The Third Post.

2 May

Ni Hao – Hello!! And Happy Labour Day!

We went to “The Ark” for dinner today because Dave had a craving for their Chicken in Flowers dish. “The Ark” is not actually its real name but it doesn’t have an English name so Dave calls it that because it’s full of live animals and you can pick and choose your meal out of cages, pens and aquariums. We didn’t go for anything “alive” today but got the Chicken in Flowers (big pot) which is a whole chicken and strips of banana flowers (I think that what they are) stewed in this really yummy sauce. Then we got a sweet soy pork (fat) dish and another staple of ours: beans sautéed in garlic (the green stuff).

Dinner at The Ark

I wish I knew what all these dishes were called. It’s frustrating but hopefully once I start my Mandarin lessons it might be easier. Though I doubt I’ll ever be able to read all the characters!

Officially it’s a public holiday here and but only a few of the shops and restaurants in our apartment complex were closed and the construction sites were definitely busy building the China of tomorrow!! I finally got the keys to my e-bike over the weekend and Dave and I went for a quick spin through our neighbourhood last night.  The area is getting built as Ningbo’s education district; apart from the University of Nottingham where Dave works there are a few other massive Chinese ones, a whole bunch of middle and high schools and a huge library that’s available to everyone. The district is further expanding and there’s a huge business district being built a few blocks southwest of us. You know, for all the companies that will employ the university graduates. There are some really amazing architectural designs amongst all those corporate buildings; I’ll have to take a few photos some day to show you.

The funny thing here is that buildings and whole complexes will be built without prospective buyers or even a prospectvie industry in mind. So all those shiny new buildings with their lights and tree-lined parking spaces are completely empty! So when we drove through it last night is was like driving through a ghost town. Except it’s not dead yet, it hasn’t even been born. (Though I doubt it’ll take long for the companies to move in.)

It’s the same with our apartment complex. All apartments are built as skeleton spaces only. They are then put up for sale and it is up to the individual owners to put up any walls to subdivide the space into rooms, put in kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and electric outlets and then decorate. The complex we live in is relatively new and our building was the second to last to be “opened”.

View from our balcony

Our apartment was one of the first to be finished in this particular building and Dave was one of the first tenants when he moved into it in September. Hence, there’s still a lot of flats getting done up at the moment meaning a lot of hammering and drilling noise has to be endured. Very annoying, especially on a Saturday morning.

The library, construction and cranes

What else is there to tell? I went up to Shanghai again on Saturday to meet up with Ciaran, an Irish guy Dave and I used to play waterpolo with in Aberdeen. He lives and works in Shenzhen (north of Hong Kong) and was in Shanghai for an Irish Football competition. Dave had too much work to do and stayed in Ningbo so I went on my own. I watched a few of the games – it was the first time I’d seen the game and it looks like ace fun!! The competition was a massive expat event: there were 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams from all over China and the Irish ambassador had flown in as well! I gatecrashed the afterparty and buffet in the evening and got very, very drunk with Ciaran and his teammates; first in an Aussie sportsbar that was sponsoring the event and then in – surprise, surprise – O’Malleys!!  What is it with Irish people only wanting to drink in Irish pubs? I remember when I was in VangVieng in Laos I met three Irish blokes on a kayaking tour and they went drinking in the same Irish pub in Vang Vieng every night. I mean, c’mon!! You’re in Laos, in Vang Vieng, THE party town and you’re hanging out in a place that’s like all the bars back home. Every night. Whaaaa?? Saying that, the O’Malleys in Shanghai doesn’t look like your typical Irish pub, it’s sophisticated and suave, not a Guinness poster in sight!

That’s it for now!

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