Monthly Archives: January 2011

Authentic Asian food two days in a row (Mainz, DE)

Sunday night we went to a new Asian restaurant in the Industrial part of the suburb we live in. (There are two jokes in that sentence). When I say suburb I mean neighborhood really. Germany is too densely populated that we could call it a suburb but I used the word to illustrate how ridiculous it is that there is a.) its own industrial park and b.) an Asian restaurant within both.Either way I’m convinced that the ‘well known sushi chef’ was thrilled to have been relocated from Munich where he had ‘previously worked in an upscale restaurant’. It can’t get better than working next to a bowling alley and a carpet design warehouse in beautiful Mainz-Bretzenheim, right next to the Autobahn.

The restaurant was huge. 340 seats and an additional two private rooms with 70 more seats in each. And it was crowded! I’ve been to China 5 times and to Japan and Vietnam once and I can say that the food was pretty authentic. Generally I find that Asian food in Europe is different, that’s obviously because we don’t have many Asian immigrants so the food is Europeanized. Usually you get richer noodle dishes or less fish, more sweet and sour sauces, that sort of thing. In comparison the Asian food in New York is almost the same as it is in Asia, although you will get less undefinable substances. In this restaurant the European touch was added by serving fries and a dessert menu that consisted of M&Ms and gummy bears for the kids, and various flavors of ice cream only found in supermarkets for the fat population.

Obviously I did not taste the entire menu, the reason I could make the above observation of culinary accuracy is because this was also a buffet. And here is where worlds collided. Germany meets Vegas (/Atlantic City/…Ikea?) meets Asia. You had the classic freeloader type of people who piled as much food as possible on a plate regardless of hunger, knowledge about what it was or the fact that there were people in line behind them. I almost followed a person to his table just to see him eat an entire bowl of wasabi paste. Also, they talked in the local dialect. I wish I could describe this better. On Facebook I posted a picture of 4 people dressed in oriental hats and blinking buttons, these guys must have come from a carnival party (it’s carnival in Germany, for many weeks! We are funny people, in so many ways) but there was no indication that they were enjoying themselves, not even while eating. Anyway, it was priceless, the entire experience. I am glad to see this restaurant booming but I pity the staff for having to put up with this audience.

On Monday I ran a bunch of errands, one of them was getting the car radio replaced because it simply stopped working right before I attempted my longish trip home from my friend Sandra. I had to sing to myself for almost 3 hours, it was rather horrific. The good news is that this radio problem seems to be common with this type of car so the replacement was free and I could spend the money on chocolate.

In the afternoon I once again visited my grandmother in the hospital. Fun with old people, I will spare you the rest.

And finally in the evening we had more authentic Chinese food, this time cooked by my long time friend MaRui whom my other friend Berthold fell in love with when she was our videographer (camera woman) on our second trip to China in 1998, and consequently married and moved to a real suburb (!) in Germany. They have two kids so we usually visit them rather than go out, and each time we do MaRui makes us dine like kings. I’m back in August, I can’t wait…

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The kids were asleep already, they had ignored the German pleas to brush their teeth for the longest time but when MaRui switched to Chinese there were no more discussions…   who said German is a commanding language?

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Ludwigsburg, Remseck, old memories and more good food (DE)

Not far from Heidi, 13 kilometers in fact 🙂 , my friend Sandra took residence a while back. I know Sandra from 3 out of my 5 trips to China and as part of the evening we watched an old film of us roaming that country and causing mayhem, mostly drunk at the time (The worst revelations from 1998 were the fact that I was much much fatter then and I had a haircut someone should have prohibited. I will spare the details).

Sandra’s boyfriend Jens cooked for us and endured hours of giggly memories, what a trooper.

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Ludwigsburg, European animals and another friend (DE)

Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, is about 200 km from Mainz. Yes, I said kilometers, get used to it!

My friend Heidi lives there now, with her husband Reinhard and their 18 months old son Benjamin. As with every visit to anyone here (you’re only seeing a selection) I was well fed by them because apparently I look like I need to gain a lot of weight before I lose it to a nasty bug in Africa. Or something.  Anyway, Ludwigsburg has a great old castle and a bunch of other nice places. It was pretty cold outside but we took a nice long walk so Benni could sleep and we could catch up about the last 2 years.

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It was probably not necessary to take pictures of goats and deer given that from Friday on giraffes, lions and elephants should be using the memory card on my camera, but there you go.

My childhood friend and I (Mainz, DE)

This picture is not flattering for either of us but that’s what happens when you try to squeeze it in right before you leave and while you can’t feel your fingers anymore.

I hadn’t seen Isabelle in 20 years. We both still look the same pretty much.

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The dog is Sara, we were instant best friends.

Mainz – the cathedral (Mainz, DE)

Very famous btw.

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Sadly this is the only picture I took of my home town so far. It’s really nice here. You should google it. And visit.

Not Cairo for sure (Mainz, DE)

So while I was frolocking with various amounts of friends at a time the situation in Egypt has not been getting much better. While I’m missing the visuals (I haven’t watched the news in a while) I heard that the airport was temporarily closed and the airline I chose, Air Eypt, no longer operates. That was two days ago and things seem have changed a bit, though they are not much safer now. My flight is still offered on Expedia or Kayak and it has gone up in price significantly. No mention of potential problems. I didn’t trust this situation and tried to call the airline but they won’t answer and their website has been down for days. So I finally called Expedia and cancelled the flight. Their customer service agrees that this may be my safest option to avoid getting stuck in Cairo where the airport is supposedly chaotic and the internet has been taken offline for the entire country. They still had to charge me a cancellation fee because the flight has not been cancelled by the airline itself. I didn’t want to wait until the last second only to be stuck here or there, and potentially end up with a flight voucher but no more available flights to South Africa. I am now using a different airline and I will connect in Doha, the capital of Quatar which you probably didn’t know, I certainly didn’t. Let’s hope they don’t riot until Friday there.

One more week until it’s finally summer (Mainz, DE)

My flight to Johannesburg is next Thursday. I will connect in Cairo. Or will I? Who knows what happens to the airspace while the Egyptians are attempting to take their government out.

I can’t wait for better weather. For one I still have my cold and it’s borderline annoying at this point. I mean…not that it was so enjoyable until then. Also, I’m cold here. With rising energy prices in Germany my father opts for the colder apartment. I even dug out my sleeping bag for the first nights just to sleep a bit better. That sleeping bag is new and was bought specifically for my trip. It’s a light warm weather bag and I have to admit that I may be a tad too big for it. Partially because I often fall asleep on my side and I need legroom so that my knees don’t rub on each other. I have no extra material in it to create another layer. However the reality will probably be this: I’ll sleep on top of it because I hate being too hot at night and from what I imagine it’ll be warm even at night. We’ll see, I may be completely wrong and I’ll end up wearing my thermals. (Lesson learned on previous trips: Never forget your thermals). Naturally I have yet to google what the weather will be anywhere I go and prepare a bit better. 4 months preparation are hardly enough time for that.

After almost a week here in which I have bought another heavy book as opposed to getting through some in order to create more room in my bag I have finally taken to reading again. Smart as I am I started with the stuff I borrowed from the digital media section of the Brooklyn Public Library, i.e. books on my ipad. They are due on Monday and I finished them both. So proud. However that was not useful in the long run. For one I have no internet connection with my ipad that I can use to return them. I assume they will simply expire and not be available afterward. That would be the best option, I hope I’m not running up any cost here.  The other dumb reason is that they don’t reduce the weight of my bag either. Duh.