Thursday, March 01, 2012

Last Full Day: Hangzhou to Shanghai

When we woke up in Hangzhou, I felt sad because it was our last full day in Shanghai. Our flight was scheduled to leave for North America the next morning. I was determined to enjoy the last day as much as I could.





It started with my first plate of food during breakfast. I found it funny when I saw spaghetti in one of the buffet trays. The taste was forgettable. So forgettable, in fact, that I’ve forgotten what it tasted like.

There was something intriguing that I picked up though. The layered flatbread was seasoned with a spice blend that was similar to the one used at the Muslim Restaurant that we went to the first day we were in Shanghai. Cumin was the predominant flavour. Although it was greasy, I enjoyed the idea of it.


This was Dad’s first plate. Notice the differences between our plates?




My second round of breakfast consisted of another over-easy egg, more bacon-like protein, breakfast sausage, bread and youtiao.


My final round consisted of a bowl of wonton soup, and more youtiao with coffee. The small chocolate bownie-like snacks tasted more like chocolate cake. I ate one and then packed the other two away to enjoy at a later time.


I also had a piece of sheet cake for dessert. Once we were finished with breakfast, we met up with our tour group on the bus and then we drove back to Shanghai.


Once we arrived in Shanghai, five hours later, our bus driver drove us to a restaurant for lunch.








The dishes came out pretty quickly. It was as if the dishes arrived as soon as we sat down at our tables. It was eerie.




These soup dumplings were okay. We only got one steamer per table though. How can you have only one soup dumpling?



There was some fried pork with steamed buns. It reminded me of the similar dish we had at Sichuan Folk.



The one dish that stood out was this fried mochi. They each had a thin crisp armor covering the sweet sticky and chewy mochi. These were dangerously good.


We were served a plate of fruit for dessert.


After lunch, we took a stroll around the Pearl Tower and the Super Brand Mall. We spent most of the afternoon shopping.







Among the dishes we had for dinner, we had rice cakes in a brown sauce, steamed fish, and sweet and sour pork.





A plate of sliced oranges was served for dessert.


When we were eating dinner, I couldn’t help but notice that an older gentleman had his dentures in a bowl while he was eating. How appetizing.



The tour group loaded up back on the bus. We drove to a dock for our night cruise along the Huang Pu River. Along the way, I saw the U.B.C Coffee shop. Was there a U of T coffee shop somewhere in Shanghai too?

I liked how the Fosun buildling looked at night.


Among the hundreds of frames I took during the cruise that night, this is one of my favourite image. It’s another bokeh image. This is my current desktop.

Here are some other pictures from the cruise.




Our awesome bus driver somehow parked his bus near the exit of the docks. It is simply amazing how good he was during the trip. I cannot stress this enough. Since our group got back on the bus relatively quickly, our bus was one of the first buses to leave the tour bus-packed parking lot. We were driven back to our hotel for the night.

I was eager to find some soup dumplings that night and it seemed that other people in the group also wanted to walk around. We checked back into the Ramada hotel in Shanghai and then met back up in the lobby.


As we walked out of our hotel, I saw a man holding balloons, inside balloons, inside balloons. One word: inception.



We eventually made our way to a Taiwanese restaurant, XYD, which happened to be a few doors down from the Muslim Restaurant. We had originally wanted to go to have some lamb skewers but a detour made us made us late. The charcoal grill was already cleaned out when we arrived. Sad face.

The small restaurant looked decent.


Here were some pot stickers (5 dumplings for 6 yuan) that was fairly popular with the group of us.



One mom saw the rice rolls aka ci fan tuan (5 yuan per roll) on the menu and wanted to order it immediately. She wanted to reminisce about her trip to Taiwan. I hear ya! The rice was wrapped around youtiao pieces, pork floss and mustard greens.


The dense green onion pancakes (5 yuan) weren’t very flaky. It still tasted fine, but it would’ve been better if it was flakier and less dense.


We ordered a bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup (20 yuan) to share. The soup was similar to the soup I’ve had in Taiwan, but it wasn’t as beefy and fragrant. The noodles they used were different. Homemade noodles are so much better. Pickled mustard greens were also missing. Sad face.


Soup dumplings aka xiao long bao! This was what I was waiting for. Although these were tiny and expensive (12 yuan for 8 dumplings) they were really tasty morsels. The filling was seasoned with a bit of ginger and sesame oil, which was different than all the dumplings I’ve had to date. The soup that was in these tiny dumplings was more of a sweet-savoury soup than a rounded savoury soup.

We ordered a few steamers of these and wolfed these down without any hesitation. Delicious!





For dessert, we walked down the street and went into another Taiwanese store. They were serving shaved ice.

The first drink was a mango jello iced tea drink. I wasn’t going to have any dessert at first, but then I decided I’d share the mango drink with AW.

There was also a few large bowls of brown sugar shaved ice. Among the toppings, red beans, taro, tapioca pearls and mango jelly. I had thought the mango jellies were actual mango pieces. Doesn’t it look like it? Alas, I was tricked. The mango jellies weren’t very sweet, but it didn’t need to be. It was used as a textural contrast to everything else. I took a few bites of the shaved ice before I pulled out the white flag.

While enjoying our dessert, we all began talking about food. I shared some thoughts on some of my favourite food that I had in Taiwan. My favourite drink in Taiwan is, hands down, winter melon tea. As I was explaining it, I noticed the curious faces looking back at me. None of them had tried it before, some of them never even heard of the stuff. I asked one of the moms if they had winter melon tea on the menu. She helped me order some.


I bought a few cups of winter melon tea. One of them, with grass jelly, was for the group to try. All the other cups were for my parents and Aunt IS. From the group’s reaction, they all enjoyed how refreshing the drink was. Oh man, I’m craving some winter melon tea now.

We slowly walked back to our hotel for the night. The North American part of the group, including myself, said goodbye to the Aussies since their flight was leaving in the afternoon.


Back in my hotel room, I tried to dump my memory cards onto my external hard drive but my laptop needed juice. When I tried using my converter to plug in my laptop, it didn’t work at all. I tried all the outlets but no dice. In the end, I had to use two converters. Fail.

As I was in bed, waiting for the images to transfer, I reflected back on how great the last day was in Shanghai. I had a great time with the tour group. I would definitely miss them. Actually, I still miss them. We had great food and saw some amazing things. Out of all the tours I’ve had in China, I had the most fun with the tour group in Shanghai. It probably had to do with the fact that I could actually communicate with them. Probably.

All the pictures were backed up on my laptop and my external hard drive. I eventually went to bed. One last sleep in China.

Breakfast in Suzhou, Visiting Hangzhou

Last Meal in Shanghai

More links from the Tea in Asia 2011 trip:

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