shanghai up high

The well-known skyline
The well-known skyline

Shanghai has many skyscrapers, everywhere you walk it seems that the little traditional Shanghainese blocks (with the before mentioned Lilongs) are being torn down and big ones pop up in their place. This is sad, but it’s also impressive to see

My brother Henjo took us to two Hyatt hotels in Pu Dong, which is the right side of the river from Henjo’s house, where we can check out the view without paying entrance fee and check out the two hotels while we are at it.

The atrium typical for a Hyatt hotel
The atrium typical for a Hyatt hotel
The view from the Hyatt
The view from the Hyatt

The second largest building in the world – besides the gigantic one in Dubai – is being built in Shanghai and this is what it looks like at the moment:

Shanghai tower
Shanghai tower

The Chinese seem to be able to pop buildings out of the ground like it means nothing.

thanks for the puppy

Selma, our friend Mina and I were walking down the street on the way to the Bund at night to look at the view. On the way we passed a labrador puppy, I asked Mina if she could ask the owner if it would be ok for me to pet the puppy, since the Chinese generally don’t like strangers coming up to them and she asked for me and I played with the dog. Eventually the man asks me in Chinese if I would like to have the puppy which Mina translated for me. Have the puppy?! I replied that I don’t live here permanently, but Mina’s response was that she would want to have the puppy. The man said the puppy pees and poops inside, we think he didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he bought the puppy. So eventually it wasn’t the three of us walking to the Bund for the view, but the four of us. His temporary name is Bruno and he is the cutest thing ever.

Does anyone have an idea for a name?

Suddenly Mommy
Suddenly Mommy

Baby Bruno was sleepy
Baby Bruno was sleepy

For all of you worried if he has a safe home: Mina lives with her father and he is home 24/7 and he loves dogs. Mina is taking him to the vet today to see if he needs any shots, etc. Mina was already acting like a puppy mama from the get-go.

Only in China.

rainy day

It was a rainy day here in Shanghai yesterday and I didn’t bring an umbrella because I generally don’t mind the rain too much, but while I was crossing the road near the subway in Pudong a Chinese girl stood beside me to share her umbrella with me while we crossed the road. We couldn’t converse at all, but a simple xiexie (pronounce sje-sje, which means thank you) and a mutually genuine smile sufficed.

A couple of hours later I was walking to the Power Plant of Art where there is an Andy Warhol exhibit and a sweet gentleman could tell that I was confused as to which way to go after exiting the subway station. I still didn’t have an umbrella, so he walked me to the museum all the while sharing his umbrella with me while we chatted away in English, and when we arrived he eventually gave me his umbrella for me to keep.

The locals are generously kind towards us laowais.

sunny day

I write this while soaking up some rays on a terrace near my Shanghai home. Granted, it is pretty hot, but I like this temperature and while I sit here I see passersby with umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun with fans to cool themselves while wearing mouth caps to protect themselves from the polluted air. The waitress just walked over to remind me that it’s hot and I should sit in the shade, I told her that I like the sun to which she replied with a giggle.


Lilong means alleyway. Shanghai alleyways are so much fun. Whenever you walk around you just pop into one and you never know what to expect – sometimes there is a little cafe, other times a barber shop, or a clothing boutique, there could be little children playing or elder men playing some kind of card game while smoking cigarettes with a crowd standing around them and other times you can find another little alleyway leading to another to another. They generally have laundry drying on clothes lines, which I find adds to the attractiveness of them.

The alleyways where the more wealthy people live generally have a front door, but also a back door which leads to a tiny little space attached to their home where the nanny or maid lives.

Here are some of them and I’m sure I’ll show you some more later.

drinking the tea ceremoniously

My brother has been enjoying his tea. Last week he took me to meet his friend Brian from New Zealand who is an avid tea drinker and he has taught Henjo a thing or two about drinking the tea. We held a tea ceremony in his beautiful home on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.

Henjo does really take this seriously.
Henjo does really take this seriously.

I will try and explain how they drink the tea in China and Taiwan. First of all there is one person who will perform the ceremony, you can switch turns later, as we did; Brian started and Henjo followed after which I got to try a couple of times, but generally one person is the master the complete ceremony.

The first step the ceremony master takes is to boil the water in the bigger sized pot on an electrical heater that is located next to the table where the ceremony is performed, preferably a tad out of sight since it doesn’t look as nice as all of the fragile china. While the water boils you carefully add the dried tea leaves to the smallest sized tea pot without breaking the leaves. The smallest teapot is used to pour the tea into the tiny cups, and once the water boils you add this water to the tea leaves in the small pot.

After the first batch of tea is poured into the tiny little tea cups, you discard the water from the little cups into a separate container. This first pouring made the tiny glasses hot and ready to go for round one of ceremoniously drinking the tea.

Tea from 2011.
Brian scraping off some tea which has aged for over two years.

There are usually about 7-15 rounds of tea from one batch of leaves, and the entire ceremony can go on for hours.

I must say at first I assumed a tea ceremony would just consist of some people sitting around pouring and drinking some tea, but when we were doing this together and Brian was pouring the tea so beautifully and calm I could really tell that there was a certain art and zen to this way of drinking tea and I found it quite appropriate for the mindfulness quest that I am currently on. Brian taught me much about the subject and the art of tea drinking on this day and he told me interesting stories about the subject of tea from when he was living in Taiwan; this is where he became interested in tea and the art of drinking it in the Taiwanese way.

In conclusion, the ceremony of drinking tea here in Asia with all of the tiny and fragile china and tea delicacies is nothing short of an art form.

turmeric & ginger tea

Ginger, turmeric, triphala and cinnamon
Ginger, turmeric, triphala and cinnamon

Recently I have been drinking this delicious concoction for breakfast which is easy to make.

The main ingredient is almond milk*, but you can use soy milk, coconut milk or dairy milk if you prefer.

1 cup of the milk of your choice in a pan and heat on a low heat
1 inch of ginger root – cut into small bits and add to a pan
2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of Triphala (optional, as it might be impossible to find)
Additional herbs that are nice to add: cardamom or clove

Once the mixture has been simmering on low heat for about 10 minutes you can pour it into your cup and add a spoon of honey/agave/stevia. If you like you can strain the pieces of ginger, but I like to leave them and eat a couple of the pieces and with the leftover pieces I will make more tea afterwards.

* How to make your own almond milk:
Soak almonds overnight
If the almonds have the brown skin around them preferably remove this skin
Blend the soaked almonds in a blender
Use a cheesecloth to let the liquid from the almonds soak into a bowl
The liquid is your almond milk

You can also use the left over pieces of almond as almond meal for bread or muffins by letting them dry for at least a day, they’re packed with fibers and it’s a waste to toss out.