Thanks to an epic design team in Shanghai I have a beautiful new website that we’ve been building together for the last six months. Actually, Mitch has been building it and I’ve been on the sidelines, cheering, and driving him crazy with emails (can I have it in pink? a different pink?). I think it looks amazing.
The blog is still here, but is now keeping company with pages about my writing and photography. I realised if I wanted to be serious about both, I needed a website that worked better for me. Now the blog, writing and photography can live together under one roof, happily co-habiting.
How to keep up with Life on Nanchang Lu now:
If you search for Life on Nanchang Lu you’ll be redirected here, so if you’ve saved the site as a favourite or bookmark, no need to do anything.
If you have an RSS feed, it will be automatically update – again, no need to do anything.
And if you’d like to be notified by email whenever I post a new blog (about once a month), I’d love to send you one! There’s an email sign-up below.
At least, those of you kind enough to still be reading this blog.
I wanted to let you know where I’ve been these last months. I’ve been writing a book.
Remember way back when I drove around China for half a year? In a camper van?
That was 2012.
“You should write a book about it,” said my writer friend Rebecca at the time. A book sounded like something I might be able to do, after blogging for three years. “Yeah,” I told her. “Maybe I will.”Continue reading “Dearest Readers…”
The season of Lesser Heat is about to enter the Season of Great Heat. The Plum Rains of June have offered no relief, even though they seem to have arrived twice this year and stayed twice as long. You sweat. You simmer. You would give anything to cool yourself with something soothing.
Make your way to Nanjing Dong Lu. Follow the tourists in matching t-shirts halfway to the Bund. Stop, on the corner of Jiangxi Zhong Lu.
Sitting inside Shooting Star Day & Night Foods（xīnghuǒ rìyè shípǐn 星火日夜食品) is a little store whose specialty is milk ice cream. It was established back in 1906 in Ha’erbin, of all places and has one of the most intriguing histories of any of Shanghai’s street foods.
Ha’erbin, in Heilongjiang Province, was once home to a large population of Russian Jews who left the city with a profound cultural and architectural legacy. Joseph Kaspe, a Russian jeweller with French citizenship, built the Hotel Moderne on Ha’erbin’s main street. It became the largest and most luxurious hotel in the city with its grand ballroom, cinema, dining rooms and suites.
As a sideline, Kaspe had a bakery café on the ground floor selling bread and milk ices.
Take twenty or so random strangers, one mystery location, and a chef with the freedom to cook outside of their regular kitchen, and hey presto – Shanghai Supper Club. Conceived by Shanghai local Camden Hauge, the Shanghai Supper Club has been a resounding success since the minute it opened back in 2013.
Camden observed Shanghai’s obsession with food first hand and knew it was ripe for a supper club concept. There was a rapidly evolving food scene with new chefs arriving from all over the world, and a food-loving population hungry for novel experiences.
With a menu and venue that changes every month, the real success of her venture has been in bringing together Shanghai’s food-lovers in one place, a situation ripe for new collaborations and exciting ideas.
I was lucky enough to have a seat at a Supper Club event last weekend, ending a week of near perfect weather – warm days edging into summer with cool nights.
Getting a visa to visit China is nothing short of a monumental pain in the bureaucracy. Many friends and readers have asked me if there is a way around it, so I investigated further. Believe it or not, there are perfectly legal ways to get into China without a visa. 1. Visa-Free Airport Transit
A foreign citizen who is transiting through China by air is exempted from a visa if he/she stays only inside the airport (without entering border control) for no more than 24 hours, and has a valid connecting ticket with confirmed seating on an international flight.
I spent last week in New York, and as my friend Jules says, “Yeah, it sucks to be you.” I know.
Yet travel has never been optional for me. I feel most alive when I’m on the move. If an opportunity arises (this time, a business trip taken by my husband Matt) I feel almost obliged to take advantage of it. My feet are permanently itchy, and as a result I’m pretty much permanently in debt.
But how wonderful is New York! It snowed heavily most of the week and so I waited until the sun came out to take most of my shots. Matt and I took a long rambling walk from midtown to downtown, across the Brooklyn Bridge, all over Brooklyn and Williamsburg, and finally back across the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan. The day was sharp and clear and well below zero but what a stunning day!
Guizhou is, for me, the most beautiful place in China. I’m very excited to be able to introduce this lovely part of the world to you in a series of videos created by British production company True North.
Guizhou’s unique Miao culture deserves to be better known, and True North agreed – together we filmed four five-minute documentaries in all, with more coming up soon on Miao food and Miao silver jewellery.
True North were commissioned to develop a Youtube channel devoted to the discovery of China. Already massively successful since their launch late last year, China Icons gives viewers a China that is very different to popular perception – a young, vibrant, quirky, and interesting China, featuring the everyday voices of Chinese people and expats.
I love an octogenarian with attitude. I spied her one Sunday in Kaili Old Street, with her hair and specs rather eccentrically arranged. She was embroidering herself a new belt.
Sunday is no day of rest in China. In fact, it’s often the busiest day of the week as families, groups of friends and workers head for the shops on their one and only day off. Kali, in Guizhou Province, is no exception as the Sunday Market gets into full swing, starting in the old part of town and spreading like topsy into the surrounding streets.
Farm to table. It’s an well-worn phrase on city restaurant menus, but what does it really mean?
Many would say it means using seasonal ingredients, with the fewest delays and distance possible between farm and plate, and a high degree of transparency in this process. Others would say it means local farmers deliver directly to restaurants. In rare cases, it means that some items on the menu are actually grown in the restaurant’s own kitchen garden. But that’s pretty uncommon.
The appeal of farm to table is obvious – the food is fresh, local, and has maximum flavour because it’s at its seasonal peak. I would argue almost all our food should be ‘farm to table. The disadvantages of our current food supply are that we don’t know exactly where our food comes from, how long it took to get to us, or what was done to it along the way.
I’m an introvert, born without a single extrovert gene. If I go to a party I get all anxious and wobbly at the thought of talking to people I’ve never met before. I worry about what I should say and then worry what I’ve said isn’t witty/interesting/serious enough. It’s an affliction.
And public speaking? An introvert’s worst nightmare. The thought of standing up in front of a group of people, even people I know and love, makes my voice box seize up. I’d honestly rather just send them a little written note. This may explain why I love blogging – it’s like public speaking without saying a word.
But then back in July a message popped into my inbox.
Hi Fiona! How are you? I wanted to invite you to give a talk at TEDxBrisbane. We think you’d make a wonderful addition to the day if you were interested? I hope so!