Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yeah! Shanghai

Shanghai, China  11-17 November 2012

One of my most fun work trips EVER!

Since the bulk of my work trips have been in-and-out between airport, hotel and client, I never really enjoyed travelling for business much.

So this business trip I really enjoyed as it was spent hanging out with my regional colleagues at a conference, and that included a few nights of (too much) rich Chinese food and (too much) drinks. It was alot of hard work and planning no doubt, but I found the work sessions very informative and came away with lots of knowledge and more importantly, understanding and respect for the work done in different countries. I have so much to learn!

Proof that there was work involved. Then again..maybe not!
I had a couple of days extension with the sole mission to visit pandas, although along the way, I managed to squeeze in Hangzhou, catch ups with old friends and meet new ones.

Big part of any trip for me is always FOOD.

And top of my agenda was of course to try the Shanghai Hairy Crab, this being in season. I must say I cannot really appreciate this delicacy. It seems a little too much like hard work to work through this dainty crustacean to get at the tiny silvers of meat. I definitely prefer the juicy Sri Lankan crabs. Plus I'm not really a big fan of roe-- and my lack of preference appears justified based on what I found about on the internet about the crab roe. According to the online authority that is Wiki-Ask,  male roe could either be coagulated sperm or fats gained from a summer of the crab gorging itself on whatever crabs eat. Yummy!

As for the rest of Shanghainese food, I can summarise it as dried chillis/ oil with XXX-- choose from fish, chicken, pork, potatoes or veggies.
Varying amounts of chillis and spices!

But we did have a couple of extremely generous spreads at the event-- in fact I found the Chinese extremely generous with the treats-- be it friends or work, and often we would have way, way too much food (and painful hours in the gym to follow). Some of the delicacies we sampled:

Favorite is the sweet pumpkin and corn cold dish. Sweet sweet!
One other reason why I enjoyed myself so much this trip was the company.

Ex-colleague brought me to this cute cafe in Little Korea. The teddiess are installed with some
chip recording your order so that the waiters can find and serve you. Sho cute!
 This was the first time I met many of my regional colleagues but we had a whale of a time over dinner, bar and club hopping-- ver-eating, Gangnam style, stage performances and heartfelt confessions about plastic surgery-- it was no-holds-bar all the way!  Even the big boss was a good sport who stayed out till 2am-- and there were many throbbing heads and red eyes the next day with slides to be finalised and presentations to be made.

Finally I had the chance to catch up with a university mate whom I have not seen since 2003!!! Too crazy-- but we both looked exactly the same and it seemed like no time had passed at all. (although I'm proud to say my Mandarin has improved since then hahha. Thanks CC for buying that gorgeous dinner and hope to entice you to visit Singapore one day!

Squeezing in some sight-seeing:

Yu Yuan-- Shanghai Old City. Unfortunately, we were only at the Tourist Market but didn't get to
see the gardens or the temple.

View of the Bund from the restaurant 3 on the Bund.
This was the last day and by that time, I simply couldn't face another Shanghainese meal, delicious as the dim sum looked!

Too crowded to really enjoy the lake, but the lovely gardens and tea plantation were just too beautiful. Lucky residents of Hangzhou!
And what of my current obsession?

Oblivious to ardent admirers

Fun facts about pandas! I weigh the same as a wild panda!
 The trip to the Shanghai zoo was not a total loss though. I had a good laugh at the gay/myopic/very confused deer which kept trying to mount the alpha deer, much to the puzzlement of the other female deer in the vicinity. The object of affection though, appeared only mildly annoyed at the disruption to his meal time.

All in all, great trip. I wish all work trips can be this fun!

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