Starting Out with a Point and Shoot

Monday, April 13, 2009

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Vietnamese Food

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

To start off the new year and to celebrate my birthday, I'd like to post some good, fresh Vietnamese food:

Ditie, Chuzuqiche, Gonggongqiche

Monday, August 20, 2007

Aside from the Great Wall, taking the ditie (subway) everyday is the second most exciting thing for me in China. The chuzuqiche (taxi, most convenient and expensive) is not as exciting as the gonggongqiche (bus, slowest and cheapest), while the bus is not as fun as the subway (middleline, fast and cheap). I like to walk with the crowd, people watch, switch subway lines, and run to the door before it closes on me, which happened once. My friend waited for me at the destination. =)

Before going anywhere, I always look up the lines I need to take and walk to wudaokou which is the nearest train station (25 minutes walk, long, but good exercise). Xizhimen and Dongzhimen are usually the two stops I always go to switch subway lines. Here are some photos of the experience! Enjoy! I hope you have a lovely day today and these posts will bring some smiles.

Taxis come in 6 colors, all gov run, are metered and start at 10 kuai. You can see the orange and green taxis in the foreground. I observed that these taxi drivers are not as competitive as vietnamese taxi drivers. Maybe because they all work for one company. Many times, I would ask them to take me to a place, and if it's not on their way or if they simply don't want to go there, they'll turn you down, and you'll have to find another one. Taxis are not also the fastest mode of transportation due to traffic jams. This week, Beijing is try something out for the Olympics to clear up the pollution. Only odd numbered license plates can go on odd days. Evens, vice versa. If you go on a wrong day, you have to pay a 100 yuan fine, if you go on the high way, you'll have to pay another 100 yuan. Public transportation: taxis, buses, subways, trains, still operate as normal. I don't know if it's's been four days, and I don't really see the difference in the sky. Reports show a decrease in smog, and it's really nice not having to dodge so many cars while crossing the streets. =P
Limited space on the public bus, usually extremely crowded, but I'm still happy because public transportation is fun...I get to experience what normal chinese people take everyday...I'm sitting on the edge of someone's footrest (her leg is behind me).
Friends on bus...this is their first and last time, my american friends do not like the bus at all! They never returned. =(
Saving the best for last!
Rainy days, I'll see kids at the subway station with these lotus leaves for an umbrella. It's fun. I think they hold the second one on their lap to not get their clothes wet, catch the rain when it falls.
Happy friends and I on the ditie! need to end for now...take care, guys!

cliffhanger: i want to post up all the places I've toured...this is more for myself to not forget before i leave this friday - temple of heaven, imperial palace forbidden city, tiananmen, summer palace, hutong (beijing small alley), great wall, peking opera, chinese traditional acrobatics, happy valley amusement park, bell and drum tower, and beijing zoo. yikes, too many! =)

Tao Jia Huan Jia

One of the highlights of living in China for me is tao jia huan jia (bargaining) aka shopping. Usually I go to large shopping centers to observe people and explore. I am not a big shopping fan, but here in Beijing I often find myself bargaining for fun at places such as Wangfujing, Xidan, Silk Market, Yashow, non-tourist flea markets, and indeed it is a lot of fun when you almost always get the price you call, literally. I think I'm starting to learn the tjhj secret. =)

The fun started when my friend and I accidentally walked the wrong direction and ended up at the Silk Market! This is aka foreigner's "shopping heaven" because even if you are a bad bargainer, you can get a lot of fake stuff with decent quality for a cheaper price than the US. To name a few: ski gear, scarves, fake branded clothing, sunglasses, purses, shoes, watches, jewelry etc...pretty much anything you can think of in 6 different floors.

I did not plan to buy anything that day but wanted to practice some chinese so I started calling off very ridiculously low prices just to see where it'll take me. One shop after another, I was able to buy everything at the price I first called, not a kuai more. All it took, I learned, sticking to your price and walking away. =) You need to stubborn and not fear what the vendor will say (ie. are you kidding me? you must be joking. this is the best price). If you can do a few of these things, then I think you're golden. Also, I forgot to mention, it's like playing The Price is Right because you'll need to have an idea of a ridiculously cheap price for whichever item. These are some starting prices and the price I bought the item for so you can have an idea:

1. white purse: 650 yuan --> 60 yuan. (less than 1/10 of price)
2. decent quality tie: 460 --> 40
3. exercise pants: 220 --> 45
4. toy cow: 125 --> 25
5. hair clips: 120 --> 10
6. baseball cap: 350 --> 20
7. I admit to one failure at the Silk Market: a shirt 140 --> 20 (he would only sell it for 25, and I stuck to 20, so suan le, I didn't need it...just buy for fun)

Here are some pictures of some famous shopping centers:

Xidan - fun, crowded
Wangfujing - a nice place to stroll around
McDonalds and many people at Wangfujing
Big shopping centers all surrounding Beida and the night life.
Many people like to go shopping at night. The weather's cool, and the girls don't have to hide from the sun to stay pale.

Chinese Food

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wow, three weeks down! And I haven't had a chance to retell all the stories and post some pictures of places I've been to. I just came home from the Great Wall today. I would say this trip was my all-time favorite...I felt dead after hiking to the top...more pictures of that on another day. In any case, I hope to finish these entries before I leave Beida in one week because I won't have that much internet access in the next month. But to make up for that, my friends and I will try to email updates whenever possible. Ok, so this edition is on zhongguo cai (chinese food). I have a few examples of food (mainly the ones I remembered to take pictures of), prices, and a few silly thoughts.
This is huoguo (hotpot). Enough for three, $9.49. We requested two types of soup, spicy and normal. We just put the meat and veggies into the pot and wait until it's cooked and then devour it! It tastes a little different than Vietnamese hotpot, but I like it a lot due to all the veggies. It's somewhat hard to find many non-oily vegetable dishes in Beijing. Also, there is a peanut like sauce for the hotpot, but I did not use it that much.
La mian (pulled noodles) are my favorite in Beijing. I like the different soups: I usually order beef noodles and each time, the chef pulls the dough and drops it into the soup to cook. It's fun to watch and tasty to eat...I usually pay 60 to 80 cents for a decent bowl.
This was so fun to eat because: 1. I love BIG bowls and this is the biggest bowl I've ever eaten out of, three times a normal noodle bowl. 2. I love big spoons...and I got to eat with a huge soup spoon. 3. only $1.60. =) My teachers told me noodles are a big thing in Beijing and northern parts of China. I heard southern parts of china have more rice dishes. Maybe climate plays a part, since Beijing can get very cold during the winter, and a bowl of warm noodles will be a good meal.

I know this looks scary but it's safe and is sold on Beida campus. Many regular chinese students need a quick grab and go meal. This is large rice noodles with some veggies, tofu, and lots of different sauce (maybe more than 5 types). It tastes fine and costs 40 cents.

Biggest bone I've ever nibbled on. Guess what it is? BBQ Lamb! =) I usually don't like the smell of lamb, but this one was not bad. I don't know how much it costs because my language partner treated me - it's part of the culture to treat guests.

Chef preparing my normal lunch, putting in lots of veggies, chicken, and rice wrapped in a big pandan leaf.
Tada! All that work and cooking for only $1.60.
I'm not a big fan of burgers, but I couldn't say no to a free offer to go to Outback Steakhouse for a friend's birthday. The bbq bacon burger tasted great, and it was fun to see the chinese waiters celebrate my friend's birthday--they sang the bday song in English and gave us a free ice cream dessert with candle. =) A lot of the American folks in our chinese class crave American food everyday. The food at Outback matched the price of US Outback...this burger costs $7.75.
Expensive, interesting drink at a japanese restaraunt. It has a sparkling marble inside. My friend told me it is a popular drink in Japan. Servings are few and I paid more than usual, $6.41. The food tasted okay.
Dinner at the beginning of the chinese program. I liked the pumpkin sesame buns the most! I don't know how much the program paid for it.
Even if you don't like kfc in the states (not the case for me), you'll probably find yourself in one of these because they are everywhere like starbucks in the us (not that bad...but close) =P Most of the fried chicken are spicy ... i like spicy and the meat is pretty tender. they have more selections on drinks and different things... u'll have to see a menu for yourself. i like the kfc here more than the one in the states. it's funny but i like the fried chicken at mcdonalds as well -- spicy and good (both are everywhere in beijing).
KFC popcorn chicken, $1.43
Beijing's all-time traditional, favorite ice cream (lao bing gunr), always 13 cents.
Noodles with chicken, pepper, cucumbers, and vinegar...
My friend and I tried this really nice vegetarian restaraunt because she's trying to be a vegetarian in China--not working out too well. This place is one of the most well-decorated and designed places I've been to! I ordered this dish...It looks interesting, but I think it's spinach and peas, all the food honestly tasted like baby food. =\ This was $2. hehe, I have a confession to make...I'm really missing my grandpa's vietnamese dishes...


Sunday, August 5, 2007

It's been two long and interesting weeks, I feel that life at Beida (Beijing Daxue, Peking, or Beijing University) has been very comfortable and fun. Beida has two little supermarkets where you can find almost any daily needed items, two banks, many fruit stands, phone card booth, airplane ticket booth, and more. It's somewhat like a little city. I usually eat on campus with my language partner at a huge cafeteria called nongyuan. They have all sorts of food. My single room is very spacious with airconditioner; Beida has been known to pamper their foreign exchange students. =)

Here are some pictures to introduce you to the campus:We went on a campus tour on our first day. The campus is large, so I had to get used to a lot of walking, especially to the nearest subway station - Wudaokou (25 min speed walk). Its length is about twice as long as its width.
I think this is the west gate, xixiaomenr. Only pedestrians are allowed through this gate. nanmenr, dongxiaomenr, dongnanmenr are also pedestrians only. I think only nanxiaomenr, xijichemenr, and xijidongchemenr are for vehicles. There are seven gates in total. I am pretty used to the location of most places on campus. Nice story: I usually ask people where buildings are, but last Saturday, I gave directions to some tourists on campus. That was an exciting moment. =)
Very pretty building call beigonglou, which belonged to another college back then until it merged with Beijing University.
Nice sino-architecture...most buildings have this style.
Famous Boya Ta (Tower)
Weiming Hu (Lake)
Huabiao in front of Administration Building

My chinese class from 8am-12pm. We have two teachers: kouyu (spoken language) for two hours and then hanyu (writing and grammar) for two hours. We just took our midterm yesterday.
Me and some classmates.

What a Week!

China has been an amazing experience thus far. I originally planned to record stories on specific days, but that didn't work, especially this being my first week in China. I hope this blog will not only be something that I can look back at and bring back some smiles, but also includes stories that my family and friends can be a part of and enjoy! I don't know how other posts will look, but I think it'll work best for me right now to make posts according to different fun stories. This one will be about life at Beijing University.

I've finally settled into the university life in China. Here are memorable things I did to adapt to this new environment:

1. tried all the restaurants on campus (meals range from 50-60 cents)
2. bought a big bottle of water and a cute water bottle (totaling 1 dollar)
3. bought three international calling cards to call home ($5 each, 40 min each)
4. pingpong paddles and badminton rackets to make some new friends and exercise since pingpong and badminton is a popular sport here ($5 for both is a good investment right?)
5. bought many fruits; mainly crunchy peach (60 cents)
6. bought a knife for cutting fruits (very important for fruits ie. mangos, papayas, watermelon)
7. one month gym subscription
8. bought a tiny notebook to record all the words I see on the street and all the words I hear my friends or random people say
9. my language partner helped me buy very cheap cellphone that has a very unique charger. it works well! and my sim card was very cheap too. yay! =)
10. paid for internet subscription for a month and bought an ethernet cable at a supermarket for $1
11. learned how to take a taxi, bus, and subway! (all fun stuff, my favorite is the subway)
12. learned and practiced ALOT how to bargain, order food, and carry small talk in chinese!

I think I did some more random things, but these are the ones I remember. I can't believe it's only been a week...I like how time feels a lot slower here. This is a good thing since I can do more in just one day. Here are some pictures of daily life:

My everyday necessities: bug spray, sun block, water, and phone to call home! =)
At our dorm's dining hall, $1.34 per breakfast
With roomate and friend: first time on the gonggongqiche (public bus)
Campus noodle store: many different and yummy noodles,
many of which I can not read and order
The first three days: niu rou mian was the only thing I could read and eat...after my teacher came to the rescue and took my friends and me out to eat for two lunches, I can now order five dishes. =)
This is the way how laundry should be done -- with ethernet cables. =) jk