Posts Tagged ‘Sigma 10-20mm wide angel lens’

Old Boys ‘N The Hood, originally uploaded by Serenity in China.

Some of the reactions from people on the street here can be quite funny.

The old boys here gave Julianne, myself, and a friend quite a look as we walked past them to go eat at a restaurant.

I wonder what they had to say after we were gone?


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How can one explain the potency of stinky tofu’s smell to someone who has never smelled it?

I don’t know if it’s possible, lol.

I smelled it for the first time in South Korea, 2005. I was teaching middle school and walked into the cafeteria for lunch when I was assaulted by an awful and foul stench . . .

At the time I remember turning to a Korean English co-teacher and saying, “Is someone washing dirty laundry? It smells like dirty socks are being washed in the kitchen? And . . . other bad things too . . .” She thought my reaction was quite amusing.

After filling my tray with other foods and getting a bowl full of the stinky tofu I sat down with several other Korean teachers–all of whom were watching me with GREAT INTEREST to see how I’d react to trying the stinky tofu.

I ate it–and it was GOOD! In fact, it was awesome and I sometimes miss it over here in China.

The stinky tofu in China, however, in contrast to Korean stinky tofu . . . well, let’s just say that the pungency power rating of its smell is off the charts! It’s ‘nuclear stinky tofu’ in terms of its olfactory assault capabilities, and Julianne and I have yet to try it.

If and when I get a chance to try Chinese stinky tofu I’ll definitely blog about it . . . the problem is working up the courage to eat something that in my experience with foreign foods only compares to the smell of “skate” (‘honga’ (Korean name) aka sting-ray) that Hans Zimmerman tried while he was in South Korea for his Bizarre Foods TV show . . .

Julianne has pretty much said she doesn’t want to try it. As for me . . . well, if I was willing to eat the “skate” I should be willing to try the stink tofu here.

Time will tell . . . lol.


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Julianne and I went out into the ‘feels like 42 degrees’ heat and humidity tonight to get some dinner with a friend . . . and man was it MOIST out there!

It took TEN MINUTES for my lens to defog when I left the apartment tonight if that’s any indicator of how humid it is right now.

During the walk to the restaurant I snapped a few shots. We saw this new (I think they’re new anyway) rotisserie chicken street vendor cart . . . awesome.

Can you imagine working over one of these carts, though, in 40+ heat and humidity?!!!


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An open air coffee shop? In Changsha’s summer heat and humidity?

I’ve had quite a few conversations with Chinese people about how I don’t understand or follow cultures which think drinking warm and especially HOT liquids ’causes’ a cooling effect in the human body . . .

When it’s hot inside or outside I want any liquids that enter my body to be ICE COLD!

Maybe if I study Chinese medicine and its philosophy of the body I might understand the origins of this thought and system of cultural medicine but for now . . .

I’ll stick with my icy-cold beverages.


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From what I’ve been able to piece together the street fruit sellers are usually illegal migrant workers that have come into the cities from rural areas seeking work.

I cannot begin to imagine how hard their lives must be . . .


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I think this picture will end up being the best shot I get of crossing the street culture in China–especially during rush hour traffic!

Julianne and I went out for an early dinner today and on the bus ride home I took this picture out the window.

The light had just changed and a large group of people along with a police officer walked out to the center of the street to wait for the other traffic light to change so that they could finish crossing the street . . . during the wait time they stand in the middle of rush hour traffic . . . yeah.

It’s definitely a major cultural difference between North American and Chinese cultures–one that cannot be imagined by most people until they’ve seen it in person.

It’s definitely one of the things I will never forget about living in China.


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Crosswalks in China . . . I think whoever the first person in China was to design the model that would be used in all Chinese cities thereafter may have not completely understood some of the basic principles of where it is appropriate to make a crosswalk.

Case in point this picture where there are four lanes of traffic on either side of the barrier with openings for pedestrians using the crosswalk that has no traffic lights.

Pedestrians just go when they can, dodging between vehicles that barely slow down, and when they make it to the barrier in the center they then have to do the same maneuvers through the other four lanes of traffic.

Oh, and the other thing pedestrians have to contend with: scooters driving through the center barrier-gates to either cross the street or change direction of travel–nice!


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Pharmacy in China, originally uploaded by Serenity in China.

How many pharmacy workers does it take to help a laowai get his medicine?

No, that is not the opening of a joke–though it could be.

This afternoon Julianne and I went on a hunt to find an over the counter muscle relaxant for my shoulder (it’s having ‘issues’). We walked into the pharmacy armed with a small list of over the counter relaxant names we’d found on the Net hoping that we might get lucky and find one of them here in China . . .

About 2 seconds after we entered and I pulled out the list we were surrounded by five pharmacy workers–I won’t use the label “pharmacist” because I really doubt that translates both culturally and in terms of training and knowledge from English into the Chinese context.

Two of them began examining the list with a look I know all too well from inside the EFL/ESL classroom when, at the beginning of my career, I would have mistakenly selected a reading passage that is too difficult for a lesson . . . the “I’m-trying-as-hard-as-I-can-but-have-no-idea-what-this-is” face is one I know well, and the girls, while trying to hide it, had full on expressions of it.

I should say that I really appreciate that here in China the store clerks will actually try to communicate and interact, regardless of English language ability, with a foreigner because in South Korea the clerks all too often get a case of the ‘oh-shit-it’s-a-waygook/migook (‘foreigner’)’ and all too often give you terrible service and attitude/hide/runaway, etc. At least here most of the Chinese clerks/service people Julianne and I have interacted with will TRY–we both really appreciate that!

Back to the story . . .

Another worker, upon seeing that neither Julianne or I have enough Chinese language skills to converse in a pharmacy situation (seriously, that is SPECIALIZED LANGUAGE), began yelling across the hall to one of her friends who speaks some English . . . which was nice of her, but I also thought to myself how many Chinese people are able to speak English in a pharmacy situation? It’s not easy for them too!

Thus it was that Julianne and I were surrounded by six Chinese women all very curious and wanting to help but unable to help that I had a very brief chat with the nominated girl-who-speaks-English who was VERY happy to get to practice her speaking skills (minimal as they were) . . .

After visually confirming for myself that there were no names of over the counter relaxants I was trying to find on the shelves, or anything that looked like it might fit the bill, I gave up and we said thank you and left.

The band of girls dispersed as we left the store and the ‘English speaker’ said, “Thank you. See you next.”

I guess the ‘moral,’ or rather ‘lesson,’ of this story is don’t go to a pharmacy without a Chinese friend who is fluent in English, has an English-Chinese dictionary, and possibly an electronic translator that also has medical terms too . . . and maybe even better do research at home on the Net to find the terms and words you need in Mandarin with your Chinese friend before you even venture out to find a pharmacy.

The problem is that even after all of that you may not be successful. I guess then if you still need the medicine it’s time to go see a doctor . . . but I’m trying really hard to avoid that if at all possible as there is a whole other set of issues that come up.


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This picture was taken in Carrefour department store. I always love the particular Chinese cultural influence that is present in the international stores in China. In this case you can see the dried/smoked pig faces . . .

When I first arrived in China, Julianne and I were walking around inside a Walmart I couldn’t figure out why it smelled so different. Then I came across the meat area and saw a very similar sight. I think the smoked meats must add their aromas to the overall atmosphere inside the department stores . . .

I hardly notice it now, lol.


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This has to be one of the busiest fruit and vegetable shops I know of in downtown Changsha.

I forgot to change the white balance on my camera before snapping this picture so the “Tungsta” setting makes it a little unusual.

That being said, I still like the pic.


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