Sunday, July 31, 2005

fun shopping

I'm excited, I'm off to the tailor to get a dress made! At least that's the plan. My Chinese friend Amy and I are heading down to Erqi square where they sell loads of different fabrics and they have tailors to make outfits for you. Theran went a few weeks ago and had 4 suits made! I just want a pretty, traditional style Chinese dress. I'm a bit nervous because I won't know if it suits me until it's all made. And by then it's a bit late. I was flipping through their magazines that showed the various dresses, and they all looked so lovely on the models. But that's always the case, isn't it. My hips are slightly wider than the average Chinese girl.... guess I just have to hope it looks okay on me. Eeek! So cool and exciting! Poor Amy though, she probably doesn't realise what she's gotten herself into - taking the most indecisive person shopping! Thank god she's so patient!



Back from the tailors, and it went pretty well. I didn't take hours to choose a material, so that's a plus. I ended up choosing a sleeveless dress and a pant/top combo. I have no idea how they'll look. Sneef has got me all worried now - maybe I'm too curvy for a traditional Chinese dress! The seamstress said it would be difficult to make a dress for me because she had to take so many different measurements. More boobs and bum than she's used to, I guess! She commented to Amy about how Western girls always have bigger hips. Sigh.... I definitely fit the mold on that one. Anyway, it should all be ready in 10 days. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Last night was the opening night of the Dalian international beer festival. It was so much fun! We went down around 6 and the crowds were really just starting to form. It took place in XingHai park, the biggest park in the city and it was 20 RMB to get in ($3). It had everything you'd expect in a beerfest - stages with music, plenty of different beer vendors, food kiosks everywhere, giant inflatable beer bottles...


We took a seat at the Zhujiang beer area, simply because there was room. But it quickly filled up. In fact, probably within 20 minutes of us arriving, there were no seats to be found. The beer was good although a bit warm. Very low alcohol too, only %3.6. The atmosphere was fantastic. There were bands performing nearby, but luckily we weren't so close that we couldn't carry on a conversation. The weather was beautiful too, humid and warm, but with a gentle breeze that made it quite pleasant.


Carmen and I were a bit hungry, and we decided we were in the mood for these latticed type fries that we'd seen. So we pushed our way through the crowds, back toward the fry stand. The road was really congested by this point, and it was further than we remembered. We passed stalls selling fruit, meat kebabs, squid,  pork buns, and frozen snacks. Finally, the fry stand was the next one, just ahead of us.


The police chose that moment to pull up a barricade. No! Our fries were so close, yet out of reach. So we ordered some buns instead. The crowd was too dense for us to move through, so we just ate our food there. Unfortunately, the hoards of people kept pressing up against us, even though there was nowhere for anyone to go. It got worse and worse. More people were pushing forward, trying to get out of the mob. One lady kept calling to the police to please let her old mother stand on the other side of the rope, but it was no use. Occasionally the mass of people would sway and a great surge would thrust Carmen and I against the food stall to which we were already crushed. There were moments I actually felt nervous that there was going to be a stampede and people would get trampled to death. A few times the lurching throng pitched us so hard against the tables, that the whole stand almost went toppling down. On top of all this, there were a couple of moths that were fluttering under the roof. I began to panic if one flapped too closely, pushing back into the crowd, which only induced more dangerous pushing. Finally, we decided to make a move. We wiggled and pushed, got elbowed and stepped on, but slowly we made our way out of the pack. It was chaos. Fireworks were going off, people were shoulder to shoulder, and we (being quite short) could barely see where we were.


Eventually we made it back to the safety of our table and the comfort of our beers. We stayed til it closed at about midnight. Great fun - almost being flattened aside. My arm is still sore from being smahsed against the tent!


To make this a traditional Amanda style entry, I will have to mention the food! There was a great variety of stuff, various skewers of lamb, beef, squid, chicken heads and other unidentified items. Also meat buns, fries, rice-in-a-leaf things, fish, and whole crabs! Probably a bunch more I didn't see too. Here are a few pics, the rest are in the Dalian Beerfest album. Please check it out!

This is the Beck's area, with some happy man waving at us!



unable to move!



chicken heads, seaweed, squid,                          crabs!

lamb and  fish

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Another rant!

Oh yay, another lame-ass comment on my blog. I'm actually being serious, I kind of like getting the rude comments, it gives me an excuse to vent. This one comes from an anonymous (of course) source called "Chinese" and was in response to my dirty pictures. In menacing capital letters they told me to go back to my own stupid country, stupid American. With many emphatic exclamation marks to show me they meant business.


Okay Mr/Ms "Chinese", obviously you haven't read anything else in my blog to really get an understanding of my experiences here, or how I feel about living here. There is a lot that I like, obviously I wouldn't have decided to extend my contract if there wasn't. And there are things I don't like either, as there are for anyone in any country. Deal with it. And god forbid I discuss and share some of the cultural differences with other readers. Some people in other countries actually like to learn a bit about nations beyond their own borders. I'm terribly sorry if you were hoping I'd only post awe-inspiring pictures of the Great Wall, cute, happy children, or breathtaking landscapes. I've got those too. If you had checked out the photo albums perhaps you wouldn't be so quick to anger. I've got wonderful pictures of the city, the scenery and the people.


But I am not only going to show one side. I'm writing about my experiences here,  both positive and negative, and that's what I will keep on doing. If you can't handle hearing someone else's thoughts and opinions, then I suggest you stop reading blogs!


And for your information, I am neither stupid nor American, but nice stereotyping, you ignorant coward.

Monday, July 25, 2005

let me sleep again


I had a dream last night. So vivid. So real. So overflowing with emotion. It's been haunting me all day. I can still feel the warmth of the tears on my cheeks, the relief washing over me. Those soft, whispered words keep echoing in my head.


But it was just a dream. And I feel sick knowing that.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

dirty pics (but not the good kind)

Okay, everyone thinks I'm obsessed with food (and I am, but that's beside the point) so today I shall post something that is most definitely NOT for eating. I've mentioned that it's quite dirty here. In fact, I have taken several pictures just of garbage. And now I will share with you the uglier side of Dalian.



big stinky pile o' trash


ah, a discarded toilet, how lovely


And this is one of the cleanest cities in China.

pic of the day

I got so caught up in my biking adventure, that I forgot to post a picture. So here's today's choice. I call it WhaddalottaWatermelons. Why? Because I'm a dork.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

biker chick extraordinaire


My alarm went off at 7 this morning and, as usual, I turned it off for another 10 minutes of rest. I opened my eyes again, and to my horror it was 7:43. I had to be at work at 8! ARGHH!!! Don't you hate that feeling? Although nothing wakes me up or makes me hop out of bed faster than that realisation. Oh crap, says my stomach as it lurches suddenly. And I'm up and moving even though my eyes are partially glued shut. Brush the teeth, a splash of water, yank some clothes over my sticky body (no time for the much desired shower) and I'm out the door! I would have to taxi it if I wanted to make it on time. Or was there another way??


There was! One I'd been too timid to try before. But this was no time to be bashful! I deftly maneuvered across the busy street, and boldly made my approach to.... the motorcycle man! All around town you can get lifts on motorbikes; it looks fun, and I knew it must be cheaper than a taxi for a short distance ride, but I always avoided asking about it. I was worried they wouldn't understand my mangled Chinese, or that they'd try to overcharge me. Well, today I would find out. So, with a deep breath, and a look of confidence, I went up.


It all went perfectly! I asked how much to go to Wusi Rd. He asked where on Wusi rd. I said the Ya Yuan Hotel. He said 2 kwai (30¢). It was amazing! I felt like a pro! ...Until I awkwardly scrambled on the bike, not sure where exactly to hold on, trying clumsily to hang on to my school stuff. And then away we went! Whoosh! We zipped through the traffic and I calmly told myself that I would NOT fall off.


I arrived at school on time, and very proud of myself (as you can probably tell since I've devoted an entire blog to my morning's transportation). I'm such a badass! Look at me on my hog, vroom vroom!! Yeah, dat's right... who's yo mamma? HA!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fun plans and ugly bugs

I'm starting to get really excited for the end of the summer, and I've been trying to figure out my travel plans. Things finally seem to be coming together, at least a little bit. My sister and brother are going to fly over and Theran and I will meet them in Shanghai. Then we'll take about a month maybe to tour around the south of China. I've been reading my Lonely Planet and looking at pictures, and it looks so incredible!! EEEK!!! After the Southern China loop, we will go to Beijing where my siblings and I will take the Trans-Siberian railway all the way to Moscow. YAHOO!! I just dread all the details that have to be planned out - buying tickets, getting visas etc. I just want to get straight to the fun stuff!


I've also decided to start posting more pictures. Perhaps a picture of the day type thing. Although it won't be daily because I don't write daily. But that's not the point. So here's today's picture. All around us we hear the electric buzzing of the cicadas. I've never seen one, until yesterday. At least I'm assuming that's what this is. I was just casually looking out my window, watching the fruit and veggie sellers do their thing, when this giant insect flapped onto the screen, nearly giving me a heart attack.

Ewww... big bug


I know, that's TWO pictures... but I'm terribly indecisive and I liked both!


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I'm a puddle

A big drippy, slippy puddle. It is so hot here. I just checked the weather and at 5pm it's still 34 degrees. Oh, not so bad, you say. But with the humidity it feels like 40. Really, it even says so!


I'm exhausted right now. Theran and I went for a walk and ended up at the zoo. Got in for half price with our fake student cards, yay! Not the most exciting zoo, and in the heat, all the animals were just lying about like lumps. Oh well, it was still nice to do something different. There was a cable car that went up to the top of a big hill, so we decided to check it out. Figured we'd either get off at the top, or just keep going around and get off where we started. As we neared the top, we saw to our surprise that the cable car sloped down again and ended who knows where. We hadn't realised it when we got on, but this would be our exit. Oh well, we'd had enough zoo time. Got off and walked along a road that followed the coast. Walked all the way to XingHai Square (huge, pretty square) where we finally hailed a taxi home. Five hours and at least 10km of walking in the hot sun really made me tired.


Anyway, I keep meaning to mention the bbq we had the other night. Five of us foreign teachers went out for dinner the other night. There are lots of places where your table has it's own grill for you to bbq your food. It's delicious. This place also has a nice big patio for us to enjoy the weather. Of course our Chinese is far from perfect, but I think we managed pretty well. We ordered lamb skewers, chicken wings, beef skewers (which were one of the best things I've ever eaten), sweet potatoes and squid. We just made one itty bitty mistake. We thought that the squid came on skewers like the meat, so we ordered 10. But turns out they came on plates. The waitress cut it back to five, but we still ended up with mountains of squid. We had to drag over some extra chairs to put the food on because there wasn't enough room on the table! But it was a great dinner. And I love the whole process too, it really makes eating dinner an event. 

Mmm.....tasty meat sticks.


the gang cooking our dinner.             too much squid (there were 2 other


Sunday, July 17, 2005

No Title - too disturbed


Well, it's nice to know I can still be shocked.


Today on my walk home I stumbled upon (although not literally, thank god) a very unpleasant sight. On the corner of a major intersection was a man, drunk and unconscious, slumped motionlessly against some steps. Three very large piles of vomit lay around him, one directly beneath his face. But that was not what I noticed first. What had initially drawn my attention to this grotesque scene was the fact that the man's pants were down around his ankles, leaving all hanging (well, squishing) out the back. I didn't want to look too closely for fear of the image burning itself permanently to the back of my eyeballs, but I'm pretty sure that the vomit wasn't the only product of his bodily functions that had left its mark. Oddly enough, he didn't really get much of a second glance from the passers-by. Perhaps the sight of a man passed out in his own excrement and filth is not noteworthy. Blech, I say. Blech blech blech.


There is no photo for obvious reasons.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Underground shopping

I just got back from DVD shopping. I'm not always in the mood to flip through row upon row of unorganised movies, but today I was. I kind of like going there justfor the atmosphere. I go to a place called Electronic City, and there is a huge section of the basement that is devoted to DVDs. Thousands and thousands. Of course these are all pirated DVDs so they aren't legal. But that's just a technicality. Occasionally there are raids and all the vendors will throw sheets over the DVD trays, maybe shove them under a counter, or pulls drapes closed around their stall. Yep, so ingeniously hidden.


Lately, they've gotten more professional with their clandestine operations. Some shops have constructed narrow passages that lead to hidden rooms, at one place you even have to move a hanging poster to find the entrance. Other shops have almost nothing on display, but when you walk by, they offer DVDs, and when you show interest they lead you down a long winding corridor into the bowels of the building, where the walls are lined with inconspicuous, padlocked wooden doors. Behind one of these doors will be the merchant's stockpile of movies.


So I bought eight (grand total: about $7.50). Now usually the quality is perfect, it's only the brand new movies that aren't great. But usually still passable. Today was not very successful, only 6 out of 8 movies are fine. I will return The Interpreter because the beginning has been cut off and about 20 minutes of the movie is missing. And The War of the Worlds must also go back because it is in Russian. With no option for the original English. Sigh.... Oh well, out of the hundreds of DVDs we've bought, only a handful have been bad. Just bad luck today.


Okay, back to the "secret" movie cavern I go!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Anyone hungry?


Time again for one of my favourite topics: food.


Because my knowledge of Chinese is so limited, I usually just order the same dishes whenever I go out. Most restaurants have the same things, but they taste different everywhere you go. One of our regular lunch spots is a Sichuan restaurant in the mall near the school. And here is our usual fare.




Gong Bao Ji Ding - chicken with               Zhe ma bo cai - spinach with garlic

peanuts and peppers. A little bit              and sesame. Served cold. So simple

spicy, a little bit sweet. SO delicious!       but amazingly tasty.


And here's the whole meal with some rice and noodles. Mmm... my mouth is watering just looking at it. Time for lunch I think!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mind wandering


I guess there are no more Hitlers in the world eh? Or Mussolinis. Haven't met any Stalins yet either. I'm just curious what happened to the names. Okay, there are either no children, or perhaps the children don't want to carry on the family name. Understandable. But there must have been other people with those last names. Don't tell me that Germany only had ONE family with the last name Hitler. So I guess all those other innocent people just had to change their names too. What bad luck. I'd be pretty annoyed if some jerkball with my last name went off and because infamous for all sorts of nasty deeds. This is MY name and I won't have it tarnished!


I don't know why I was thinking about this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

move over Right Said Fred!

**update** I removed the word "offensive" and reposted my photo. It's working so far, but who knows how long it'll last.


So I had a complaint today. Generally no one likes complaints. But if I'm going to be criticized, this is definitely the way to go.


The other day, a parent sat in on my level 8 class, where the kids are between about 13-15. And here's her beef: apparently I'm "too sexy", and it's distracting some of the boys. Haha! Oh, I knew these dazzling good looks would get me in trouble one day! A curse on these big, smoldering baby blues, the bewitching smile, the porcelain complexion, the heaving bosom...! (I secretly write Harlequin romances on the side) Is she worried that I'm out to Mary-Kay her son? Or probably it's just easier to blame his poor grades on my clothes rather than admit that he's lazy. Here's a picture of the outfit:



Of course I was unzipped at the time


This is the first complaint I've ever had that made me feel good. Thanks!

Sunday, July 10, 2005


This is just a very quick comment directed at Ms Amena Flamingo who left a question here. If you want to get visitors and comments on your site YOU HAVE TO SET IT TO PUBLIC!!!


That's all.

Read this if you're having trouble falling asleep

I haven't been my usual blog-happy self lately. I'm not updating very much, and when I am, it's short and not too exciting. I haven't been visiting much either. Not because I don't want to, I've just been busy. The school is having me write up some manuals to teach writing and I don't have very long to finish it. So that hour or so a day that I used to blog is now being taken up by work. Blast!


I'm also going through a bit of a writer's block. I just can't think of anything interesting to jot down! What's the matter with me? My pool of creativity is all dried up! Any questions you may have? Give me a topic, I need inspiration.


It's been hot here. A few days ago was unbelievable, now it's just regular hot again. But it looks like it'll be climbing back up to unbearable again soon.


I love watching the fruits and vetetables go through seasons here. We had a brief cherry season where every street corner had people with baskets of irresistable plump cherries. Then came peaches and funny little things that looked like flattened peaches. I've seen some mangos out lately, and corn seems to be popping up everywhere too. Ha; corn, popping... oy. There have been other things, often fruits I've never seen before and therefore can't tell you the names.


I just went outside and bought some potatoes, peppers, onions, and some kind of pea/bean things. They laughed at me because i bought so few, but I've never tried them before and I know my boyfriend doesn't like beans, so no point getting too many. All together I spent about 90¢. I also picked some stuff up at Walmart (the meat and things I don't buy off the street) - 4 chicken breasts, 2 pork steak things, 1/2 a dozen eggs. butter, 2 packs of bacon... and a pack of badminton birdies. Only $10. It's going to be a real shock to the system when I go shopping back home.


Here's the view from my window. I love buying from these guys :)


 And here's a lady shucking corn. Hmm. 



Well, now that I've regaled you with fascinating tales from my shopping list, I shall move along to doing work. I'll do my rounds as soon as a get a chance.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Nobody likes sputum


Alrighty, here's another sign with some fantastic rules to abide by. Really, it's in everyone's best interest.



Sunday, July 3, 2005

Breaking the rules

I've seen a few posts with funny pictures from, and I felt the need to contribute. After all, I'm getting this first-hand! So here's an old picture from the Forbidden City in Beijing. The English is perfect, no spelling or grammar errors... but it still cracked me up.


Damnit Amanda! Didn't you read the sign??


I shall be on the lookout for more hilarity.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Happy Chinese Communist Party Day!

Oh, and Canada Day.


I know, I'm a day late. I thought I would be on time because of the time difference, but then I waited too long. Not much Canadian celebrations going on here in Dalian. But I paid tribute to that fine country of ours in a subdued, sophisticated manner. FAKE TATTOO!



Man, I am one tough chica. Grrr.
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