Wednesday, 6 April 2011

We don't have the technology

Last week: I ordered a new Chinese textbook from a website that my Chinese teacher recommended ( if anyone's interested). 

Today: A smaller than expected box arrives. I think: it's OK, I have somehow managed to buy CDs instead of a book, I'm a bit of an idiot, but at least I can listen to the CDs. I open the box, and I have sets of TAPES. CASSETTE TAPES. Sadly, I left my Walkman back in the '90s, so I have no way at all to listen to them. I can't be bothered to send them back because they were very cheap (suspiciously so, looking back). I couldn't find the exact book that they support, but I ordered a different one. Hopefully it will be OK, and an actual book. 

Tomorrow: Explain to my Chinese teacher how I'm an idiot.

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

How foreigners experience Spring Festival in China


Hilarious, and also true. Only one more day of the official festival to go! Happy Year of the Rabbit.

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Monday, 9 August 2010

Can working in Pudong actually be good for me?

So a lot has happened since I last wrote something, including my office moving to the far reaches of Pudong, which is way way further away from my apartment at People's Square. As a result of this, I also had to abandon Chinese classes because my teacher lives in Zhongshan Park. Surely she could have endured the extra 10 stops on the subway to get to my new office?

These things, plus the heat and a holiday in Europe meant that I got pretty lazy in terms of Chinese learning and trying to be healthy (too hot to walk anywhere, lots of using MealBay).

For a few other reasons, I'm trying to get into some more healthy habits, including staying on top of my blogs (now numbering four), being more proactive in my social life, studying again, eating a bit better, and exercising a bit more. Other hobbies will hopefully get picked up again later. My phone is back up and running too (it broke down on holiday and needed a new screen), so that gives me mobile internet and photo uploading, and I am trying to get into the habit of noting down things I want to write about later.  

The new office in the middle of nowhere actually helps with a couple of these. I need to wake up earlier, walk a bit further, and can spend about an hour in transit listening to language and science podcasts, flicking through flashcards, or drafting blog posts like I'm doing now (or watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica). There is a severe lack of eateries at the new locale too, so I have to plan meals, which are generally healthier than the offerings at the cafeteria.

Anyway, none of this is really that interesting, but hopefully it will lead to some positive stuff for me, and some more interesting posts for you!

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Monday, 26 July 2010

Chinese 'holidays' strike again

I've just checked out what holidays I'm going to get in September and October, because I know that mid-autumn festival and National Day will be around that time.  Mid-autumn festival gives us a bonus 1 day off (or 3 days, as they call it), and National Day is really only 3 days off (even though they call it 7).  Here are the dates:

Mid-autumn festival 22nd-24th September (Wednesday-Friday)
National Day holiday 1st-7th October (Friday-Thursday)

We have to work some Saturdays and Sundays around these days to qualify for the super duper time off, so it goes like this:

Work a normal week.
One day weekend.
Three days on.
Three days off.
Six days on.
Seven days off.
Two days on.
One day weekend.
Work a normal week.

What the hell?  That's pretty much a month's worth of screwed up work weeks, and I really don't think that tradition should have this much effect on productivity.  Also, my dad is coming to visit in September, so now I have to find some time where it won't be completely mad because of holidays, but when I can still get time off to see him.  I was also hoping to go away for a long weekend, but I doubt that's going to happen.  Argh.

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Friday, 9 July 2010

Getting China

I know I haven't updated in forever, and a bunch of little reasons add up to no real excuses.  I am still in China, though, and my Chinese is improving, and I've managed to get out of here to go back to Europe for a definitely needed summer holiday (which doesn't stop me from wanting another one!).

My office has moved out to the far reaches of Pudong, which kills me as I live in Puxi and our old office was walking distance from my apartment.  We only moved in this week, so there are still rooms being finished, and we apparently had to drag our internet out from Puxi, which apparently makes it even slower than normal.  I have been assured that we are getting fibre installed soon, and it can't come quickly enough.  In the meantime, the internet is down, and I'm using the lull to tell the world about a fairly traumatic experience I had a couple of nights ago.

I had gotten out of the office pretty late, so by the time I got back to Puxi it was well after dark.  I decided to take a shortcut home down an alleyway behind my apartment block.  It's only a few minutes' walk away from People's Square, so quite central, but poorly lit.  I've never had a problem walking down there before, so I didn't anticipate any trouble that night.  So I'm walking along, and I see a little white light shining ahead, maybe from a pen light.  As I get closer, I can see that there's a middle-aged Chinese guy sitting on a scooter.  He redirects the light so I have no doubt that what he has in his hand is...his penis.  I had no idea what to do at this point, and fervently hoped that what was coming out of it was just urine (I can't believe I actually /wanted/ to see someone pissing in the street right in front of me.  This all happened in the space of a few seconds and a few steps, so that by the time he evacuated his family jewels all over the concrete, I was pretty much standing right in front of him.  I actually had to stop walking in order to not get anything on me.  I had a serious WTF expression on my face for a couple of seconds, studiously not looking down or making eye contact, until he calmly motioned for me to keep walking.  
I felt like I should have screamed something at him, but as well as being completely shell-shocked, I figured he probably wanted such attention in the first place.  

This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me, and I wish it hadn't been right around the corner from where I live.  I didn't feel unsafe, but I did feel fairly unclean afterwards, so I don't think I'll be taking that shortcut after hours again.

Why are people such freaks?

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Visual representation of what China censors online

I was just linked to this image by a friend.  The original is from Information is Beautiful, which is currently available here.  I figure since this blog is blocked anyway, it won't really matter what I write here.

In other news, the spring weather has been teasingly sporadic, there has been tension at work over a possibly pregnancy-related dismissal (ah, I knew there was a reason I didn't put my real name on this blog), and I have been getting annoyed at random obnoxious Americans I seem to be exposed to in public (one of whom used the term 'man sex' repeatedly, loudly, and in a derogatory way in a tiny cafe where he probably assumed nobody could understand him).  Thank goodness for headphones, free wi-fi, 90 minute massages for the price of 60 minutes, and mangos.

Posted via email from Banana Undercover

Friday, 19 March 2010

I didn't think street food meant food off the actual street...

I really don't know if I should thank my friend for posting this on Buzz or not.  Apparently every Chinese person in China is likely to have, at some point, consumed cooking oil that was recycled from drains and gutters.  Thankfully I had already eaten my 生煎包* (Shanghai fried soup dumplings) before I read this article.

MORE than 3 million tons of filthy and toxic cooking oil extracted from gutters and drains may end up back in domestic and restaurant kitchens each year.

China's top food safety watchdogs have organized nationwide swoops to stop the illegal recycling practice.

The Food and Drug Administration has ordered the setting up of strict regulations to stop the production of so-called swill oil.

Offenders found in the swoops face severe penalties.

The swill oil business was so rampant in Chinese cities that some people made a full-time living from it, according to He Dongping, head of China's oil standardization committee and a food science professor in Wuhan.

He told Chongqing Evening News yesterday these people could make more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) every month from excavating oil from gutters and drains.

An estimated 3 million tons of swill oil was unknowingly consumed by Chinese people every year, He said.

Red, cream-like residue from drains and gutters is collected and boiled until a layer of clear oil surfaces.

This is sold to roadside restaurants and other outlets and He believes every Chinese at some stage has probably consumed swill oil.

He said swill oil could be highly poisonous, stunt children's growth and cause liver and kidney problems.

Plus, a chemical that is abundant in swill oil is a known carcinogen.

The problem baffling scientists and food safety authorities is there is no effective method for consumers to distinguish between swill oil and normal cooking oil.

He suggested recycling all waste food oil into biodiesel.

Source: Shanghai Daily.

*Google Translate said that these characters meant 'Shengjian Package', so I did a quick search to confirm I had the right ones.  Google Image search turned up a lot of delicious-looking 生煎包. Oh, Google, please don't leave China.

Posted via email from Banana Undercover