Monthly Archives: July 2009
The world had no colors
Still see the tan lines on my shoulders
And how would I know
When the cookies I baked for us
Are golden brown
The world had no scents
When I spritz perfume in my hair
On Valentine’s Day
And what would I do
When on a sleepless night
I need to breathe in your skin
To lull me to slumber
The world had no light
Still trace your fingers
Along the curve of my neck
Against the pale pale wall
And where would I find you
If your hand accidentally slips from mine
In a crowded subway car
The world had no words
Still be listening
When I tell you that I want to go to the museum
And how would I start
That same senseless argument
That neither of us ever wins
The world had no music
Still recognize our song
When it comes on the radio
And what would I march to
When I walk down the aisle
On our wedding day
(If you would
Then I would find a way)
I just discovered an absolutely amazing photographer: Rodney Smith. Phenomenal images and stunning composition that you don’t find in a lot of modern photography any more. I am just blown away… go check him out. I am totally lusting after his new book now… except it costs $650 (!!!). Anyways, he has a new blog where he posts spreads from the book every week and explains the story behind the photos.
Some of my favourites from his work:
And by that, I am referring to the following photo:
This morning my mom and I went to this theme park called 洋人街, which roughly translates to “foreigner town” in the same sense of Chinatown in western countries. I saw these statues with the sign outside a restaurant and it just cracked me up (although the word “comrade” continues to be used by officials of the Communist party, it is much of a satirical term in colloquial language now). As for rides, I wasn’t really feeling like them, so I only went on the swing (my favourite… yes go ahead, call me a wimp. I cry like a baby on anything that turns me over more than 45 degrees from its upstanding position).
Last night we went down to the boardwalks by the Yangtze River to view the night scenery.
It was quite beautiful and the sight was reminiscent of the view from the Bund in Shanghai. Speaking of Shanghai, it is one of my favourite places in the world. It is far cleaner and more cosmopolitan city than the capital Beijing and in many ways I like it much better. It is a beautiful city with great architecture, great public transit (the metro is excellent), great shopping… I just love it. I’ve only been there once but I would love to go back. The World Expo is going to be held in Shanghai next year and I’m going to try my best to be there next summer :)
Yesterday morning we went to the Chongqing zoo, where I had hoped to see some pandas (because pandas are adorable and native to the region). But unfortunately it was a hot and humid day and most of the pandas the had were inside their shelters and only one was out napping.
Me by the entrance to the reptile hall
After the zoo, we went to an ancient town in Chongqing called Ciqikou (磁器口). It’s now mostly a tourist attraction where the streets are lined with shops selling local crafts and food.
It’s impossible to write about Ciqikou and not write about its food, so forget about what I said about one special food post. First I had a 糖葫芦, which is a long skewer of fruit (typically hawthorn) coated in hardened sugar syrup.
Then more lamb kabob :)
Then there was this very popular Indian roti shop where the charismatic Indian chef makes the roti in public and draws a huge crowd. We had the pineapple one and it was delicious.
There’s loads more specialty foods, like all sorts of spicy snacks, the famous Chen fried dough twists, cotton candy spun into the shape of lotus flowers, beef jerky, lots of different types of confectionaries… so much that I can’t possibly fit it all into one post. Ciqikou was definitely a great cultural and culinary experience and I can’t wait to go back again some day :)
It’s been a really long day of going to places and although there certainly are enough to write a full blog post, I’m too tired to do so. So I’m going to keep it short and sweet today. There are a number of things that I’m having a difficult time adjusting to here in China; I have not been back in 4 years and I guess I’ve grown accustomed to life in North America. So here I present the top 10 things in China I’m not used to:
10. No taxes or tips. Ever. For anything.
9. Not wearing seat belts in taxis.
8. The little ledge over almost every doorway. I’ve already tripped over them way too many times.
7. Public bathrooms. Squatting “toilets” + no toilet paper + no soap + unkept floor = not fun.
6. Being greeted with a puff of hot humid air whenever I step outside.
5. Actually feeling kind of tall when among others.
4. How cheap everything is. Especially when I keep converting the prices into dollars.
3. The lack of drinking water fountains.
3.a. Not being able to order ice water in restaurants (except really upscale ones).
2. Loss of meaning of the term “personal space” in public.
1. Being overwhelmed by the vast number of options of delicious Chinese food at my fingertips, yet at the same time, I’m kind of craving a good old cheeseburger.
So I’ve begun my stay in Chongqing now, today being my first full day here. Chongqing is a mountainous region on the Yangtze River, and one of the hottest cities in China during the summer season. With the humidity added, it’s nearly unbearable to go outside for extended periods of time. The invention of air conditioning has never felt more necessary and I’ve been drinking crazy amounts of water to keep myself from being dehydrated. One thing noticeably missing from Chongqing, compared to most other cities in China, is the presence of bicycles. This is because of topography of the region; steep slopes and stairways everywhere make the place very inaccessible to bikes. The dialect here is also very difficult to understand and few people speak standard Mandarin, but my parents seem to get it so I guess I’ll just have to stick with my parents wherever I go. On a brighter side, my dad’s apartment is much more spacious than my grandparents’ in Beijing (where real estate is more costly), and I love my room :)
Today we went to the downtown area and saw some sights. First we went to the area around the People’s Liberation Monument, and lo and behold what do I find? One of my favourite street foods ever – lamb kabob!! So obviously I had to get one :) It was sooo good.
Then we went to the Great Hall of the People, which is a magnificent structure.
There was a museum right across from there and it was free and open to the public, so we went in and took a look. They had exhibits about the natural and social history of the area and of China in general, and it was really nice and quite large, and we didn’t even get to see all the exhibits before they shut down for the day.
Exhibit of the different ethnicities in the region.
Ok… I was going to write some more about the food here, but I’m super tired and uploading pictures is taking forever. So I think I’m just going to have a special post about food later on because I’m sure there will be plenty to write about. Aight bed time! Zoo tomorrow :)
Another overcast day in Beijing. My mom and I left the apartment at 8 am to take the bus. At the bus stop, I saw a streetside food vendor selling 鸡蛋灌饼. It’s like a flatbread filled with an egg cooked on a large pan, then they wrap sauce and lettuce in it :D It is so delicious and I have not had one in AGES. So I got one. And it only cost 1.50 RMB (about 25 cents).
After my second breakfast, we took the bus, which was very very crowded (I almost did not get on), and transferred to the subway, which was even more crowded since it was still the morning rush. We had to wait for the third train to get on, and by get on I mean thrust through the doors as soon as they opened by the crowd pushing behind. And before I could even get my step steady all the seats on the car were already filled with people. Sigh. But otherwise, the subway system in Beijing is far cleaner and more modernized than the one in NYC. The cars are air conditioned, they have flat screen TV’s in them, and there are no rats or cockroaches in the tracks.
About an hour later, we arrived at the Olympic Sports Center :D
The National Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest
The National Aquatic Center, aka the Water Cube. I will come back to this place later in my trip at night because it lights up and it’s really pretty.
The National Indoor Stadium
Then we got tickets to go inside the Bird’s Nest.
It must have bee really amazing to have watched the Games in there, it’s a pretty epic place :)
For lunch we stopped by another outdoor food place for some 凉皮, or cold rice noodles with spicy vinegar and garlic sauce and cucumbers and a kind of gluten thing (I honestly don’t know what it’s called in English). It was also something I’ve been craving for a while and it was so yummy.
Later in the afternoon we went to a mall near the apartment. Though I call it a mall it’s really nothing like the western version of it. Each floor has its own category of goods (like shoes, women’s clothing, appliances, etc.) and vendors set up their own little booth. It’s shopping heaven. But unfortunately I did not buy anything (except for some flip flops; I’ve been destroying shoes lately) because I’m doing a lot more travelling later on and all the shopping will be left for later. Must. Resist. Temptation. TO BUY!
Tomorrow it’s off to the airport again for my flight to Chongqing. New adventures await!
PS: Something odd has been happening. I’ve constantly been hearing one of my favourite soundtracks (Amélie) playing. As the music to some documentary TV program. On the subway. What even more strange is that I’m probably the only person who knows where the music is from. I kind of like it that way :)