Michigan Seems Like a Dream to Me Now….

Our last day in Shanghai was spent being thankful we were no longer in Beijing and doing some last-minute souvenir shopping.

After my wife proved herself to be far superior at bargaining than me, we stopped at the Carrefour on the way back to the hotel to pick up some snacks. The Carrefour at Hongkou Plaza had been our lifeline during our time in China. It’s where we had bought all of our fruit, bread, peanut butter, snacks, and juice.

The Carrefour also carried electronics, clothes, dishes, tableware, toys, and quite a few other things. In the Meat Department, this included fish heads and turtles.

I don’t think the kids understood that the turtles were not intended as pets.

For dinner we met up for one last time with my wife’s TAs Crystal and Jessie, at a fancy restaurant in Xintiandi. Xintiandi is a very upscale part of Shanghai where high-end brands have stores, like Armani.

When Stephanie had told her TAs she wanted to treat them to a nice dinner in Xintiandi before we left Shanghai, they got nervous, protesting that it was too expensive. It wasn’t too expensive. The food at Xin Jishi restaurant was expensive by Chinese standards. But believe it or not, the meal for the four adults and our two kids came to less than the breakfast at Element Fresh.

My favorite of the dishes was called “Grandma’s Red-Braised Pork,” which I had eaten variations of during our time in China. It’s called “Hong Shao Rou” in Mandarin. Crystal told us that Hong Shao Rou was a very Shanghainese dish. Xin Jishi’s version was by far the best version of the dish I had eaten during my time in China. The fat was so soft it simply melted into your mouth. I found a recipe for this delicious braised pork belly here.

My wife was weirded out by the skin.

I said, “what skin?”

“The skin!” she said. “I’ve got hair on mine, I swear.”

“I didn’t notice. I was too busy enjoying it. This is awesome.” I shoved another chunk into my mouth with my chopsticks.

After the meal, we posed for pictures outside the restaurant then walked to the Metro. We parted with the young women on the Metro after a few stops. They headed to their homes, while Stephanie, the kids, and I headed to the Bund.

Stephanie had never been to the Bund before. Nor had the kids and I seen it at night.

Stephanie was tired and still fighting off a sinus infection that had come and gone, and then returned. I had picked up a version of the infection, too, sometime in Beijing. As we were slowly walking from the Metro stop on Nanjing Road, she said she hoped the walk and effort were worth it.

There were the usual Chinese crowds but it is still one of the great things to do in Shanghai.

“This would be a very romantic moment if it weren’t for the kids and the crowds,” said my wife.

“I agree,” I said.

Back at the hotel, we struggled to get the kids washed and in bed.

Henry climbed onto the bed he’d been sharing with Meredith and looked out the window. He told us he was going to miss the view of Shanghai.

Stephanie and I said we were going to miss it, too. No more Shanghai skyline to see every night before going to sleep, or gaze at in the morning while sipping a cup of coffee.

It was hard to believe our time in Shanghai was about to come to an end.

At this point, after being gone for such a long and intense time in such a different place than Michigan, USA, it was hard to clearly picture our home with its trees in the yard, on its very ordinary quiet street.

In the morning we would eat our breakfast (our last Lillian Cake Shop egg tarts), make sure everything was packed up, and take a taxi to the airport to catch our flight to Hong Kong.

Good Night and So Long, Shanghai.

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5 thoughts on “Michigan Seems Like a Dream to Me Now….

  1. What a fantastic journey!
    God speed and get safe & sound home.

    • It has definitely been a fantastic journey. It’s been a little weird these past few days, posting our final adventures in China from our home in Michigan. The sense of dislocation is fairly acute.

  2. I actually cried at the end of this post. I found your post by way of a pingback to my hongshao rou recipe and couldn’t help but read on as I realized you were writing of your departure from China.

    My husband and I moved first to Shanghai then Beijing after 3 months, back in 2007. Every year, the question arises, ‘When will I move home?’ Five years and nearly six have passed. Even while living in Beijing, my husband and I reminisce about Lillian Cake’s dan ta (egg custard tarts). I choked up while reading that line of your last egg tart.

    The smoggy days of morning-to-night challenges are sprinkled with days of fulfillment and that feeling of ‘I am living!’ And then there are the days I think about living a healthy life in the States. Two sides to everything. I wish you and your family the best moving forward. Egg tarts are only a recipe away with a few rounds of practice.

    Best wishes,
    Shanti

  3. Shanti,

    Thank you for reading my post and taking the time to tell me you were so moved by it. I loved those egg tarts and my wife was pretty much addicted to them. So delicious. We are missing Shanghai but happy to be back home in the States.

    We also miss Coco and their yummy slushies and smoothies.

    So you’ve been living in China for over 5 years? We had an amazing time in China during our month and a half there, which I’ve documented on my blog. It was exhilarating at times and also frustrating. But we always had that “I am living!” feeling you mention.

    I found your recipe for the Hong Shao Rou and I will probably try it sometime when we get an itch to taste something from Shanghai.

    Take care,
    – Rich

    P.S. I love to bake. I will definitely see if I can make some egg tarts.

  4. Pingback: Honest Errors | The Shape of Memories to Come

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