Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dumplings and Mah Jong

Phew, it’s gotten hot here! I spent all weekend hiding from the heat. It’s reached 36 degrees (- that’s 97 degrees in old money), but the humidity is only at 94%. Yes, the rains have stayed away so far, but they are forecast for the next few days. That will make things even more unpleasant. All I can say is thank heavens for air conditioning!!! Needless to say, I have done very little sight-seeing this week, although I was thinking about the aquarium – so that I could jump in with the fishes!!!

The temperature increase seems to have encouraged the mosquitoes too. I’ve been woken up a couple of nights with a mossie whispering in my ear …….bzzzzzzz. Luckily I have my revenge. I invested 2 pounds in a battery-powered tennis bat – except instead of strings it has wires, which are live. Great for swatting flies – they just atomise!! So if you hear of a woman in Shanghai practising her back-hand at 3 o’clock in the morning – it’s me, and I’m after a mossie. I had thought that being on the 18th floor would help protect me from the mossies, but I've discovered that they are really bright - they take the lift!!! i had to share the lift with a few the other week. They wouldn't say which floor they wanted out on, so I made sure they all got out before they reached mine!!

Anyone for tennis???

The other Saturday, I had some of my work-mates come round to play mah jong and t
each me how to make Chinese dumplings. We had a great afternoon playing (and yes, I lost all my money!), and then had fun making dumplings. I think we got carried away, as my freezer is now filled with enough dumplings to feed me for a week. They are good though! I still have to work on my dumpling-making skills, but I’m sure I’ll find a volunteer or two when I return to Scotland.

The dumpling Masterclass

The dumpling production department

Big excitement – they have re-opened the bridge near work, which saves about 2 minutes from my commute. Mind you, I’ve had quite a few taxis taking the bridge, even before it was re-opened. There were concrete blocks all across the road to stop cars using it – no problem, you just drive the car up the kerb across the bridge using the pavement, back down the kerb and away you go! Life is has its moments of adventure here in Shanghai.

Ganbei – that’s the toast you make in China. Literally it means ‘dry glass’, but when you’re drinking a toast it means you have to empty the glass. Last night, I was invited to go out for dinner with some of my work colleagues and some visitors from Japan. We went to ‘King Duck’ restaurant (yes, we has Peking duck – yumm!), and enjoyed our meal. One of the Japanese was on the receiving end of many of the toasts, and had to empty his glass quite a few times. He was drinking beer, but even still, he put quite a bit away. He had to fly back to Japan this morning, so I haven’t seen him. I don’t envy him his bad head this morning though! Luckily I was girly enough that I didn’t get involved in the toasts, so just got to enjoy the food. We started talking about drinking traditions at the table, and I learnt that there is a tradition in the North of China based on the position of the fish on the table. Usually there is a whole cooked fish included in a meal. The tradition states that when the fish is placed on the table, the person who is sitting facing the head needs to empty 2 glasses. Extra traditions can be added for the people facing the tail, back and stomach, if required! I must admit to having a problem with fish in restaurants here in China. I know that fresh fish is best, but I can’t go to a tank and choose which fish I want for my dinner, I just can’t do it. I blame it on my brother! I remember when he’d gone fishing and caught something. He brought it home – still alive. I can still see it swimming around the kitchen sink, and a little while later sitting on a plate.

Talking of swimming – my swimming pool is getting busy. For the last few months I’ve has the pool virtually to myself – maybe a couple of other people. Since the weather changed, it’s become much more popular. There were 6 other people in the pool with me the other day!!

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