Shanghai

KFC in China

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Colonel Sanders is almost as famous as Mao Zedong in China.

Three years. Three years I waited, stranded in the KFC-less nation known as the United States of America.

Wait, what?

“Isn’t Kentucky Fried Chicken from Kentucky?” you might ask.

And you’d be right. Harland “Colonel” Sanders created what would become KFC in 1930 in North Corbin, Kentucky. Today, there are 4,491 KFC franchises in America.

The thing is, those aren’t real KFCs. You’ve been lied to. The best KFC experience can’t be found in North America. Across the Pacific Ocean, 4,563 KFCs stand on the blocks of Chinese towns. 4,563 Chinese KFCs, or as I refer to them, the greatest fast food restaurants in the world.

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Looks pretty familiar, right? Wrong.

Most KFCs in America are pretty similar. They’re small, run-down, and usually connected to A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT RESTAURANT. Seriously, standalone KFCs are getting rarer and rarer these days. Combination KFC-Taco Bells, KFC-Pizza Huts, and KFC-Forever 21s are becoming the norm.

Food at American KFCs is stale, served slowly, and, worst of all, not that great tasting.

Chinese KFC is none of those things. Chinese KFC is amazing.

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Man, KFC is the place to be!

Food in China is cheap. It isn’t hard to find a good meal for about 10 RMB (6 RMB = 1 USD), so KFC and other fast food places aren’t anywhere near the cheapest options.

In fact, it’s kind of a classy place.

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If you forgot that KFC was a friendly and relaxed place, don’t worry; the fries are here to remind you.

Chinese KFCs are bigger, brighter, and cleaner. The menu has a lot more items than its American counterpart. It’s also localized to Chinese diets; the classic bucket is still there, but it’s joined by traditional street food like youtiao, a (delicious) breakfast food.

Simply put, KFC in China is the best because everything they make is delicious and of (relatively) high quality.

*******

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My first meal.

Three years. Three years since the last time I had been in China. Three years since I had eaten at a Chinese KFC.

Going through high school, there was always a voice in the back of my head begging me to return. For one thing and one thing only: the KFC Spicy Chicken Wing Sandwich.

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I’ve had eight of these since I’ve been here.

Savory, spicy, crunchy, tangy, and awesome.  This is my favorite chicken sandwich of all time. And it’s not available in America. I waited three years to eat this sandwich, and it was everything I imagined and more.

Farewell for now KFC, I’ll miss you.

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In China, you don’t put away your own trash; it’s cleaned up for you. 

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China (#2) Day 2: “Welcome to Shanghai: Rainy Days and the Tianzifang Art District”

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Rain, rain, go away. 

I want to apologize for the loooooooong time that has elapsed since my first post. I was planning on putting something up by this weekend, but the sights and thrills of Shanghai got in the way. I’ll try my best to update more frequently from now on.

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Despite omnipresent grey skies and rain my first days in Shanghai, I was determined to still get out and see the city. Shanghai is broken up into two distinct halves by the Huang Pu river. Those halves are known as Pudong and Puxi (literally “Pu East” and “Pu West”). Puxi is the more cultural side, crammed with historic buildings and foreign concessions (areas previously controlled by outside nations). Pudong used to be Shanghai’s industrial district, but over the last 20 years has become China’s financial center. The Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Tower, and other new and super tall things lie in Pudong.

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The Tianzifang Art District

A subway and taxi ride took me from my aunt’s apartment in Pudong to the Tianzifang Art District in Puxi. Even in bad weather, Tianzifang is a great place to walk around and window-shop in Shanghai’s French Concession.

The fact that the district is hidden from main streets made it seem very trendy. You have to know it’s there to find it. Turn down an alleyway, and boom, there it is. It was only while I snacked on my first cronut did I realize where I was: hipster Shanghai.

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Unbelievably delicious!

Tianzifang is filled with little shops, each of which sells their own unique items. The first shop I stopped at made art exclusively out of paper. IMG_5569 IMG_5570

Each store fills a different niche or quirk, making this cozy district even cozier. I ended up perusing by a candy-making demonstration, a teddy-bear museum, a music box store, and a scent library.

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These blurry fruits are actually music boxes.

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Grass smells a lot like dirt. And air.

My favorite things were this sculpture and t-shirt.

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“Oba-Mao” Get it? Only 30 RMB!

Overall, it was a nice place to tour on a rainy day. Five stars, Tianzifang, five stars.

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My next post: KFC in China.

 

 

China (#2) Day 1: “The Beginning of a Journey: 15-Hour Flights and Delta Business Elite”

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Over Canada. It’s cold there.

The last assignment I had in high school was a bucket list. For the most part, I filled it out with typical items: skydiving, running a marathon, etc. But one life-goal I set kept returning to my thoughts, “4. Visit Every Country in the World (before I turn 40)”.  Visiting every nation seemed to be too ambitious of an adventure for one lifetime.

Was it even possible? How many people had done it before? I wanted to figure out how many countries I had already been to.

America

Canada

Mexico

Jamaica

Japan

China

Austria

Czech Republic

Poland

North Korea*

… and many more that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

*A story for a future post!

I’ve visited around 15+ different countries! But there are a lot more out there. For the sake of keeping record, I’ve decided on a couple ground rules for this adventure:

  1. I’m resetting the counter: This means that any country I visited before I turned 18 doesn’t count. I can’t remember half the places my parents have taken me, so I want to start fresh. Which means the United States of America (#1), is the “only” country I’ve been to so far.
  2. I have to eat a meal: If you don’t Instagram food you ate there, did you really go?
  3. Airports are not Countries: Spending an hour waiting for a connection in Amsterdam does not count as “Visiting the Netherlands”.
  4. Countries are determined by the UN: As of June 18, 2014, there are 193 member states of the United Nations.

And so my journey begins with a three-week trip to China (#2)!

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There are long flights and then there are LONG flights. The Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG) route is most definitely part of the latter group. 14 hours and 49 minutes of non-stop fun it is not. I am of the opinion that one hasn’t truly experienced a LONG flight until you’ve watched three movies, eaten two meals, and taken a nap, only to realize YOU ARE STILL ON THE PLANE AND IT DOESN’T LAND FOR THREE MORE HOURS.

If there is a hell, I’m sure it looks just like an economy middle seat on a transpacific flight. But by a stroke of good fortune, for the first time in my life, I was going to ride in business class.

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Apologies for the shaky iPhone photo. I was excited.

For someone who had only been in coach before, Delta Business Elite was a game changer. Lie-flat seats (that massage), real pillows and blankets, and complementary travel goods were waiting for me when I boarded the plane.

I was actually forced to change from athletic shorts into other pants to board the plane.

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The forced outfit change.

More than anything else, the best part of business class is the food. Whereas airplane food usually resembles a microwave dinner gone wrong, these are some of the Delta Business Elite offerings:

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The croissant, shrimp, and mashed potatoes were awesome. 

So a 15-hour flight actually flew by because I was so busy photographing my food and writing this post. Now that I’ve landed in Shanghai, I’m ready to conquer the world.

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Right after I wake up.