Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chinese tea, KFC and Japanese food

Hello again!  I hope this post finds you all doing well.  I’d like to thank everyone who commented the last go around, it made me feel a little more confident in myself!  We really started to get into the swing of things this last week, at least as much as we can in a foreign country!  This post covers everything from KTV (karaoke), tea houses, old people, amazing food, and 4am football games.

Last Thursday we were officially greeted to Shanghai Jiaotong University at a formal dinner.  This was honestly the first time that my tastes have been challenged.  We had cold duck, jellyfish, bean paste desert, cuttlefish, and a multitude of other interesting dishes.  I left with a full stomach, but it was full of odd things for sure.  Apparently there was a bit of a mix up and we were put in the same room as a rambunctious group with only wicker screens to “divide” us.  We could easily see and hear them though this screens though.  They were having chugging contests with full glass of wine and other forms of alcohol and they also had karaoke going which turned out to be painful for us.  For whatever reason, the restaurant was unable to keep the microphone from squealing every 30 seconds.  I thought my head would explode.  It was later explained to us that this was an employee only dinner to celebrate the previous year.  Talk about a company party…

After this dinner we were taken to a different area where we took part in KTV, or for those of you not familiar with Chinese terminology…karaoke.  None of us really knew what to think when we were told that we were going to a karaoke club after dinner, but we decided we would go a long with it.  It turned out to be rooms of varying size with a laser show, tv, microphones, and touch screen for song selection.  This actually turned out to be a really fun time since we got to hang out and sing with our T.A.s and each other.

I had a really interesting run in with an older gentleman last weekend.  I was in the dining court eating lunch at the time.  I had my head down in my bowl in an attempt to prevent the noodles from my soup flicking the delicious concoction all over myself.  This has been a meal that I’ve spent a long time mastering.  After I got some noodles into my mouth, I immediately checked my jacket to make sure I didn’t get anything on myself.  Then I looked up and was shocked to see this old guy staring at me from about three feet away.  I’ve gotten used to people staring, but they generally keep their distance.  Fortunately this guy knew English and just wanted to chat a little.  He was absolutely thrilled to hear that there were 30 of us from America studying at the university.

On Sunday a group of use decided to go to an all-you-can eat Japanese restaurant for someone’s birthday.  It’s the most expensive meal I’ve had here, but it was still only about $26.  This got us all the food we could eat as quickly the chef could prepare it.  We had some of the finest cuts of beef and lamb that I’ve ever had.  We stayed as long as we could manage and when we left I was by far the most content I’ve been on this trip.  For the next day or so I couldn’t even imagine eating anything more.  Unfortunately the next day we had a formal lunch for our culture class which resulted in me eating even more.  Then, sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, 7 of the 11 of us that went to the Japanese place went down with some sort of stomach bug.  Thankfully, I didn’t get the worst of it and by now we’re pretty much back to normal.

We have also gone on a couple field trips with our Chinese culture course.  We went to a tea house where we were able to snack on some interesting fruits and nuts that were provided and order some tea that no one seemed to really enjoy.  I only heard of one person ordering something that was enjoyed by everyone in their group.  We also got to go to the Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts.  This was a really neat place to go, they had everything from needlework to ivory carvings.  Some of the things were priceless while others could be bought from $7 to $60,000.  It was really interesting because we got to meet a lot of the artists while they were working. 

Well that’s all for now.  I know it’s still kinda long, but there’s so much going on here that I wanted to write about.  I also have a good friend from back home wondering why he hasn’t been included yet.  Ben Hebbe, this is for you!  Just follow the link.