Wednesday, June 29, 2005

black, white and sepia

*update at bottom* 


It is so humid. I'm all sticky and icky.


Now a choppy transition into a completely different topic. Sometimes my students say things and I have no idea how to respond. Today's example is an extreme case.


The kids had sureys to fill out in pairs, finding out some similarities and differences between them. One question was "What kind of people do you dislike?" Some of the answers I saw were things like 'rude, proud, unfriendly, people who give me homework' etc. Nothing too noteworthy. Then one of my girls - about 11 years old, I believe - appraoches me.


"How do you say... those people with black face? All black skin?"


Now, I didn't want to assume anything. And knowing that white is considered so beautiful here, that the Chinese always strive to have whiter skin and they carry parasols to keep out of the sun, I thought, 'maybe she just means people who are very tanned from being out in the sun too much'. Wishful hoping, yes.


"No, no. Not the sun. Black skin, black hair. They live in the forrest." Quickly she asks the Chinese TA something, then turns back to me, adding "They live in Africa". No confusion over what she means. What do I say? This was not the time or place to sit her down and try to explain racism and the equality of mankind. Besides, I'd had a similar discussion with another young student who said that black people were ugly. I tried to explain that that wasn's a nice thing to say, that there were many very beautiful people of all races etc. But it was futile. She had her notion of beauty, and dark skin was not it. So, I didn't say anything, except that calling them black people was okay. Is that terribly politically incorrect of me?


There is very little exposure to black people here. White people are uncommon, but spotting a black person is a rare sighting indeed. It shocks me to see the ignorance and innocent     bigotry displayed towards them. But I don't feel incensed at these attitudes, China just  seems to be several decades behind. And with such a sheltered country, where people  often seem to know very little about the world beyond the borders, it's no wonder they view certain foreign people so backwardly.                                                                 


Here is a picture of a popular toothpaste in China. At least they've made some improvements in the name.




 First of all, I didn't write the questions, and this specific question was to get kids using some of the "negative" adjectives they'd learned - greedy, evil, proud, selfish etc.

Everyone is suggesting I use this as an opportunity to teach about racism and to change the kids' views about other cultures. That is so easy to say when you really have no idea what it's like here. Yes, ideally I would love to open their minds, bring them into the 21st century and create an attitude of acceptance and understanding. But you're talking about altering generations of ingrained beliefs!

I will and do tell them that black people do not live in the forest, that they are not like monkeys, that they are no different from anyone else. But I am not expecting enlightenment.

As far as beauty goes, I could show them stacks and stacks of gorgeous photos, it wouldn't matter. You can't change someone's notion of aesthetics. I don't think having dozens of piercings in your face is beautiful, or big stretched out lips and ears, or wearing excessive make-up or being hugely overweight. It doesn't matter how many pictures you show me or how passionately you assert that they ARE beautiful, I won't see it.

I am not trying to be passive on the issue. But you have to understand what it's like here. Come live in China for a few months, see just how sheltered it is, how little most people know about the outside world, how little they care to know about it, and how stubborn people can be with what they believe. Then tell me to educate these kids on racism.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Freaky me

Thanks for all the comments guys and dolls! I really did think Mr. Insult (first name: Lame-Ass) was pretty funny, and hey, it gave me something to blog about!

What to say today? Nobody's been childishly calling me nasty names so it means I have to come up with my own material! Damnit all.

Its rainy today.

Wow, weather talk; that sparkles with originality.

Last night I dreamt that I found a store that sold those cute little claw-machine Winnies that I hanker for, and I was so excited that i lined them all up in a row, trying to choose the best ones. Some of them were deformed, and I didn't want those ones. I think I was also being chased by the police for espionage, but that seemed irrelevant. Anyone care to interpret?

Actually, I often have vivid, saga length dreams and I always want someone to analyze them. I'll keep you posted if I ever have anything more meaningful than a fixation with toys.

Finally, inspired by Peabody's regular food posts, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite meals here. Rice noodles! It's about $1.50 for the whole thing and it is so tasty!

First you get the ingredients: noodles, raw chicken, stringy tofu, quail eggs and veggies.


Then the waitress brings the pot of boiling broth and dumps it all in.


Add vinegar, chillies and mouth-numbing prickly oil to your taste, and you're ready to go!

Yum yum!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

My feelings are crushed, really.

Ooh, I got my first nasty comments today, how exciting!! It doesn't say much, just says I'm  a "sick freak", (wow, you've totally got me pegged, buddy) and of course it's published anonymously. People who like to be mean rarely have the guts to show themselves. You know, if I was going to make nasty comments about me, I don't know if "sick freak" was the best way to go. I'm a bit odd, sure, but I think you'd have been much more accurate going the "nerd/geek" route. Just my opinion. And I know me slightly better than you do. So naturally I spent the morning crying and re-evaluating my self-worth. Oh no, some nameless internet asshole doesn't like me! Sniffle sniffle sob! Therapy may be called for. So, I have left the comments intact (in the previous entry and my guestbook), as a reminder to myself to always strive to impress and earn the approval of irrelevant, unpleasant strangers. Because it so matters what you think of me.

Yeesh. Didn't your parents teach you that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all? Perhaps they didn't love you enough to teach you how to be a decent human being. That would be my guess. Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by and increasing my stats, now be a dear and go back to your meaningful, friend-filled life.

I weeen! I'm the weeeeeener!

YAH!!!!!!!!!! Have I ever mentioned, you know, just casually, in passing perhaps, that I love games? Almost any and all games.

So my team won the Scavenger Hunt. WHOOPWHOOP! It was so fun! Running around the city, hopping on buses and hoping we're going the right way, dashing in and around random buildings. And then of course doing the silly things at each checkpoint. At first we had to get a complete stranger to have their picture taken with us. The first guy backed away like we were crazies, but finally a girl agreed. Later we all had to sing Old MacDonald outside on the street. The whole thing was great fun though. The most exercise I've had in a while. "Hustle hustle team, let's move!!"  I like to win.

Sleepy now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Play my game. DO IT.

I feel like playing a game. I always feel like playing a game. My boyfriend and I often play the 6 degrees of separation game. Take 2 actors and you have to get from one to the other by linking through movies. Let's think of an example... how about Nicole Kidman and.... Robin Williams....

Kidman was in Cold Mountain with Jude Law
Jude Law was in The Talented Mr. Ripley with Matt Damon
Damon was in Good WIll Hunting with Robin Williams.

Hmm, 3 moves, that was faster than I thought. Okay, here are the next two: 

Will Farrell & Colin Farrell

Try to do it in 6 steps, but take more if you have to. GO! (I've done it in 4 - can you beat me?)

Scavenger hunt day!

Woohoo! Today is our staff day out and they've organized some sort of scavenger hunt. I love games! Then we going out for a free dinner. I love free!

In less happy news, the shoilet is really stinking today. Once I said something about "stinking to high heaven" and my friends made fun of me for saying that. It is a strange expression. Hmm.

So here's a mind-numblngly fun link for you. it's hypnotic.... I'm so easily amused.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I'm being such a blob today. It's 3pm and I haven't had anything to eat yet, just because I'm too lazy to go out to the store. Maybe a bit of coffee would perk me up.

what's for dinner?

When we eat out, usually the menus are all in Chinese. But occasionally there is an English translation. However, it isn't always that helpful. Here is a selection from one restaurant that could probably do with a new interpreter:

  • smoded young pigeon
  • rumpet head mixed green melin
  • duck pared the skin
  • pig's bowed and tammy was famed
  • jie-jie gristle cooked with Chinese pot
  • large intestine cooked in iron plate
  • vetch and wing
  • the fin with fresh crab is in impendent pot
  • dismantle fresh crab with fin
  • tender top with sppeced
  • mashed porate
  • mixed with home
  • espercial cooking duck chip
  • best old duck
  • sea slug pot porcine abdomen
  • wing juice cabbage
  • the soup have salf chop and radish
  • flood unresrine quick boiled fat
  • bean curd is distinctive
  • prairie jerk
  • ling code and yellow

And my two favourites:

  • cutlet like airing clothes
  • the bouilli is button up

Yum yum! There's a nice little message at the back of the menu too.

Your advent is our honoor, serving for you is our expectation, wishing you progress and pleasure and the lucky and health will go with you forever.

Isn't that nice. Everything sounds better in Chinglish.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Most of the time I think that the google searches i get are funny. But occasionally one comes along that is truly disturbing:


Sadly, no dirty undies or the like here. I'm assuming the Pooh pictures you were jonesing for were not of the "Winnie-the" variety.

You are a gross-body.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Adventures of Ai-mi-da

Things not to do on your day off:

1. Go into a restricted Chinese militarized zone.

Today was quite the event packed day. Woke up early and went down to the school at 7:30 to meet up with our friend and our boss's parents. We were going cherry-picking! Today was the first day of a cherry festival (I think) and a perfect day to go to one of the orchards to pick fruit. The parents spoke Chinese so it made it much easier to make our way there. There were several orchards to chose from, all near the town of Lushun. So we went to Lushun where there would be complimentary mini-buses to take us to the various locations.

We were dropped off at a small square where Ernie's parents spoke to one of the representatives about when the bus would arrive. No more than 10 minutes had passed when a man approached me, showing me his police ID. After a brief conversation with the cop, E's parents explained to us that foreigners aren't allowed in this town because there's a military base nearby. So, we were taken into custody.

We sat at the police station while negotiations were underway. Of course we couldn't understand what was being said so we just sat still like naughty children in the principal's office. At one point we were just talking quietly amongst ourselves, joking around about something and the cop reprimanded us, telling E's parents that we shouldn't laugh because this was a serious matter. We were on our best behaviour after that.

Of course everything was complicated by the fact that none of us had brought our passports, so we couldn't even prove that we had permission to be in China. Luckily, our school came through for us and faxed copies of all the info. Soooooo....after about 2 hours of deliberating over the appropriate punishment, our school was able to bail us out. Originally the cop said it would be 700rmb (over $100) a piece plus a fine for not carrying our passports, but because we were all so well-mannered and co-operative, and clearly we didn't do anything wrong on purpose, there would only be a charge of 300rmb for the group. Seemed like just another way for the government to scam some money - I bet that guys going out for a nice dinner tonight! But we didn't have much choice.

We had to sign a bunch of papers, but first we needed Chinese names. So that's me - Aimida* - common criminal.

To wrap up this loooooooooooooong story, we did eventually make it to the cherry orchard. Picked and ate loads of plump, juicy, perfect cherries. Mm-mmm! I've never gone cherry picking before, but I have a strong background in playing Hi-Ho-Cherry-O!, so I was a natural. What a fun day - run in with the law and all!

Mmm....delicious. A bunch more pictures in my cherry picking album

*Ai - Love
  Mi - Beautiful
  Da - Achieve

(or any number of other meanings depending on tone - I could be Herb, Rice, Big, but that's not quite as pretty)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

chinese goodies

Ah the joys of my digital camera, now I can share so many little things with you! I just couldn't resist buying a few treats the other day, just because they made me laugh.

Sadly, I didn't see any double stuft Olios.

And how could I resist buying these crackers? It's like poetry in my mouth! 

Also on the cracker box....

In case you can't read it: The fashion snack that fit you more Daliyuan foods give you the minerable feeling. They are ideal for your relaxation, breakfast and to take with you on your day out. A "minerable feeling"? I'm intrigued and must buy.

And having nothing to do with food.... well, not really:

Theran had a really sore throat and these were his medicines. The yellow ones look like Nerds!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

first batch of pics!

Woohoo! I came home after a long day of school and squeezed in some time to play with my new camera (I'm in love with it, by the way). So please, take a little virtual tour of my humble abode - check out My apartment (and around) in my photo albums! The building is a bit discouraging when you first see it. We start out with the dingy exterior, carry on into the gloomy stairwell, then open the door into its surprisingly warm and cozy belly. Once again, I haven't bothered to tidy up, so please ignore the beer bottles, scattered shoes, underwear hanging up and other miscellaneous junk. The living room pic is sparkling clean - but that's an old picture.

I'd also like to take this chance to introduce to you a very non-western phenomenon. The Shoilet*. The shoilet is the toilet/shower combination all rolled up into one compact ball. The floor of the shower is just the floor of the bathroom. Get off the pooper and take one step into the shower. How convenient!

I HATE shoilets. I like to have a bit more of a distinct line between where I wash and where I..........

Also, the shoilet is quite smelly. At least at times, and especially in the summer. The shower water, as well as our laundry water, just flows along to this little drain. Sometimes things seem to be backed up or something and there is a VERY unpleasant smell. Ew. I hardly feel like I'm getting clean when the whole room reeks of sewage. Like I said, EW.

And finally, as if I hadn't already given ample reason to despise it, along with the shoilet comes the joys of sewer bugs. All these little flies come up out of the drain and stick to the walls. They are very slow and stupid (due to breathing shit fumes for all their lives) and easily squished. Still, another hearry EEEW! from crowds.

Here is a look at a shoilet fly.

*The term shoilet is being credited to my sister, who in turn credits it to some girl I don't know.

Friday, June 10, 2005

testing testing...

Alrighty, didn't have much time to fiddle with my new camera today, unfortunately. Had Chinese class, then did some school work, then wrote up a bunch of report cards and got ready for tomorrow's classes. I did manage to sqeeze in a test shot of my bedroom. It's not the best, but I'm just starting. So here it is, my bedroom, where all the bloggin magic happens!

Look, I didn't even clean up, so this is a genuine peek into my lair! I'm so honest. Honest, lazy...whatever.

And yes, those are my stats up on the screen :)

Thursday, June 9, 2005


I did it! I got a digital camera!

Decided on the Canon A95 which got really good reviews and seems to have everything I want. And it looks nice too! I found it at a few places and ended up getting it for about $460 Cdn - including a 512MB memory card. About the same as home I think, so that's good. Did my best bargaining and knocked over $120 off the tagged price until he wouldn't go any lower. So, I'm satisfied. I'm very excited and now I will go play with all the buttons.

You know, I didn't think it was possible, but with this nifty new camera, I'm even cooler than before!

Yes, cool people say the word "nifty".

Wednesday, June 8, 2005


Feeling down? Need to relax and enjoy just a brief moment of bliss? Have I got the solution for you! Straight from Singapore, it's the one and only Kickapoo JOY juice!! The original (I wasn't aware there were any imitations out there)

The name alone cheers me up!


But maybe you need something a bit stronger. A perky little can of pop won't cut it, so we turn to China to bring you the hard stuff! It looks unassuming but this baby's 50% alcohol! The convenient squeezie bottle is perfect for when you're on the go!

Monday, June 6, 2005

the fine print

I was walking about downtown today, in my never-ending search for the best price on a camera (by the way, thanks for all the suggestions and advice, it's been very helpful!) and I passed the one and only Subway in the entire city. Mmm...I haven't had a sub since I left Canada. So we went in and they gave me the english menu. I decided on my usual - a 6'' veggie deluxe with bacon. The sub was 6.80 RMB (about a dollar) and my 2 strips of bacon were another 4. Plus a drink. I watched eagerly, my mouth beginning to water more and more with every topping that was added.

She added it up and told me I owed 28 RMB. Wait a sec...something was wrong here. It should be just under 15. So the manager, who spoke some english, came over to explain. I wasn't allowed to just order a veggie and 2 strips of bacon, they were charging me for a B.L.T. which was over twice the price. The manager pointed to an asterix beside "bacon" and then at the bottom of the page where the asterix was explained. IN CHINESE!! I was so annoyed. The menu is in English, but it was like they purposely left the small print in Chinese so there was no hope in hell of knowing what would happen. Anyhoo, I told her I didn't want it because that was double the price and there was no way I could know that. Now, you'd think that given the situation, she might let me have it for the price I originally expected to pay. But no! No business sense whatsoever. I ended up leaving without buying anything and they had a sub that was now wasted.

Guess I'll just have to wait til I get home for my sub fix.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

3am and tipsy

Did you read the title? That's what's going on.

Just took a taxi home from the bar, and on the way (almost immediately actually), the driver pulls over to let someone else in. It's a bit strange, but whatever, I guess if we're headed in the same direction... But here's what pissed me off: the driver still expected my friend and I to pay the full fare!! What a jerkball! Just because we're foreigners, he thinks he can make us pay for someone else's ride? Bah, I say. BAH! So my friend and I ended up paying 15 out of 18. How annoying!

But now I will stop thinking about being ripped off and start thinking about my flat, mediocre enticing you are!

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

being lazy

Damn, another unproductive day. I was all hopeful that I would get a new camera, but once I started reading about them on the internet, I just felt overwhelmed. So I dealt with the problem head on. I called my mommy to tell her I didn't know what to do. She didn't know what to do either, but it always feels good to whine about it. The rest of the day was spent chatting with my sister on Skype while surfing the internet. Yay for free calling - it allowed us to do nothing, together!

Okay, first step to being productive...get away from the computer!

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