Entries from November 2008 ↓

My Family = Awesome!

I’ve got the bestest fam’a'lam ever!! Some folks are over here for a visit, and we’re having a GRAND time!  I love em, love em, love em!!!  Stay tuned for flicks n things….

. . don’t burn the day. .

Be Thankful

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been sooo excited for Thanksgiving!  It’s been a quasi-rough week for me, and now I’m just a little over an hour away till I break out from school and congregate with a few American comrades in a feast we’ve been talking about all week long! This would be my 2nd Thanksgiving abroad. The first was back in 2000-UK style. Let me just sum it up by saying: Fish n’ Chips on Thanksgiving with not-so-fantastic company was very UNcool.

And surely, there are restaurants here that would probably allow us to eat actual turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, etc.  for some renminbi dolla hollas, but nope! We’re opting for a bucket from the Colonel and making our own side dishes for our “family away from family” Thanksgiving Dinner! I can NOT wait to eat REAL mashed potatoes!! (Of course, I’ll be taking flicks to share with ya’ll…stay tuned…)

Anyhoots, before I go off on more of a tangent… in my morning commute, I took in (ritual) the gigantic, all-powerful, beautiful red-orange ellipse of light here in the Far East; It REALLY is something to marvel at. It is true, the sun is different in this here distant lands from that of the Western world. One of these days, I’ll have to snap a shot to share…

But OOOOKKKK.. I detoured a bit again. Sorry!  So in my commute, I turned on the ipod and scrolled through for a befitting tune to jumpstart my morning… and it was perfect! So, now I share a goodie:

The message is simple: “JUST BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU’VE GOT.”

I AM TRULY THANKFUL FOR LIFE, BELIEF AND SUPPORT OF FAMILY & FRIENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES.

“Be Thankful” by William DeVaughn (or you may be familiar with covers by Omar and/or Massive Attck) – Listen & Enjoy!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! xoxo!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Massachusetts’ Dunkin’ Donuts Opens Shop in Shanghai

Yep… 1st of 100 franchise locations in the next decade, opened just yesterday…

Friends at Reuters say:

Dunkin’s Shanghai shops will feature — in addition to its regular fare — items tailored for local tastes including honeydew melon doughnuts and mochi rings, which are similar to doughnuts but are made with rice flour.

Address:

546 Fuzhou Lu, near Hubei Lu
福州路546号, 近湖北路

Not that I’m a huge donut-person, but I will probably check this out at some point to compare tastings, as well as get my donut-fix, when deemed necessary. And ummm mochi rings?!?? … Really??!!!?? Of course, I’ll let ya’ll know how this all goes down when I do. But I’m proud of the Massachusetts’-based company!! :-)   Even though, they’ve got a bit ways to go behind the Seattle brand; Starbucks is a beast!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Hai’s Got The Jazz

Tonight…

One of my faves – American jazz pianist, Bob James who recently recorded his album, “Angels of Shanghai,” is here in town with a number of local Shanghai Jazz community instrumentalists. For those who don’t know – Bob James is one of the major players who brought fusion jazz to the mainstream in the 70s, and is also known as one of the most sampled jazz artists in hip hop history – sampled by RUN DMC, Missy Elliot, L.L. Cool J., Beastie Boys, and Common among others.

Click Here to DOWNLOAD/LISTEN to one of my favorite melodies: “Feel Like Making Love.” (Roberta Flack first recorded this Grammy-nominated, Billboard hit in 1974, and D’Angelo did a re-do for his 2000 album, Voodoo.)  Enjoy!!

Also, soon coming to the ‘Hai are Sweden’s Jens Lekman and Brooklyn native, Jose James

Not bad, Shanghai, not bad!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Flashback Friday: I Reminisce

For some reason, this song has been stuck in my head…. so I share… Enjoy!… MISS YA’LL!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Return of The Renaissance

i Dig!  (Thank you, Eric!!)

I don’t have much time to type up a whole review for this, so feel free to read Pitchfork’s for the lowdown. I WILL say though, I’m happy to be a fortunate owner of the never-released 2002′s Kamaal The Abstract… thanks to my beloved Arista Internship Days!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Weekend Amongst “Tranquil Waves”- Zhejiang Province: Ningbo

A bit of a random destination, but I went along with it. Last weekend, the school offered staffers a mini-trip – an approximately 4-hour ride out of Shanghai to seaport-city, Ningbo (means, “Tranquil Waves”).

I was one of two foreign teachers who tagged along on this trip, so I relied on my fellow local colleagues in my (international) department (who speak English) to translate most of what was going on!

Friday, November 7

We hit the road, taking the World’s Longest Bridge route — the $1.54 billion dollar Hangzhou Bay Bridge, recently built to connect Shanghai to the industrial city of Ningbo — cutting the distance between them from about 400 km to just 80 km.  Too bad, it was dark and rainy, making it difficult to see anything!  And then on the way back to Shanghai on Sunday, I fell asleep mid-ride…so technically, I didn’t get to really experience the bridge… but! here’s what it supposedly looks like….

We then checked into our hotel, which was fabulous….and bed was magnificent!!! It reminded of how much I miss my 1000 thread count sheets and awesome comforters at home!  But seriously, this bed was amazingly comfortable! I wish I could’ve packed it up with my return to Shanghai.  (Generally, beds in China are hard, even though, fortunately mine isn’t too too bad here…I would’ve traded it in for this hotel bed.)  Soooo if ever in Ningbo, I do recommend the Haijui Wangfu Hotel. Plus, it is a brand new hotel, service is great and provides a hearty breakfast in the morning!

Saturday, November 8

We headed out to some rainforest/canyon/valley spot… Why so vague? …Because I cannot recall the name of it; I was told a few times in Mandarin, but of course that just went in one ear and out the other. (I know, so bad.. but ah well.)  It was drizzling rain that day, and typically that sets me in a not so chipper mood, however this day was an exception as since it made the valley experience that more enjoyable… adding to the “natural” ambience… The water was so beautifully (and surprisingly) green! Check the flicks!

“Raindrops keep falling on my head”……. Ahhhhhhhh! Refreshing!!…….

The colleagues….

This sign is for a reason…

And with signs like the following, you can’t blame me for tuning in enough for it to enter one ear and exit the other…

Then night time… I was pleasantly surprised with this little city and its’ metropolitan’ess and general cleanliness as well!  (Cleaner than Shanghai for sure! But then again, Shanghai’s 18 Million population is incomparable to a “small” city as Ningbo of 2 Million!)

Sunday, November 9

Off to Dongqian Lake!

Yup, that’s some sort’ve fish…

A satellite. Quite random if you ask me…but I was told, this was a prop that Hong Kong actor, Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, etc.) used while filming on this lake.

And Ningbo is known for its seafood…

. . don’t burn the day. .

A Mother of an Evite!

Let’s get down to business.

I was reminded of why I chose to come over to this side of the world by way of an upcoming 4-week Winter Break! I’ve decided that I will spend this time conquering a good part of Southeast Asia…. and now, this is where YOU come into the picture, if you are so willing! ….(and I don’t see why not… you get to share travel experience with moi!!… Priceless!)

So……. COME JOIN ME!

We can meet up in one, or all of my stops!  For more info, direct your fingers to your email account and drop me a line… But here are the basics:

When: Mid January thru Early February

Where: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia

What: More do you need to know?

. . don’t burn the day. .

Wine & Staying Connected!

I know, pretty odd combo for a title! … But!…..

This weekend was totally awesome in that…..

A) It kick-started Friday night with a lovely wine and tapas affair at Enoteca with a random bunch of expats from all over the globe, gathered together by an Obama supporter who I had met at the Obama Party….and ended at Barbarossa where I met another DJ (this time from Amsterdam) who knows his music!  It was refreshing to hear some Jamie Cullum (“Frontin’” cover), Brand New Heavies (“Sometimes”), Jamiroquai and the likes. Basically NO Souldja boy!!  I’m working on getting some flicks from this night…

B) I actually had time to catch up with folks stateside!  From Boston to New York to Detroit to Atlanta to Dallas to Los Angeles, record-breaking for one weekend (at least for me in the 4 months I’ve been abroad)!….. various voice/video chat programs were put to great use!! Love ya’ll…and MISS ya’ll! But I gotta share with the masses a great new addition to the “stay connected” methods… Introducing Gmail Video/Voice Chat!  This was just released earlier this week to my fellow Gmail users; I had my first of a few sessions over the weekend and it totally rocks!  Almost even better than Skype quality…. and Skype and iChat are both pretty good as is.

Here’s a snapshot of my first video chat with Gmail …. I got to see LES streets in action… the very streets I had stomped on oh so many times. :-) Thanks Jeff for the snapshot tutorial!!

Hope to SEE more of ya’ll soon!

. . don’t burn the day. .

INNER MONGOLIA – Ningxia Province: Hohhot, Yinchuan, Zhongwei, Gobi Desert

OK, sooo this comes better late than never…I’m only a month and some “CHANGE” late.. ha!

Here’s my Inner Mongolia post!

Disclaimer: PLEASE EXCUSE MY HOT-MESS’NESS!!! You would be found looking crazy too, if backpacking in similar conditions!!

And here’s a mini convo that I had with my Dean before leaving for the trip:

Dean: Mimi, do you know what you are getting yourself into?

Me: Yes.

Dean: You won’t be staying in a hotel.

Me: Yeah, I know.

Dean: You won’t even be staying in a motel!

Me: Yes, I know this.

Dean: Just take care of yourself, ok?

Me: I’ll be fine!

And guess what! I DID DO JUST FINE!!

OK, so now I’m giving ya’ll two options:

First, for the lazy ones, I’ve uploaded my flicks onto a slideshow for ya’ll to just sit back and enjoy with little caption commentaries to give ya’ll the overall gist of my 8-day adventure. However, I must warn… the slideshow has hundreds of photos (of scenery, food, adventures, etc.. but ALL worth the patience….especially the desert flicks 3/4th way thru!!), so I advise enjoying the reel when you have a good 30 mintues to devote your attention to me. LOL (And you can glance below for a few selects…)

Second, for the “I’ve got all the time in the world for Mimi” ones, to enhance your experience with my wonderful slideshow,  I’ve typed up a little more detail about the in/outs of the days, to guide you through…. here’s a little day-by-day breakdown:

Sunday, September 28

  • Departed Shanghai and arrived in Hohhot at approximately 11AM.
  • Checked into our hostel, Anda Guesthouse and chilled in Hohhot, visiting temples and discovering some good eats……. This temple had Tibetan flags….hmmm/weird…

Monday, September 29

  • Hopped in a van for a 2.5 ride out to the grasslands where we would spend the next day and half.

Attempted cartwheel…


  • After a few minutes of walking and exploring the grasslands, I was a bonafide master of  “The Squat.”  Squatting became ever-so important throughout this trip, especially in the grasslands and desert as since bathrooms were non-existent. Ya gotta just find yourself a rock, bush, tree etc. dropped the pantalones and get down with it.  Baby wipes and tissue were vital and we had all stocked up in preparation for the trip, so all was good. I know, I know it is T.M.I., but I gotta let the truth be known. Afterall, that is why you are reading this, right?!

i squat.

  • For lunch, we were served dumplings, diced tomato and cucumber, coated with sprinkles of sugar (- a first for me).
  • The fun began in the late afternoon when we got on for a 3-hour horse riding session! I was of course, initially uneasy about the whole thing ala “what if my horse goes crazy on me.” And I guess my hesitation got to the ears of the horse that was picked for me, because as soon as I hopped on, my horse decided to move away from the  rest of the bunch!  I was saying to myself, “Why?!! Why me??!!”  Trying to shout “Whoaa!! Stop!!” was NOT effective. I finally learned the commands of Go / Stop / Fast etc. in their local dialect, in addition to realizing that my horses’ issue was that all he wanted to do was to be in the front; that is, to lead the pack. Once we bonded and I understood this, ALL of the riding was FANTASTIC!  Many had said that I went crazy with my commands and control of my horse…but all in a good way of course. LOL. I was just having a grand ol’ time! I LOVED IT!!

First though, I am a ninja!!……

Meet my horse….I named him, “Rocky.”…along with his buds… The horses, themselves weren’t really all too tall; sort’ve stunted.

Here I am, assuming my position and leading the pack….  Well, Rocky and I…. :-)

  • After our horse ride, we cleaned up and had ourselves a delicious chicken and potatoes meal.
  • Night time’s highlight involved night-tag with our headlights/flashlights all about the grassland, fire made of cow dung…..and seeing a gazillion stars shining oh so brightly!! I can’t remember the last time being able to look up in the middle of the night and seeing so many!  Big Dipper and all…. I even saw shooting stars!

Tuesday, September 30

  • Breakfast = Mongolian Bread/Dough thingy with beautiful sunrise!!

  • Then back in the van to return to Hohhot where we checked out more of the city.
  • Evening came and we hopped on an overnight sleeper bus to take us back to Yinchuan. It was my first time on a sleeper bus!  Not too bad of a ride as I slept most of the way…and it fit me just perfectly… I don’t know how tall people would deal, but that wasn’t my problem. LOL So this ride was stated to be 11 hours, but our crazy driver got us to our destination in about 9.5 hours.

Wednesday, October 1

  • Since we arrived early at approximately 4AM in Yinchuan versus the predicted 6AM, we bundled ourselves up, backpacks on and trooped our way 3km to the bus station that would take us to our next destination of Zhongwei. Once arriving at the bus station, we were prompted to find some eats and fed our bellies with each a bowl of noodles at 5AM. I recall feeling a bit of a hot mess.
  • 7:50AM – We hopped on the bus to head down to Zhongwei.
  • Upon arrival, we hopped in a tuk tuk to take us to the downtown area where we would just scope out dwelling locales. (All quite a different experience for me because I’m usually, one to have all things pre-planned all the way through when traveling, but this “on the spotness” all worked out too.)
  • After agreeing on a place to stay, we booked our 2-day camel trek through the Gobi Desert to take place the following day, then of course we grabbed some eats and checked out the city of Zhongwei… temples etc.

  • For dinner, we ventured into the Night Market and got ourselves a good size plate of noodles for about 70 cents USD!

Thursday, October 2

  • 9AM – We meet in the lobby and are taken for a little over an hour drive out towards the Gobi Desert. Again, I was a bit nervous at first, especially since I had heard that camels stank and really high and can run like maniacs if prompted to, to the point that there’s no chance in staying on, etc. etc. …. But all of this was nonsense. I LOVED THE CAMEL TREK!!  We rode for about 4 hours straight or so till we stopped for lunch break and decided to mess with sled on the incredible sand dunes. The desert itself was absolutely beautiful and clean. The weather was perfect in the day allowing us to not be too cold/uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, it got pretty hot; and despite the fact that I wrapped my face with a scarf for a good amount of the time, I managed to get a pretty good tan out of the day-trek.   Anyway, after our lunch break, we hopped on our camel friends and headed deeper into the sand. Don’t ask me towards what direction because I still have no clue.



  • Our camels were very well-behaved for the most part. They are trained “babies” of our guide…..my camel was soo chill, I nicknamed him “Cool Moe C.” They were no fuss, just doing their job-camels and didn’t smell at all! I’m so glad that I had prepared for the worst, to only be pleasantly surprised!
  • As evening approached, our camel guide staked out a spot that he thought was good for us to rest in for the night; We then, unloaded our camels, went off to gather wood and branches for our fire, brought it back to headquarters, pitched our tents and had a very impressive rice, chicken, veggies dinner that our camels were holding for us. The camels were dope!  They had all of blankets, food, equipment and all. Just awesome.
  • After a good pile of wood was gathered, tents pitched and bellies full….. I roamed some more to find nearby life (another group of trekkers on the other side of our dune — visiting from the UK) and made use of the sled some more. Our herder saw me talking talking to strangers so quickly yelled for me to return to base. HA!  But it was starting to get dark anyway and he was doing his job to make sure I wasn’t about to get lost nor get into any trouble…so he was forgiven.

I love the next couple of flicks…. The camel eventually got too close…

I’ve said it before…. I love sunsets!!……..

  • After sunset, we put on more layers and gathered around our campfire. Our guide whipped out some beers and a bottle of potent baijo (sp?!) and had us all playing rounds of paper-rock-scissors / losers drink a shot of baijo! This got us all warmed up REAL quick! But again….. the shield of stars above were spectacular! I saw more shooting stars :-)

Friday, October 3

  • We woke and found a nice little breakfast awaiting us. Our guide had started up a mini fire to boil water for us to make coffee/tea and sliced bread over the fire to make toast with jam!  Shortly after, we got on our camels and rode out of the desert for a drive back to the hotel, shower etc.

  • After grabbing quick eats, we hopped into the van again approx. 1:30pm to our “village tour,” “Waterwheel” viewing and rafting in Yellow River excursion. This would’ve been all nice and dandy had temps not dropped with drizzling rain!! But we made due anyway…even seeing a piece of left-over Great Wall (though I found rather uneventful especially in the cold wind and rainy conditions.)  There was a little light at the end of the tunnel though… as we drove back to the hotel, we drove through a full arch’ed rainbow!!! I’ve never in my life seen such a thing, so this was super splendid! Then, I got my wish to just lay in bed for the rest of the evening….

The rafts were made of shaven goat!!

Saturday, October 4

  • 9:11AM – We bussed our way Zhongwei back to Yinchuan, arriving at 11:45AM.
  • Got ourselves checked in, grabbed some lunch and cabbed our way out to Western Xia Tombs.

  • Thennnnnnnnn, rewarded ourselves with a 60rmb (less than $10usd) massage for 100min, an 8rmb (just over $1usd) dinner and called it a night and trip!!   We were out the next morning… back to the ‘Hai life! And similar to the feeling I get when I am returning to NYC from Boston… the Shanghai skyline (as does the Manhattan skyline) totally made me feel happy to be back in city life!!

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo there ya have it!  Enjoy the flick reel!! I worked really hard on this post, dammit!! :-D

. . don’t burn the day. .