Sunday, September 24, 2006

Assignments !!!

Ack same old problem of "should have started earlier" now I have to churn out 2 x 2000 word and 1 x 5000 word essay by 1st october. Glad that it can be emailed so I will probably send it at 11:59 am on the 1st ;) I have started but I can say that it is much harder than pulling teeth. Which by the way is an incorrect expression as teeth aren't really pulled out. They are elevated and the periosteal bone around it is stretched and the socket expanded before the tooth is finally extracted. But I digress...

We just spent a nice little break in the Blue Mountains which are the mountain ranges dividing the eastern seaboard from the country plains in New South Wales. It is full of little quaint towns with cute shops and cafes. We stayed at a historic hotel, the Hydro Majestic which was completed in 1904. It is rich with olde world charm and has been decorated with furniture reminiscent of that era. Will post pics of that too and the great food at a wonderful restaurant with similar fare to a restaurant dear to our stomachs,Neila. This restaurant, Ashcrofts was recently awarded a chefs had by the SMH good food guide (Sydney version of New York's Zagats) and the food was definitely not over-rated either. But more on that too after I finish the shanghai backlog (!)

Oh well back to my assignment now ... *sigh*

Monday, September 11, 2006

The wierd and whacky in Shanghai

Been pretty busy with friends coming to visit from Cowra as well as being invited to a girl from work's place for dinner. Both were lots of fun, however, our social calander is booked up all weekends bar one from now until my next prac in the middle of October! I had anothre glance at when my assignments were due and it is the 1st of October so, I really need to juggle my time well from now till then. It is wierd having assignment stress all over again. Its been a while now since my last assignment, a bit nervous about handling it and completing it. Its amazing what working full time does to you - I suspect it kills brain cells!

I was going to do chronological posts about Shanghai but I decided I will divide it into topics: wierd or different things, food, day and night scenes. I unfortunately only really had 2 out of the 4 days to explore. Alas on the second night, a terrible tummy bug got hold of me and I got the works. This included fever, cough and cold and the usual dehydration from both ends. Needless to say, I am now a bit wary about going back there. At least I had 2 days to have a good look around!

The following two pictures are from a shelf in a shop selling typical shanghai delicacies. It was located in their tourist tower (you know what I mean, alot of cities have one) called the Bright pearl of Asia (literally translated).

Amongst other things which were "normal" for me such as dried or fried marinated fish and shrimp, various candied or dried fruits etc. lay these interesting snacks. The yellow bulbs on the left are actually stewed garlic and the brown things onthe right are marinated, roasted duck tongues. All hygenically packed ... of course. I decided that those were a bit too strange as snack foods and besides, I had to buy the whole packet, what if I really disliked it?? Hence I gave these a miss.

Over on this shelf was salted chicken gizzards (the strange brown things) on the left and dried fish on the right. I happen to have had gizzards in the past and didn't mind them too much as they were in a soup. Hence, I bought a package of individualy wrapped ones to share with my sister. How were they? Pretty salty but a nice crunchy texture. Anyone who has had kidney in steak and kidney pie will know what I mean by crunchy. Not bad ... just that probably having two might blow your daily sodium intake.

Another interesting thing about Shanghai was these literally hole-in-the-wall places selling various cooked snacks such as fried bread, dough sticks, dumplings etc. The following picture is quite a large "shop" compared to some I saw which had a hole in the wall the size of some large computer monitors! Yet there was someone on the other side of the window and a small sign advertising their wares, mostly food or drink.

We passed this market in the tour bus on the first day, onthe way to our hotel. It was about 7 am in the morning and the street was milling with people. It was definitely a shared zone with people, cars, buses, bicycles, scooters and people all trying to get to where they wanted and all in different directions. People were buying their groceries for the day and this included vegetables, fruit and meat/seafood. If you look closely at the bottom right corner of the screen, you can see a small tank full of eels. These were live but were killed fresh on the spot when you purchased them.

Does this look familiar to you? Yes! It is gyros (yeeros) or kebab meat going around on a small spit, just in the middle of the street. The price is low like most food in shanghai - 3 RMB/yuan for a pita pocket, 4 for a burger or 5 for a large wrap bread. And 10 RMB for a large box of meat. This equates to $0.60 AUD for the pita pocket !!! Those grimacing about the hygiene should have thier gut feeling confirmed, around the corner was a guy squatting by a drain and sharpening the kebab knife in it!! *bleah*

No I definitely did not eat questionable food and ate at pretty high standard restaurants, yet I got a tummy bug. The rest of my family were ok but I guess it just takes one different order to get hit big time! Anyway, next post will show a bit more about shanghainese cuisine.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Something to ponder

Still haven't been too well ... also hurt my shoulder on Monday night doing a ninja roll in my Jujitsu class ouch ...Everything was looking schmick until then. I know its a bit late in life to start but its amazing how your body learns stuff when you keep practicing. I'm only a beginner but its pretty fun and its interesting learning some stuff you see on TV. I don't know if I'll keep at it long enough to get a high grading due to work commitments and stuff. Also, its interesting how you feel you can do anything until you injure yourself, and then all that self doubt creeps in. But for the meantime, I'll still enjoy it ... when my shoulder eventually recovers from that shock.

Anyway, heres a poster from Shanghai to ponder ...

Stay tuned