Happy Thanksgiving

IMAG0416Rosemary-encrusted chicken, fresh-made mashed potatoes, whole-kernel corn, and a glass of merlot.

It’s not much, but hey… I’m in China.

Just a note:   the translation of turkey is “fire chicken”.   I have no clue why.  And mashed potatoes are known as “potato mud”.

And in one dialect, pumpkin pie translates into “noodle melon school”.  The “school” bit is because “pai” is what’s called a “loan-word”.  They use Chinese sounds to approximate a foreign word.

This is China (Part 5 of ∞)

China is an odd mix of the old and the new.  I went out for a short bike ride today, and captured a few photos that show how different China is from America–at least in the little things.

In case you’re wondering why I took a photo of sand on the road:  That’s not sand.  It’s rice.   They spread it out on little-used roads to dry.

[nggallery id=4]

Bike Ride

Author: Blaze Miskulin
Date: 18 Nov 2013 9:54:59 AM
Source: AllSport GPS LE
Activity: Bicycling
State: China (CHN)
Distance: Total: 26.93 km
Active: 25.76 km
Calories: 876
Average Speed: Overall: 12.8 kph – 0:04:40/km
Active: 16.0 kph – 0:03:44/km
Duration: Total: 2:05:55
Active: 1:36:26
Resting: 0:29:29

Churches in China

Church I went out for a bike ride today (26km / 16mi) and took my camera along.  I made a whole lot of stupid mistakes with the camera, but I managed to get a couple pictures that might be okay.

One that I did get is this photo of the church to the north of town.  I go past it’s on all the time, but I haven’t gone down and actually looked at it until today.  It’s a very pretty church, with some nice, simple statuary.   There was a group of old people working on the lawn and garden while I was there.

There are a lot of misconceptions about religion in China.

No, there is no “freedom of religion” as we in the USA know it.  Yes, there are restrictions on religion.  Most of those, however, tend to be about politics, not religion.   If the church is talking about “love thy neighbor” and “feed the poor”, that’s okay.  If it starts taking about “rights and freedoms”, and speaking out against the government, that’s where it runs into trouble.  And, of course, because the churches have no legal protection, they’re often at the mercy of local officials.

I’ve met quite a few Christians while I’ve been here. They’re open about it, but don’t show it off.  You might see a tiny gold cross on a necklace, but that’s about it.    There are a lot of Muslims here, too.  I wanted to get photos of the mosque that’s near the church, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to it.

The Muslims, also, are open about their religion, but not blatant.  You’ll see the men wearing the “Takiya” (a round, flat-topped hat) and women wearing the “hijab” (scarf), so it’s obvious that they’re religious.

The people I’ve talked to mention their religion in an off-hand and low-key manner.  It’s not a big deal for them like it is for many Americans.

That being said, most of the people are atheist.  It’s always interesting trying to teach them about religious references.   The idiom “The Devil’s in the details” first requires that I teach them who “the Devil” is.  🙂   I’m used to people who don’t believe in God, but it’s strange being somewhere that people have no basic information about religious beliefs, customs, traditions, or the influence of the Bible on our language.

This is China (Part 4 of ∞)

heels

I’ve talked about how women dress here, but I haven’t had many photos.  Either I can’t get the camera on my phone turned on quick enough, or it’s a situation where it would be awkward to take a photo.   What I can do, however, is find a reference photo on the internet.

A few days ago (middle of the week) I was doing a little grocery shopping at the supermarket down the street.  It was early afternoon, nothing special going on.    I noticed a woman going about her shopping wearing something similar to the shoe on the left.

This is common.  This is what women wear to go shopping for groceries.

And, yes, the rest of the outfit matched appropriately.

A Little Perspective

IMAG0408
Not shown: the cheap-ass bottle of Chinese wine.

It’s been over two years since I’ve bought groceries in the US, so I have no clue what the prices are anymore.   To give people an idea of what it’s like here, this is a photo of what I bought today.  The list is:

  • 180 g (.4 lbs) of shrimp
  • 364 g (.8 lbs) of chicken
  • 374 g  (.83 lbs) of pork
  • 240 g (.53 lbs) of spiced ham (sausage)
  • 200 g (.44 lbs) of imported Swiss cheese (the only real cheese in the city)
  • Half a loaf of bread
  • 2 bell peppers
  • A batch of mushrooms
  • A head of broccoli
  • A half head of celery (for some reason, they cut them in half)
  • 2 packages of pasta (shells)
  • A bundle of noodles

At today’s exchange rate, this is almost exactly $22.50 worth of groceries.

The cheese was the most expensive (35元–about $5.75)   The list includes over 2½ lbs of meat.

I made chicken and ham soup (with rice) this afternoon.  I used all the chicken, one pepper, half the ham, and a bit of the broccoli and celery.  I splurged and made a grilled cheese sandwich using two slices of bread and about half the cheese.  That was two large meals (lots of soup).  I have enough soup left for another 3 or 4 meals.   The shrimp and pork are in the freezer.  That’s another 2 or 3 meals.   The rest will serve to make up the majority of another 15-20 meals, at least (I’ll often eat a bowl of spiced noodles as a meal)

A Chinese Wedding

She’s wearing 3″ heels

Today I got to attend a Chinese wedding.   It was for a friend of a friend.   I only got a few photos.

The bride (in either the wedding dress or the red dress) is Ruby.   The young lady in the short white dress is Red, a former student of mine.    A few things you’ll see:

1) There’s a fancy table filled with food and with 2 pillows in front of it.  That is a feast for their ancestors.  It’s traditional to put out food for those who have died.  I don’t know all the tradition behind it.

2) You’ll see several photos of the dinner table (I was invited to the “family room” instead of sitting out in the tent with the majority of the guests.  This is mostly because only 3 or 4 people spoke English, and they were all in the family room).  You’ll notice that the food is literally piling up.   The pictures are from lunch.  There was also dinner.   At the end of the meal, the plates are piled 4 or 5 high.  3 kinds of shrimp, 5 kinds of fish, 2 kinds of shell fish, 3 kinds of porks…. it just keeps going.

3) There’s a picture of Red with two older women.  The one next to her is her mother, and the on on the right is her great aunt.  I wanted to get a picture of her father, too, but he was busy serving the guests.  He’s a very handsome man with a smile as big as Red’s.  The entire family is under 5′ tall.   Red is even wearing heels.

4) You can’t see it in from the pictures, but the bride wears 3 different dresses.  1 for the lunch, one for the offering to the ancestors, and one for dinner.

5) In the last photo, you’ll see a few things on the bed.  One is a wide bowl with white balls in it.  Nobody could tell me what it’s for.  It’s just a tradition.  🙂  The other is a wooden “bucket”.  Guests put peanuts and eggs into it as a way to wish the new couple luck in have a son quickly.

[nggallery id=20]