Sunday, April 25, 2004

...but what happens to my bbq pork...

So you can mail your knives back to yourself. Who in today's world with a brain still carries a knive with you when you travel!? Why in the world would you need a bloody knife!? Especially knives passed down from gramma?! Get a life!! ...this is NOT a note to gramma nor my mother in law to give me any knives. I don't want anyone else's knives... okay, I wouldn't reject one from my sushi chef :)

Anywayz, my Mei Zhen Xiang bbq pork was seized when my sister in law mailed me some from Singapore recently... the canned pork came through, all my little Chinese New Year goodies came intact and even my dried prawn spring rolls were untouched!

Then this time coming back from China, I decided to experiment and brought some into the country. Yup, Mei Zhen Xiang bbq pork is sold in Shanghai too! Granted, I DID declare it in my customs form (and they wouldn't have stopped me if I didn't and yes, they got seized) but what I want to know is, what do they do with it?! The guy who asked me to remove it from my suitcase (Chinese guy from GuangZhou) did comment when he saw it 'oh, this is good stuff' and without shame and obviously annoyed, I replied 'no shit it's good stuff!'... but who's to say they don't eat it right there?! No self-rspecting Chinese of sound mind would throw away good vacuum-sealed Mei Zhen Xiang bbq pork... not when he knows just how good it really is!!! - Save your knife, mail it back to yourself - Apr 23, 2004

Friday, April 23, 2004

Verlinda from MLGW... Arrrgh!!!

GAWD!!! If a person really needed to win the Corporate Spelling Bee last night, it was Verlinda... whether she's the meter-checker, the person we all dread to speak to in customer service, or worst, holds a high enough position to mean something to the company/city, or just someone the company hires to take part in this annual contest (I believe this last reason is it of course) I believe everyone who'd stayed (too late) to watch the MLGW team win this supposed 'charitable event', either wanted to see Verlinda jump three feet high on the make-shift stage when she won or more than likely, waited with feverish anticipation to see her misspell a word and then crumble to her defeat. Okay, so I did... wouldn't you if you had this rather man-looking-woman-creature who, for every word she spelt correctly, acted like she was crowning herself King (not Queen, thank you very much) and with no one really cheering her on but herself... with such spunk, I might add. Arrrgh! Talk about needing a life!

Still, there was no doubt her team would win from the get go. The moment I walked in, saw her team mate first, an Indian guy (yup, the ones with the dot) and then her, I knew we were doomed - our team was simply way too cute to withstand the competition... the third member MLGW, a black lady who'd brought her entire hometown and out of state friends (who sat behind us) was basically a non-participant. Of course, with Verlinda as captain, there was no need to confer if her way of spelling a word was right... GAWD FORBID she wasn't sure!

BUT... WE got most of the prizes for the audience participation. Yes, AUDIENCE participation... who joined? Mr Dot and Ms I-Can-Spell-Every-Bloody-Word-On-Earth. Still, the fat Chinese girl beat the ugly girl and the Indian dude. Take that!

Monday, April 19, 2004

I'm home... well, kind of... least at the Narita Airport, people are civilized and polite. Those damn Chinese, I swear... I figure if I wanted to say anything about the Chinese, I'd better leave the country before saying anything hahahaha - and certainly not on my buddy's computer :D

But what is up with those people... it's just every single thing. The way they drive (or can't), the way they walk one path with blinders and certainly no fear of walking right into other's diameter of comfort?!?!?! GAWD... I swear if I don't try to avoid them, they'd slam right into my face (no wonder Chinese people have pan-faces hahaha) and of course it'll be the damn foriegner's fault. Bloody Chinese! And what about the tone of voice... every conversation sounds like a public rally or an argument... (of course I may be a little guilty of that myself sometimes hahaha, it's the damn Chinese blood in me) and is there enough oil and salt in the food in Shanghai... and even so, where the hell are the fat people?!?!?!? Yeesh!

I met maybe two decent Chinese on my entire trip. I mean the locals of course. If you're a westerner ie, if you're white, you'd absolutely think what the Chinese let you believe - that you're superior. Oh puh-lease!!!! IDTS!! (I don't think so!) I'm glad I'm just a damn foriegn Chinese and look Filipina, Hawaiian, Indian, Mexican, hey anything but a Mainlander!!!

It's cheap here for internet connection. Only 100 yen for 10 mins so there is a line of Americans bitching behind me... do I care?! Hahahaha! There's that Chinese in me hahaha.

Ok, time for not so good ramen and buying crap...

As a Southerner would say... 'ba ba Shangha'...

Well it's the morning of my departure. In five hours, I'd be leaving on a jetplane, don't know when I'd be back again... hahaha. Kiddin', I will return... with Bruce in tow.

It is now 3:54am. The air in here is hot and humid... Peggy and I stayed up till past midnight laughing the night away. I'm going to miss everyone in this household; they've been the perfect host (see Peggy, now the whole world knows :D) and they showed me a great time in Shanghai, fed me well (boy did they seriously feed me well!!!) and made me feel very comfortable in their home. Thank you Johnny, thank you Peggy, thank you little Marcus.

Gawd, I dread the flight home... especially the Shanghai-Tokyo leg. I suppose I'd be too tired to deal with the locals and try to get some z's. No one had better mess with me today and hopefully, no-two-old-couple-trying-to-get-it-on-sitting-next-to-me like my flight here. I swear I'd whip out my video camera hahaha!

Well, this is it... I should be home with my next entry. Oh I forget I do have a 5 hour layover in SF so maybe I'd have time there like I did in Minneapolis...

Saturday, April 17, 2004 I really in Shanghai...

It's a beautiful morning. For those who know me well enough, you know it's cloudy and even better, raining heavily. Waking up to such harmonious pandemonium warms my heart. Sitting here right under the sunroof, listening to the intense patter of the rain on this third storey of the house makes me remember my days growing up in Singapore... where rainy days meant waking up even earlier and enjoying the day because it would be much cooler and somehow, romantic - yes even to an 8 year old girl. of course, I'm just remembering that I'd also just put out my laundry out in the backyard to dry yesterday evening... arrgh!!

It's been so fun spending time with Peggy, Johnny and Marcus. Marcus is slowly warming up to me and I, him - imagine that ha! Spending time with Marcus, I realize that motherly instincts just is not an inborn thing in me. It's probably funny to some of you and certainly more odd to the others, but I'm not complaining and I certainly haven't got a need for it hee hee.

On Friday, after a very un-Chinese breakfast of bacon, ham and toast (but adding Maggi Tomato Chilli to it certainly is hahaha) and getting the boys out to work and to school, Peggy and I spent a lazy morning grocery shopping at CarreFour then just catching up with news, gossip and more memories. Boy, do we laugh when we're together. It's so awesome that after so many years of not seeing each other, we definitely appreciate our days back in school and being able to spend time together now as married, mature (we try) women... we really haven't changed that much, we agreed.

We had lunch with Peggy's cousin, Wendy and a few of her colleagues from Singapore Airlines, at the very nice and modern Pudong Inter-Continental Hotel restaurant. Talk about a typical spread of wonderful seafood - yes, yummy fresh oysters that I love too - beef tenderloin, sushi, sashimi, trout, made-for-you-on-the-spot satay and a never-ending spread of very Asian dishes including the best Chinese sweet and sour pork I've had in my life (sorry ma :D). I certainly felt like I was back in Singapore with this stretch of familiar food.

We hung out for quite a few hours here. Yes, I know most of you are not surprised. But it was namely because we were engrossed with the flight stories we were told by these flight attendents and one pilot. Talk about the dirt that happens while you're asleep on a plane! I'm keeping my camera/video recorder out on my flights next time! Sex, violence (okay not that much violence) but certainly death and... "doo doo doo doo" (theme from Tales of the Crypt)... Ghosts! After that we took a drive out to who knows where 'coz the Singaporeans and Malaysian wanted to get dvds, pirated, of course! Yes, I'm definitely hanging out with the in-group hahaha! So we went to this unpaved street where Peggy very quickly realized after several missed turns that her prediction that her favorite dvd store is closed was wrong;, the store had been demolished. I suppose it's not just in Japan that stores just disappear hahaha! Fortunately, the same guy put out a small collection of his products outside a fishing store next to this very coarse woman selling china dishes of Mao and what she insists are antiques I should buy. While the crew checked out dvds, I bargained a brass opium pipe and a plate that I believe was thrown in sand and mud just to impress stupid tourists like us that it's old all for the price of four whole dollars. Yet, the highlight of this trip here was running into the public toilet with Peggy, giggling and trying SO hard not to laugh and breathe, and take pictures. All six little cubicles filled with traditional toilets ie, hole in the ground (which is no big deal really), but these cubicles had no doors!! And you can forget about toilet paper!!! Welcome to China. My advice is, find a really nice hotel if you really have to go.

That night, Peggy and I took a cab to Pu-Xi (pronouced Poo-See HAHAHAHA) and checked out Shanghai's night life. Much like a lot of the night life in Asia, it was filled with lots of wannabe locals, expats and women who wanted to be with them. We ended up at the bar at Sasha's... a rather big bungalow-like building that lacked any personality bar/restaurant and a new Mexican Cantina next to it (same pompous Australian owner, Ian) on the corner of Heng Shan Lu (the stretch of road where houses bars, restaurants and more bars). We stayed quite a few hours till almost 1am. After seeing a guy take a one hour nap on the bar followed by downing the ashtray right before he left, we knew it was pretty much time for us to leave... we then headed to Lan Kwai Fong. For season travellers and party-goers, you'd be familiar with this name I'm sure. Lan Kwai Fong is an area in Hong Kong where much like Singapore's Boat Quay or Collyer Quay, is the place to hit if you want some excitement. Our favourite bartender of the evening Joe, who spoke great English (he actually said "SHIT" when his fellow bartender messed up hahaha) hailed us a cab and directed the cab driver where to take us. Apparently, the community, I believe is all inside Parc 97 and houses quite a few bars/restaurants in here. From what little we saw amongst the crowd and big people, there was a sushi bar, an Italian restuarant and a very happening dance floor that there was no way two smart sobering 30-something year olds were going to join. We hopped on a cab past 2am, avoided a couple of fatal accidents (all part of being on the road here in Shanghai) and got home in one piece. PHEW!

Yesterday, the entire family spent a nice day out. We started the morning early with some touristy stuff; sight-seeing/picture taking, followed by a perfect brunch of magnificent dim sum at the Shang Palace in Pudong Shangri-La Hotel

We then headed to XiangYang market where the headquarters of fake merchandise is exchanged. It was jam-packed with foriegners and oddly, locals too. We decided that monday morning was a better time for Peggy and I to come without the boys who were bored stiff; we could tell one of them was losing his patience very quickly when he commented innocently that he did not fancy crowds :) We headed to Raffles City where I was again awed by the fact that I did not feel like I was in China. Where were the bikes on the streets, the beggars, the broken huts and unpaved streets. Sure, I saw this in parts of my travels but so far, Shanghai has been quite a rude awakening to my image of China!

At Raffles City/Raffles Square, where Singaporeans congregate, of course you'd find FOOD! At the basement, on the top floor, food galore! I managed to get some Mei Zhen Xiang bbq pork (how I'm going to go through US Customs, I have no idea) and full as we were, scoffed down yummy much-like-home mee rebus, black chai tow kway and Old Chang Kee style curry puff. For someone who lives in Tennessee and craves Singapore food constantly, this meal had already dissolved all pain and suffering from my flight here hahaha!

We'd had plans to spend all day and night out but by the time we'd all bought shoes, ate way too much (and I didn't even mention ice cream!) we were all ready to come home for a nap.

Last night, we babysat marcus (well, sort of... it was more like he babysat us hahaha) while Johnny tended to a business dinner. We engaged two masseuse to the house for two full hours of massage each. It was absolutely overwhelmingly amazing. We both got our massages on the same bed with Marcus between us watching Thomas the Train on dvd (if only he knew just how lucky he was hahaha) and between our giggles and yelping out in pain, we carelessly slipped into deep sleep only to be awaken by baby farts from Marcus - well the farts were from a baby, not necessarily baby in magnitude hahaha! Two long hour massage house calls for a total of less then $20 for both of us. The most beautiful part of it all, they declined being tipped! Where am I?!?

So here I am... the beautiful morning has now changed into what seems like slight drizzle and I'm sure intense humidity. Arggh! Time to go get dressed. Wow, these people can really sleep hahaha!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I made it!!!

After what seemed like at least 40 hours on five different planes - ok, maybe
not five... I finally stepped foot onto the 'mother land' hahaha. Yes, China... now I can proudly say I've been here and no one can doubt my ethnicity... well, other than the Filipinas, the Hawaiians, the Native Americans (don't know which tribe they associate me with tho') and the Indians; yes the ones with the dot too!

Immigration was a breeze. They didn't speak to me (probably didn't want to with the way I looked) and of course I remained being my coarse and rude Singaporean-self :) While walking towards the baggage claim area and checking excitedly on yet another new stamp in my passport, I hear, "T.Y.Y!!" Horrible flashbacks of my fat (yes contrary to your believe, I am NOT the only fat Chinese woman to be alive...) high school Chinese teacher back home using my Chinese composition book as a Frisbee across the room... arrgh! Fortunately, it was insane Peggy... my partner in crime, my pal who enjoyed many a class at Nan Hua Secondary School laughing over the silliest stuff (including the hairstyle of our human social biology teacher that got us in trouble), my friend since I was 16+. ...Watch out Shanghai!!!

After all the hoopla of getting char kway teow from her cousin, a flight attendent on Singapore Airlines (yes, fresh fried noodles from the real deal) -
and taking a really fast drive home on a VERY empty and very clean highway, we were home... and yes did we ever dive into those noodles. Gawd I can still taste that wonderful oily sensation in my mouth even after six hours of deep sleep hahahaha. Now THAT is food :)

It's my first morning here and I just heard Marcus, Peggy's 3 1/2 yr old son calling out "MUMMY" so I guess Peggy and Johnny will soon be up and then it'll be my turn to bug them...

Till my next entry, zai jian!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Burning time...

I've been gallivanting around the St. Paul Int'l Airport now for what feels like 15 hours... as many stores as this place has, you can only get so many magazines, bottles of water, packs of Cheetos and Frappucinos... three more hours to go and I'd be on my way to Narita... of course I probably won't have time to get a bowl of ramen, certainly not ramen from Shinjuku... still, if I get some, it'll beat all these Chinese/Japanese wanna-be eateries out here...

I really am having fun hahaha! No really. It's been awhile since I've traveled alone and despite not having the comfort of having Bruce with me and taking care of EVERYTHING, it's kind of liberating I suppose... ok, it hasn't been that long since I last traveled on my own.

OK, at $5 for five minutes and this crappy keyboard, I'm sure this entry will be the most expensive entry I'd ever make...

I'd be back once I get another chance to be on another computer. A bloody free one I hope!

Monday, April 12, 2004


...need I say more?!

Kwame needs to get balls and stand up to her. ARRGH!

Easter weekend in Seattle

...waking up at 5:02 on friday morning (wondering why the 2 looked so much like a 5 on the cable box clock) confused me even further when I woke a very shocked Bruce for our 6:30am flight. GAWD! We both stood at our respective walk-in closets in a daze throwing random (unmatching stuff) into our backpacks. Yes, we were super late and no we were not packed!

Amazingly, we made the flight despite the 25 mins mad dash to the airport. No no, I was not driving; so the rest of the Memphian drivers were not at risk.

In the midst of the flight, I realized we were actually on our way to Seattle NOT TOKYO. Yeesh... talk about a rude awakening! I'd packed for hot hot weather... not the pacific northwest in early April. Fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing (arrgh, and I thought I could have gotten a nice coat out of this mistake hahaha). Seattle was beautifully clear (we could see Mt. Rainier!) , breezy and sunny at all times at 70 degrees farenheit. It was nice walking around the city and not having to sweat. My kind of weather... although some cloud would have been nice too! Yes, you all know how I LOVE cloudy days...

Seattle was awesome. My very unmatching and unstylish outfits I'd packed (in my half-awake mode) made me fit right in with the locals (don't think I looked butch enough however hahaha) and of course my rather unattractive but so comfortable 'Born' shoes helped.

It was nice to spend an evening with the Schultze's and listen to all the updates of the god-children's lives. Great kids! William is now taller then me... and Emily is a serious beauty at 14 and 5'9". Oh, and their new house is awesome! We also got to meet Chloe, the new pet dog.

Top Looks/Laughs:

1. The look on Bruce's face when I told him to throw the blanket we got on the plane onto the floor and he thought I'd told him to throw his trash onto the floor. Talk about an annoyed plus disgusted plus a what-are-you-a-barbarian-look he gave me hahahaha!

2. My big faux pas forgetting that we were in very politically correct Seattle, I shocked and almost made the sales girl (or whatever they're called in that neck of the woods) cry when I told Bruce that the yellow pair of shoes he was trying on would match his very yellow wife. Talk about a look of disbelief on her. Made us laugh though. Okay, made me laugh.

3. The look on both our faces trying so hard not to laugh out loud when we saw an Indian man (from India, the ones with the dot, not the casino-owning-kind) about 75 years old standing at the bus-stop with a VERY small SpongeBob SquarePants rolling backpack, almost too short for him to pull.

4. When a man came up the bus with a garbage bag filled with non-garbagey stuff. Reminded us of Bruce's ingenuity (well, that's his claim at least) back in his working days in Tokyo when he used to pack his laptop in a garbage bag to go to work everyday. I rest my case.

I'm sure I'd think of more later...


Nishino's was AWESOME! We did the omakase dinner for the both of us and ordered the uni and the madison roll. I now understand why Americans think they don't like uni... nevertheless, it was really really good new Japanese cuisine. The best crab cakes I have ever had... the combinations of flavors these guys come out with is unbelievable. Made my eyes roll back with every bite I took. Definitely a recommendation. Plus Bruce was able to get a quick reunion with Mr and Mrs Nishino, and they actually remembered him much like the guy at the shoe store where we almost made the girl cry... so he was happy.

Lunch at Shultzy's Sausage was awesome too! I had a yummy Dr Bubba Burger (named after Bruce's dad) and the best crunchy fries in the world - and you all know I've had some serious fries. Bruce had some gumbo and hmmm, I guess i was so into my own meal I forget what he was having. But I do know it was really good!

A quick oyster run at Emmitt Watson's oyster bar was so-so. A typical hole in the wall kind of place... dirty, nonchanlant kind of service and oysters that were okay. Of course, I'm being unfair as to comparing to the eons of oysters that we down in New Orleans and Australia. Still, you can't pay me to go back there.

I missed my deep fried gizzards at Pike's place market this time... but we did manage to get our beef curry hum bao. YUM! We also got some very sweet and delicious muscat grapes, some naval oranges and red and yellow pairs that were in season. Can't wait to return to Seattle in the Summer when we can get some of those oh-my-gawd-peaches.