The First Post.

Trip Start Apr 08, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of China  , Zhejiang,
Friday, April 22, 2011

Hi Everyone and welcome!!

It's been almost two weeks since I got here and I've been very busy having lots of fun!! Two days after arriving here Dave and I were joined by Dani and Emma, two very good friends of ours from Aberdeen who are here for a 2-week holiday. Due to Dave's work commitments we had to head back to Ningbo that same night and the next 5 days were spent in a rotating drunk-hungover limbo. Ningbo doesn't really have a big tourism pull - there's a few temples outside of town but even those I only found out about after an extensive internet research. There's no tourist information office and I haven't even managed to find a city map in English hence Dani and Emma's time here came down to a lot of eating, drinking and shopping. One of the shopping highlights was going to the big Tesco in town which is so far removed from Tesco in the UK I don't know why it carries the name. In fact, supermarkets are very far removed from what we in the West consider a supermarket - yes, they carry all your meat, veg, packaged goods, etc but furthermore they are, I guess, cleaner, better lit and hence more expensive wet markets. So, you can get your live chickens and ducks, choose your fish and flapping eels out of an aquarium, get your pig trotters cut the way you like it, purchase freshly steamed dumplings and rice buns and basically buy any prepared (Asian) accoutrements you can think of. And there's tasting stations everywhere which is great for us unknowing foreigners that just want to try before committing to buying what looks like donkey balls. (P.S. and most things, despite what they looks like, are delicious!)

Speaking of donkey balls, we did in fact have donkey one night. I think it was cured because it was served cold and had the texture of ham. Taste-wise it was somewhere between corned beef and beef tongue and I reckon if you had it on a sandwich with a bit of pickle it would be "velly delicious" as they say here. Other strange foods that were tried and savoured: chicken feet, bull frog, duck brain and pig trotters. None were particularly bad except the pig trotters which were just like eating fat, albeit very tasty fat. Oh and actually, Dave buys these duck eggs that have been boiled in salt water and are then individually vacuum-packed and even though he claims that they grow on you I could only manage the tiniest morsel which still made me want to hurl.

Then last weekend we went to the Shanghai F1. It was pretty amazing. Dave's work colleague, James, had organised a people carrier to take us and about 15 other work colleagues up to Shanghai and he got a really good deal on a super swish hotel for all of us to stay in. So we all drove up on Saturday to watch the qualifying race and we were further joined by Nadia and Bowman, a couple we know from Scotland and who now live and teach in South Korea. They jetted in for two days and it was weird how normal it felt to be reunited on the other side of the planet. Partying is easy when you’re amongst friends!! After starting on the beers at the qualifiers, we had an amazing Peking Duck dinner and then even managed to find a small hole-in-the-wall nightclub that played electro music and as said before: Much fun was had!

Surprisingly we were all relatively fresh the next day so we were able to start the whole process again. Our seats the F1 were really good. James had been the year before so had been able to suss out which stand would be good. We were sitting at the end of a very long straight so we got to see the cars at their maximum speed before slowing down for a hairpin turn to our left (also a good spot for overtaking and crashes), picking up speed again for about 300m before turning into the Grand Stand or the Pit.

We had a good mojito pub crawl in the evening and ended the weekend with an attempted all-nighter in the hotel wanting to send off Nadia and Bowman who were leaving for the airport at 5:30am. Dave and I stayed on in Shanghai until Tuesday night doing a bit of sight-seeing with Emma and Dani. We left the two of them in Shanghai while we’ve gone back to Ningbo so Dave can do a bit of work (you know, that old chestnut!) and I had a sort of job interview on Wednesday but more on that later!!

But we’re off to Shanghai tonight once Dave’s finished his seminar for Dani and Emma’s last night here in the Middle Kingdom.

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thalien on

aaarghhhh how exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can't wait to hear more

Amandine AZZOPARDI on

that makes me feel more excited to join you my girl ;)
Can't wait your second episode

Carolyn Robinson on

Sounds like you guys are having a terrible time out there!!!! Loved reading your blog, what a blast!

Take care xx

miravakily on

haha, I know!! Life is good!!

hey carolyn, as your learning mandarin do you have a good self-help book/dvd/cd you could recommend?

Emma on

Aww Mira, we are missing u guys and Chinese shenanigans!! Hope you guys have recovered. Speak to u guys soon I hope. xx

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