China 2020 : Year of the Rat – What I Miss

I recently arrived back in Sydney from Shanghai, China. Apparently there is some sort of “epidemic” that happened there, but I’ll save that for another post.

Here’s what I had to say last time I was back 3 years ago, I’ll try not repeat myself too much.

This post will be on what I miss about China and I’ll also be covering what I found weird and what I don’t miss in other posts.

  1. Shanghai-nese food, specifically Xiao Long Bao, Braised Pork and Noodle Soup.1,2
  2. 2pm Naps – the best kind of naps
  3. Being able to use a bidet3
  4. Being around family
  5. Mobile transactions – literally QR codes everywhere. Last time I went, it was a novelty, now there is widespread adoption.4
  6. Annoying my grandma – I’m unashamedly the favourite5
  7. Getting to know my nephews and nieces. Kids grow up so quickly.6

1 Story Time: Nai Nai (Grandma) was a boss at cooking, but with her age, she has taken my mum as an apprentice. Nai Nai directs and mum cooks. Nai Nai likes flavour whilst my mum tries to cook more healthy, so there’s a constant battle over how much sugar and/or salt each dish should contain.

2 In Addition, the casual local dining experience is still relatively cheap based on currency conversions, an awesome meal for 2 would cost around 7 AUD whilst KFC for 4 would cost around 25 AUD. (No this does not count towards breaking my New Year resolution. Why? Because eating Chinese KFC is a cultural experience, also, because I said so.)

3 Story Time: So I’m not sure if this is just my family, but nearly everyone has one on my mum’s side of the family. It feels like it’s one of those amazing business case studies of CAPex (capital expense – the Bidet) vs OPex (operating expense – toilet paper). Anyway, I believe one of my uncles got it first and either he really believed in the product or was part of a Bidet Pyramid scheme.
If anyone was wondering, bidets are toilet seats that squirt water in your sensitive areas to clean them. They feel a little weird when you first use them, but just like electric toothbrushes, once you start using them it becomes a disappointment going back to plain old toilet paper. Here’s a list from a totally unbiased website on why bidets are awesome.

4 Story Time: For example, I went to one of the OG Xiao Long Bao places called NanXiang Steamed Bun Restaurant.

Every seat in the restaurant has a QR code you scan, order and pay with. The only interaction you must have with a human being is being shown your seat (because there’s always a long line) and when the food gets served. I wonder if this will be replaced by robots next time I come back.

5 Story Time: She gets annoyed when I speak to her in English. Things like Hello, Bye Bye and Thank You. So she copies me but with Shanghai-nese toilet puns. E.g. Thank You –> Translated back into English = 3 Piles of Shit

6 Story Time: I had one particular nephew who I saw as a toddler who can now walk and talk. He doesn’t remember me, but was super friendly this time around. He decided I was cool, hopped on my lap and decided to have a conversation with me. He felt so comfortable, he was picking food off my plate and eating it. Without my permission.