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Chronicles of msadele

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beijing

To Expo, or not to Expo

Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing.

They take their potatoes seriously.

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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 !

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

Shop til you drop, or not

Today I went shopping for pants (not underwear, the kind you wear over your knickers), a basic necessity that every person needs and I’ve discovered I dont have enough of.

Just to set the scene, to brave the elements here you’re need to put on the following:

  • thermal top
  • thermal pants
  • jeans/pants/skirt/stockings – whatever floats your boat really
  • socks
  • tops – layering is key
  • scarf
  • beanie
  • jacket (goose down is the go)
  • hat or ear muffs (optional)
  • gloves
  • boots up to your armpits to keep legs warm

Women then need to somehow get their handbags over all of this attire.  The guys do like their manbags over here also ;-) Crumpler makes a pretty penny over here.

Once you get inside the shop you then need to remove your jacket, scarf, hat, gloves etc, as it is averages around 25c+ inside.

Now, for a lady who doesn’t mind a shop, I find this pretty frustrating because not only do you have to lug around all this gear, you need to take all the bloody layers off to try clothes on.  If you know me, you know that I’m not one to complain about shopping, but you seriously need a couple of Red Bulls before you do this ladies because it is a major effort!

Anyway, usually when you have your purchases, the warm & fuzzy feeling takes over and life’s good.

Not today my friends, not today.  I’ve discovered that to buy pants in China I either need to shrink about 4 inches, or perhaps loose about 10kgs. Every single pair of pants, leggings, jeans alike, were all ankle freezers, and not the couture variety either! Needless to say I will remain pantless in Beijing.

I bought a beautiful jumper dress and tights to make up for it and came home with the warm fuzzy feeling ;-) Who needs pants anyway !

It’s dinner time in Beijing, so now I’ll put my michelin suit on and venture out to meet the frenchman.

Bye!

X

The moral of the story is …

Don’t go to IKEA with a hangover

I wish someone would have warned me not to go to IKEA on the weekends, because this is what you deal with.

IKEA

Remi’s furniture and household goods are still on the boat, so we needed a few things to tie us over until they arrive. One fork and a bowl wasn’t really cutting it.

So blessed Elaine, a friend of Chenny Keech (thanks Chenny) offered to take me to IKEA. Bet she wishes she hadn’t though, it was packed from wall to wall, people pushing and shoving left, right and centre! You know that feeling you get when you want to inflict pain on someone …

One too many trolleys to the legs for my liking and I kept my mouth closed so not to freak out Elaine (just yet) or end up in the big house for manslaughter. Courtesy is not high on the agenda over here.

To top off an already painful experience, I had a few too many vino rosso’s last night, and feeling considerable pain today.

We went to a funky little place called The Room, Park Hyatt hotel, it was a creative masterpiece.  The food was average but the ambience and quirkiness of the place made up for it.

The first surprise was this really cool lego desk – Remi got a bit happy in the pants when he saw it, being a massive lego freak!

Lego

More surprises when I went the “eau de toilette” and found that the little girls and boys rooms were hidden behind what looked like book shelves.  Not an ordinary book shelf, they open and you get led into a room that looks like a library, with the walls totally covered in books. Lion, witch and wardrobe styles. A little chinese lady then opens another secret squirrel door and finally you see the bathroom – and can I say, you could eat off the floor.  It was very Beyonce and Jay Z in there, complete with a wee little bidet hose to clean yourself very nicely. Sorry no pics, as I mistakenly didn’t take my camera to the loo – what was I thinking!

Unfortunately, the food wasn’t that great and not only did they make us order our dessert and coffee with our mains but they then tried to serve us coffee and dessert with our mains – the polite way to tell us to bugger off.

Then we got the bill ….

As if the few bottles of wine we consumed wasn’t enough, we then tried meandered off to Xiu (pronounced ‘shoe’ lol).  This is one of the coolest night spots I’ve seen and it was pumping! The beats coming out of that place were cranking and the people in the line were pretty much off the catwalk.  The line up was more than we could bare so we latered it and went to another hotel bar for a night cap.  I drank brazillian pinga which had me flying (thank you Flavio and Paula), and then I just sat there watching old men pick up young ladies and take them for a wander – classy.  Too much pretty woman for me, so we called it a night.

I’m now sitting here typing with a glass of champers before we head off for dinner.  Nothing like the ‘hair of the dog’ ;-)

Until the next instalment …

Take care and keep safe

X

p.s – shout out to Optus for really screwing up my SIM card, locking my iPhone rather than unlocking as I asked ! My chinese doesn’t work and my Optus SIM is now locked. Optus, you rock my socks off.

Hello Beijing!

The first week …

After a couple of stops and many hours later, I arrived at my final destination nb: it is always best to pay a bit extra for your fare and take the direct route as 2 stops overs and a heavy carry on luggage will earn you a mouthful of abuse for holding up lines onboard, thankfully I couldn’t understand a word said :)

The apartment is pretty special, it’s a very modern high gloss black and white, mostly white  – which is going to make cleaning a real pain.

This is the view from Level 22 of Tower 15 (there’s a few towers in the complex). If you look reaaaaly hard, you can see the Apple store :)

Sanlitun Soho, Tower 15

Remi’s cargo still hasn’t arrived so we don’t have much in the way of household cleaning materials, namely a vacuum cleaner, mop, broom etc. The poor guy’s been cleaning the floor with a dustpan! So, yesterday he called the ‘Ayi’ which is the traditional name given for “Auntie”. I should point out that Remi is pretty clean … he just doesn’t have OCD like me.

So we went out and bought a mop and cleaning products for the Ayi.

Yesterday, three little ladies turned up (there was supposed to be one). The first two arrived and there was no vacuum cleaner. So I used google translate to ask them where the vacuum cleaner was – the response was ‘yes’. I’m learning that yes is the common response, particularly when they don’t understand a word you’ve said.

I kept asking about the vacuum, even resorted to a game of charades which had them entertained for a bit, but still no response. About 20mins later the third lady arrived, she had an industrial vacuum cleaner – with no head, just the hose. I knew it was going to be interesting….

I showed them where all the cleaning products and mops were and they went on their merry way.

This is how they cleaned the floor.

Apparently, all you need is a window squeegee, water and a stick with a cloth attached to the end. I was horrified! back breaking work :(

Needless to say I won’t be calling the Ayi agan. These ladies do back-breaking work for very little which makes me sad. Plus, I now have a mop!

The weather here is nothing short of freezing and I mean bone crunching cold, the kind where your nostrils freeze together and you get a brain freeze headache. It is currently now -1c however a nice and toasty 26+ degrees inside the apartment. I’m sitting here typing in a t-shirt.

Remi had flowers for me on my arrival, they died that day as it’s so hot in here – he should have bought me tropical ones ;-)

My allergies are in full force so not feeling so hot right now :( Starting to feel the effects of the dry air and pollution. Clarityne is now my best friend.

On my first day here the sky was dark like the end of the world was near, flat out scared me and I can say at that instant, I wouldn’t last here if it was like that everyday.  However, the next day these crazy winds came along and cleared up the sky, so now it’s ‘almost’ blue and the sun is shining which is superb.

I’ve caught two taxi’s on my own so far,  just by showing them the address of where I needed to go and off we went. I must note they do not speak english, so if I don’t have an address to show them, then I’m not getting a cab.

A few things to note from my experience so far:

  • people really like to push, push in, push me .. just push.  Really irritates me. Personal space is not considered.
  • green traffic lights. Green is just a recommendation to walk, it does not represent safety. Remember this at all times, because they will run you over.
  • motorcycles here are electric, so, you can’t hear them approaching and they will run you over too.
  • it is true, there is a different smell every 5 – 10m. But, it fades pretty quickly :)
  • the door peeps for the apartment complex will only open the door if they aren’t on the phone, lol.
  • the coffee here is less than satisfactory. I would make a fortune by opening a small coffee shop – Starbucks is on every corner and it’s packed!
  • people smoke in bars, clubs and restaurants. I didn’t realise how gross it was until I came home and smelt my clothes and hair. I’ve quit. 4 days and not one cigarette!
  • There are tonnes of foreigners here – French, German, Aussies, Irish, Russian you name it.
  • April Gourmet and Jenny Lou’s are my best friends, they sell all foreign products including gluten free pasta, wog sauce, rice cakes and chickpeas- w00t! Although I’m struggling to find lactose free milk. When I ask for it, they say ‘yes’ lol!
  • Designer shopping is pretty awesome here, every major brand you can think of. Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel all downstairs from me.  Nothing wrong with a little harmless window shopping :)
  • I’m not at all bothered bu the amount of people, I mean there are tonnes, but it’s nothing different to any other major capital city … far cry from little Adelaide though!  All you christmas shoppers complaining about the queues back home – you ain’t seen nothing !

My first week is going well, nothing has put me off just yet (sorry mum!)

Well that’s it from me for now.

Much love to you!

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