Late lunch was xiaolongbao from the original spot on Wudong Lu.
Still didn’t take a picture — ate them all with dark rice vinegar (the Zhenjiang variety of legendary origin) before I could even pull out my smartphone.
Later that day I would take a taxi to Pudong with several large bags and check in for a red-eye flight direct to LAX. First, I’d eat these eight dumplings — minced pork mixed with spring onion and aspic set inside circular unleavened dough wrappers then folded and pinched shut — directly from the bamboo steamer. These were the same ones I tried after arriving in Shanghai last year: the ones with vinegar poured in the same saucers, red chili sauce served with the same tiny spoons.
Exactly eight dumplings; no more, no less.
Continue reading “Lunch (Thoughts of Shanghai)”
What a year it’s been.
Around this time last summer I gave up a teaching assistantship in Austria to come to Shanghai and learn Mandarin. Never would’ve guessed that I would get to see more of this country than my own, meet some incredible people, flip my brain upside on a daily basis learning this language, and understand myself a whole lot better than when I boarded the plane at LAX.
Continue reading “On Earth: Leaving Here”
Where do I even start with this one?
The aptly named 七宝镇//Qi1bao3 Zhen4 (lit. Seven Treasures Town) is an absolute must-see. Shanghai’s closest water town isn’t just that. It’s a snack food paradise and a barbecue lover’s fantasy, a photographer’s dream, an architectural wonder, a relic of ancient China.
Qibao is by far Shanghai’s coolest water town. Wandering through the Old Street will take you the day if you plan it right, but I strongly suggest throwing out those plans. Most likely, you’ll be enticed by every other storefront selling Chinese-style sweets. Don’t stress about it too much. The sooner you accept the fact that you’ll have to make multiple trips to Qibao to truly be “done,” the sooner you get try that curious-looking meat on a stick.
Speaking of which…
Continue reading “Seven Treasures of Qibao, Shanghai”
Housed in its own worship chamber and sitting in pristine silence is the Jade Buddha statue after which this temple is named. Enormous and impressive, you’ll have to experience it in all its transience: photos aren’t allowed. However, they are allowed in the temple’s spectacular inner courtyard and grounds.
Here are a few I took while visiting this colorful place:
You can find out about the Jade Buddha, the temple’s century-long history, and more here and here (Chinese).
Shanghai’s even got a TIME MACHINE.
It’s located specifically in one of Shanghai’s copious satellite towns: Nanxiang (南翔). Here, in this otherwise sleepy suburb, you’ll travel through time and space to the birthplace of xiaolongbao (also known as God’s gift to man). Here, where they celebrate the myriad genius of our ancestors by cooking dumplings in a bamboo steamer, you’ll be transported to the China of story.
Continue reading “Fly South to Nanxiang”
A Heart Sutra in the heart of Shanghai.
Shanghai can be a bit rough around the edges sometimes. I fully acknowledge this. Most locals would say the same when asked about the traffic, crowds, air quality, and surprisingly cold winter. The Shanghainese themselves can sometimes also be a bit rough around the edges (in a lovable sort of way) to faint-hearted Westerners. Get between a Shangher and their food and they will assuredly cut you in line, order, and pay before you even notice.
But really, the city and its people have a soft side. Which happens to be the same side that loves glittering gilded gold pagodas, towering ornate statues of Buddha, high-vaulted worship halls, impressive and expensive art exhibits, intricately carved wooden screen doors, and, of course, an ever-present assortment of merchandise.
Continue reading “You’ve Never Seen a Buddhist Temple like This”
Life isn’t your resume.
Floating around in the gray matter beneath my skull are 750+ shape-shifting Chinese characters, 350 lingering GRE words, a dozen grad school application statements and essays, two timezones, assorted emotions, mixed feelings, and a baffled sense of being.
Continue reading “Essay, Vitae, Resume”