Guyi Gardens.

Take line 11 north to Nanxiang, follow the brown signs, walk 15 minutes, and you'll come to this place on your right: Guyi Gardens.

It's a little oasis set in the Shanghai suburbs and the town where xiao long bao originated.

The greenery is lush, most of the garden is shaded, and it was surprisingly uncrowded.

We didn't know that soup dumplings were available at the tea house on the garden grounds, so we headed to the restaurant next door. For just 25 kuai, we ate enough dumplings to fill us both up.

I wouldn't go out of my way to come back here when there's so much more to see in China, but for a Saturday afternoon excursion that's reachable via metro, these gardens made for a great city escape.


This Moroccan-themed restaurant/lounge has been our go-to place for weekend drinks and a rooftop happy hour. We first came here for Dave's birthday dinner. Set in the middle of People's Park, the ambiance is perfect. Add a hookah and half-priced drinks, and we're sold. Not to mention the banana liqueur, Bailey's, and cream layered shooter (my new favorite). Barbarossa does it best.

Shanghai, lately.

Sometimes I wake up, and for a second, I forget that I'm in Shanghai.

That I live in



The place where men on bikes come down the alleyway at 6am ringing bells to collect cardboard.

The place with notoriously uncomfortable beds.

The place where you can get McDonald's delivered to your door in eight minutes.

The place where a tiny bag of candy corn costs 7 USD.

The place of easy breezy public transportation and awesome happy hours (complimentary filet mignon sandwiches,

yes please!


Sometimes, I wonder,

what the heck am I doing here?

I have never before lived somewhere where, in all this newness and confusion and soul-searching and God-seeking, I am so thankful for the little things.

For the one bagel shop in the city.

For the person who points out that I dropped my metro card.

For the Chinese teacher who chats with me at lunch.

For all the places I get to visit with my best friend.

For the sunshine that isn't quite like California sunshine but still manages to make the day brighter.

Shanghai is a place of




Lao Di Fang.

Now that we're Shanghai residents, we're on the hunt to find the city's best noodles and xiao long bao (soup dumplings). After some googling, I am across

this site

operated by a company that offers walking food tours of Shanghai. One stop on their noodle tour, Lao Di Fang, turned out to be a short walking distance away. There are plenty of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Shanghai, but the good ones have lines out the door and menu items in Chinese characters only. This was no exception. We waited our turn to sit at one of the two dining tables in the restaurant, only to realize that webpage that I had loaded before I left listing the Chinese characters of the best dishes wouldn't open. After some pointing and a few helpful suggestions from the owner, we settled on a scallion and pork noodle dish, one with celery and eel, and a side of baby bok choy. I savored every flavorful bite, and the best part? Our entire meal was less than the cost of a latte at the local Starbucks, just over $4.

Date night, shanghai.

after a long week at work (and by long, I mean 12-hour days teaching and lesson planning),

i needed a break.

 so husband and i spent this past Friday night having drinks (their mojitos are 


and giant nachos on our fave neighborhood patio at the Shanghai Brewery. 

we strolled around Hengshan Lu and stumbled across an organic shop/restaurant/bakery that reminded me of two of my LA favorites, Farmshop and Joan's on Third.

after a slice of some yummy chocolate cake, we headed back to watch Revenge,

a show that I'm now addicted to.

we plan on spending our Friday nights and weekends exploring the city,

but sometimes, it's just really nice spending time in your own neighborhood.