Ilán has had a lifelong obsession with all things vehicle, so we headed out to San Antonio to check out Monster Jam at the Alamodome.
I don’t consider myself knowledgeable about Monster Trucks and I had never attended one of their shows. We got tickets to the pre-show which allowed us to go down to see the machines up-close and even meet the drivers and get their autographs.
Little did I know that these guys are celebrities. There were long lines of kids holding their $10 program ready to get an autograph from these superstars. Is the world of Monster Trucks big and somehow I’ve stayed unaware of it?
It was a great show, easily able to hold the attention of a 4 year-old kid for 2.5 hours. Just bring earplugs.
It was a stark contrast, these games and what was available in the western world. Games contemporary to the Sega Genesis era looked only marginally better than Pong.
Lots of mechanical, as in little moving parts, displays. This, instead of the raster graphics on CRT displays common at the time. I will have to look more into what kind of processors these things used and how capable they were.
Add terrible video games to the list of why it was crappy to grow up in the USSR.
We went with a large group of colleagues to a pretty good dumpling place. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name. It was in yet another large mall but this time in the financial district.
A highlight for me throughout the trip are steamed buns. It’s a genius concept: instead of sticking bread in an oven, steam it in a little basket! Delicious.
One interesting cultural difference is that on this side of the world, we remove the face of the things we eat. No such thing in China.
Hot Pot. Kind of like Chinese fondue. I am not a fan of fondue but mostly because I don’t want to dip my food where others dip their food. Fortunately, we each got a personal hot pot so I got to awkwardly fish pieces of food out with my poor chopsticks skills for minutes without bothering anyone else. You order a bunch of food (lamb was a favorite of mine) which they bring raw. You dip, wait, take the food out, wait for it to cool down to a reasonable temperature, eat. Impatience is not your friend. I know because I got to chew a lot of half-cooked stuff and burned the roof of my mouth. The genius of the whole concept is that if you don’t like the food, you only have to blame yourself (the cook) for it!
Here’s something I didn’t eat: Turtle soup. I was told that if you feel sick, you should eat it. I think what they meant was: if you eat it, you will feel sick.
Another pretty good drink I had: Black rice drink.
There was a little wooden duck in Ilan’s toy box for years. I finally learned what it was: a chic chopstick holder. Ironically, it eventually got decapitated and was thrown away. I say ironic because at this particular restaurant the duck is served with its head firmly in place.
Last, shoutout to my uncle Isi and cousin Rafa who heard I was going to be in China and flew halfway around the world to buy me dinner. Happy birthday Isi!
In the time I spent in Shanghai there was a lot of eating. My colleagues at work did an amazing job taking us out to eat. Below I share a few notes from the extensive eating we did.
Only one subway stop away from the hotel was Chamtime Plaza – one of seemingly thousands of restaurant-filled shopping centers around the city. This is a big, fancy place and we probably ate at ten restaurants there. There was one that specialized in Beijing Duck, and while I’ve had that dish before in the US, it definitely doesn’t compare. I think this is the only place we went to twice, on my first and last day.
In China they use ingredients that aren’t common in western cuisine. This can be a little challenging to a visitor. Things are made worse when said visitor limits himself to ingredients that aren’t intrinsically treif. Helpfully, most menus are fully illustrated and some are even translated.
Here’s a dish that ingredient-wise I could have technically tried but I decided against:
The hotel had a wonderful breakfast buffet with local food but also your typically Western breakfast. So you could get seaweed salad, made-to-order Ramen, with some corn flakes; all at the same place.
Our hosts took us to a lot of great restaurants. When trying things on our own, we didn’t fare so well. One place that was a total success was Lost Heaven in the Bund, a Yunnan-Style restaurant in… wait for it… the Bund.
One thing I saw in lots of convenience stores was these white glass bottles that people drank out of using a straw. I couldn’t help but be curious. It turned out to be: yogurt. Good tasting for sure, maybe not the most refreshing thing after an arduous workout.
The biggest challenge for me was that I suck at using chopsticks. Everyone else in the country seems not to suck at it. I could have starved, had others not felt pity for me and chopstick-fed me.
Honorable mention: tea. Especially milk tea. Especially matcha milk tea.
This post is getting too long for the limited attention span of my readers, so it will have to be continued…
I headed out on my first trip to China for work. This was my first flight on a 787 Dreamliner (very nice!) and my first trip to China (very far!) and the longest I have been away from my dear beautiful family (very hard!).
My first impressions of the city are great. Very modern, clean, traffic is not insane. Great roads, unbelievable skyline. Excellent subway.
We stayed at the very nice Onehome Art Hotel which had everything from fake clouds, elevator music in every hallway, lots of art, a glorious Chinese breakfast buffet…
I took a quick trip and attended the presentation of Thelma Sandler’s new book: “Anclas para la Memoria” (“Anchors for Memory”); a compendium of scripts for theater written by Mexican writer Thelma Sandler.
The presentation was at Centro Cultural Plaza Fátima, where around 200 spectators gathered to see dramatic reading of several of the plays included in the book. It was a very nice event. I highly recommend buying the book.
Disclaimer: Author is my mom. But I paid for my copy of the book in full.