You go to the Supermarket, you pass by the Patisserie to get some bread, it’s all part of settling in China. You buy some bread and you later learn at home it’s sweet. Weird! Next weekend, you go to the supermarket to do the weekly maintenance of your home supplies, and you choose another section of bread with a more likely possibility that it’ll fit with your understanding of what bread is (not sweet). But you go home and face another disappointment. You do it quite a few times until you learn that it’s not gonna happen, you ain’t gonna find anything but sweet bread. Besides a very limited number of non-sweet baguettes that are made specifically for foreigners- Chinese people don’t buy them- the Patisserie does not cater for us here. Moreover, I don’t like sweet, which makes it frustrating to have to eat noodles’nd’soy late at night, on days when I’m fed up with making omelettes that require me to have to nurse the stove at 11 pm and produce the odors I’ll have to inhale as I go to bed (I don’t wanna open the windows as I use a purifier- so the air I smell is actually valuable, I’ve bought it.
Chinese people love SWEET, I don’t know why bitter is not a thing. You can see that popcorn is sweetened, Colas are sweet etc etc I can go on..
So where do I grab my lunch, when I’m not home cooking the same old boring noodles’n’soy sauce? (actually I learned to be more creative, I can do more than that, but you get the point)
I eat at places like the one you’ll see below, the pictures are almost exactly what you’ll find anywhere (I do remember warning you that this is the cheaper choice, cheapest actually). You can know Muslim places from their obvious green banners outside. They’re run by the family living in the place, this is the case very often. Inside, it’s simple: tables and chairs and a separation from the kitchen behind, where your food is done, whatever kind of crude kitchen that is.
And don’t forget the kid running all over the place. In China, the one child policy means there’s only one child running around while you try to ignore the crowds and eat your food peacefully in your imagination. It’s sad not everybody gets to go to school, but who am I to say anything about it. Well, this kid is so cute, who would disagree that Chinese kids are the cutest most “Ke’ai” beings on the planet?! Continue reading “Islamic Food Scene: The Choice I Would Go For (for cheapos like me)”
Ok now you wanna try Muslim food at a Muslim place: you’ve got two choices, the choice us foreigners would go for and the fancy choice that I’ve never tried. Honestly, I didn’t even eat at the place I’ve posted pictures of. I just netered, took my scoop, and hopped out. I’m in China for a reason. Food can be cheap. Euhh, excuse me, I meant food can be good and cheap, with more emphasis on cheap. So yeah the pictures, hopefully, will speak for themselves, as I’m in no position to do that. Continue reading “Islamic Food Scene: The Luxury Choice”
Islamic culture is very visible in Hangzhou, home to a significant Muslim minority. When I first arrived in Hangzhou, I had stayed at “” hostel, at the center of a Muslim quarter in Hangzhou. There, I got the chance to experience, as much as the language barrier allowed me to, the Muslim scene there, and interact with people living their everyday lives, and let me say this: It’s facinating!
I don’t take photos of everything I set sight on, but hopefully these will do. The Mosque was especially interesting to encounter. Among other stuff, the street food is a big thing in China, and in Hangzhou Muslim eateries and green “Halal”-labeled restaurants are everywhere. “Halal” is the term referred to food prepared in conformity with Islamic religious traditions. You can see the Arabic on the banners everywhere; actually, many many Muslims there actually speak Arabic quite well, and you see Qur’ans in Arabic on the tables in the restaurants. That was quite interesting, considering that China is worlds apart from the Arab World. But yeah, China was a vast empire once, and the diversity of the people that identify as primarily Chinese today encompasses people of different ethnicities and varying degrees of integration into the state. Ok now enjoy!
Today, I’ll tell you what you need to know about the food safety and regulation system pertaining to restaurants (meaning places where customers are served after placing their orders), which is visible through a rating system based on a letter grade.
Well I went to two completely different places and took these pics.
For people around here, this might seem like a very illogical question, yet I have to ask, “ WHAT IS THE ‘NO SMOKING’ SIGN DOING IN MY CLASSROOM ??!!” Yes, you read me, it’s true, after months here in Zhejiang, I just realized that a bold Non-Smoking sign lies firmly beside the chalkboard on the wall, so that everybody in class is reminded to keep their cigarettes in their trousers. And then comes me, and I have to ask myself over and over again, “but who would light up a cigarette in the middle of the classroom?” A little bit of investigative journalism (now I’m a journalist, wink wink) led me to interrogate some of my teachers in search of valuable answers. My findings are not conclusive, but from what I understood from my lovely teacher, smoking is a very common thing; So in an effort to curb this malpractice in classrooms, smoking signs were spread in classrooms to protect the educational environment. Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen anyone smoke in class ever. So you know what, now I wanna check out some old pics of my time learning in Beijing, and maybe I will manage to find a lingering Non-Smoking sign in my former class as well. It’s there to serve for a reason, yet I only now managed to realize this little detail that tells you how popular smoking is here. I thought people in the MENA and many Southern European countries are unmatched in their smoking habits, and I was wrong. And by the way, all the people I’ve seen holding cigarettes happen to be male, but never the opposite sex. So I dunno how this is related to society’s perceptions of smoking and whether there is a bias against smoking when it comes to females, but surely there must be something.
Mornings can be pleasant in China, particularly if you live in Hangzhou. I recently discovered, by mistake, a precious spot, where I can have a quiet, peaceful walk while enjoying an authentic atmosphere. It’s so nice and peaceful, but most interesting is that you will find relatively old Chinese people exercising every morning, stretching their bodies or practicing Taiqi. Even better, your neighbor may join in, making for a real healthy social experience.
Here are some pics and a video of some people enjoying their morning exercise, such a positive influence on my day. It’s the small things..
Okay, so I go to the supermarket once a week to get my week’s supply of groceries. One day, as I walked through the crowds in the supermarket, I happened to walk by the fish section, which, by the way, smells a whole lot like fish, only to find some kids playing with a toad just beside the fish acquariums. (By the way, the fish acquariums do not serve the purpose of providing customers with the casual eye candy; rather, you pick a “fresh” fish and the guy standing there would chop its head off before packaging it for you to take back home to prepare in the kitchen). Back to our friend the toad, it was a cute scene, no criticism involved, except the toad looked sick and really not in a good condition, with its body inflated like a balloon. So the toad was being tossed around like a toy, which is an act you would understand given that the kids, you know, are kids. My companion on this journey freaked out on first sight of the toad being tossed around, which kind of made a scene, and in the process made us stand out as the Laowais who are, as usual, standing out for no reason. But nonetheless, I took a couple of pics to show you. And last thing, I might be making this mistake, so excuse me if I did not respect the distinction between a toad and frog. I know there must be some unique distinctive features which I’m not aware of, but for now, I prefer to be cool and use “toad” instead.
As you know, China is huge. Different areas from the North to South, East to West, have differing geography, and thus different climates and life environments along with differing development situations. I’m writing this post just to say that I was lucky to randomly choose to move to Zhejiang, which I got so attached to and loved. I got to learn that Beijing is only Beijing, and that there’s more to the simplistic ignorant stereotypes that Westerners associate with China. As for me, I spent most of my time in China in the capital, Beijing, and I’m glad I got to experience a different area in China. Honestly, I’m fed up with cities, I was raised in one, I just don’t admire cities anymore. Continue reading “The Desertification of the Olympic Forest”