Saturday, January 30, 2010


We are having a group people over tomorrow, so I went over to the store to get some snacks.  First up- Pocky! Favorite snack of Chinese and Korean youth groups every where.  Also known as chocolate sticks!
Oreos are everywhere here.  These are only lightly sweet.  I'll have to taste test to find out what that means!
This special snack is for my friend in Madison.  Esther L. -these are for you!  Only a mother would offer up her finger's for her children's snack pleasure.  Notice that these are from the "School Zone."  I guess Mother's Finger's give special brain power.  Also notice that this snack food is not in's Korean!  True Umma love!

I thought I was just buying plain crackers.

Milk sandwich biscuits.  The small print says "Series high food stuff.  Choiceness raw material.  Produced meticulous. Best enjoyment.  Good taste Quality guarantee.  Agreeable to taste.  Give food, choose treasure."

What do you think this is?  

Yes!  It's 3 ply toilet paper!  Mind Act Upon Mind...I have no idea what that means.  I just hope and pray that the symbol in the right upper corner doesn't mean it's been recycled.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things I love about China.

These kinds of signs are at almost every intersection.  What I love is the idea that signs will control traffic!  Who should be courteous and observant?  The pedestrians?  Who is crossing aggressively? It's a mystery to me!

On the bus.  Petty crime is common on buses.

Skiing in China!  It looks as though the "slope" ends at the road.  It doesn't.  It ends in the lake that you can't see in the picture!  There is nothing to stop you from plunging into the lake.  China is not for weaklings!

I love the creative and can-do spirit that will move this heavy piece of furniture on a bike cart.

I love the  guard uniforms at the consulate.  Every type of guard in China wears these long coat and every time I see them, I think of the Wicked Witch of the West castle guards.

I love that we have a consulate here where we can do paperwork if we need to!  As we did last week. Only three hours for what would have been a ten minute visit in the US!

Street food.  Just the best.

Two pictures of one place that I don't like.  CarreFour.  A huge grocery store that is crowded, loud and just not fun.  Why do I go there?  One reason-to buy cheese.  It's one of the few places where you actually can buy cheese in China.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Transportation in China

These are electric motorbikes or as we call them "silent killers."  Because they are electric, they are silent and come up behind you very quickly.  One came up behind me at a corner and the motor bike handle bar hooked into my sleeve.  The leather appendages on the handlebars are to protect from the cold.

This is where we park our bikes every day at language school.  We fully expect to have at least one of our bikes stolen at some point.  It just happens.

The bus at mid-day.  It was amazingly empty.  Notice the television set at the front of the bus.  Most buses have two television sets that are usually tuned to the news.

Paul walking towards the corner intersection where we cross to get to get to language school.  We were on foot because we had stopped to get breakfast from an outdoor seller.  We have learned to dodge the buses, cars and taxis as we cross the street.

A car parked on the sidewalk.  This is not unusual in China..some cars even drive on the sidewalk!  The real reason I took this picture was because of the fish sticker on the back of the car.  I know what this means in the USA but I'm curious as to what it meant on the back of this car.

The intersection where we cross.  See the water delivery guy?  Those water bottles are full!

Carts are used to transport good around the city.  This is a bike push cart and a push cart.

A man pushing his wife on their bike cart.  I've tried to convince Paul that this is a great alternative form of transportation but so far he hasn't agreed.  Maybe if we stay in China long enough!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eating Out in China

Paul and I often grab a bite to eat on our way home from language school.  One of our favorite places is a small shop near our home.  I usually have the bowl of noodles for less than a dollar.

The noodles are made fresh in the front window.  You can see them cooking in the big pot.  We often ride by and see them making the dough and stretching out the noodles.

Paul likes the fried noodles-also less than a dollar a plate.

The menu.  There are many other choices on the menu.  Great character reading practice!

This restaurant is usually packed to the brim with students and workers.  However, students are now on their winter break so it was a little more empty.  On every table are two bottles of beer, soy sauce and hot peppers.

I'm sure you can figure out which fast food place this is!  Except that in China, it is a fairly formal, sit down restaurant.  It's very popular and not cheap.  We ate at one in Beijing two years ago but have never eaten at this one.

Also a familiar site to most of us!  Except that in China, KFC delivers...on bikes!

Friday, January 22, 2010

In which we choose to laugh...again!

Since Paul and I are in the "cholesterol" years of our lives, we often choose to eat oatmeal.  When we first arrived in China, we went to our little local market and bought this.

I think they forgot to add "and the infirm."  This was not the whole grain kind of complex carbohydrate we were looking for!  No, this was a soupy, porridge like oatmeal, meant for people without a full set of teeth.
So off we went to Metro, a foreign grocery store where we can buy the kind of oatmeal that we want.  It comes from Australia and is just what we want in the morning before a cold bike ride in the ice and snow!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When things are not as they seem.

What  are these?

What are these?

If you put them side by side, can you tell what they are?  Are they the same...or different?  Which one would you put in chili?

What is this?  Is it a slow cooker?  Could you use it as a slow cooker?  If the sales person assured you in Chinese that yes, it could be used as a slow cooker, would you think it was a pressure cooker?  Are you sure?  What if all of the directions were written in Chinese?

Please feel free to laugh at this story.  We did.
When we first arrived in China, we went to Metro, the big grocery store to stock up on kitchen supplies.  I wanted a rice cooker and a crock pot.  We saw both and then we saw this glorious, shiny machine.  We looked at the picture- rice, vegetables, meat!  We asked the sales lady-of course you can cook things slowly in it.
Okay then.  We bought it. We made stew.  Which took about 15 minutes to cook. Thus confirming that it was a pressure cooker. Not a slow cooker.
What do you make in a pressure cooker?  Beans for chili of course!  No canned beans here-that's for foreigners!
We had friends over on Christmas Eve and I made stew and a big pot of soup.  I bought beans from the grain man at the store-he is next to the fish woman and the meat family.  Less than a dollar for a jin of dried red beans.  I soaked them over night, and cooked them in the steam cooker.  They did seem a little firm but who likes mushy beans anyway?
The chili was a hit and eaten very quickly.  I actually never got to taste it.  In the middle of dinner, some one asked if there were peanuts in the stew.  I quickly dismissed that notion and we went back to eating.
I would have forgotten about this except that Paul occasionally mentioned the peanuts in the stew.  I'm sure he was laughing with me, not laughing at me.  The other day I asked him to go to the store to get some red beans.  A friend sent me a magazine from the USA that featured a recipe with red beans. So Paul went to the store to buy red beans.  He talked to the grain man and asked him about the bin with red beans....which are actually red peanuts.  Yes, it's true.  I soaked and pressure cooked red peanuts for our  Christmas Eve stew.

So which are the peanuts and which are the beans?  You can probably tell from the pictures..but could you tell if they were in a big grain bin?  I couldn't.  But I can now!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Winter in Shenyang

View from our friend's window- they live on the 14th floor of their apartment building. Can't you just feel the cold?
China is heated by coal. This coal plant is literally across the street from our apartment. The smoke is everywhere in winter.
You can see a tall building in the background. It is currently under construction. The workers live behind the white fence in sub-standard dormitory type housing. For every skyscraper in China, there are hundreds of these poor migrant workers, trying to support their families.

Mandatory volunteerism. These are college students clearing the snow. Every school and university has an area that they are responsible for. In winter, you see students clearing the snow with brooms and shovels. The idea is to teach community spirit and responsibility.
Imagine college students doing this in America! Or school children! But here, it is totally normal.

Ice skating on Christmas Day. NorthEastern University (DongBei Daxue) floods their sports field in winter. They are then used for PE classes. You can skate there for about RMB 10 or a little over a dollar. It was pretty empty on Christmas because the students were clearing snow and ice.
That is Elisabeth on skates with the face mask.

Paul and I went out one night. We put on long john's, double socks, jeans, shirt, sweaters, ear muffs, face mask (for Sandy), hats, scarves and double gloves. Then we rode our bikes over for sea food hot pot.
We didn't actually know it was sea food hot pot until the sea creatures appeared in our hot pot. We also had sweet potato, lamb, and some other vegetables to cook. All for about $10.00.
One day, we went to see some friend's who live on the north side of the city. This involved about an hour an a half bus ride. We had to change buses and Elisabeth was hungry. She is eating Ji Dan Guan Bing or the Chinese equivalent of an Egg McMuffin. Street food is the best.
One last view of ice skating and hockey. Paul and I skated, too but no pictures are available of that!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Christmas in China

Christmas is long over but the decorations are still up all over our city.Our English Corner reading a Christmas carol and hearing the true story of the Nativity.
Outside a restaurant. The more traditional Chinese looking building is not historical, just decorative.
Offerings to Buddha in the window next to the Christmas tree pictured above. Three apples and a mangosteen, plus some tea.
Pictures of Santa are everywhere. Pictures of the nativity are no where to be found.
Wu Ai shopping area. A mixture of Christmas stuff and Chinese New Year's decorations.

Santa is everywhere! Even at Wu Ai in Shenyang!
Our sad little fake Christmas tree. No wonderful pine smell, but no needles either. The lights lasted about three days. First they blinked all over, then the bottom half blinked, then they didn't blink at all, then no lights. They cost about a dollar so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Santa also speaks Chinese! WTG, Santa!
And a Christmas Merry to you, too!

The chocolate gold yuan that Elisabeth got on Christmas Eve. Tangible proof of His love for her.