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January 2004 Archives

January 12, 2004

I took complete advantage yesterday of Lily's presence and dragged her through the grocery store asking such intelligent questions as: What is this? And that? And over there?

I got talked into buying some small bags of... um... something. Something that's liike tea, but isn't tea. The first bag has rose hips in it (apparently to make women beautiful), the second has some sort of flower, and the third is dried oranges.

"You drink them like tea!" she said.

Expensive tea, though. At least the rose hips. A little bag was 14.5 RMB.

I have some floating right now in hot water, and they smell wonderful.

I had the oranges last night, and they weren't too bad. If I let them steep too long they need honey or something, but that's typical of all teas, so I'm not too worried about it.

I also spent the night cooking some of the stuff I bought. As a note to everyone: Chinese dumplings are delicious. And they cook so quickly! I was very happy.

I spent the night curled up in bed watching DVDs. For those of you who think I'm being very evil for buying DVDs in China, I can assure you that I've been rightly punished by forcing myself to watch Helen of Troy. I won't go into it here, but I've been scarred for life.

January 11, 2004

I'm determined to have as close to a Traditional Chinese Spring Festival as any western teacher without any close friends in Jiangyan can have. I went out today and started buying up decorations for the apartment. I guess you're not supposed to put them up till Spring Festival Eve (that would be January 21 this year), and then you're allowed to go nuts.

I have a scroll for the door that says "Much Money and Happiness" or something similiar, and another couple that you're supposed to cut in half to put on either side of the door. I also have tons of these little red papers that you're supposed to put everywhere. I'm in heaven, and I'm annoyed that I'm supposed to wait!

I also started buying up little dumplings. I'm going to practice making them tonight, so when Paul comes up we can go nuts over them. I know they won't be as good as the ones that he gets brought to him (straight from the kitchen!) in Rudong by his Lily, but still...

When I say dumplings, I think of these big things full of potatoes from back home. Here, they're bite sized and easy to stick in your mouth. They stuff them will all sorts of things. I really have to learn the Chinese words for Fish and Seafood, because Paul gets ill at the smell of seafood.

I decided not to buy firecrackers, on the theory that my parents will shoot me if I blow my own hand off. Besides, there'll be more than enough loud booms and pretty sparklies I'm certain. Every time I'm doing Wu Shu on the playground, I can distract myself from the pain by watching the fireworks.

When I was buying my kewl new DVD player, I was handed about 50 tickets to some sort of dance hall. I guess I in some way indicated that I like to dance, and I'm not quite sure how I pulled this off.

I showed the tickets to Lily, and she just freaked right out. "No, you can't go there! You're laowei, and bad people go there!"

Um... okay...

"You can't go there alone, people will take advantage of you! Bad people go there!"

"I won't go alone, I'll take Paul!"

"No, you're two laowei, people will... bad people!" She took the ticket I was holding out of my hand and ripped it up.

So, yeah, I'm planning on going next week. And yes, I'll take Paul.

January 10, 2004

If you're wondering why I've been quiet lately, it's because I've been doing dick-all, really. I've spent the last three days patiently waiting for my t.v. to be fixed, and staring at the little watermark on my new DVD: Property of Warner Brothers Distribution, For Screening Purposes Only. I've truly experienced China now. My DVD of Harry Potter is incredibly illegal.

But, the saga of my t.v. It's never worked, and I finally got up the gumption to complain about it roughly three weeks ago. Lily assured me that someone would be around to fix it soon.

Three days went by.

I asked again. She assured me again someone would be around to fix it soon.

Eventually I was promised "Before Spring Festival."

Lily stopped by a few days ago to see if it had been fixed yet. I said no, and she assured me she'd get someone down to look at it, or she'd talk to the headmaster to get him to get someone to take a look at it.

I talked to Lily last night about it, and she stared at me. "I was told the workers were at your place yesterday!"

Um... No.

"They told me they were there yesterday morning!"

I didn't leave the house at all yesterday.

"I will talk to them!"

So, we'll see.

Frankly, I know I'm not missing much, but I really get a kick outta the melodramatic Chinese martial arts soap opera things. Sure, they're all in Mandarin and I don't understand a word of them. But I can make things up like the best of them!

January 9, 2004

One of the things I did when I started teaching was signing up for several news letters on teaching. I then lost access to my email account for about two months, and ignored it. Today I finally got it back up and running (thanks Tom!), and I'm reading emails from a few months ago that I wish I could have read at the time.

A topic that was being discussed is students falling asleep in class. I've taken the tactic in my teaching that, if a kid manages to fall asleep amongst all the shouting and jumping up and down and everything else that goes on in my class, they're freaking exhausted and deserve the nap. I know how late some of these kids are up, and I have no illusions about the usefulness of my class. It's a fun break for the kids. It might be different if I saw them more often, but one class reminded me that, since I got here, they've only seen me twice.

I remember the last year that I was in school, and I could barely keep my eyes open. Reading other teacher's thoughts about this just brings back why I was falling asleep at the time. I was working two jobs, one full time and one almost full time, and going to school. Most of my classes were in the evenings (before one of my jobs), and were three hours long. I would be biting my wrists, digging my nails into my palms, leaving class every 30 minutes to splash water on my face, and drinking enough caffeine that I could jump start a car or a space shuttle or something, and still couldn't keep myself awake. I would fall asleep anywhere I could sit still for a moment, including the hallways at school. When it was noisy as all heck. One time, as I was taking the bus between jobs, I fell asleep on one bus. I woke up when it got to my stop, realized that I still had about 30 minutes before I would start work, and got on another bus that would bring me back to the same stop 25 minutes later, and fell back asleep. Near the end of my shifts at work I was typically slurring my words. Then I'd go home, sleep for two hours, and start the day all over again.

So, all in all, I have a lot of sympathy for the kids who fall asleep. If they had the language, or I had the language, I'd pull them aside to let them know that it's okay.

What gets on my nerves is when they insist on talking while I'm teaching. And not talking in English, just chatting away in Chinese. I read on one person's site that they tell all their students that, if they're talking during class, he'll assume they have a question for him. I like that idea, and might use it next term. (Paul insists I call it a term, but it's a semster. Really.)

On a related note, Paul and I currently have a debate going on how much of each other's slang we're going to have picked up by the time he goes home in June. Currently I'm losing, as I'm adopting more of his stuff than he's adopting mine. I just love it, though, when we suddenly stop each other to say, "What the heck are trainers?" or stuff like that.

The first night we met, he entertained me for a while by explaining how one would say, "I've sent my children to the nearest store to purchase some carbonated breverage" in all the countries he's been in. I can't remember them all, but in Canada you'd say "I sent the kid to the store to buy a can of pop."

English is so strange.

January 8, 2004

I blame my parents, because that's the fashionable thing to do.

There are two things that I think you require to do Wu Shu well: balance and flexibility. And I seriously lack them both.

And why do I lack them both, you might ask?

Well, when I was bad as a child (and I was a horrid kid, as my father will be quite happy to prove at any point), was I made to run laps around the house? Was I made to stand on my head in a corner? Was I told to "drop and give me twenty!"?

Nope. I was sent to my room. With the books. Where I could read.

So now, I'm incredibly smart. Amazingly so, in fact. But I have the coordination of your average milk cow.

I, of course, blame my parents.

That all being said, I had Wu Shu again today. I can actually see progress, which is so kewl. My teacher did a whole kata in front of me, really fast, and I just stared at him in shock, thinking God, I'll never be able to do that!

Well, by the end of the lesson today I'm seven moves in, and I can see how he does it. Granted, I fall over a lot, and I'm not very fast, but I can see it. It's so... wow.

I figure if I practice this every day, by the time I get home I'll be able to do it.

I, of course, blame my parents.

Since they gave me the bulk of the money to come to China.

I'm getting a bit better at buying things at your average store. (Problems with buying DVDs aside.) The few words I know in Chinese are suddenly becoming useful. Words like "green" and "up".

If you're curious, the Chinese for Coke is "Co-ca-co-la", or so the nice people at the supermarket keep telling me when I say, "Cola?"

I'm sick to death of cafeteria food, though. I just want to scream rather than eat it. If you think it's something to do with China, it's not. Cafeteria food is awful the world over. In fact, I'm certain that some of these meals are exactly what we were eating at AUC.

So, I've come to a big scary foreign country, and what do I eat when I get hungry?


Yup, cup of noodles.

They come with all these extra things you can pour in, but I'm actually afraid of some of them, so I haven't used them yet.

I do eat a lot of the "breads" here. (When they say "bread", they mean pastry.) The one I really like is filled with rice. It's kinda sweet, very mushy. Yummy and filling, if nothing else.

When Paul comes up we're going to do a tour of some Chinese restaurants here. I feel strange eating out by myself. It's enough that I'm stared at when I'm walking around. Having every bite of a meal I'm eating watched with interest by the staff is just too weird for me.

And Lo! The Anna's life was exciting and interesting, without the constant /

dullness of movies and t.v. /

And thus the creators of movies and t.v. were displeased /

And they send into The Anna's life Paul /

A temptor from a land down under Australia. /

And thus, The Anna was tempted /

And went on a quest to buy a DVD player to fill up her hours with the /

tedium of movies and t.v. //

And thus did The Anna gird her loins /

And place upon her head the Toque of Bravery /

And place on her shoulders the Borrowed Jacket of Many Deep Pockets /

And she went into the Forest of Many Tall Buildings /

Where she did not speak the language /

And attempted to buy a DVD player. //

And The Anna entered the First Store /

And there, the Persons of the Store looked at her in amazement /

Fascinated by her Toque of Bravery. /

Her attempted to express her desires were misunderstood /

For The Anna forgot her Translator. /

After many long minutes of attempting to express her need of the /

tedium of movies and t.v. /

The Anna was forced to admit defeat.//

And The Anna entered the Second Store /

And discovered quickly that this store did not sell /

DVD players.//

And The Anna entered into the Third Store /

And she climbed the Stairs with Many Many Steps /

And she found the DVD players /

And she expressed through pantomime "Remote Control?" /

But this was misunderstood. But instead, she was /

given a demonstration of the DVD player.//

And the Anna saw that it was good /

And said that it was good /

And it was good. //

And then The Anna waited.//

For although The Anna had paid for the DVD player /

And had seen the DVD player /

And had watched a music video on the DVD player /

The DVD player was not for her. //

So, basically, I waited around for about an hour, with people saying to me in English, "Just a moment please." I got fairly frustrated with myself, again, for not being able to just wake up with Magical Chinese Language Knowledge in my head. Even just the ability to read the characters would be useful at this point.

Then someone led me into a back room and down many many stairs into a back alley, and there was my DVD player. I was happy.

I went out about bought 50 RMB worth of DVDs, which is less than 10$ CDN. (I accidently picked up some VCDs, too, and I've discovered what the difference is.)

So, I own Harry Potter I and II, Titantic, Scorpion King, and what was allegedly Return of the King, but if it is they've really done some very scary things with it. I'm gonna wait till Paul shows up with his copy and watch it then.

The whole saga where I had to hook it up is much more entertaining. Because, of course, the instructions are in Chinese. I made a few valiant attempts, but finally gave up, and started trying to find someone who would help me. When there were finally people in the English office, I explained what I needed, and they started calling workers and the like, and I'm just staring at them, saying, "I just need someone who can read Chinese!"

Finally Ing listened to me, came up to my room, and we got the thing working. The remote is all in Chinese, but Ing pointed out all the important things on it. And I got the menus turned into English, which helped me a lot, too.

So, yeah, DVD player. I fell asleep last night watching Harry Potter. I can feel my brain beginning to rot already.

I'm trying to peice together what the school system here is like, and so far I'm doing a lousy job.

What I've gathered about Li Cai really surprised me. The school has a Junior level and a Senior level, and I assumed that the junior students would go on to the senior levels after they were done Junior III. This is how things typically are in Canada. Junior High goes onto Senior High, if they're both in the same school.

But here, the Junior IIIs are writing exams in the hopes of getting into an important Senior school. One in Taizhou, or Nanjing. Apparently anyplace that isn't Jiangyan is good.

The Senior students here are the students that didn't do so well on the exams. I feel like this place is a sort of purgatory for them. None of them attended here as a Junior student.

On some level I think this explains a lot of my problems with the senior kids, but then I think that's really unfair. They're good kids, they just drive me nuts.

Paul's told me that at his school, the kids have to maintain a certain G.P.A. If they're under that, they get kicked out. Unless their parents pay a fine. Then they can stay.

We're both teaching at private schools, where the parents are paying for the privledge of dumping their kids off and only seeing them once a month. Paul's commented to me that, to his coworkers, barely seeing their kids is normal. I find it strange.

I didn't really think too much of this until I started getting the Christmas letters. I looked through them, and more than one of the students... all they want for Christmas is to go home.

January 6, 2004

It's a drizzly day here, which means the poor weather from Nanjing caught up with me. The two days that I spent wandering the city were warm and just like spring, and now it feels like I'm back in time for fall.

Editor's note: I'm complaining about the weather to piss off my relatives. It's apparently down to -35°C in Edmonton right now. There's snow in B.C. Myah ha ha!

I hit all these museums in Nanjing, and it became clear to me that my knowledge of Chinese history is lousy. Granted, Augustana didn't offer any Chinese history classes, and the one I was able to take at UofA ended in 1800, but you'd think I would have at least heard of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Uprising.

There were two museums that had artifacts from this time period. What I've been able to gather is that an uprising of some sort against the last Chinese dynasty was lead by the Heavenly Emperor. There was a lot about God Worshippers, but I wasn't able to determine if they were Christians or something else.

There was a great painting of the Chinese defeating the "Never Defeated British Army". Wish I could remember the proper title.

The more time I spend here the more frustrated I get at the gaps in my own education back home. Yes, Canadian schools are centered on North American and European history, but the fact that it was so rarely even an option for me to learn more is frustrating. I remember the Nanjing Treaty, and the Opium Wars, simply because my high school history teacher talked about the treaty allowing "everyone to rape China equally".

I wish I could talk to him about my experiences here, but the last I heard he was going to Romania to teach.

I thought about history, and the way we teach it, when I was in a museum that focused on the Ming Dynasty. Beautiful hairpins and necklaces, the reminants of some of the clothes of the period, pots and chamberpots and cooking pots and all labled so dully. "Lotus-plant design pot", "Butterfly hair pin". When Paul and I talked last night, he complained about the same thing. "In the Forbidden City, they've got this beautiful blue and white pot, and what's it labeled? 'Blue and White China Pot'. How can you like this stuff?"

I think this is why we lose so many people when we try to talk about history. How are we supposed to care about a gilded butterfly when we have no context for it?

I compare this to the amateur archeology where we get so many of our Greek treasures from. I used to want to shoot Schleiman in the head for messing up the excavation of Troy, but on the other hand, we have lables like "Death Mask of Agamemnon". A little bit more interesting than what my textbook wanted to lable it: "Basileu's mask".

History is my passion, I love everything I study about it, I actually care what happened a hundred or a thousand years ago. It's part of the reason I wanted to come to Asia in the first place. As much as I love Canada, our studied history only goes back so far. (I have yet to get an option to study Native American History.) China claims 5000 years of history, and there's so much more I could learn, so many more things I could discover.

And it's like historians are in a race to see who can make history as dull as possible. "Blue and White China Bowl"? Lord, put it in some context for crying out loud! Show a picture of how the damned butterfly hair ornament was worn! Create a replica of these things, and let people touch them. Make people see that there were people behind these bowls, these hairpins, these swords. Otherwise they're just things.

January 5, 2004

First, as a shameless plug, my article is up at China-teachers.com. Because Roddy, whom I love, is wonderful.

Anyway, I've determined I should say something today other than strange sayings from Nanjing. The big highlights of the journey are going to be more meaningful if you've ever been to China.

The trip to Nanjing was quiet. Why? Because the bus driver didn't honk his horn during the entire trip. Oh, wait, once he did, when another bus almost crashed into him. But that was at the end of the trip, right as we were pulling into the bus depot. I can't describe how confusing this was to me, except to explain that on the trip back (which cost less, I have no idea why), the driver was honking every twenty seconds. Which I know because I timed it.

One of the other really odd things that happened was that, upon answering the question, "Which country are you from?", the response wasn't an immediate, "Ah, Canada's a very beautiful country." I don't mean to sound so nasty, but I get asked this question a minimum of five times a day, and this was the only time I didn't get that response. Instead, I got a thoughtful, "Hmm... Canada is a very... big... country."

Hmm... Other highlights:

I went almost the entire time without seeing another westerner. Since Nanjing has a fairly famous university exchange program, I was expecting to see someone. I finally ran into someone Sunday night when I was right down by the university, and almost chased after him just to say "Hi." I refrained, because who wants to explain why they're so crazy?

I spent the entire time walking, so my legs are extremely sore. I hit three museums, four bookstores (and only bought Chinese Language for Foriengers books), and the same very bad coffee shop twice. (You'd think I'd learn after the first very bad coffee, but I was so hoping if I ordered a different coffee, it would be better.) I did eat in an actual sit-down western style restaurant twice. I know, it's sad. I go to this big city in China and I want to eat western food. But it's been three months since I've had anything that wasn't either KFC (with a definite Chinese feel to it) or Chinese food. They had lasagna. Real lasagna, with cheese. When I told Paul, he wanted to kill me. It's hard to explain how much you miss the food when you're away from home.

I had awful apple pie, but that's okay.

Hmm... I took three rolls of film (my father will be happy), I bought some very nice postcards and souveniers, and realized why I hate travelling alone. (I'll get into that later -- and it's not for the same reasons Paul does.)

Oh... and I found vodka. I'm saving it for Spring Festival. Everyone else in Jiangyan can go home and hang out with their friends and family. Paul and I are going to watch Last Samuri and Return of the King on DVD and drink vodka.

I have so many other thoughts I want to share, but they're all jumbled up in my head right now. I'll probably be posting again before the end of the night.

And, my mom's package arrived while I was gone! I'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon!

And all was right in the middle kingdom again.

Sentences I'd Never Say In Canada #2

Sentences I'd Never Say In Canada #2:

"I'm sure your monkey is very nice, but I'm still not giving you any money."

Oh, and I'm back from Nanjing.

January 3, 2004

I could make some metaphor about how, the same week I decided I was getting really culture shocked in China my toilet clogged up. The same day I decided I was feeling better about China, I managed to unclog my toilet. (And I tell you, I almost cried when it started working again....)

But really, who wants to read a metaphor like that?

Anyway, I'm off to Nanjing in my desperate search for both cheese and reading material. Take care!

January 2, 2004

China is Big!

Editor's note: Part of this (a very small part) is written in simplified Chinese characters. I'm too lazy to find out for you where you can download the programs to be able to read them in Windows or on Macs. If you see a strange sentence with a bunch of strange characters in it, they're Chinese characters. Relax, it's not important to the story. But you may want to download the drivers or whatever anyway, because I'm going to start trying to put more of this in, now that I've figured out how to do it.

Editor's Second Note: No, it's not. My webcrimson won't support the characters. So it'll look funny anyway. I'm working on fixing this problem.

I was talking to Ing and practicing one of the two sentences I can so far write in Chinese:

ÖÐ ¹ú ´ó Âð?

Which, in pinyin, is Zhong Guo Da Ma? In English: Is China big?

"Zhong guo da ma!" I said, all excited.

"Is this what you say when you're lost?" Ing asked.

I looked at her for a moment. "Um, no...."

"It means Chinese auntie."

"Um... No, that wasn't what I was trying to say at all."

All sorts of stuff like this happens, although my favorite is Paul trying to say, "It's cold!", and saying instead "The wolf is coming!"

If I were at home right now, I'd be getting ready for the wake.

Every year, Raven hosts an "Old Year's Wake" on January 1st, to mourn the year that has passed. Around midnight or so, everyone stands in her basement holding a candle, and says something about the year that has passed.

Last year I talked about how 2002 was, by far, the worst year of my life, and was glad the bitch was dead. I was so afraid that 2002 would chase me that I was willing to leave the country to get away from it - the first real annoucement that I wanted to get the heck outta Canada.

This year... If I were there this year (through the magic of teleportation, of course), I'd be saying this:

2003 was the year I finally told the rest of the world to fuck off and did what I wanted for a change. I'll always look back at this year with fondness. May he rest in piece.

January 1, 2004

Poor Ing. I think she thought there was some special western significance to doing something together on January 1st. She was gracious enough to go out this afternoon with me, and she, her husband, and I had a lovely time. Well, okay, I had a lovely time, and they seemed to have fun.

The city was crowded. Ing told me that most of the people had the day off (I've gathered from various web logs that most of the students have the next few days off), so that's why everything was so full. Every place we went was packed with people, and I managed to avoid being run over simply because I have wavy brown hair. It's easy to see me as laowei from a distance. *smile*

Anyway, after poking around a few stores, we ended up in my first Chinese tea house. I'd been inside one in Shanghai, but all I did there was stare at everything like I was in a museum, and buy tea. Here, we sat where we could see outside, and drank tea and had far-ranging conversations.

A glass bowl was set on the table with a tea light in it. (This was the first time I'd ever seen a tea light actually used with tea. In Canada, they're typically for decoration.) The tea pot was glass, and tea leaves and sugar were poured into a cylinder in the center. A woman poured hot water into the cylinder, which had holes in it so the tea would fill the pot. I'm explaining this so poorly. I wish I'd had my camera with me, because I would have gotten a picture of it.

The tea (Ing's husband, Wei, told me it was called "German Flower Tea") tasted a bit like lemon meringue. This strange combination of sweet and tart. It was absolutely wonderful.

Wei doesn't speak a lot of English, but he's always so eager to share his knowledge with me. It turns out that not only is he a classical music buff (he keeps asking me questions about French and Italian), he's also interested in History and Linguistics. I told Ing I'd happily take him off her hands any time she wanted. I used to think he just tolerated having me around, but I discovered today that he's usually so quiet around me because he's gathering his thoughts. He gave me a quick and dirty history lesson on Jiangyan, talked to me about the Dragon Bones, showed me some of the ways Chinese characters have changed over the centuries, and asked me questions about how I perceive the characters.

(For the curious, Jiang is a family name, and Yan apparently means dam. He talked a bit about geography and three rivers coming together and the soil being great and all this other stuff. All I had asked Ing was "Tell me about Jiangyan.")

After two hours of sitting and talking, we went around to check out some more stores. I asked a ton of stupid questions about the wall hangings, about Spring Festival, and about the Lantern Festival. Sometimes I feel guilty, because whenever I mention the slightest interest in anything, Ing is always ready to find me someone to show it to me. Today they were telling me about how, about ten years ago, the people in Jiangyan used to make their own lanterns for Lantern Festival, but now they don't. I got all giddy and excited and talked about how much I'd love to make a lantern (even though I'd do a horrible job of it), and she offered to see if she could find someone in the countryside that was still making them.

On the way back I had more fun Chinese food. The popcorn the street vendors are selling is sweet, more like candy corn than what I was expecting. I also had fried tofu on a stick (yummier than it sounds), and some sort of drink that was made of some sort of plant. (Yes, I know, that's not helpful.)

And the best part was, she helped me buy a plant! It's some sort of water plant. She told me the name, but I can't remember it. It's "water", and then the name of a Chinese fairy-tale heroine. So I've decided to call it Rapunzel. (Yes I know that's a type of cabbage.) Ing was told that it was "guaranteed" to bloom by Spring Festival (January 22 this year). It's a water plant - no soil. We'll see if I can manage to keep it alive till Spring Festival. But now I know where to buy another one if I need to, and about how much to pay for it.

I think tomorrow I'm going to go back to the tea house, drink more German Flower Tea (or maybe another tea, who knows) and study Chinese for a couple of hours. Maybe I'll even manage to mail Jeanne-Marie's letter.

Sentences I Would Never Say In Canada #1

Sentence I would never say in Canada:

"Why is there fish in my desk?"

One of the things I've found most interesting in China is the sugar in the food. Here, bread has a sweet taste to it, which I assume is added sugar. The only time I've ever had bread that didn't taste sweet was when I bought some bread that had something baked inside of it. I wasn't a big fan of whatever was inside of it, so I couldn't finish it.

However, the things that I expect to be sweet? They aren't. Candy here is not nearly as sweet as it is back home. (They do have cotton candy here, though. Spun sugar. That tastes just like at home. One of my pictures is of me wearing a Santa hat and holding a big bundle of cotton candy. On a stick and everything!) The only chocolate I've found that tastes like "chocolate" to me is expensive Dove bars.

Last night one of the kids gave me a bag of these candies. I didn't know what they were, but they looked like chocolate covered coffee beans, so that's what I was expecting. (What, I went to college. Chocolate covered coffee beans are a staple of being a college student or a gamer. When you're both, you have a tendancy to O.D. On an unrelated note: Tom, have you found more Jolt candies?) Well, they were bitter enough to be coffee beans, but they weren't covered in chocolate. I have no idea what it was, but I just couldn't eat more than one.

When I was in Shanghai I found those coke-bottle gummy candies that I'm beginning to suspect are required by law to be available anywhere in the world. Those taste right, but they're much bigger here than back home. Almost the size of my palm. So they're a bit harder to eat. I've got the bag hidden in my computer desk so I actually have to go to some effort to find them.

Coke doesn't taste the same here, but that's typical of everywhere. American Coke doesn't taste like Canadian coke. I can't really describe the difference. More cinnamon? More ginger? I'm not sure. But Pepsi's not too bad.

Unrelated to that, I have a theory that the city of Shanghai is sponsored by Pepsi. Everywhere I went I could see Pepsi ads and trademarks. Fido Dido (do you remember him? God, he was when I was living in Sherwood Park, IIRC) is big there as well. I have some photos of Nanjing Dong Lu (the main shopping street in Shanghai, from what my touristy eyes can tell me), showing the trademark Pepsi three-coloured circle on every streetlight. It's surreal to me.

I've discovered I'm a big fan of warm soy milk. I've been lazy for the past few months, not getting out of bed (even if I'm awake) for breakfast, but I really miss the bottles of warm soy milk they serve. It tastes sweet, too, like a milkshake. Even more like a milkshake is the yoghurt drink. I finally made myself try one, just to see what they're like, and they're great.

I am, however, sick to death of plain rice. Bloody hell, every meal in the cafeteria is dominated by this rice. I poke at it and make faces in it and draw pictures with my chopsticks. Give me fried rice every day of the week. I've started hitting the campus store at around 9:30 when they're selling it to the kids. I have to get there early, or it's all gone pretty fast. Guess the kids get bored, too. Or hungry. They also sell fried chicked and hot dogs, and some other type of meat that's so fatty it could probably kill if you ate too much of it, but so good....

Chips here don't taste the same, either. A lot less flavor than the ones back home. I haven't decided if I like that or not. I tend, when I'm feeling homesick, to pick up some Lays chips (in Pringle packages) and binge on them.

Anyway, this all leads up to why I think Raven is wonderful. She sent me Mac and Cheese. For some reason I still haven't eaten it. I think the fact that I can is keeping me sane.

About January 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in January 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2003 is the previous archive.

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