The first question we are all asking ourselves: Is Chinese food in China the same as Chinese food in America? The answer: Not really.
The second question we are all asking ourselves: Where in the world are Amber and David actually located as this blog post is being written? The answer: Germany (sorry, we are over 2 months behind but will catch up soon!)
LEAVING SOUTHEAST ASIA
After three beautiful months traveling Southeast Asia, we set off for China. Traveling in Southeast Asia was a magical experience and we will miss the warmth and kindness of the people there. One thing we will not miss however, is the heat. We fly out of Phnom Penh, Cambodia as the temperatures are reaching 100+ F on a daily basis. We welcome the cooler temperatures of China in spring (note: as stated above, we are two months behind as this blog is posted 🙂 )
We land in Shanghai just after midnight and hop in a cab straight to our good friend Yuval’s apartment. While still not American prices, we are shocked that our cab ride is almost 35 USD. Coming from Cambodia where we scoffed at paying $4 for a cab, it seemed exorbitant! After having Yuval speak to the cab driver in Mandarin on the phone (the driver spoke nor read any English), we sped to Yuval’s apartment in one of the fastest and most reckless cabs I have ever been in.
Yuval was a wonderful host (as were his other two roommates) and introduced us to some incredible food.
- Dumplings: We had both traditional Shanghai style soup dumplings as well as regular dumplings from two of Yuval’s (and trip advisors) favorite places. Yang’s and the other place with the Chinese characters…
- Dim Sum: I don’t remember the name but it was the best dim sum I have ever had. We went there twice it was so good.
- Vegetarian Shanghainese food: hard to describe but our favorite was the marinated, smoked dates
- Century eggs: They are “made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months.” They have a black yolk and greenish exterior and are very salty.
- Warm water: something that was really nice in China (that we thought was weird at first) is that restaurants serve warm water on the table – not cold, not hot, just warm. It took getting used to but then Amber and I really liked it!
So, back to the question of American Chinese food vs. actual Chinese food: We had dishes that resembled Chinese food we knew, but there is no such thing as General Tso’s chicken or getting “chicken with cashew nuts” or any of the gloppy MSG filled dishes (at least that we saw). If anything, American chinese food is more similar to Hong Kong style Chinese – we were told.
MADE IN CHINA
For once we were “buying local” when we got tailor made clothes in China! We went to Yuval’s guy. I got a custom tailored suit and 3 tailored shirts for $130. I also got some fresh red Feiyue shoes for $10. These were the first clothes I bought on this trip and it was nice to have some sneakers after just wearing hiking shoes for 3 months.
O.M.G. I knew East Asians loved their karaoke but wow. On Saturday night, we headed to K Party, a multi story building where the interior resembled a fancy club but it was for karaoke! It was filled with private rooms for singers to recreate American and Chinese tunes. Unfortunately, I was sick this evening and didn’t want to go in the first place. I rallied and we arrived at 11pm. 3 hours later…
SITES AND CULTURE
We did some touristy stuff and walked through Nanjing Road and saw the crazy tall buildings in the financial center but the main thing for us was enjoying the comforts of a friend’s home after spending the last few months in hostels and volunteer sites in the SE Asian heat.