Friday, 29 January 2010

China 2010, Part 2: Beijing

Oh. Wow.

China was not what I was expecting. Neither were my relatives.

Point in case: my great-aunt (not blood-related) received a present of meat. Which is pretty normal, but when you consider that the meat had once been some sort of animal you are not supposed to eat, maybe not.

Another example: I had happily drunk some chicken soup (which is also normal) and found out two hours later that the chicken in question was a 'mountain chicken' which might actually be this as my mother informed me it was certainly a protected species. I note that he didn't actually know either until after we had eaten.

Beijing is pretty polluted for the 'cleanest city in China', which means you get beautiful red sunsets, although the snow is black instead of white. And there was snow, because China is freezing at the moment. The temperature at its lowest was minus twelve, plus a ridiculous wind-chill factor which meant that the spit which everyone insists on projecting on the footpath actually freezes so it isn't so bad.

Returning to food, I finally got to try deep-fried grasshopper (pretty good) and caterpillar (a bit powdery) kebabs, whilst avoiding the deep-fried seahorses. Entering China is like falling through a wormhole and ending up in another dimension - seahorses are a protected species and yet they were merrily being sold on the streets as snacks.

But what happens in China stays in China. All I can say is, I'm glad to be back in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

China 2010, Part 1: Hong Kong

For those unaware, I am currently in a suburb of Hong Kong known as 沙田 (Shatin), experiencing all that is Asian and looking for other interesting things along the way.

The most surprising thing would have to be how environmentally conscious the place is. Many big department stores charge for plastic bags; smaller shops prefer to fit your purchases into any bags you already have.

This:


is apparently a sign regarding clothing recycling. I say apparently because my ability to read Chinese is still pretty non-existent. There were also some amusing signs with several young people in attractive poses carrying brooms and encouraging Hong Kongers to keep the city clean :)

The taxis and buses have 'eco' signs inside them (again, my dodgy ability to read is my downfall), and there are far more people who take public transport or walk.

The reasons for this aren't really related to a desire to be environmentally friendly; there simply isn't any room, and people live so close to shops (with really great public transport) so there's no need for a car.

Today, we were approached by people seeking money to neuter stray dogs and cats. How interesting. And I saw a number of WWF workers lurking about too.


There are gashapon, manga and anime everywhere. The newspaper sellers on the side of the street are currently stocking the latest One Piece (whatever it's up to) which infuriates me because of all manga, One Piece is the hardest to read in a language other than English. I have two volumes, one in Japanese, one in Chinese, and whilst my Japanese reading ability is somewhat better, and furigana is provided, I still don't really have a clue what it says.

And I say everywhere because I noticed several buses sporting an advertisement for some kind of MMORPG.

Finally, my uncle is a troll. And his goldfish are like sweet potatoes.
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