In Sweden we really like this thing we call "fika". This is something we probably have done for as long as we had coffee in the country. I think coffee came to Sweden in around 1673. Maybe we had something similar even earlier when the Vikings drank their mead.

I don't know any word for it in English but when I look it up I get the translations "coffee break", "tea time" and "drink coffee". Those translations are partly true but in reality it includes some more parts like:

Finding a cosy place to be at

This is mostly of personal preference but I would choose a smaller place on a side street. Not too much people so you always can find a seat when you go there. Dark interior with sparse but strategic lighting. Soft and comfortable couches that you can sink into and relax every muscle in your body. Others might like to stay at home by the kitchen table or sit outside in the snowy forest around a crackling fire. Sometimes we have to search for a while and visit several fik until we find a vacant table at a place that we like.

An adequate supply of hot non-alcoholic beverages

The minimum needed for a Swede is regular hot black coffee but a selection of different types of coffee, tea and chocolate is something most people appreciate. Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages does not qualify for a fika.

Good selection of snacks

Snacks are not crucial but it is something that most prefer. At least we need a cinnamon bun and a selection of small sweet cookies. If we are lucky there will be a selection of berry pies and cream cakes. It is also common with muffins and sandwiches.

Time to relax

Fika is not something you do in ten minutes. It takes at least an hour unless it is a snabbfika (fast fika) just to increase your blood sugar level. It is common that you sit and talk and drink several cups of coffee or tea for several hours.

Nice company to talk to

This is almost as important as the beverages. Bring a random friend and talk about everything and nothing. It is not the same to fika by yourself.


Higher skyscraper

I told you about that I went up in to the second highest building in the world. Next to that building they are building another one that will be a lot taller. I think it is supposed to be ready by 2014.

Here you can find a nice blogg that writes about it in more detail and click here for more info.


Last Chinese dinner

Almost time to leave... so this is the last dinner I eat in China. So sad... I will miss the food! Girlwings mother is very good at cooking and she has been spoiling all of us for the time we've been in Shanghai.

Every meal have had unique dishes. It took almost a week until I saw the same dish again and then only because I had said some day that I liked a certain dish or maybe ate one more than the others.

Because this is the last dinner that we have together for a long time in China, they wanted to make something extra special. So they went and bought a bunch of crabs. This was interesting so I took a lot of pictures of the process. I guess they eat a lot of this on the Swedish west coast, but for me this is new.

Here are the crabs waiting for a spa treatment.

First they get cleaned well with this massage brush. Some liked this treatment...

...while others were a bit confused and tried to grab you with their claws. Be careful they can make you bleed!

So for their own good we bind their claws to their body. Tight and firm... I could hear some of their shell crack under the pressure. But it is ok, the crabs didn't say anything to complain.

Here you can see how happy and relaxed they feel now.

They even get a friend to lie and talk to.

Now it is time for the steam sauna and all the crabs join together and wait for the next treatment to begin.

Here we go! Ohh the steam is cleansing every part.

You can see how cosy they have it in the warm steamy sauna.

And out of the steam bath showing a new golden glow to the shell feeling soft and juicy in every muscle and internal organ.

See how beautiful he got! Even the hairy claws have a glow to them. The crabs tasted good too. :)

The rest of the dishes we ate were:

Jelly fish and onion

Ah, this is the ginger/soya sauce that we dip the crab meat in.

Soft fresh toufu and... hmm.. pork and some sauce.

Tasty tasty vegetables

A simple favourite, egg and tomato.

And finally the pigs feet soup.

Chinese candy store

Before leaving we also need to buy some Chinese candy to take home and treat our colleges with. See how huge the candy store is! All you can see is Chinese candy! And this picture is just taken in random so there is candy store in all the other directions as well!!! This store is like coming to heaven!

Of course, Chinese candy is not the same as Swedish candy. In China it is more common with nuts, dried fruit, dried fish, dried meat and also what we are more used to in the west... jelly candy and chocolate.

Chinese green tea

Before I can leave China and go back to Sweden I have to buy some real green tea. It is hard to find in a good quality for a good price back home.

Since I visited China for the first time in 2006, I have been fascinated by their green tea. It can not be compared to the cheap crap that for example Lipton makes and the imported green tea that I have tried have been old and lost most of its aroma.

I also had talked to some colleges that are interested in real Chinese green tea and I had promised to try to buy some tea home for them too. I knew that we didn't have so much space in our suitcases but I had set my mind to buy anyway even if it was just a little.

Girlwings parents are friends with a tea dealer in the area so we all went there together to buy some tea.

As you can see the store is not very big or fancy and they even sell some electronics like lamps and clocks to have on the wall.

Directly when you come in you have different kinds of green tea for display. These are the cheapest kinds in the range of 1.9 to 15 yuan for 50 grams.

We were out for the middle range of quality and those were to find behind the counter. There even exist some really fancy teas for several thousands per 50 grams but I doubt that they have them in stock here. I know that you can find them down town.

Under the glass counter there are small bowls with tea samples of a lot of different kinds. They vary a lot in price and quality. You kind of want to buy a little of them all to try.

As a bonus we bought a bag of dried red berries that you are supposed to put into hot water together with the tea. They say that the berries are good for your eyes because of the high content of vitamin A.

And of course they also sell special tea bottles. They have a lot in glass or clay and even metal thermoses. I personally use plastic bottles from FuGuang.


Cheap Shanghai hotel

As a contrast to the nice hotel we stayed at for a couple of nights, I want to show you this cheap hotel that we stayed at before we went home to Sweden again.

This hotel is very close to Girlwings parents and is famous as a hotel for old diplomats or something similar. Once a time, long ago this was a very fancy hotel but with time it has turned old and worn down. It needs a lot of repairs and attention to become fancy again. Meanwhile it is a cheap hotel for people who don't care much how they live. We pay 132 yuan per night for two beds.

The entrance. We didn't get any key to the room, so we had to ask the girl guarding this floor every time we wanted to get in to the room and she came to open for us.

The beds are rock hard. I had to ask for an extra blanket to have under me when I sleep.

The beauty place.

The toilet and shower/bathtub. The shower is really bad because of low water pressure. I never dare to use the bathtub for a bath.


Sticky rice balls

During a lunch with some neighbours we got treated with some tasty sticky rice dumplings. It is a special sweet kind that are quite common.

I have tasted these sticky rice balls a couple of times earlier but these are the largest ones I have ever tried. The ones I've been used to so far are about 1.5 cm in diameter and these big ones are closer to 3-4 cm in diameter. They seem to be served as a sweet dessert or just some snack between the meals. The balls are heated/boiled in water and are also served with the water as you can see.

The white balls are made from some kind of rice flour and are soft and very sticky. They are slippery and should be eaten with a spoon instead of chopsticks. Be careful even if you use a spoon or they will escape when you are not looking.

Be careful when you are about to take a bite because the filling is very hot after the boiling. Usually the filling is a sweet mixture of sugar and either black sesame seeds or red beans. In this picture the filling is made of the sweet red beans.

You can buy them pre made and frozen in the supermarket or you can make your own.


Shanghai World Financial Center

Here are some pictures from when we went to Shanghai World Financial Center. It is the second highest building in the world and the tallest building in the world to its roof. It looks just like a giant beer opener and actually you could buy miniature copies of the building with the function as a cool beer opener.

So you don't get confused... It is the building to the right that is the highest one with its 101 floors and 492 meters. The other beautiful building to the left is the Jin Mao Tower and that one have 88 floors and 421 meters including the antenna.

A cool image I took on the way there.

Another cool picture I took of the building.

Here we arrive at 435 meters and 95th floor.

This is a view you can see when you are standing on the 94th floor and looking out over the Jin Mao Tower and the TV tower. The famous TV tower, The Oriental Pearl Tower, is the strange building with large balls on its body.

It is a really great view as you can see and next time I will go there during daytime. But it have to be a clear day and not one of those foggy ones you are used to in these huge cities.

Panorama of a street in Shanghai with the TV tower to the left.

Vertical panorama of Jin Mao Tower.

Vertical panorama of Jin Mao Tower, again.

Vertical panorama of Shanghai World Financial Center.