side as I expatriated and explored this corner of the world. Who would have guessed that we’d spend our first years of marriage in China? If this is any indication as to what our future holds, I can’t wait to find out what else lies ahead (even if that means staying put!). To my constant translator, my travel buddy, my tireless adventurer, I love you.

For the last time, zhoumo kuaile!

With love and “xie xie,”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Final Interview

You may remember that I asked a few of our visitors to answer some questions after returning home from their trip to China (my mom, Kira and David, and Hanni). I thought it fitting to include one last interview with Mike, my fellow long-term "visitor."

What will you take away from this experience?
A puppy, two bicycles, and a giant terracotta soldier. Yes, I am a child.

What’s your fondest memory from the last two years? 
Being able to travel to so many great countries and amazing places within a two- to three-hour flight. Snowboarding in Japan and diving in the Maldives were incredible. But getting Shima is a pretty fond memory.

If you had to do it all over, what would you do differently?
I can't think of anything, actually. We did pretty well the last two years.

What were your best and worst culinary experiences?
There are just too many to count: discovering fried soup dumplings and creppuritosany meal in Japan; having crawfish étouffée made by Austin Hu from Madison in the middle of rice fields after riding with the bike crew for more than 50 miles to Chongming Island [he's talking about this experience]. Sadly, the worst experience might be in Vietnam where we could not find a great grilled pork banh mi, even after five sandwiches in a one-hour period... more disappointing though than "the worst."

Some people say that you never feel more American than when you live abroad. Would you agree? 
I would. I claim Fresno pretty hard, but since no one really knows where that is here, I was claiming the USA. I purchased my first full-size American flag after moving here (from and made in the U.S., of course), and I have also found myself increasingly looking for American-made products (from companies like Filson and Phil Wood, for example).

Do you think your experience as a Chinese-American was any different from, say, mine?
Speaking Chinese made a huge difference, but it was also difficult because I'm illiterate (I can't read or write Chinese characters). People assume that I'm able to read signs and menus, and everyone also thinks I look and speak funny.

What will be your last meal in Shanghai and your first meal back in SF?
We'll probably eat soup dumplings the night before we leave, and maybe grab a creppurito on the way to the airport. In San Francisco, I'll probably have to grab a burrito or In-N-Out as our first meal back, although given the timing and the location of our temporary place, maybe Brenda's French Soul Food.

What are you looking forward to the most about being back home? 
Fresh air, friends, and snowboarding more. Or, snowboarding with friends in fresh air!

What will you miss?
Our friends here and tuesday night bike rides (400+ people on my last one!).

Would you do it again?
As long as my wonderful wife and dog are down for more adventures... f*ck yeah!

I'm down! Paris'dLex has a good ring to it, don't you think? But home first. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Shanghai Bests (According to Us)

So if you’re ever in Shanghai…

Best Neighborhood: The Former French Concession, hands down. Tree-lined streets; cafes, bars, and restaurants; home to the Avocado Lady and the U.S. Consulate. I admit, I’ve gone days (maybe weeks) without leaving the ‘hood.

Best Museum for Guests: Urban Planning. It provides a great overview of this ever-expanding, ever-changing metropolis.

Best Restaurant for Guests: Lost Heaven. It features dishes from the Yunnan Province of China, a melding of flavors from Thailand, Laos, Burma, and China. I never managed to cover this for Fatty Tuesday (you’ll have to forgive me; I was entertaining, after all), but the food is consistently good and the decor, exquisite.

Best Fine Dining: Madison’s, my favorite, probably because it brings me back home to SF with high quality ingredients, creative dishes, and an elegant rustic interior.

Best Local Spot for Spicy Chinese: Spicy Moment. Get the ribs, the cabbage, and the eggplant with green beans. You won’t be disappointed.

Best Soup Dumplings: Din Tai Fung, if you’re going fancy; Jia Jia Tang Boa, if you’re going local.

Best Mexican: El Coyota, currently a pop-up next door to the Avocado Lady. As good as Mexican gets in Shanghai.

Best BBQ: Stubb’s. As good as BBQ gets in Shanghai.

Best Crepurrito Lady: The one on Wulumuqi; though to be fair, I haven’t gone to any others.

Best Boba (aka bubble tea): These aren’t just for Asian-American teenagers. My go-to spot is outside the Jingan Temple subway station, across the street from the temple.

Best Expensive Grocer: Fields, although I recently tried Kate & Kimmi and would recommend it.

Best Cheap Grocer: The Avocado Lady (of course!) who supplies much more than avocadoes (other foreign necessities like cereal and spices; pasta and Pelligrino).

Best Bars: Senator Saloon (an authentic speakeasy, complete with a friendly American cop-turned-bartender) and El Coctel (if you're more the lounge type).

Best Shopping (other than faking it at the Fake Market or making it at the Fabric Market): Spin for ceramics. Our place is outfitted in it.

Best Massage: Skip the chains like Congen and Dragon Fly; go to Zen Massage on Wuyuan.

Best Bike Shop: Factory Five. Those guys are quickly becoming legends. We’ll be able to say, “we knew them when…”.

Best Yoga Studio: Yoga Garden, my little sanctuary, my home away from home. I will miss this community like crazy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Closing In

As the end draws near, I thought it’d be appropriate to recap our Shanghai experience with one last “by the numbers” post.

1: Number of family members added to the Wang Clan while living in China (Shima!)

2: Number of Thanksgivings hosted in Shanghai (2012 and 2013)

18: Number of articles I wrote for City Weekend

14: Number of (amazing!) friends and family members who came to visit us

12: Number of countries we visited during our two years in Asia. Not bad…

Thousands: Number of miles and hotel points racked up (woot!)

A few: Number of sentences I can manage to formulate in Mandarin

Lots: Number of soup dumplings consumed (with more to be eaten in the next week)

On One Hand: Number of good friends we made here in Shanghai. Just enough.

Countless: The memories :)

(You might also like: Great Wallin' and Thanksgiving Success)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Zhoumo kuaile!

I hope you enjoyed this week's recap of our trip to Vietnam.

Tomorrow, we're hosting a Goodbye Shanghai/Come Take Our Sh*t! party for our friends. Besides food and drinks, we'll be having an indoor yard sale, except the stuff will be free, first-come, first-served.

I can't believe time is ticking so quickly.
Coming soon