Archive for April, 2006

Creative Cooking

27 April 06

Some of you asked me what I do with the eggs I recently bought, seeing as how I do not have a kitchen. (I live in a hotel room.)

Creative Cooking Without a Kitchen Tip #1:

Electric Kettle

Yes, that’s right, you can actually boil eggs inside an electric kettle!


Chinglish in the Bathtub

26 April 06

Sin Pure Brand Milk Bath Salt

The beautiful skin bathes with the flavor fragrance

In the hot spring of plant flower, completely relax the body and mind, let the feeling to fly as the steam.

Bicycling Through the Chinese Countryside

24 April 06

Sunday afternoons are generally pretty lazy around here. It is the DH’s day off, and usually we just watch DVDs or use the computers. But yesterday was a nice day, with high temperatures, sun and very little pollution. We felt we had to take advantage of the good weather, so we decided to take a little bike ride. Mind you, the DH and I have the kinds of bicycles that are conducive to short, easy bike rides, say from our hotel to the school, which is less than a mile. Anyway, we set off with the idea that we would ride on a road that we thought circled the airport, just a nice leisurely path from one end of the runway to the other.

Literally, we did ride from one end of the runway to the other, but in a very round about, 2 hour kind of way. It was actually quite fascinating, because we passed by lots of cornfields, where we observed the irrigation and fieldwork up close. We also passed through several small villages and gave the locals something to gawk at. I got the feeling that they don’t see very many foreigners, because their mouths just dropped open and they stared at us like we were purple with green warts. We saw a lot of old men, squatting on the sides of the roads to play Chinese chess or just to watch the kids run by. Most of them are either wearing a blue Mao suit with newspaper boy style caps, or an old western style suit. (You will often see laborers, construction workers and farmers wearing complete western style suits doing their work.) We also passed quite a few chicken farms. Guess I know where to come now for even cheaper eggs and an even more priceless shopping experience!

We had been riding for about an hour when we became a bit concerned about getting lost. We only had an hour of light left, and we weren’t sure if the road we were on even went back to the airport or not. Our only comfort was that we could observe one of PanAm’s airplanes flying circuits around the airport. If we kept the airplane in sight, we knew we were at least close to the airport. Serendipitously, we somehow managed to follow all the right roads – sometimes as black-top road, sometimes as dirt road, and sometimes as goat path! We were rewarded with some great images of rural country life.

Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures of our epic bike ride, but here are some photos of the fields surrounding the airport, taken in the last week. The corn has been growing for about a month now. The first photos are of the irrigation channels. There must be a pretty good source of water underground, because they irrigate like crazy. The fields are so lush and green.

These two photos show the cornfields. The yellow flags that you see in the first photo mark the graves of local villagers. Usually there are one or two in every field, although there are also traditional looking cementeries in the area. Most of the work in the fields is done by hand and shovel. You will see tractors and donkeys also doing some work, as well as a kind of combine like contraption used at harvest.

This is what the fields looked like in the late fall of last year:

Ji Dan (Chicken Egg)

22 April 06

Today – shopping in the city. I need two things – bread and eggs.

I find the bread I want easily. It has taken some time to try and test the different brands until I find one that I will repeatedly buy. (The one that most closely resembles wheat bread.) Loaded up on bread, I head over to the egg area. (Passing through the meat area on my way – don’t go there if you have a weak stomach or are a vegan.)

When it comes to buying eggs you have to be careful because there are so many different types of eggs on sale here – duck, chicken, furry, brown, white, black. I don’t even want to know what kind of animal lays a black egg. I search, but I do not find a package that has a picture of a chicken on it.

About to give up, I spot a crowd of older women clucking and sqwaking, not unlike a bunch of hens. I move in closer to have a look. (Very typical Chinese behavior of me. The people here are very curious and if they see someone looking intently at something they will all run over to have a look.) It turns out that chicken eggs are on promotion. All the women are eagerly thrusting plastic bags towards the sales girls trying to get them filled up with eggs. I jump in among them and thrust my bag out, too. There are no queues in China!

Grand total for 20 eggs – 63 cents. Buying eggs among a gaggle of women in China – priceless.

Great Big Camoflauged Airplane

18 April 06

Over the 7 months I’ve been in Shijiazhuang, I’ve seen this airplane parked at the airport 3 or 4 times. Today it showed up again. Usually it is under guard by a group of Chinese soldiers. A Chinese-built Mig was observed being loaded into it on its last stay here. What sort of military hardware will it be this time? And most importantly, am I giving away state secrets?

It is an Egyptian military aircraft, and yes, the DH told me what kind of plane it is but I don’t remember and I am not yet that big of an aviation nerd to know the name myself. (The registration SU is for Egypt.)

Update – It is a C-130

Xing Cheng Pu

15 April 06

Xing Cheng Pu is “The Village” and the DH and I went there today for a quick bite to eat.

This is where we ate:

This lady, and millions more like her all across China, make what I can only describe as large, thin crepes, smothered in beaten egg and hot sauce, topped with green onions and sliced sausage and folded up like a square – soft, salty, crunchy in places and delicious. Almost as good as the Chinese Breakfast Taco. Her crepe cart is mobile – it has a bicycle attached to the front so she can ride off with it at the end of the day. A large crepe, a complete meal, cost 3 yuan, which I suspect was Laowai pricing – I’m sure the local rate is much lower. (That is about 40 cents.) We also had some sliced pineapple as dessert.


Here are some more shots of the village, some that were taken months ago, in the early fall.

A restaurant in the Village:

The village is always interesting because although it can be incredibly dusty and dirty, there is always something to laugh about. For instance, today while we waited for our crepes to finish, a little old man approached us and spoke a little in Chinese. We told him we couldn’t speak Chinese, but he kept talking to us and looking us up and down. When we sat to eat, he sat next to us and just watched every move we made. I am so used to it now that I am not at all self-conscious. I don’t think I’ll ever be self-conscious again!

Snow in April

13 April 06

Yesterday we had this:

Which led to an incredibly clear, blue, sunny day. (The snow & rain had wisked away the pollution.)

Unfortunately, today the sun and beauty were overshadowed by the pure, unadulterated smell of fresh animal manure, wafting over the entire airport.

Not to be outdone, the hotel elevator smelled of stale, cheap beer.

Aww… the smells of China.

After a Too-Long Break, More Chinglish!

13 April 06

This isn’t so much Chinglish as it is confusion.

I popped the plastic lid off of  yogurt container, only to find a protective foil wrapper with thoughtful instructions on how to proceed:

and close up:

Update on the Russian Restuarant

13 April 06

I’ve been meaning to correct some information that I wrote about the Russian Restaurant ages ago here on the blog. When we first arrived here, I thought that the Russians was run by a Chinese family. They seemed like family. Well it turns out that they were not a family but a business – a manager and waitresses. A few months ago, new management took over the restaurant and our favorite staff were replaced by a new manager, new waitresses and new chefs. The food continues to be as greasy as ever, with some really good stuff and some really strange stuff. We still manage to eat here way more than is good for any North American cholesterol level.

The menu has increased to include all kinds of Western, Russian and Chinese dishes, and they are pretty good at taking requests, too. The new staff still caters to the Russian pilots as they all speak Russian. We are working on improving their English. Also, it seems that the restaurant has a name – Li Zi. It will always be “the Russians” to us, however.

Here are some photos taken at a going away party for one of the Spanish Contingent members. (There were 6 Spaniards here and now we are down to 4!)

The new welcoming sign outside:

The going away party:

The waitresses and the chef:

The worst thing on sale at the Russians – Vile, cheap Russian vodka. Anyone who drinks this ends up in a mighty mess the next day. Really bad stuff, so we call it the “Anti-vodka.” The Russian pilots drink it like water!

If you have any problems seeing the above photos, just visit my Flickr site to have a look at all my photos. These can be found under the set “Food & Restaurants.”

Pics of the City

8 April 06

I took a photos while I was shopping the other day. Notice how gray and dull and slightly grainy all the photos are? No, that is not my poor cameraship, that is just what the air is like here. Pollution.

Here is a shot of the stadium, where our bus parks while we are in the city. Inside the stadium there is a huge supermarket, somewhat like a rundown Chinese Wal-mart.

A bicycle parking area, with attendants. You pay the attendant, and he/she watches your bike for you.

The Provincial Museum. Absolutely boring.

The plaza in front of the museum. Often used for dancing, kite flying, expositions and general loitering.

An intersection in front of the museum.

Traffic police

The World Trade Plaza Hotel. One of our favorite places in the city. Here you can eat a really good Western meal at really high prices. (On our standards.) They have the best hamburger and club sandwiches in town and a great buffet.

That’s all for now!