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Location: Penang, Malaysia

December 04, 2005

Sunday Shanghai

Being a stranger to this city of 20 million population, we woke up to our excitement on Sunday morning. Our de facto team lead, who was an excellent guy, told us that eating the xiao long bao (小籠包) was definitely something that we should not miss at all. So we headed to a place called Yu Yuan (豫园), and there is where the infamous Nanxiang Mantou Dian (南翔馒头店) is situated. We were told that this shop is the birth place of xiao long bao. On the ground floor, people is lining up in a long queue for xiao long bao to "take away". Next to it, there was a group of people in their 60's or 70's performing Chinese opera singing. Quite a "matching" environment next to the serene man-made lake with a number of geese.

We proceeded to the first floor and was told that it was full. Naturally, we continue to climbed up to the 2nd floor. We couldn't find any empty table. So, we ended up sharing table with another 2 couples who were already sharing the table. Thinking of trying out everything, we ordered the "breakfast set" that cost each of us 50 yuan. Not bad at all, both the price and the taste. When we told people later, we learned that each floor charges a different "price structure" with the highest floor commanding a premium price. Interesting.

Xiao long bao by itself is interesting as well. It is actually a dumpling made to shape like a bao. The skin is something like thick wanton skin with smooth texture. Eating it is interesting as well. Since soup is also wrapped together, you can't just eat it like you eat normal dim sum. Put the xiao long bao on the spoon, eat of the "nipple", and suck out the soup. Only then you eat the xia long bao. You have to try it yourself!

After our stomachs were full, it was time to walk around for sightseeing. However, it just fascinated me that some people were not interested to see the yu yuan itself. I heard there is a Dragon Wall, and other interesting stuffs as well. When it comes to the Cheng Huang Miao (城隍庙), again there were people who said "What? You need to pay money to pray?". Hey, come on. This is not actually a place for praying. This temple is something like a "museum". We walked and walked and walked. I tried the bing tang hu lu (冰糖葫芦) from the street. OK, now I know the taste of it. The one with hawthorn fruit is the original version. There are also bing tang hu lu made from strawberries, peach, and even kiwi.

After this, the exploration of Shanghai was a torture to me. Being in a "semi-sick" condition, walking around the town was not really a conscious activity. I followed our great leader in every moves. First of all, I was not having a good rest the night before. I didn't have any fever or running nose. However, when it came to sneezing, my whole body ached. Kind of funny.

My idea of sightseeing is to visit historical places and tourist spots. There is a garden when once the Japanese put up a notice board that "Chinese and dogs are not allowed". Places like this are worth the visit. There are some people whom, in my opinion, should stay in the hotel room. These are people who go from one shopping mall to another looking for Adidas and Nike shoes, and Nine West handbag.

I am not saying that those are fake goods. In a country where there are so many counterfeit goods, go and grab some. Not visiting all the shopping complexes one after another. After finding out that the price was outrageous, these people sweared "kiong kan lar...", "chibai, kui ka lan anekuan", "pukimak", "ho lang kan", "kannineh...", and other mantras as well. Beh tahan... but I have to follow the group.

The Sunday morning in Shanghai is unusually quiet. This is due to the fact that people "go all out" on Saturday night. So, people are sleeping through the nice morning to regain the vital energy.

Lunch was nice. Had Sichuan style dishes at the 翘江南 restaurant inside the Times Square. Yes, the Times Square where they shot the Shoalin Soccer movie. This was one of the best moment where there were good food and you don't have to walk like shit from buildings to buildings without doing anything "productive".

The afternoon continues with the same routines, surveying prices from one place to another for Adidas shoes. Saw Parkson there. Yes, this is the Malaysian owned Parkson. Finally, we reached the Xiangyang Road (襄阳路) market. This is the place where people are selling designer goods at a cheap price. Of course, they are fakes. However, let's think about it, these things are not necessary fakes. It could be coming out from the same factory. For example, the factory might product 100,000 Samsonite bags and shipped them to US, and the same factory works overtime and makes another 100,000 "illegally" and distributes them to Xiangyang Road market. Most of the customers are lao wai (老外), which means foreigners (referring to Caucasians).

Finally, we took the MRT back to the hotel. Feeling too exhausted, all of us slept through the night without having dinner. The moral of the story? Find the right group. Otherwise, go on your own.


Blogger Penang Podcast said...

hi..you have a nice blog and hope you can keep it up... I would like to inform you that I have put your blog link in my blogger page.. hope you don't mind...

12:23 PM  

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