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Posts Tagged ‘expat life in China’

I guess it must be girls night out . . . I think in bedding shops it’s usually women selling stuff . . . but I don’t think the gendered division of labour is as segregated as what I’ve seen while living in Korea.

J

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I’m posting this picture because you can see the * by the bus number which means that this bus has air conditioning and you have to pay 2 yuan for the fare.

Now newbies to China, myself included, should realize that just because there’s a * doesn’t mean that the interior temperature and humidity levels will be cooler than the outside conditions–in fact, a fair amount of the time it might even be hotter and more humid inside!!!

Tonight, the bus we got on actually had good air conditioning . . . and this really helps Julianne and I not get irritated by the sardine-packed-conditions of the bus we were on. There were so many people that more couldn’t enter anymore by the front entrance of the bus so they’d just climb in the back exit doors . . . this is not unusual, either, for bus culture in China from what I’ve seen.

Anyways, the extreme bus culture of China is definitely not something we will miss after leaving!

J

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Well, Julianne and I are slowly nearing the end of our time in China–we leave in a couple days.

It’s been extremely hot and humid outside now for several days. Sometimes there’s a semi-cooling breeze that keeps things tolerable in the shade, and sometimes there’s not and you begin to feel like you’re walking through an outdoor sauna . . . and it’s only going to get hotter as the summer progresses!

Anyways, tonight we went out for dinner with friends. One of them had a brother visiting from America, and they had just returned from Beijing and traveling around doing the tourist thing.

We went out for Korean food and had a good time talking about the brother’s first experiences in China. I also got a great picture of him trying kimchi for the first time–he pretty much did the classic contortion and smile to try and hide the shock at how spicy/sour/salty/unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-eaten-in-your-entire-life-before-face . . . it was FANTASTIC!

Later, as we were walking around to do some shopping I saw a classic THIS IS CHINA nighttime street scene.

Shirtless, cold beers, snacks, and sitting with friends by the street having a good time . . .

Awesome!

J

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Julianne’s Brownies, originally uploaded by Serenity in China.

At Metro you can buy Betty Crocker brownie mix . . . yum.

While I think I’m a fairly decent cook when it comes to baking and making western style foods–Julianne is a thousand times better.

I’ve made brownies using the Betty Crocker mix, and thought they were good.

Then I tried Julianne’s brownies that she made with another package of the same Betty Crocker mix . . .

Julianne’s brownies are superior–no contest.

This morning Julianne baked up a ‘last batch of brownies in China’ for us . . .

Don’t they look good?!

J

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Julianne and I get asked a lot by our students and other university teachers here in China if we like Chinese food and how often we eat it, etc.

We really like Chinese food and there are very few dishes we’ve come across that we didn’t like when eating at the restaurants in Changsha.

We also, of course, like to eat western foods from North America, and foods from other cultures like India, for example.

Since we haven’t heard of any Indian restaurants in Changsha we decided to make some curry style chicken when we came across a packet of seasonings in Metro (similar to COSTCO) a few weeks ago.

The only problem was that even with the ‘prepared’ seasonings the recipe on the package called for ingredients and items we don’t have in our apartment. We also knew we couldn’t find them in Metro.

Anyways, Julianne improvised with what we had in our kitchen and produced a really good tasting curry-esque chicken dish (I’m sure substituting ketchup for pureed tomato might have altered the dish a wee bit, lol).

As a side dish we had baked potatoes which are surprisingly cheap to buy here.

It is possible to cook western/foreign food dishes here in Changsha but it pays to bring spices you love from home on the plane. You can get quite a few at Metro and Carrefour, but others are impossible to find.

Next week I’ll be back in Canada and can’t wait to go into a grocery store and experience the extreme reverse-culture-shock of seeing so many choices . . . it really hits home how privileged one is to live in Canada after being overseas for several years.

Happy Canada Day!!!

J

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Well, today was my birthday and Julianne and I went out for dinner at Maojia’s Restaurant with our student assistant and his girlfriend.

Apparently the owner of this restaurant is a relative of Mao’s and the menu has several of his favorite dishes. We ordered some of them and I took close-up shots of each dish which you can see on my flickr page.

I found it a ‘little’ ironic that the menu was a GIANT RED BOOK, lol. I should have snapped a picture but forgot to. There was a picture on the cover of Mao and some of his relatives and in particular the woman that owns the restaurant; I’m supposed to get an email soon with a link to the picture as it’s ‘famous in China’ so I’ll add that to this post.

Getting a taxi back to the apartment was a bit of a task with Saturday night traffic, and then, of course, we rear-ended another taxi . . . luckily it was just a tiny bump.

The driver got out of his car and looked like he was going to try and throw a fit to get some cash but I gave him my best teacher-look-of-don’t-you-dare-do-that and he hesitated, and I kept staring him down as the driver of our taxi got out to talk to him . . . and luckily the other driver decided he didn’t want to throw a temper tantrum, and gather a crowd of people around to hold a ‘street court judgement session’ which seems to happen in China with these kinds of situations. Before the other driver gave up, though, an old guy on a scooter stopped when we first bumped the taxi and said a comment, and two other guys then wandered over from the sidewalk. . . but luckily for Julianne and I the other driver gave up and drove off.

I guess the last thing to say about my birthday is that the Chinese weather gods must have decided to send me a gift today because the heat and humidity were pretty much absent when I headed out tonight for dinner. There was a blue sky, some nice sunlight, a good breeze, low humidity and the heat of summer was absent–nice!

J

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Some people can use chopsticks and others hold two sticks in their hand like they’re paralyzed from the wrist down, lol.

After learning how to use Korean metal chopsticks to pick up small nuts, anything food that is wet or slimy, and NOODLES which are the ultimate metal chopstick test in my mind I’ve gotten quite good with them.

Tonight, however, I was reminded how some people can be ‘chopstick-challenged’ as I watched a friend trying to get noodles into her bowl . . . sorry “A,” it looked funny to me, lol.

The best part about all of this is “A” speaks Chinese fluently (she’d deny that, but she is really good) . . . but “A + chopsticks + noodles” = potential for disaster.

Anyways, dinner was GOOD tonight!

J

NOTE: To all people living in Asia (especially Korea) please don’t read this post as validating the MYTH/FALSE BELIEF that many people have about westerners/native English speakers being incapable of using chopsticks–some of us can use them very well, some moderately well, and some are hopelessly unable to use them.  Using chopsticks is NOT like brain surgery–as one Korean surgeon told a news reporter in a story I read (RIDICULOUS!)–and it’s more a matter of familiarity and practice than any kind of innate RACIAL ability!

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