Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yu Gardens and Duck Tongue

Dear Friends,

My husband, I do believe, got my blog back up and running.  And I have so much to tell you.  I have seen the chicken again, so it hasn't been dinner.  Yet (I fear for the chicken).  This last weekend was full of adventures.  The first was a company dinner held by Mr. Xie at the Green Porch Restaurant in Yuyuan (sometimes just called yu) gardens.  Scotty was working and was planning to meet us there.  So the kids and I were on our own.  No problem, I had the address in Chinese characters for the taxi driver.  Unfortunately, he couldn't get us inside the gardens, so we had to hike.  Gardens is a term I would use lightly.  It's a big tourist trap where all sorts of things are sold.  Little shops line the inside of the buildings ranging from cheap stuffed animals to starbucks to pearl stores.  And it's totally decked out in Chinese new year decorations and it is by far my new favorite place.  It is fantastic!!!!!

After a little bit of stress and a lot of distraction, we found the restaurant.  Technically, I had to call Scott and he came to find us.  The dinner was a typical Shanghai New Years dinner with 7 locals and 5 expats.  We tried tofu with crab meat, bamboo with bok choy,  Shanghai duck, "lions head" soup (pork meat ball in broth), dumplings, rice dumplings with veggies, and I'm sure I'm missing some things. And all with chop sticks. But, Quint of all people, decided that he would try duck tongue.  That's right.  Pickled duck tongue.  It looks just like if the Aflac duck opened it's mouth and its tongue fell out.  Now, if you are weak in constitution, skip to the next paragraph.  I told Q that I would also taste it if he was going to.  So I held it up for him to eat and he took a huge bite.  I don'k know what he was thinking.  He got the tip to the middle with cartilage and ridges and tastebuds and everything.  Ewwwwwwwwwwww.  The whole table went dead quiet as we all watched.  Now, Quint throws up easily, and as soon as I started to see him lurch, I threw my glass of Tsing Tao beer at him and told him to down it.  Great mothering technique.  But it worked, he didn't hurl, and everyone cheered.  I meanwhile took a small little nibble and have decided, as my mother in law has taught my children to say, I wouldn't care for any more, thank you.  

The next day, Lauren and the girl scout troop were to go to the Migrant school to give out presents to the children of the migrant working community.  This town is filled with migrant workers, so I am sure this is one of many.  It was a rainy icky cold day, but the girls were in good spirits.  Lauren and I rode with our new friends, Yawen and her daughters, Sophia and Dora.  Yawen drives herself in this city.  Oh she is so brave and my new hero.  

The migrant school is in an area that reminds me of what we imagine as the ghetto.  As we walked down the ally to the school past the knocked down buildings, we were able to peer into some of the living quarters.  Literally for a family of 4, one bed, which they were sitting on to eat their dinner.  The stove was arms length away.  All cinderblock with the only outdoor view was when the door was open.  

The "school" was one room about the size of our living room.  But the people in the community and the kids were very friendly.  We made Chinese New Year decorations.  I sat at a table with 6 kids from the school.  After about 5 min we were communicating fine.  They got a kick out of my name being Sue.  Later, Q told me that's because it mean poop in Chinese, but I think he's wrong.  I couldn't find that translation anywhere.  The kids enjoyed their toys very much.  We had snacks together too.  The Scouts ate Oreo's and thought that the rice cookies were gross (I wouldn't care for any more of those either) and the kids from the school thought the Oreo's were gross and would rather eat the rice cookies.  Interestingly, all the students instinctively took the top off of the Oreo, even though we were told that they'd never eaten them before.  By the time we were through, we were wet and cold.  On the way back to the cars, we saw a chicken that was not as lucky as our neighborhood chicken.  It was getting ready to be dinner.  But inside it were eggs.  I didn't know whether to be fascinated by this or grossed out.  Everyone else was grossed out.  Our girls got quite an education that day.  

On Sunday, we decided we would go and find the Bachmann train store here in Shanghai.  We picked the location that was closest to a metro station, put the map in our phones and headed out.  After walking in the rain for about 2 km with by now crabby children we arrived at our destination, and it was closed.  Not closed as in closed because it was Sunday, closed and moved to an address that was written in Chinese.  Scott tried to take a picture of it and translate thru an app.  That didn't work.  He then emailed all of his Chinese colleagues asking for them to translate.  That didn't work.  I tried to find someone who spoke english.  Didn't work.  So finally I flagged down a cab and asked him to take us to the new address on the sign using my best charades moves.  He laughed and drove us two streets over and one street down.  At least he didn't charge us.  And low and behold…….still no train store.  Just when we were about to give up, I took the kids across the street to the little instrument store to get them out of the rain and away from Scott, who by now is using a language all his own, and yet still something the kids shouldn't be hearing.  The lady at the store started to speak to us in English.  I gave her my phone and the number to the store.  She got the address for us and hailed us a taxi and told the driver where to take us.  Woohooo.  Once again confirming my belief that Chinese people are the most patient and so nice.  After dropping a pretty penny at the train store (Q's favorite place btw) we went home.  Then to Ikea, because apparently I can't go 5 days without going there.  

The next post will tell you all about my Ayi experience. But I must sign off.  I'm exhausted.  
Love to you all


  1. It is so great to hear the adventures and know that your spirits are good and you're enjoying the early days of being there. We really miss you but these postings are so terrific to read - thank you and keep them going, girl!

  2. Thanks for the new post! Great reading with much laughter. I'll be so interested in your culinary abilities when you return. Duck tongue, indeed!

  3. Duck Tongue...mmm..Good for Q! Phebe wanted to know if it was like sushi....