that measly half slice on the filet-o-fish

When I’m stressed, I go for comfort food, which usually means fast food.

While I’m normally not a big fan of McDonald’s, I do like their fish burgers. Even when they only use half a slice of cheese. Wait, what? I could’ve sworn the Filet-o-Fish used to have a full slice of American cheese, but according to the internet, the half slice is a thing and has been for a while. Huh. Oh well, it’s still tasty. Or rather, it hits the spot. Although more cheese would’ve made it better. ‘Cause cheese makes everything better.

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adventures in a missed flight

Today I had an exciting new experience: I missed a flight. Oh my gracious goodness. First time for everything, right? And I’m normally so responsible! So here’s a photo essay to document the experience. Because I have lots of time to kill before my rescheduled flight.

My flight was scheduled for 8:25 AM, and lately I’ve been too busy to prepare, so I decided to stay up to pack and grab a taxi at 5ish. I closed my eyes for a second and the next thing I know, it’s 7 AM. Whups. Threw stuff in my suitcase, ran out the door, and hailed a taxi. It’s about an hour’s drive, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but in case there was another morning flight, I thought getting to the airport ASAP was priority.

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In the cab I called the travel agent, and when I was told there were no flights until the afternoon, I had the taxi stop at Twosome Coffee instead, because coffee makes everything better. Newly opened on Taixing Road, between West Nanjing Road and Wujiang Road, it’s located in a great location next door to Cachet Boutique, which is a nice boutique hotel I’ve been working with. The coffee was pretty good, I had an Americano … because I’m patriotic like that.

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Was waiting for the agent to call back with availability, and decided to once again head to the airport, this time taking the Line 2 metro, which is slower than a cab but cheaper. On the train they called and I booked a new ticket leaving at 3 PM.

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I was already way far out in Pudong at that point, so it would’ve ridiculous to go home to wait just to come back an hour later. I arrived at the Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 AM.

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Check in wouldn’t start until 12:30, so I chilled. Wandered around the few snack shops and bookstores.

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Ended up at Burger King even though I had BK for dinner last night … not many options for food outside security. Tried their chili cheese fries, aka Cheese and Spicy Beef Sauce French Fries. There wasn’t enough sauce for the amount of fries and the sauce was too sweet, but they were decent enough and today’s a day for new experiences.

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The check-in process was easy enough, but since I only have a carry-on with me, I much would’ve preferred to use a kiosk, but alas, China Southern Airlines isn’t that technologically advanced.

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Then there was customs, which I breezed through like a boss. I’m so glad they’ve gotten over the whole taking off your shoes part of the screening process! I’m by no means a frequent flier, but I’ve flown enough to know how to get through without getting stopped, having anything confiscated, or beeping in metal detectors – lessons that were hard learned (ah, my favorite embroidery scissors … I’m sorry I had to abandon you in Xi’an!).

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After the security check I still had over an hour, so I browsed the duty free shops.

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And the other duty free shops.

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And the others too. Might as well, right?

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And wandered up and down the terminal. What did I find? More gates – yawn.

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Finally I sat down at my assigned gate, took a deep breath, and opened my suitcase. Wow that was a mess. When I say I threw things in this morning, I wasn’t kidding. And yep, I forgot my toiletries bag. Sigh.

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A gate change brought me to the lower level … which is the same area I waited in on my way to Hong Kong and to Tokyo. Huh.

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Boarding! Ciao! And only six and a half hours behind schedule. It’s been fun (not really)!

hello kfc, goodbye stress

Work work work … KFC! Yum. 15.5 kuai? Yup. Two-minute walk? I’m in.

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The spicy chicken sandwich (香辣鸡腿堡 xiāng là jītuǐ bǎo) is, in my opinion, delicious. Best thing on the menu. The spice is just enough to make your mouth tingle but not enough to require a drink. Most importantly, the chicken sandwich is made with dark meat. Ah yes, dark meat. I will never understand why Americans insist on eating white meat. If you’re trying to be heatlthy, then sure, white meat has less fat than dark meat. But dark meat is so much more flavorful! And if you’re trying to be heatlhy, why the heck are you at KFC in the first place? I remember when McDonald’s turned their chicken nuggets to be all white meat. That was a sad, sad day. I guess that will end up being one of those “back when I was a kid …” kind of stories, like when Pluto was a planet.

Anyhow, the reason for my trip to KFC was because this past week was sheer madness. I normally bring my lunch to work, but I didn’t have time to prepare anything and I didn’t want to take too long of a lunch break since there was still stuff to get done. Yup, that’s my rationale for hopping over to KFC and indulging in some greasy goodness. No matter. The key is moderation and since I rarely eat fast food, one chicken sandwich isn’t going to kill me. Besides, it was sooooo good! Ah, instant stress reliever!

my annoyances of the week

It’s been a bad week. Here goes:

  1. Design Shanghai 2014 was running from February 27th through today, March 2nd, but I wasn’t allowed in because I didn’t have a ticket. Can I buy a ticket? No. You must already have a ticket. What?! It’s the last day of the event and the first day I’ve had off. Argh. I was really interested in seeing it, but now I’m just annoyed.
  2. Old Navy has come to Shanghai, but there was a crush of people and I couldn’t find normal spaghetti-strap tank tops. At Old Navy. Aren’t plain t-shirts and tank tops the core of their business?
  3. Wagas delivery goes off-line when it rains, because a bit of rain is simply insurmountable. Oh sure, they’ll still deliver – if you pay CAB FARE for the delivery guy. I’m sorry, but I’m already paying your extravagant prices for a sandwich … and it’s just rain.
  4. On the weekend I occasionally tutor a woman in oral English. Usually we meet for two hours, but today she only wanted to meet for one hour. As it is I’m tutoring her for peanuts (way below my normal hourly rate) and it takes me 40 minutes round-trip, which makes that ‘tutoring session’ a complete waste of time.
  5. My fridge is basically empty. The grocery store nearest to my apartment closes at 9 PM and I normally get home around 8 PM, but Wednesday I got home at 9 and Thursday at 11. This week I’ve had McDonald’s twice, KFC once, and ramen noodles twice. Ugh.

But you know what makes everything better? Flowers. Mental health flowers. In front of my apartment building there is a flower lady with a little cart of flowers that I’ve passed by many times before, but this afternoon I stopped and bought some. 25 kuai (about 4 USD) for two small bundles; I didn’t bother haggling. Ah, best investment ever. They make me smile.

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don’t even care that the photo is out of focus. Well, maybe just a little.

kfc: my last meal in china

For my last meal in Beijing, I had KFC. Yes, that’s right. I had American fast food in China. Judge me if you will, but you shouldn’t, because it’s totally not the same. Way back when, KFC was Kentucky Fried Chicken, but now it’s just those three letters. Which is fitting, because they’re not really just about fried chicken anymore (although I would gladly dig into a bucket of the stuff). In China at least, rarely anyone orders their fried chicken. They don’t even have biscuits! Or macaroni and cheese! SCANDALOUS!

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But I guess it’s a small price to pay. Because seriously, when did you last see a KFC this big and clean? And so full of people there was barely any seating available?

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As I mentioned, I love me those KFC buckets of fried goodness. But … I’m also kind of obsessed with their shrimp burger. I first had it a few years ago when I was traveling around China, and I really, really missed it. It seems weird, but it’s actually DELICIOUS. The fried patty is chock full of shrimp, then there’s lettuce and the sweet mayonnaise that Chinese people seem to love. I had to remove much of the glob of mayonnaise so it didn’t overpower my taste buds, but yeah … delish.

I also really like KFC’s chicken burgers in China because they use dark meat instead of the fat-free white meat Americans seem to prefer. Mmm … now I’m getting hungry.

kfc chicken zinger in the airport

And on the subject of fast food in airports (the subject of my last post), here comes KFC! In the Mumbai airport! It’s the chicken zinger sandwich from KFC, which I ate at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, as my last meal in India. Is it weird to eat American fast food in a foreign country? Yeah. But since the chicken zinger isn’t sold in the US, it’s totally fine.

Basically it’s a spicy crispy chicken sandwich. Not all that special and not all that great. The bread kept falling apart and the mayonnaise was too sweet, but the chicken was good although not as spicy as I expected/hoped. I remember the spicy chicken sandwich from a McDonald’s in India being much better, but that was roughly two years ago so I can’t say for sure. Anyhow, it was a decent way to end the trip … there’s only so much curry and kebabs I could take.

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arby’s roast beef in the airport

Arby’s! Roast beef! Arby’s sauce! Yum! There is no Arby’s near where I lived in Houston, there is no Arby’s in China, and there is no Arby’s in Manhattan. So basically what I am saying is that I had not had Arby’s since undergraduate … and college was quite a while ago. But I like Arby’s!

When I had a layover at the Baltimore (BWI) airport (my first time at that airport), I saw that they had an Arby’s and I got so excited! Classic roast beef sandwich, please! Back when I was younger I used to be somewhat OCD so I would have to rearrange the roast beef so that it was level (because usually when then stick it on the bun it’s kind of in a big clump) and spread the sauce on evenly so every bite was the same. This time, I squeezed two packets of sauce onto the thing and gulped it down. Verdict: SO YUMMY.

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not chinese

Went to Ikea for the first time ever. Despite all my many plans to visit the one in Round Rock, I never actually went. So yeah, it took a trip to the other side of the planet to get me to an Ikea. Just bought myself a little table for my laptop and a small shelf. Outside of the store there was a line of taxis waiting like at an airport. Weird. On the one hand I miss driving around, but on the other hand, traffic in Shanghai is a scary mess.

There was also a trip to KFC, and goodness gracious, it ain’t the same. Oh no. If there’s no mashed potatoes and gravy or cole slaw, it just ain’t KFC. Shame, none of those delicious biscuits here either. Nope, but rice and soup are available. And their chicken sandwiches use dark meat instead of the standard white meat. Weird. I miss artery-clogging food. I’d probably kill for biscuits and gravy right now.

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[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]