Mmmmm Macau!

Mmmmmmm….Macau. More about the country/Special Economic Region aka Casino later. First, on to the food!

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As a former colony of Portugal , the European influences are obvious. Egg Tart meet Mouth.

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Going with the colonial theme we can sneak some Brazilian cuisine in there. Meat anyone?

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This simple pork on bread with Siracha is simple but great. These things along with Egg Tarts are ubiquitous in Macau.

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There exists a Thai-town in Macau , this restaurant had inexpensive , amazing , eats , prepared by a crew of authentic Thais. Sa-wat-dee! We were exhausted from wandering around town by this point . It was amazing to simply sit in air-conditioning, eat spicy food , and drink Beer Chang with Thai condensed milk coffee.

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There are also ample opportunities for grabbing fresh veggies. Also , check out that behemoth winter squash!

Yummy!

Fall Shots

Well it’s been a busy week plagued with technical problems. Our internet got up and running yesterday. I saw my landlord about 6 times in one week. Got my entire toilet switched out for another one , which hadn’t been installed properly , and now waiting on that to get fixed ( I swear , our landlord must love seeing us. He never seems to fix his crappy stuff which he claims is all new , hah!). Another typical week in Shanghai.

Anyways , I’m going to try to get this stupid side of life out of my mind ( even though I’ll probably see my landlord with his repair man dogging his heels tomorrow, and the day after , and after…… ahh ok enough!)

Though it’s almost December, the fall colors are really bursting right now. Helps break up the monotonous gray. I’m not looking forward to winter!

These shots are from my window / street . The 梧桐树 (Phoenix Trees)which line the former French Concession streets are lovely at this time.

Turkey Day

Was Thanksgiving Day at Boxing Cat Brewery worth the 400 rmb?

Yes. yes it was.

Staff handled things really well , the interior ambiance was great ( love that fireplace) , we had little candles burning on every table , and most importantly there was tons of amazing food with free flow microbrews , wine , and spirits.

Highlights of the meal include: apple granola cobbler , pumpkin pie , bourbon cranberry compote (best cranberries of my life and I love cranberries) and of course the mash and turkey. I’m so happy the food was spot on American Thanksgiving.

Ah Shanghai! I’m thankful for you ( just not for my landlord).

Super Slick Hong Kong Video

Wow , I wish I could claim credit for this but lo and behold right after I return from Hong Kong Shanghaiist posts a link to this masterpiece.

What I love about this video ( in addition to its awesomeness) is that it shows several of the places I just mentioned in my highlights list

We see the Star Ferry ride with Central in the background , the Wan Chai neighborhood I walked through to get back to my hotel , Tin Hau temple , the temple street night market , and the Happy Valley racecourse. I feel so cool recognizing these places. Oh yea , been there , right , uh-huh. 🙂

Gregory Kane, you are awesome for making this video.

How To Win Big In Happy Valley

Like I said before , I first learned about Hong Kong through the stellar James Clavell novel Noble House. Many key scenes took place over big dollar betting at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Alas, I was left without a private VIP room (and millions to bet with) but I had a damn good time at Happy Valley.

I could see the racetrack from my hotel window so my cousin and I rambled over after dinner one night. Lucky for us it was Oktoberfest! ( In November but I’m not complaining!)

How to Win

Step 1.

Buy large pitchers of beer. Consume said beer. ( Alcohol is a key factor in the enjoyment of the races.)

Step 2.

When you’re starting to feel pretty fine pour an indiscriminate amount of brew into a cup. Chug that beer to the best of your ability. The number of seconds it takes = your lucky horse number.

Step 3.

Bet.
I bet the minimum of 20HKD on win .

The winning ticket.

Step 4.

Profit and bask in the glory!

I discovered this foolproof technique on my first ever attempt at betting on anything.
I placed the bet and did the worst possible thing you can do on the first time you ever bet. Win.
Winning the very first time , who could just walk away?

AFter waiting in line in between hardcore gamblers wearing sunglasses at night , clenching their horse-betting newspaper with vice-like grips , we fought our way through the crowds thick with the young , beautiful , and business-suited.

Straining to see , up on our very tiptoes, the gates open and the horses are off! I can’t see anything! Dang , being on ground level at a circular track leaves at least 50% of the race to the video screens!

My beloved horse #2 (2 second chug!) was quickly behind. Nooooo! We felt dejected , let-down , cheated. Until #2 had a surge of power in the last quarter and overtook the pack to win by a body length! All those previous negative energies disappeared and we were left ecstatic , amazed by what just happened , and slighty drunk.

Waiting in line to cash in the ticket, I was saying there is no way we can win anything big ( totally not understanding the system that lets you know exactly what you win) . My 20HKD turned into 146 HKD , that’s $2.58 USD to $18.83 for those who don’t have the conversions memorized. 7 to 1 payoff on win!

AFter winning, we committed a grave error. We switched to the mathematical principles of addition , multiplication , and parity ( that’s odd or evens . Don’t feel bad , I had to look the word up.) We foolishly dismissed our winning strategy as luck or chance. It’s not. Trust the beer. Fear the math.

By the end of it we were down to our initial cash levels minus the beer but plus a Gangnam Style dance competition, so I’d say we left ahead.

Unfortunately the place in Shanghai named Happy Valley is a mere amusement park. The original horse racing track was at People’s Square prior to 1949. Communists don’t like betting or fun so they tore it down. I really wish they hadn’t. It would great to be able to go once or twice a month. Instead I’ll have to wait till the next time I’m in Hong Kong.

Dear Idiots

Laws.
Rules.

As teenagers they all seem made to be broken. Some are stupid , arbitrary, and down right nasty. The longer I live in Shanghai , the more I come to despair at the utter disregard that a certain set of them receive.

Traffic Laws.

Tell that to my 18-year-old self speeding on the highway and I probably would have laughed.

After two and a half years of watching pure stupidity at wheels , I’ve come to hold traffic laws in a brighter light.

This one’s for you , Mr.Idiot on a motorbike.

Dear Moron,

I spotted you at the intersection of West JianGuo Rd. and 2nd Ruijin Rd. Do you remember me? Probably not as you were blatantly disregarding the red light in front of you ( it means stop!) and the pedestrians crossing the road. Perhaps you may recall the one blond head in the sea of black hairs. That was me.

You probably haven’t heard of the American saying used in my youth , “No Cop , No Stop”. But I’ll go ahead and inform you right now that only is applicable when in the middle of nowhere. In the kind of place where farm animals outnumber the people and the only thing in sight is corn , not in the middle of a city of 23 million people.

In your defence , you could have been trying to turn right and in China there is no stop on red rule before making a right hand turn. It would certainly be a great idea , and it would save us pedestrians a lot of grief but we pedestrians know that you drivers are in such a hurry to do such important things as ; gossip , play mahjong , chain smoke , and spit. These things are arguably more important than any grievous bodily harm that may come our way. However , you weren’t making a right hand turn! You were making a left hand on red through traffic! And it wasn’t a gun-it-on yellow kind of deal. That was a stale red light buddy. That’s why when the taxi almost slammed into you, and came to a skidding stop a meter in front of you because you were in the middle of the intersection , I laughed.

My pleasure quickly turned sour when you glared at the taxi while he honked his horn. Like you were being wrongly affronted , insulted, and accused. That simmering look you gave him could have sizzled the oil in my wok. That’s the point of time when I yelled, “F*ck you, You idiot! at you. I couldn’t stand that look you were giving him , Mr.Almost-Hit-Me-And-Then-Almost-Causing-Yourself-To-Be-Killed. Usually I would glare at the stupid taxi drivers too but not this time. I know you probably didn’t hear me ,and then anyways probably wouldn’t have understood , but it still felt good.

Your Biggest Fan ,

Roomaomao

It’s important to try to defend my walking/biking safety seeing as how the metro just turned into a war zone. It just got personal. Blood was shed. Yes, on the metro.

My good friend L-Dawg was just recently pushed to the ground hard enough to break her skin. A fellow rider knocked her down, and her knee struck the gap in between subway car and station platform. This fellow did not offer to help her up but instead an actual good Samaritan (too rare in China) gave her a helping hand. The pusher didn’t say a word to my friend , didn’t try to help , avoided her look , and slunk off with his tail between his legs to hide. Real great guy.

Will the traffic and behavior of the citizens of China ever change? Any fellow expats have comments on this?

Google imaged this photo
By Maciej Dakowicz
opentravel.com

Hong Kong Foods – Round Two!

Man , Cantonese fair won my heart over while in Hong Kong!
Be jealous everyone!

Boxing Cat Brewery Thanksgiving

The menu looks pretty damn awesome. Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Candied Bacon and Apples , what!?! Western foods in Shanghai have a way of letting me down though. At $64 USD a pop this meal had better be amazing. In any case I will try to get my moneys worth on the straight free flow wine , beer, and coffee. The beer at this microbrewery is very good. I’ll need like 10 of them at happy hour prices to break even haha.

Thankful for a bunch and eagerly awaiting this meal!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

This green challenge comes at a good time as I’m rapidly losing the green outside in Shanghai. I need to hold on through the bleak winter until a little relief comes in the form of a 12 day trip to Thailand! There is nothing like 33C in February! That little respite will have to last me until April when the leaves emerge from their slumber once more.

We’ll start off with some of the wilder parts of the Great Wall where the foliage is encroaching upon the man-laid stone.

Next up some strikingly green water lilies.

Now a serene bamboo grove

Oh woe is me! Can I get through the dreary winter? It will be months before my street resembles this again , and I can go out and play!

Hong Kong Round Two

Wow! Sorry everyone. I’ve been back from my trip for 5 days now but uploading problems on wordpress/facebook have been plaguing me. Perhaps this has something to do with the Communist Party power change that was going on earlier this week. Coincidence? Most likely not.

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet Hong Kong via a dual overnight layover on the way to/from Vietnam. This month I had a chance to get to know her glorious self a little bit better while simultaneously getting caught up with my mountain trekking Uncle and Cousin. Score!
I just took the better part of last week off and spent some time in Hong Kong with a day side trip to Macau! This trip was also on the Uncle’s (significantly more impressive than mine) budget. Bye bye Chungking Mansions and 30HKD breakfasts. Hello gourmet food , taxis, and a nice hotel. YES!

This trip gave me more time to see the places I learned about in the fantastic novel , Noble House, by James Clavell. If you haven’t checked this author out before , proceed to do so. Noble House is a massive , more than 1000 page epic tome that takes place in 1960’s Hong Kong. It has multiple storylines intertwining , dozens of characters, and features some of the Taipans 大班 (bosses) of massive trading companies warring it out with each other all while dealing with spies , movie stars, and pirates. It’s some heavy sh*t.

As I was taking the windy road up to Hong Kong’s highest point (Victoria Peak) I could just imagine Ian Dunross (Main character from Noble House) gunning his high-powered sports car up the dangerously curving roads, I could envision the battle between developers to build the tallest buildings with the best views of Central consequently sparking up feuds with new apartments blocking the view from the older multimillionaire dollar apartments , I could see the fishing junks moored in Aberdeen waiting out the latest typhoon. I was transported to the real life settings of the book only 50 years later and 50 years more advanced. Hong Kong of now is a whole new beast. Even though Shanghai has three times the population , it feels small in comparison with Hong Kong. Hong Kong is packed into a small area resulting in a craze to build everything taller and closer together. I’ve never been in an environment that felt so urban.

This trip I revisited some of the biggies that I went to during my quick layovers . I had to show the Uncle and Cousin the classic Victoria Peak , Hong Kong skyline at night , and the Star Ferry trip across the harbor. I also got to use the extended time to check out new places in the city and make a trip over charming Macau.

Some of the highlights include :

a fortune-telling in the crowded Temple Street Night Market

betting on the horse races in Happy Valley

matching an insane Gangnam style dance competition in between betting on horses

learning Obama won the U.S presidency by reading the traditional characters on a newspaper in the morning

checking out the beautiful Wong Tai Sin temple and Hau Tin temple

seeing the touristy but slick night city skyline dance of the stars

and the food , oh my the God the food!
(but this is for a totally separate post)

and most importantly , catching up with my relatives!

I’m definitely not done with Hong Kong . I’ve fallen quite hard for the city and look forward to return visits in order to see more of it. I really want to head out to the out-of-the-way places : the little fishing villages on separate islands , the working class neighborhoods of Kowloon , and the functional monasteries all come to mind. The big Buddha on Lantau island has also been eluding me! I’ll be back Hong Kong!