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Chronicles of msadele

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Life in the Jing

Not so squeezy …

For those who think their subway or train line is full.  You ain’t seen nothin baby !

About a week ago, I went to see a couple of suppliers located in the north-west of the Jing, past the 4th ring road.  The best way to get to the edge of the earth, is via subway.  A taxi takes minimum 1 hour each way, and for those who suffer from car sickness like myself, it’s really not an option.

This lesson was learned the hard and messy way. Cab drivers here love to put pedal to metal, then slam on the brakes.

So I took a cab from work to the suppliers office close to CBD, and they drove us to the call centre out west.  I sat in the front.

On the way back I took Line 10.  See map below – showing start and finish points, highlighting stops 1, 3 & 5.

For a little perspective …

Stop 1.

Line 10, Stop 1Stop 3.

Line 10, Stop 3Stop 5.

Line 10, Stop 5Within 3 small stops the train is packed, like a tin of off sardines.  Imagine yourself  in 35 degrees, stinking (yes, stinky!) heat at around 70% humidity.

Getting off the train was yet another frightening experience, involving a lot of shouting and pushing people to move, who consequently end up outside of the train on the platform, just so peeps can get off.   Wonder what the ratio is for people who successfully get back on ?!

It’s a charming experience, and not in the Collins dictionary kind of way.

To Expo, or not to Expo

Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing.

They take their potatoes seriously.

Ride My Bike Until …

A chinese dynasty has past since I last blogged.

Where does one start when so much has time has passed? A wise man said to me, “you don’t have to write much, just post pics an summarise”. Thanks @cannizzaro.  I’m taking the advice and I’m starting with the present. Well, nearly.

Every foreigner in Beijing will know that the best, and believe it or not, safest way to get around this town is by bike.  Bikes come in all types in these parts, Malvern Star knock offs if you want the retro look, teeny tiny wheeled fold ups, electric bikes for the lazy, and you can throw in a side car if you want to take the family.

I went with the good old fashioned kind that you need to pedal.  So here’s my new wheels!

Thigh BusterBig, little wheels - fold up styles

*I think they do the peace sign differently in China.

Montezumas revenge

This afternoon I was hit with a diarrhea tsunami … goes a little something like this

you feeling me?
Serves me right for considering my thighs, and eating salad for lunch. Now, I went into this restaurant as it appeared to be a reputable establishment, filled to the brim with Lo Wai (and locals, that’s when you know it’s OK), some of which were eating salads!

Must be my lucky day, or maybe big brother honed in on the tweet I posted whilst in the restaurant, commenting on their poor service. Karma strikes again.

Story goes; I ate, paid my bill and went for a stroll. 20 mins later, I’m half heartedly running (with knees locked) in a mad panic, back to the apartment, approximately 300 metres away, praying to anyone listening that I make it home. Refer to my earlier post this week “Always bring the kleenex” for a snapshot of why I will never go to a public toilet in China again. On that note: given my experience today, I now understand why the toilets look like that.

For anyone who has experienced this before, you will understand when I say, it is a fate worse than death.

Big thank you to Element Fresh for the $19 enema – looks like I’ll lose a few kilos before I head to Phuket, can’t complain about that !

p.s. I must point out this is the first time it’s happen in the 6 weeks I’ve been in Beijing, so I’ve had a pretty good run so far. I really think someone read my tweet and thought ‘yeah! let’s payback this whining b*tch!” ;-)

BTW the salad I ate was delicious, couldn’t taste the salmonella at all !

Always bring the kleenex

Before you read, please note: I actually wrote this last sunday, however, due to connectivity issues, was unable to upload video to YouTube, and consequently, post this post. Thankfully, after a few vpn tweaks, uploading is all saaweet!  So …

It’s Saturday night, you’re new in town so it’s encouraged to accept invitations to go out whenever they come your way.

So, frenchy & I went out for dinner/drinks saturday night with a group of people frenchy had met through work.  We ended up in a popular and very traditional chinese spot called BeiXinQiao (pronounced Bei-Jin-Ciao, or something like that ;-).  You may want to Wiki that.

This area is quite stunning to look at, with the rows and rows of red lanterns lighting up the strip for about 1km on either side of the road – beautiful! Click here for a perfect shot that’s far better than what I could ever produce.

There were many, what looked like really decent places to eat on the main strip, and I was expecting at any moment, to pull into one of them.

Except we didn’t.  We went down an alley (in my experience the odds are 80/20 here, 20 being good) and ended up in a what I can only describe as a ‘cubby hole’ for very small people. So, I thought, “calm down, this will be an outstanding cultural experience for you”, so I shut the hell up and tried to enjoy what was coming my way.

Lessons learned: Always ask what type of restaurant you are going to – don’t be shy.  Key things to ask:

  1. is there an english menu (not always required but can really save the day! particularly when you don’t eat toads or seafood)
  2. is it non-smoking, e.g, no one is allowed to blow smoke into your personal space while you are eating.
  3. do they have chairs that don’t resemble very thin planks of wood that cut off circulation to your legs.
  4. do they serve alcohol that doesn’t also fuel cars and other heavy machinery.
  5. do they have appropriate facilities e.g, glassware and a decent toilet.

Free mr froggie

Now, I’ve watched an “Idiot Abroad in China”, (courtesy of the one and only, BK Scorcese) so I’m aware they do find a toad quite tasty here.  I did not however, expect to find a pond in the foyer area, with toads in tow.  Very similar to a western chinese restaurant back home, where they have the live lobster, fish etc in the tank and you choose which one you want.  “Ah, excuse me waiter, I’ll take the toad, the one that has the most warts on it please”. Stomach churner.

Commonly referred to as ‘Chairs’

Moving onto the the chairs, that were quite literally very thin planks of wood welded onto poles. I’m not a carpenter but have heard the expression 2 x 2? Really wish I had my camera! No luxury for your rump here peeps. Not that there will every be a next time, but, I would encourage anyone who goes to this place, of which thankfully, I cannot recall the name) to bring a pillow, or put on a few kilo’s in the behind area before you go.

Le menu

The menu was all in chinese and there was no one to translate. No uncommon so not complaining, it just really helps a lot when you know what you are eating, particularly wen you have serious food allergies. Basically, they bring our their ‘house specials’ and we either accept or reject them. A few of the crew had been to this place before, and knew what was good and bad.  I ask myself “why would they go back?”.

Now, to be fair, albeit at some points I had no idea what I was eating, there were a couple of dishes that were very tasty. Unfortunately, those dishes, were placed at the other end of the table, where the peeps just dug in and didn’t really pass around for a bit of sharing is caring action.  So by the time it got down our end (if it did), there wasn’t much left.

Another small point, when I say ‘dug in’, I mean take your chop sticks that you have put in your mouth, and continue to pick up the food from the main dish with those chop sticks, then put the food in your mouth with the same chop sticks – repeat action.

I understand why vaccinations are required.  NB: must get booster shot immediately.

Between this, and the numerous smokers at the table who light up whilst you are eating, the evening made for a very lean dining experience.

My saviour

“Baijiu” to the rescue …this is not a drink for the dabblers. It is anywhere between 80 – 120% proof!  It comes served in a wee little silver jug, which somehow, never empties :)  It is not delicious, it’s equivalent to drinking Grappa, or Methylated Spirits.  Advised not to drink near a naked flame.

Yes, my friends, it gets your motor running!

This is drunk via a bowl, no glasses here, jsut bowls.  Hard to shoot the shot from a bowl.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to shoot it?

A few of these and who cares about the toads, food or chairs … and hell to it, let’s light up a cigarette. After all, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

Il Gabinetto (toilet)

I have no words for this other than, ” I did not go!”.  Warning, a barf bag may be required when watching this video. Yes, no camera but I had my FLIP HD.

Princess, or not?

Now if I had of asked the above queries and received truthful answers, I would not have entered the shack from middle earth.

If having these very basic items at your disposal in a restaurant makes you a princess, then hell to it, I am.

I’m not going to pretend that I would like to trek through Mongolia, eat 5 week old meat, drink horse milk, get diarrohea and make numerous ‘poop in hole’ stops on the way to the top of the mountain.  I’m not a rough it kind of gal, and this restaurant experience left me feeling dirty and dying for a pee!

However, it was eye opener and not something I’ve not experienced in any other country, so I’m very grateful the opportunity came my way :)

The end.

The shame

It’s been so long since my last post, that I dare not count the days in the fear that I’ll totally lose my mojo (for blogging!).

To the very few people who thought me interesting enough to ready my posts, I’m sorry.

There really are no excuse other than I’ve been in holiday mode, so engrossed in having fun, that it really didn’t enter the equation.  Perhaps there should be penalties for this, might give people the kick in the proverbial they need to keep blogging, or are most people adamant writers, who can’t let a day go by without putting fingers to keypad?

Nevertheless, I’ve made an oath to myself that I can at least manage one blog a week!  Although I haven’t signed up for the WordPress, blog a week challenge

So without further adieu, I’ll create a post tonight! NB: it will be short.

Tout de suite :)

It’s the simple things in life

It’s Saturday, and I’m up with the sparrows. You may be thinking, “why’s this girl up so early”, well, I’m excited … for 2 small reasons.

  • Breakfast that awaits me
  • Forbidden City (maybe my breakfast should be forbidden too, particularly for my thighs).

Yesterday, I found a french patisserie, with a not-so-french name, WaffleBoy. Forget the name peeps, it’s what they deliver that counts.

It was like walking into pastry & custard heaven – I want to go to there …

Now, I don’t do this often, in fact never, but I’m officially on holidays so I figured, what the hell! I will walk around the forbidden city all day and work off every last calorie – my thighs will thank me later.

Welcome to this morning’s breakfast for two:

For all the beijingers out there, I highly recommend this place, get yo-selves there pronto.

Rating: Gold stars


WaffleBoy

SanLiTunSOHO

waffleboy.com.cn

When the wind blows

It’s been 3 days, 5 hours and 10 mins (or there abouts) since my last blog post. #fail.

So, I’ve been sick the last couple of days, and the weather here is getting me down so haven’t had it in me to write.  The smog that hovers over this city is like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before.  It’s simply disturbing.

Prior to the 2008 olympic games, the government implemented legislation to reduce the number of cars on the roads, in the attempt to reduce the smog.

Not sure what the statistics are on that but I can tell you, that first breath of outside air each day, brings with it a metallic, dirty taste which is difficult to shake.  Now, yes, there are a shirtload of cars on the road, but not that many more than europe or the US, so there has to be something else, right?

Right.  After a wee bit of interwebs surfing, turns out there are so many other reasons why. Wiki can tell you all about it, however, here’s snippet for you:

“On June 19, 2007, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency announced, on the basis of an analysis of fossil fuel consumption (including especially the coal power plants[12]) and cement production data, that China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, putting out 6,200 million tons, in comparison with America’s 5,800 million.[13]China is also the largest contributor to world levels of sulfur oxides, chlorofluorocarbons, and other ozone depleting substances. China can suffer some of the effects of global warming, including sea level rise and glacier retreat

They forgot to mention, that when you live in China, you are unable to breathe . A fairly pivotal thing in ones life.

In saying all of this, the People’s Republic of China is one of the worlds major producers of solar panels and wind turbines – irony anyone? I guess ‘where there is will, there is hope’.

So, Friday morning I was up at 8.15am – it was a ‘work’ day ;-)  One of the first things I do when I wake, is open the curtains and check out the view from level 22.  The first pic below paints a pretty clear picture of what greeted me.  Depressing much?

At it's worst

Anyway, I settled in to work and that’s when the winds started.  Let me say that Chicago is not the only windy city.  When the winds hit on L22, it scares the pants off you – windows shake and the sound is terrifying but you do get used to it after a while.  Normally, I’m not partial to the wind, it’s simply just bad for your hair.

However, when the wind blows in this city, it’s like music to my ears, because I know the smog will get swept away and open up the blue sky for us again. “Let there be wind” I say.

Here’s what the view looked like, just  1 hour after.  God bless the winds!

I’m not going to complain about this anymore, it is what it is.  You deal with it, or you leave.

So, I’ve made the choice to wear a respirator.

I made the choice to save my lungs from metal particles, and hopefully lead a longer life.

My dream job

Today I found myself a job … well, that is until I get a ‘real’ job. I’ve employed myself on a part-time basis, to eat my way around the restaurants of Beijing. I can’t think of a better way to burn time, can you?

In the last week, we’ve eaten in a few restaurants of varying cuisines; parisienne vietnamese fusion (YUM!), cantonese, american, mediterranean and peruvian.  Yes, we’ve eaten out a bit :)  In short, the food here is outstanding which has really shocked me.  The latest jaunt to Korea scarred me, so I had a few pre-conceived ideas.

When you go to an italian restaurant in Beijing, you get italian food – minus the asian twist, unlike Korea where every cuisine is still served with kimchi and p.s., italian risotto does not contain bok choy or asian mushrooms #justsayin

So every time I eat a meal worth noting, I’m going to post it here with pics and my review (for what it’s worth).

I’m hopeful that the only thing that will expand through all of this, is the blog and not my waistline – I do still need to fit into my current pants.

So, here goes the first one …

Shanghai Dumpling & Noodle

I saw this little resto last night as frenchy and I were walking to dinner.  It looked like a teeny little place from the outside, but once inside, it’s quite roomy and offers private rooms for the more intimate dining experience. The place was packed with locals, which is a pretty sure sign the food is good, which is something to always look out for.

One thing I’m coming across quite a bit is the ordering system in some of the lunch restaurants. It’s all table service, none of this ‘order at the counter’ gear.  You’re given a printed menu and a pencil, with the menu written in chinese and english translation, which is a bit of a bonus.  You then select what you want including beverages.  The waiting staff then pop past, collect and then you pay. Too easy!

Today I ordered Soupy Pork Dumpling – exact english translation.  Based on the ‘soupy’ part, I assumed I was getting a soup with pork dumplings in it.  Nope.  What I did get was pork dumplings, with soup on the inside!  Who woulda thought …

Pork Soupy DumplingsThis may not be a new concept for some, but to me, this was a flavour sensation.  The soup just bursts out of those little things and hit your taste buds like a tsunami. Absolutely flippin delicious! Chilli sauce is optional and you make it up yourself. They deliver you the paste and the soy sauce and you mix it to your liking.  Being a chilli fanatic, I took a full spoon of chilli and gave it a good mix.  Now peeps can vouch for me when I say, I can tolerate my chilli.

Today was a very different story. I cried, and not tears of joy.  That was the hottest chilli I’ve ever ingested, it hit my lips which instantly shrivelled, and I proceeded to cough and splutter all over the shop.  Classy, I know. To finish myself off I dropped a dumpling in the chilli sauce (courtesy of my awesome chop sticks skills) and the chilli went directly into my eye. My eyeball is OK but my dignity was left in the chilli bowl. Certain people thought this as their day time entertainment ;-)

Nevertheless, I will be going back there again for more dumpling action soon, not only because they were sensational, but very affordable – these little beauties cost 22RMB, which is approx $3.80AUD Bargain!

Rating: 4 stars

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