Monday, March 18, 2013

Afternoon Jaunt

Apologizing for the following:
- Late update (I've been busy with school and travelling)
- The poor quality photos (I really shouldn't be blogging but rather than editing my camera photos, I'm using ones shot from my iPhone.  They're not outstanding but not terrible either)
- Mentioning my weekend trip to the mountains but not posting about it yet (I feel obliged to work chronologically)
- Not returning blog comments in a timely manner and/or being a decent human being and returning phone calls and e-mails ~ I promise I really adore you all.

Anyways, on Tuesdays I only have Chinese class in the morning, so I like to have lunch and then set out exploring a bit in the afternoon if the weather's cooperating.  Kat and I have the same schedule and we decided to visit Jing'An Temple in the middle of Shanghai.  It's a Buddhist shrine with over 780 years of history, though renovated in the 1980's because of a fire.  Another fine example of antiquity co-existing with modernity.  Although the temple is on one of the main metro lines (2), this monument was a bit more tranquil than other destinations.  Incense wafted through every hallway; murmured chanting came from private, screened rooms; burning prayer sticks sizzled from every corner; tinking coins and clattering bells heard from the giant Ming Dynasty bell in the center of the temple square.  I dabbled a bit in Buddhism last semester, and although I didn't partake in any rituals hailing the many Bodhisattvas, I could sense the spiritual reverence.

Then, Kat and I found a Western-style cafe on the other side of the temple.  And ordered cheesecake.  Not surprised?  Neither am I.  As much as Chinese food tantalizes my taste buds, being abroad occasionally makes you miss the familiar eating habits of home.  Cheesecake is the only dessert I will devour without abandon -- I have no further explanation.  Mine was a slice of maple kumquat, which really translated to a fruit cake with  a cheesecake topping.  Not too bad though, and I'm not sorry I ordered it..!
Shanghai is special because as one of the most cosmopolitan and economically-developed cores of China, it presents a fusion of cuisines around the world.  So when those ex-pat cravings for relatively bland 'American' food hit, we can find it a few metro stops away in the ritzier parts of the city.  The Shanghai Brewery is becoming one of the favorite hangouts for the CIEE students, encompassing the micro-brewery ambiance that many of us enjoy.  Not only do cocktail and craft brew happy hours start at 2 PM (4 PM on holidays, rough right?), but they serve up juicy, thick burgers and fries, and it's possible to enjoy all of this on their spacious street-side patio in the heart of the French Concession.

And finally, sometimes it's worth just looking down.  The dog shit, litter, saliva and other debris are never savory, yet every now and then the city presents something mundanel beautiful.  I have to say that water pipes even look better in Chinese characters.

Listening: "I Follow Rivers" by Lykke Li.  I would be so inexplicably happy if she decides to come to Shanghai before June.


Allison said...

I love your shoes in that last picture - and am glad that you look down despite all the dog shit to share such a gorgeous picture with us!
Ugh, Chinese desserts are lacking. I missed sugar so much while I was there - though their popsicles kick the ass of ones here, especially the ones with fruit inside :) These pictures are awesome and I'm just impressed that you take the time to blog and share with us during your crazy schedule! You're a champ, girl - don't worry or make apologies for anything else. So happy you're seeing and doing so much and am so proud of all your hard work! You're the best, xox

A Normandy kitchen said...

The cheesecake made me smile. Still liking the pictures/views (even if you aren't happy!) and it's good to see you are studying hard also! I have to agree with you on the water pipe cover - a thing of beauty! Bonne continuation!