Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Did you know....

Product localization : the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Does 7-up taste sweeter in Thailand? I thought so. I have been told that all pop taste sweeter in Southeast Asia to suit the sweeter tooth in the region. Difficult to measure how much exactly though. Besides it could be the ingredients being different in the region where the product is being made. I once went to a beer factory and the manager confirmed the fact that the beer made here will never taste the same as the same brand being sold in Europe because of the different ingredients (water, hops, etc).
McDonald's in India:

Check out Mr. Muscle in China!

And now, moving on a more technical subject. A box of Durex bought in Shanghai:

Note the size.

Now Durex from Thailand:

See size on top of bar code.

Durex purchased from Hong Kong:

Durex from the UK:

Who came up with these numbers and do they speak the truth?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Deep Pan Grease Classic

During our day out to the Dark Side of Shanghai, my friend/neighbour/exercise buddy U and I had the luxury (ok I AM being sarky) of sampling the local Pizza Hut in the area. You see Pizza Hut here doesn't really have as strong of a presence as KFC or McDonald's in the city and we had been lucky to have gotten away with it as long as we had.

We started off with the Twin Beery Smoothie. I was rather surprised on the fact that Pizza Hut has smoothies on its menu? Why so healthy? It's like having McSalad in McDonald''s just....wrong. Nonetheless we gave the healthy option a try and it looked good and fresh.

Until we took a sip. It was as cold and as refreshing as it looked but the artificial syrup! It tasted like that pink gunk on a McDonald's strawberry sundae. I was glad there was a lot of ice which helped to dilute the sweetness and that I WAS really thirsty so I did't care less.

Then came my Stuffed Crust Super Supreme. No real surprises there. It came with the usual veg and slightly dodgy mystery meat fixings. The stuffed crust was enomous! Viva processed cheese!

And here is the Deep Pan Grease Classic. Sorry. The Deep Pan American Classic. I know we shouldn't be moaning about grease in Pizza Hut but too much is too much. The pizza was literally swimming in oil. Why? The dish washer not working for the day?

I guess they filled the hole. 150RMB for 2. Not bad. Like 5 quid each?

The Dark Side

There is always the dark side in a city. In Hong Kong there is Kowloon being the dark side. In Vancouver you have Richmond. In Halifax you have Dartmouth. In Shanghai you have the north of Suzhou Creek.

Travelling to the north of Suzhou Creek is totally unnecessary in your day-to-day life, as there isn't a lot going on there. The only time I go over the creek would be to visit the Qipu clothing mall, which has now slowly being taken over by the ex-Xiang Yang Market vendors. (Xiang Yang Market was the place to be to buy your top-quality-international-renowned brand names such as "Lolex" and "Guci". Anyways. My neighbour U and I decided to brave it and visit the dark side today. The trip's purpose was to explore the Lu Xun (a famous Chinese writer 1881-1936)Park and Museum, and to walk the former Jewish neighbourhood.

For a full cultural experience we decided to take the train/subway. The subway here is pretty efficient but usually cramp-packed with travellers. Usually it's a lot easiler to get a taxi - except in the rain of course. For today we figured it was not rush hour and we should be alright.
We were also pretty stoked to go on the Line, 3 which is above ground.

There were more people on the train then we anticipated. Overall people were not too pushy and we all got on gracefully. You definitely need your space here on the train and this was probably as crowded as we can handle. Take note of the guy's hair. I hope it's hair wax.

View from the train. This is as sunny as Shanghai gets. I guess the grease patches on the window on the train made it look worse.
I think a lot of these people were travelling to the train station to go back to their home towns (hence the luggage). They were generally happy smiley people (and a little curious on us as we looked a little out of space with our maps etc). I think the prospect of them going home for Chinese New Year put smiles on their faces. How sweet!

A common sight in the city: puff jackets and bicycle.

Finally we made it to Lu Xun Park - a lot more beautiful then I thought it would be!

Retired opera performers giving public performance

Another nice view in the park. We decided that it has picnic potential! Glass of wine and some cheese in the Spring perhaps?

We headed to Lu Xun's former residence not too far from the park. The tour was nice and sweet.

Lu Xun's front door:
After our lunch break we decided to walk down to the Bund and saved the Jewish neighbourhood for some other day.

The walk, while not eventful, was rather interesting with a number of unique looking buildings. It was good to burn off our pizzas too.

Suzhou Creek.

A newly discovered church - it was bricked in for all those years. Not sure what the story was behind it.
Thought of the day: Shanghai is pretty tourist-friendly I have to say. You can walk around most part of the city without feeling threatened or worried. People mind their own businesses and never once I felt worried walking on my own (even at night) ever since we moved here.

Wallace and Gromit

Ever thought of zipping across town in style like Wallace and Gromit do?
Come to Shanghai! How cool is that?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ding Tai Fung

A Taiwanese chain with branches across Asia and the US of A, it is our all-time-favourite restaurant in Shanghai. Usually chain restaurant = mediocre food, but in this case we find everything on the menu of good and consistent quality. (Yes I heard the one in Hong Kong totally sucks for some unknown reason.)

OK lets get on with the food. We started with this shredded veggie dish marinated in sesame oil, soya and a dash of chili oil. I will have to go back and check on the proper name of this dish as we usually just point and choose from the menu. The veg are bean sprouts, toufu, peppers, and the green things are a type of seaweed I believe? It is a (rightly) popular dish as I have seen it being sold (already mixed and seasoned) in markets here.

Then we had the fried pork fillet. It's been marinated in the usual Yan Can Cook/Chinese concoction: soya, corn starch, sugar and salt. In this instance I believe they also use chinese wine and lots of black pepper and perhaps a bit of a massage on the pork as the meat is always sooooo tender and succulent. Hmmm......
This is our new found favourite: stir-fried river shrimps. I don't know what it is but the taste of the shrimps are just so delicate it makes you keep going back for more. The dish comes with a dip with tastes like a water down vinegar - works like magic with the shrimps. You can see on the top left cover my husband's chopsticks as he's edging eagerly digging into the shrimps.
Here you will notice another helping of the pork fillet, this time with fried rice. I am not kidding you but we now order 2 helpings so that my husband and I don't have to fight for the pork. Yes it is THAT good. The fried rice was out of this world, as usual. As they say you can challenge a cook's skill with the most simple dish. Now. The reason for coming to this place. The dumplings. Xiao Long Bao. Ding Tai Fung serves Taiwanese-style Xiao Long Bao, which, in our humble opinion, is tastier than its Shanghaiese counterpart. The Taiwanese style dumplings have thinner pastry and smaller size (as Ding Tai Fung claims-I will need to do some investigation if I ever get to go to Taiwan). Here the pastry was so thin and elastic that when I picked a dumpling up I could see its filling (seasoned pork + soup) dangling off my chopsticks. I quickly dipped it in the ginger infused vinegar and put the whole thing in my mouth. At this point the nicely flavored soup came bursting out and burned my mouth. Every single time I would think to myself dang the soup is too hot and I wish I have waited.
On this visit we also ordered a chicken soup with hand made noodles, and a fried veg, a lame attempt to make us feel like we were eating healthily. I totally forgot to take pictures until we were half way through so sorry guys. The bill came to RMB340 for the 2 of us, although we ordered enough food for 3 or 4.

The place is always spotlessly clean and the service typical upscale Chinese: overly abundant and distracting. The waitress would insist to switch your plate 10 times during the meal, or reach over in front of your face at inappropriate times, rearrange your plates when you are still working at it, lots of fussing around for no good reason. I think they call it attentive here.

Ding Tai Fung

Unit 11A, 2/F, South Block, Xin Tian Di, 123 Xingye Road, Shanghai. Tel: 6385-8378

Spring. Where are you?

Woke up this morning to 7C temperature outside. What gives? The winter is way too long. Feeling a little depressed I decided to go look at my shoes (women!). I quickly realised that there are quite a few pairs of shoes I have bought before the winter but never had a chance to wear them. What a waste! Then I am thinking maybe I should perhaps say goodbye to them, as you don't really need nice shoes in Shanghai (spitting is a national sport here). Email me if you are interested, and we can talk.

Lets take a look at the inventory:
I think these will look good with skinny jeans or mini. Slingbacks work a lot better with capri pants or leggings compared to regular heels with straps on the front; as the straps will almost always disrupt the flow of your legs. If you are over 5'9 then you can wear whatever obviously.
The next candidate is just a dream came true. Gold. Strappy. Manolo. Need I say more?
The next pair might be a little tricky. The beads are quite unique looking but also can add maturity to your overall look. I would pair them with a mini and no more.
The next pair was given to me by my good friend V. While they fit me perfectly they are a little too grand for my grocery runs in town don't you think?
I bought the next pair because the discount was just irresistible. I am a sucker for discount (and shoes obviously).
Love the color for the next pair. Don't have anything to go with them though.
The next one...what can I say. I bought them because they were cheap. I am not really into wearing 2-inch sandals though. This is the thing -if I'm going casual then why not wear flip-flops?
Now the next pair. Very bling bling. I was told that Beatrix Ong was a designer at Jimmy Choo? Correct me if I'm wrong. These look so good with blue skinny jeans. Actually. Maybe I might just be able to wear them soon enough so sorry girls. :-)
These are in size 5.5. I had a pair of Kate Spade in 5.5 and they fit nicely, but not these. I also bought them with the intention of wearing them to work but I guess I missed the boat all together.
To be honest, I would only need to have 1 pair of shoes in theory. I have been wearing the following shoes the whole winter. They go with skinny jeans, shorts, knee-length pants. you name it. I like the Louboutin look without the price tag.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I miss Henry.

Henry is a hippo we have had for 6 years. Henry travels with us. Henry even has his own passport. last week Henry went to Beijing with my husband and got left behind at the hotel!!!

Here's Henry on Phi Phi Island. Phuket Thailand:
Henry on sail boat on the south coast of England:

Henry in Vanuatu:

Henry's passport(Hint: passport available on ebay; immigration officers are more than happy to stamp a teddy's passport):

I hope the people in the hotel will treat him well until we go and pick him up in 2 weeks time. :-(