February 2nd: Hunan, Yunnan, Vietnamese, French. And a pie.

Change is afoot.  After a year in Shanghai, Richard and JB will shortly be returning to the UK, leaving a significant dent in the UK Argos team, and a pool-playing, Guinness-drinking shaped dent in our social life*.  After a stupidly large lunch with Jo, we spent most of Saturday saying the first of many goodbyes to Richard and JB by playing pool in our favourite local bar (Masse) , accompanied by Shawn.  A couple of our local friends, Isaac and Chong also made an appearance to increase the numbers for a far less hectic Saturday than we’ve had in a while.

Me, Bron and JB in Kartel

Me, Bron and JB in Kartel

5 hours playing pool – Bron even had enough time to abandon us for some kind of nail trimming/painting adventure before returning to drag JB and  I off for dinner with Jo, Rachel, Emily and Julia in a local French restaurant.  La Saleya was one of the first restaurants we visited after moving here back in April, so good to finally go back.  Shanghai’s 24-hour attitude to socialising was neatly demonstrated by agreeing to meet up with Craig later that evening.  I say evening; we met him for a few cocktails at 12.30am.

A guitar day again on Sunday with Felix, this time to audition a potential new drummer (James).  I was intrigued as to what equipment the drummer would turn up at our house with –  fortunately a box of electronic tricks, and no giant drum set.

Friday night had a distinctly British feel to it, both from the company (the Argos expat team) and the entertainment: three British comedians.  Followed by Elousie’s genius suggestion of ordering a pie at 10.30pm at night.

Bees, Beef Jerky and "Malt Chips".  An obvious combination.

Bees, Beef Jerky and “Malt Chips”. An obvious combination.

Tuesday’s catch-up with Isaac, Chong, Marcel and Hannah took us back to Southern Barbarian for more bees and other Yunnan delicacies.  This time, the bees definitely looked a little more bee-like.  A shame that Marcel and Hannah are merely passing through Shanghai, leaving later this year to continue their MBA course in other countries.

On Wednesday evening, Shawn took Richard, JB and I to one of his favourite Hunan restaurants for one of JB’s many such leaving events.  Hunan food is the other, lesser-known spicy Chinese cuisine – for some reason Sichuan food is popular in the UK but before moving here I’d never heard of Hunan.  Excellent food, as always.

I spent Thursday night fighting with electronic equipment which was obstinately refusing to work.  Not as much of a fight as Bronwen had with the hairdressers though.  7.30pm she entered the hairdressers.  11.30pm she exited.  And to think I’d ordered a delicious Vietnamese meal for us at 9pm thinking “She’ll be back soon”.

After so much travel over the last couple of months, spending two consecutive weekends in Shanghai felt a little wasteful.  But I think we probably needed the break.

*I’m not sure if that makes sense either.

Definitely more bee-like.

Definitely more bee-like.

April 12th: Slow walkers, speedy crawlers

Shanghai probably doesn’t get compared to Birmingham, Alabama very often.  But it’s the only other place in which I’ve lived (albeit briefly in the case of that fine Southern US state) where the locals’ walking top speed – from a scale of “stopped” to “running” – barely registers “saunter”.  Shanghai is an incredibly hectic city in many ways, but rushing on foot from place to place just isn’t done here.  And sudden stops (to check phone, look at a shop, ponder why the British couple behind them are in so much of a hurry, etc.) are perfectly normal.  It’s refreshing and frustrating in equal measures.

Back in the house, small crawling creatures aren’t necessarily a problem.  It’s not knowing what they are that causes concern.  That and their predilection for the dishwasher.  They’re a bit quick on the move too, so definitely can’t be of Chinese origin.