Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sorry about not posting last night. I was felt disgustingly nauseous. I couldn't even sit up straight. I had that acidity taste in my mouth. I just wanted to throw up; it was so bad. With a trash can next my bed, I fell asleep watching my new favorite Chinese soap opera. (That last part wasn't a joke. I'm serious about that.)

I'm not exactly sure why I felt so shitty. I don't think I ate anything funny; my bowel movement has been normal. Plus I woke up feeling fine the next morning. I suspect that it's because I started a new workout plan this week.

I felt like I was getting fat in Shenzhen. I wasn't eating well and I wasn't exercising. The catered food was really oily and starch heavy. Sometimes I would just eat noodles and/or rice for my meal. Back at home I was used to a low carb, high protein diet. Sadly, they just don't serve enough meat dishes here in China. Meat is like a condiment added at the last minute for some extra flavor. It's rarely the featured dish in in the US. And as for exercising, I sadly had neither the time nor energy.

I'm trying to exercise more and eat better here in Foshan now that I have the time. The food is definately healthier; I'm actually eating vegetables if you can believe that. (I understand that must be really hard to believe.) And as far as exercising, I went out and ran laps on the track last week. I've stopped though. It rains way too often and it's just too hot outside. Thus, I've resorted to my old favorite form of exercising: weight lifting. They don't have a gym here so I've created my own home gym. I'm still tweaking it, but it looks something like this:

Upper Body Circuit:
Pushups
Bench Press (on my bed with a chair as the barbell)
Dumbell Curls (with a big heavy waterbottle)
Chair Dips

Lower Body Circuit:
(Body Weight) Squats
(Body Weight) Lunges
Wall-sits
Calve Raises

Abs Circuit:
Front Planks
Side Planks
Jackknifes
Side Bends (with my full suitcase)

Anyway, back to the original story. I think that I wanted to throw up was because I worked out too hard. I know that sounds incredibly pathetic. It was the first time I've done any ab exercises in months. I must have pushed myself too hard. I guess that just means I need to start working out more. Talk about motivation.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1 week, 2 days, and 5 hours...

That's how long I've been calling Foshan home. And as much I as I blog, I haven't really written much about my living situation here.  I still haven't gotten to the one question that I'm sure you're all wondering:


"So how is Foshan?  Is it better or worse than Shenzhen?"

Let me give you the run through:
  • Foshan is a much, much smaller city than Shenzhen
Stictly in terms of area, Foshan is nearly twice as large!  But, in terms of population Shenzhen is nearly 4 times more populated! Let's face it folks, population is what really counts. So I'm now living in a much less densely populated city. So far, I haven't been able to tell the difference. But then again, I haven't explored much of Foshan.  I haven't even been to the downtown area yet :( Hopefully I'll check it out one of these weekends!
  • Foshan is a poorer city than Shenzhen
The average GDP per capita in Fosahn is about ¥61,000 RMB. In Shenzhen, it's about ¥73,000 RMB, ranking seventh among Chinese cities. I definately can tell that Foshan is a bit more run down. The streets are a bit dirtier, the shops aren't as nice, and people just don't look as well off. Shenzhen is booming economically. Foshan is still working on developing its infrastructure and manufacturing industries.

I don't mean to sound elitist about it. I'm just being honest. I want to see the good and bad aspects of China. This is actually how people live here. It's sad though. I can't even imagine a GDP per capita of ¥73,000 RMB. (Note that this is only about $10,000 US). The GDP per capita in the US is about $40,000 US. Think about that desparity. No wonder food and clothes is so cheap here.
  • People in Foshan speak Cantonese, people in Shenzhen speak Mandarin
For those of you know don't know the difference, Cantonese and Mandarin are two different dialects of the Chinese language. I'd say they're as different as English and Latin. Some words sound similar and have similar roots, but no one would say they're the same. Mandarin is the official dialect of China, but most people here in southern China speak Cantonese. In fact, television and radio is mostly broadcast in Cantonese here.

Thankfully, I don't have to learn Cantonese. I can't even imagine having to tackle a second foreign language. Luckily, all the people I work with speak Mandarin for the most part. I'm just glad I can finally tell the difference between the two dialects! That's pretty bad considering that my family speaks Cantonese.
  • Shenzhen is a safer city than Foshan
So I'm actually not so sure about this last one.  Back in Shenzhen, I had a coworker tell me the opposite. I don't think I would agree with her though. Here in Foshan, I've been warned by numerous coworkers not to leave the factory grounds at night. They tell me it's very dangerous for guys and girls. They suggested I not bring my messenger bag when walking around outside the factory, even during the daylight hours.

That makes me sad because there are some really interesting street scenes that I would love to document (i.e. take pictures of). As much as I want to, I won't because I know that it's a stupid idea. It's just not worth the risk. I can't imagine what I would do if I my camera was stolen. Oh well, I'll just have to make up for it on the weekends with super cool pictures!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A couple of weeks ago back in Shenzhen, I stumbled across a Cold Stone Creamery. Yup, a Cold Stone in China. It was a hot day and I was craving some desert so I decided to give it a try. It's rather ironic that the first time I had Cold Stone was in China. Since I had never been to one in the US, I can't tell you if it's that similar or different. Here are the things that I found interesting:

1) They have special Olympic flavors
The five flavors are: The Swimmer, Mr. Soccer, Speedy Runner, Cold Stone Home Run, and Asia Hurdler. I went ahead and gave Asia Hurdler a taste. (In case you weren't sure, the name is a subtle reference to Liu Xiang):


It's a combination of cake batter, whipped cream, yellow cake, and strawberries. It was so sweet. Talk about sugar overload. I didn't even know there was such a thing as too sweet. And this is coming from the guy who used to add packets of sugar to his Frosted Flakes. Luckily they bring everyone a cup of water. I was in the middle of taking that picture when they brought me water. Ugh, how embarrassing.

2) They sing when you tip
I had a friend who worked at Cold Stone who told me that the employees had to sing whenever anyone tipped them. I just had to try it out and see if that was true in China as well. So I left a tip and low and behold, they started singing to me! They funny thing was that they were singing in English to the tunes of American songs. They took songs like "Happy Birthday to You" and "We Will Rock You" and just changed the words. (I.e. "We are, we are, Cold Stones!") I felt bad about making them sing, but deep down I just wanted to laugh.

3) They sell mooncakes
Mooncakes are these Chinese pastries that are sold around the time of the Mid Autumn Festival. (It's also commonly known as the Moon Festival.) I'm not going to go into detail about this holiday (because I'm saving that for another entry!) I was really surprised to find out that they were selling mooncakes at Cold Stone Creamery of all places. I guess that's one way to try to expand into the Chinese market.

Actually they're not pastries; they're ice cream mooncakes! Sounds yummy. I really want to try one:

Monday, September 1, 2008

No real written entry today. I spent all night editing pictures for this Los Angeles Times photo contest. I know that it's just a ploy to collect email addresses and send me spam mail, but I fell for it. I don't think I have a real chance of winning, but I thought I'd try anyway. Grand prize is a Nikon D300 with a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, Nikon SB-800 Flash, and some other stuff. It would be so cool if I won! (I know I already have a D300 and the 70-300 lens, but still!)

Anyway, here are the pictures I submitted:

Animals:

"Resting Butterfly"
This is a picture of a butterfly momentarily resting on a leaf. It was taken at The Butterfly Zone at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, California. I was there on a day trip exploring Golden Gate Park on 3/23/08.

"Bag Em' Up"
This picture shows the vast number of bagged fish for sale at the Goldfish Market in Hong Kong. The street is filled with vendors selling fish, aquatic plants, turtles, frogs, and other pets. It was taken during the afternoon of 8/10/08.

"Fish Feeding Frenzy"

This is a picture of children feeding a frenzied mass of koi fish. It was taken at Window of the World, a miniatures theme park located in Shenzhen, China. Visitors could buy a bag of fish food for 10 RMB. This picture was taken during the late afternoon of 08/17/2008.



Places:

"A Fine Day"
This is a picture of the outdoor food terrace at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. It was an unusually clear day; the Westwood skyline is easily visible in the background. It was taken during the afternoon of 3/28/08.

"Walkway Views"
This is a picture of the walkway just around the corner from the tram station at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California. Part of the art museum is framed in the background. It was taken during the afternoon of 3/28/08.

"Starry Starry Night"
This is a picture of brightly lit tent under the starry night sky. It was taken shortly before midnight on 7/5/08 while on a family camping trip at Shaver Lake, California.

"Spiraling Incense"
This is a picture of the interior of the Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. This temple is famous for its large collection of floating incense coils. It was taken during a day trip to Hong Kong on 08/10/2008.



People:

"Friends Forever"
This is a picture of my friends celebrating after the UCLA Class of 2008 Graduation. We have all been close friends for over a dozen years. It was taken in Los Angeles, California during the afternoon of 6/15/08.

"Lonely Late Nights"
This is picture of a solitary local man walking through the Lan Kwai Fong district of Hong Kong. The Lan Kwai Fong district is a popular expatriate spot for drinking, clubbing and dining. This is picture was taken taken during the early morning of 08/10/2008.

"Pray for Me"
This is a picture of a woman offering incense to gods, ghosts, and/or ancestors. In this act of worship, sticks of incense are lit and inserted into the incense holder. It was taken at the Ancestors' Temple in Foshan, China on 8/31/08.

That last one is a new one by the way. That's from last Sunday. I went to a famous temple called the Ancestors' Temple. More on that tomorrow...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Today my coworkers asked if I wanted to come have dinner with them. Intrigued by the prospect of getting out, I asked, "What did you want to eat for dinner?" They mentioned something about having "southern fried chicken." Needless to say, I was immediately sold on the idea; I was expecting love at first bite.

After we did a little sightseeing, we made our way to the restaurant. During the walk I'm looking around back and forth, left and right, trying to find this southern fried chicken place. (You have no idea how impossible it is to find some good any soul food here in China.) We start heading towards a mall. Hmm, that's an odd place to find a "southern fried chicken" restaurant. My coworker says, "Oh there it is!" I look over and it's a KFC.

That's right. The "southern fried chicken" restaurant was a KFC. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

This is a picture of the exterior of a KFC in Shenzhen, China. This wasn't the actual restaurant that I ate at tonight.

Anyway, I think, "Hey, KFC fried chicken is still fried chicken. As long as it isn't Chinese food, I'll take it!" So I guess you're all wondering, "How was it?" Honestly, it tasted the same as food from KFC in the US. Don't get me wrong though, I love KFC in the US; so Chinese KFC is just doing par for the course.

This wasn't the first time I've seen a KFC in China. They're all over the place actually! They must be pretty popular in China. Even with two stories, this particular KFC was pretty packed. Here's a picture of the counter: (I just wanted to insert another picture :) I know it doesn't really show how busy the place is.)


One of the key differences between KFCs in China and the US is the menu. They definitely have more sandwiches and other kinds of chicken. They have chicken kabobs and baked wings; not everything is fried. But they are definitely missing "extra crispy" chicken and side orders. Where are the mashed potatoes, potato wedges, BBQ baked beans, and biscuits at? (I'm sorry tiny baguettes can never be as delicious as biscuits with honey.)

The best addition are these strawberry egg custard tart:


I've actually had this KFC egg custard tart before. It was highly recommended by a friend of mine. She's right, they're way better than any dim sum egg custard tart I've ever had. Flaky crust with a hot gooey custard center topped off with sweet syrupy strawberry jam. My coworkers looked genuinely shocked when I told they we don't have these in KFCs in the US.

Anyway, it's one of my mom's favorite deserts and she asked that I post a picture of one for her. So here it is! (There's your shout out mom.)