Chinese Chess / Xiangqi

I must be tired. The internet was exceptionally slow last night and as I waited for a photo to upload to the blog, I hopped in my bed to read a book. It was 8:30 p.m. When I woke up, it was 7 a.m. this morning. Apparently, China has sucked the life out of me…

Have you ever seen Chinese chess? Outside of the shops at Yu Gardens, I happened upon a game of Xiangqi.


There was some serious playing going on.

I think I may be adding Xiangqi and Ma Jong to my list of games to learn while I’m here.

Yu Gardens Shopping District Part 1

Locks of all sorts; keys kept behind the counter.

I went to the shopping district in Yu Gardens today, a difficult place to describe, with outdoor stalls full of everything you can imagine, from worse-than-dollar-store quality toys to umbrellas, rubber bands, fake flowers, chopsticks, underwear, gift bags and party supplies. Some of the connected buildings house multiple floors of vendor stalls, known amongst foreigners as the “Junkateria.” The higher quality stores sell antiques, cloisonne, tapestries and art. I chanced upon a hardware hut that sold some interesting items.
Heavy door knockers come in pairs.
Individual door knockers.
Fancy key rings.

I am certain I’ll return to the Yu Gardens shopping district. There’s no JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby here, so I’ll be looking for craft items and children’s birthday party gifts. I’ll try to take some better pictures of the outdoor stalls… Yu Gardens Shopping, to be continued.

Carre Four Part 3

I don’t know what you’re thinking…
but those are dried sea cucumbers.


“Hanging” around the dried fish aisle.

Dried abalone, cuttlefish, seaweed, shrimp.

Dried fish, kelp, more shellfish.

The Circus holds their noses when they walk by the pungent odor. I suppose it’s fragrant, if you like the smell of dried fish. I hold my nose, too.

Shanghainese Pep Talk

En route to a restaurant, The Circus and I caught a pep talk in session. Actually, it sounded like a rake-you-over-the-coals kind of session. Walking up the alleyway, we noticed each restaurant conduct their own meeting with their chefs, helmed by the master chef. Each, in angry Shanghainese. I had to smile when The Kid asked, “Mom, why are they getting in trouble?” I love these teaching moments regarding our cultural differences. Ultimately, we chose a quiet little cafe, with a few cooks already in the kitchen.

Beauty in Our Eyes

There is a woman who sits quietly near the street corner by the International school. I walk by her almost every day and often catch her knitting or embroidering, mostly likely during her work break. When I took her photograph, she was embarrassed and turned away, saying, “Wo hen chou.” I’m very ugly.

I think she’s beautiful and I wish I knew her story. Perhaps some day she’ll share it with me. In the meantime, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is one of my favorite photographs that I’ve taken in Shanghai.

Strawberrying in Shanghai


For the monthly activity, our Relief Society decided to go berry picking. Over twenty tents with strawberry fields running as far as children could frolic.
It was a sweet adventure. Pinky Stinky kept busy.

The owners supplied woven baskets. All I needed was a large bonnet. Who knew one could feel so exquisitely English, living in Shanghai? I confess, the entire time I was picking, I couldn’t stop thinking of Jane Austen’s Emma with Mrs. Elton’s ridiculous prattle of her penchant for strawberries.
Even the less ripe fruit was surprisingly sweet and flavorful.
Weighed and paid for, by the kilogram.
There were over twenty adults in our group and the attendants boxed all of our fruit. It took quite a long time, but the presentation was beautiful.
I leave you with Jane Austen’s Emma:
“…and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking–strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of.–’The best fruit in England– every body’s favourite–always wholesome.–These the finest beds and finest sorts.–Delightful to gather for one’s self–the only way of really enjoying them’…”

I hate to say it, but Mrs. Elton was actually right.

Window Shopping at Pines

There are stores galore here filled with real designer handbags, expensive cashmere sweaters and jewelry. Things that I’ve never really considered or found interesting. But to each their own. Instead, I find myself and The Circus window shopping at Pines, an expat grocery store, loaded with goodies from the United States.

Cocoa Krispies for 71.80RMB/$11.04USD. Eat your wheaties, kids. Or whatever cereal your mom bought for under $4 at the grocery store. Because there are American children in China who would happily eat it for you…namely The Circus.

Prego 45.50RMB/$7USD. It makes you appreciate those Boy Scout spaghetti dinners so much more.

Hershey’s chocolate chips 46.90RMB/$7.21USD.
Let’s be honest. Who needs cashmere when there’s chocolate to be had? (Or Japan to be helped.) It’s all about priorities.

Sweet Potato Vendor


On chilly winter days, sweet potato, turnip and corn vendors can be found on most street corners.

This vendor asked 4RMBs or sixty-four cents (USD) for one sweet potato. I paid and was allowed to take her photo, unharassed. However, looking at this photo, I regret that I didn’t buy all of her wares, especially now seeing her hands clenched, from standing all day in the cold.

The things we take for granted…like a heated car, home…or work environment.

Sunnier Days

I won’t lie.
Today was rough. It was drizzling rain, with gray, polluted skies. There was plenty of Chinese rudeness hurled toward my direction all day, never meant to be personal, of course. But we don’t need to go there. I prefer to think of more cheerful times. Like when we first moved here, there was one sunny, clear weekend, where Shanghai was full of hope and cheerful offerings. Which it still is, despite the daily beratings I receive, just for “looking” Chinese. (As The Hubs likes to point out. I am quick to remind him that I “look” American.)

Americans in Shanghai.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

I confess, I’m hardly in a celebratory mood, watching the people of Japan suffer. However, the show must go on and we carry forward with family traditions.
Friends came to hunt for Leprechauns. Each Leprechaun did have two arms…

Dinner in China attempted to be Irish, with roasted cabbage and braised brisket.


Even The Circus seemed slightly subdued, though I assure you, there was plenty of revelry. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, as we continue to pray for Japan.