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I just had the realization, while sitting on a HK Diner, that I told someone with confidence about a year ago that I would see them in Hong Kong in 2013. I am meeting them for dinner. I just had that realization that you get when you accomplish a goal that you almost forgot you set for yourself. Just a reminder to not take things or granted and never talk yourself out of things. If you want to go to Hong Kong, go to Hong Kong. If you want a masters degree, get one. If you want to travel two hours to eat at some obscure restaurant, do it. Don’t let fear, apathy, and negativity or the “what ifs” drag you down, brother. Go do some shit. No matter how trivial, decide to do something and do it. Always into action.
I am not sure if I actually have any friends here yet. I thought I did but sometimes my Chinese friends just feel like business partners…I wish I could great idioms. Foreigner friends, Chinese colleagues.
The second half if today has been shit. I’m frustrated because I have no real reason to complain. Straight, white, American men can’t complain about anything, anywhere - right? Just going to be thankful for what I have and stop annoying people with my excitement, interest, awkwardness, and never ending questions. Like usual, I am only mad at myself and I can’t decide if that’s good or not.
I have been here for a month and one day. I eat mostly Chinese food everyday. I have no problem with this. It’s cheap, convenient, mostly healthy and its soooo fucking good. For example, baozi sold on the street is 5 RMB for 6. That is less that $1 for 6. To compare, Wow Bao in Chicago is $1.69 per bao (and they don’t have red bean). No offense to Wow Bao but I really love this aspect of living here, so I needed to share it.
Red Bean Baozi from earlier today…
I need to mention Ramen. The first thing I ate when I arrived in Beijing was spicy pork Ramen from Ajisen Ramen. It’s a large chain. It’s Japanese food. It’s simple and they have good ramen. In fact, the ramen is better than every pretentious hipster ramen joint that I have ever been to. It makes me happy and I eat there about once a week. Fuck you, overpriced $13 ramen. You are in my past and I hope you stay there.
The worst meal I have eaten here was at a sketchy Japanese (Chinese owned and operated) restaurant on the basement level of a shopping center which I should not have eaten at but did because, well, I don’t have a good reason. I got eel over rice. It was served with a soup that was not Japanese, it looked VERY Chinese and mediocre. The quality and age of the eel was questionable but the egg/onion side was alright. After I ate there, I immediately made up for it with fried octopus balls which will make up for anything. It is essentially Tako-yaki with a slightly Chinese twist (or at least the Chinese think that…).
Fried octopus ball (covered in mayonnaise and dried fish shavings) and a blueberry milk tea:
Other Chinese and Asian favorites that I have had so far and love so much include:
Squid on a stick (and lamb on a stick)
Ma po Doufu 麻婆豆腐 (still)
Mantou 馒头 - buns similar to bao but fluffier and with different fillings…
Hot pot 火锅 (hot pot train below)
Congee - I was eating every day but needed a break. Its the only thing ive eaten at KFC and I dug it.
dried squid, dried sweet potato, dried mango, Sichuan (and non-Sichuan) pickles to put in congee, LAO motherfucking GAN MA, tea egg, duck, Beijing duck, pig knuckles, sometimes chicken feet, pretty much anything with lamb, every eggplant dish has been wonderful, bacon, xiaolongbao (Shanghai soup dumplng), doufu。。。
last night I ate at Obama’s half-brother’s barbecue restaurant which there are several of in Shenzhen. It was delicious but like Obama, a little overrated. My two non Chinese/Japanese/Korean meals have been Pakistani and Indian. The Pakistani didn’t feel very authentic without the threat of US drone attacks but it was amazingly delicious. The Indian food was good but gave everybody the shits. Such is life.
After writing this whole blog post, I feel like kind of a pretentious ass but I am ok with that. I got invited to a Taco tuesday at some bar tomorrow and immediately found reasons not to go. I don’t want to eat tacos, at an Irish bar, in China. People make recommendations of where I can find American food and I nod and smile and have no intention of taking them up on it. There is one pizza place I would like to try but that’s about it. I have had a long and complex relationship with food my whole life and I am learning a lot about the foods I like, love, and loathe (it turns out I only really loathe things that are executed poorly and/or overpriced). It is very exciting. From a health point of view, I must say that not eating cheese is as fantastic as I remember it being. Except for the occasional milk tea, I am dairy free and loving it. It is one of the few recommendations I can give to fellow Americans. Lay off the dairy!
Tea, wulong - we will go in to more detail about this at another time…
Sign from squid/octopus on a stick vendor…
I will never know if my neighbor is really that good at sex or if he’s just dating the nicest girl ever.
It can really suck sometimes when you see people, your friends, your students - people that you grow to care about quickly - you see them frustrated or angry and there is little you can do. This isn’t a China thing, it’s a life thing. I have to remember that all I can do is act how I should act and what is true to myself. I sometimes need constant reminders not to judge other people that I don’t know or be to hard on myself.
My social life here has been very active. I do things more often but obviously I do not have the close friends that I have had in the past. I already have some acquaintances/friends here that have already proven to be interesting to know…
I stress over all the details of teaching. So much useless anxiety that I give to everything. Futile struggle for perfection. I have to remember that it is about the students education and growth and not ALL about my ability as a teacher.
I have a music/English class tomorrow and I am going with Britten - “A Young Persons Guide…”. We will see how it goes…
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