- One of my favorite Shanghai restaurants to take visitors is Xinjiang restaurant right around the corner from my apartment. The restaurant is delicious, but almost as important is how Western-friendly it is. Great English service, recognizable dishes, a spacious dining area, etc., things that can come as a relief to the weary traveler. One dish I invariably order is the chopped pasta, a wonderful mix of diced noodles, lamb, minced veggies and some kind of sauce that must have been made in the skillet of an angel. Now, this kind of an experience has it's fair share of trade offs—after all, you can't really say you've "seen China" if you dine only in quiet, sophisticated places with low light that serve cheesecake—but if you're new to China and don't have the wily ways and language skills of an old-hand China expat, dining in more local places can be pretty tricky. Enter Food Dragon, a smartphone app that recently added the aformentioned dish to their bilingual offerings. The app displays the English name, the Chinese name, and organizes all the offered dishes by category for easy browsing. Loosen your belt, wander to your nearest hole-in-the-wall, order up and dig in!
- The hardest parts of moving abroad—separation from the familiar, disconnection from your support system, a jarring new routine, strange and puzzling cuisine, a baffling array of languages and local dialects, the list can go on and on—are often amplified in China (my personal hurdles were culinary: one, WHERE THE HEXAGON IS THE DARN TOOTIN' CHEESE and, two, WHAT IS THAT AND HOW DO I ORDER IT IN THIS DANGED LANGUAGE?!). The ever-vigilant and wizened expat folk at GoChengdoo have kindly addressed some of the common issues newly-arrived folk have with the city, and provide some helpful hints to overcome them.
- The talk above of Xinjiang food reminded me of this excellent travel story from a 2002 visit to Kashgar by the always-insightful Mike Meyer. Long, but well worth the read.
- "I hate to make sweeping generalizations that over-simplify the diversity and variation within each country, but people want you to encapsulate the experience—so I make them anyway." So begins Two Worlds: 5 Striking Differences Between the US & China, the latest post on Chengdu Living. Like all the posts on their site, the content is supplemented by a spirited and illuminating discussion in the comments section. Who knew that comparing the US and China would spark a lively and passionate conversation? Oh, you did? Everyone did? Oh. Well. Anyway.
- Speaking of Chengdu Living, they've taken their reputation as the best online forum for Chengdu information a step further: Chengdu Places. Also worth checking out is this introduction to Chengdu Places, offering all you need to know about the new undertaking. Head over for sights, eats, places to enjoy adult libations and more.
That's it folks! As always, hold onto your hat and lean into the wind!