Week 3 (March 6/2005 - March 12/2005)
Sunday, March 6/2005
|Today, started with an early morning breakfast. I thad gotten up much earlier than Alexandria because of her extra late Britney Spears fix last night. Today we had many things to do for her before sending her off to the school again.
We went to the dentist to have Alexanderia's teeth braces tightened. However, this is a drop in clinic and today it was pretty busy with a long line up. So we gave that up and went to look for the next two math books that she need for her school. We went to 3 book stores and they didn't carry it.
We headed back home and bought some fruit from a street vender. For a bunch of seedless green grapes, 6 or so Chinese pears, about 12 or so small maderin oranges, a chinese grapefruit the total came to 50 yuan.
We had to rush to drop Alexanderia off to catch her bus back to school. We had leave her at the stop, to catch our dinner at the India Restaurant. Today we had mayor's wife, the co-worker we had the lunch hot pot, and the co-worker with all the dogs again. She introduced me to three other co-workers from her government job. The first is an older man whom she refers to as "father". The next man is not so old in his fifties, whom she refers to as her "brother". The last man, is one that she mentioned in passing, who was going through a divorce. Again, we started with a really strong 46% bottle of white wine. It was served in a stylized white bottle. I am told that the bottle normally sells for around 60 yuan. Cheap for 500ml of something that potent. We also will finish off 18 bottles of Snow Beer. Yea, her friends really like to drink a lot.
So when we got our food, it seemed pretty much the same as what a Chinese meal would be. A mixed cucumber and vegetable plate in a vinger dressing. There was a beef like thing in a tandorri sauce, which is kinda weird since it is against the Hindu religion to kill cattle. Whatever, maybe it is like Westernized Chinese food, this is Indo-chinese food.
|Monday, March 7/2005|
|In the morning, our breakfast was an assortment of cakes and bread with coffee. Which is fine, because I didn't feel like much of anything with substance after all that drinking yesterday. Lunch was interesting, as Ami tried to duplicate my recipe for spagetti sauce. However, she didn't use the tomato paste because we had none, she didn't use any spices, and she didn't use ground beef since we had none. Yes, what we ended up with was tomato soup. She added wontons into the soup for flavour... Ok, it didn't taste half bad with rice.
So this afternoon, we decided to head out to the big mall, the Happy Family Mall, that was the one with the arcade on the top floor. We decided to try a game of bowling. Ok, for future reference, my Canadian shoe size is 11 but in China I will take a 42. The bowling lanes are computer automated just like most of the ones we have in Canada. (see pictures in my week 3 pictures link to the right). Heck even the bowling balls are made in the USA. Anyway, one of the neat things you have to do is put on a kinda nylon stocking sock over your existing socks before putting them into the bowling shoes. I suppose that is why they don't use that spray stuff on the shoes after you return them to the bowling lanes. Anyway, we find out that the computer is gimped and it doesn't keep track of the score. No, big deal, we just wanted to throw some balls down the lanes anyway. The balls here were in really really rough shape. Dirty as hell it turned my hands a really dusty dirty black just handling them. They were also scarred and chipped, it is suprising that some of these balls even roll straight. Also the pin setup machine was unable to set up the pins properly and some of the pins would prematurely fall over. There was one instance that 2 pins fell into the gutter one on each side. The machine still managed to get 2 pins from somewhere else and used those. Funny thing was one of Ami's shot looked like it was going into the gutter, it hit the pin lying there and bouced it back into the play. For me, I had a frame where I took all the pins down except for number 7 on the left hand side. There was a downed pin in the gutter on the left hand side. I guttered the ball, but it hit the pin that was in the gutter and it flew up and out and knocked my 7 down for a spare!
They also had one of those photo Lovegetty machines in this mall. So we decided to try it out, it was 25 yuan for a sheet of 9 different pictures. It has a pretty funny selection of borders including lots of Japanese Jpop and anime. By big beef with the pictures were the lighting was too bright so there is a slight cool white blue tint to everything. And that a lot of border images were stretched to fit on the photo.
Today's dinner ended up in the Happy Mall food court again. Korean cold vinegar noodles, fried rice and soy sauce chicken. Well, the Korean noodles were basically like Chinese soy sauce hot noodles but these are served cold with a touch of vinegar on it. The fried rice well, that speaks for itself. The chicken is just soy sauce steamed chicken. The only problem is that 4 pieces of chicken were just soaking in a dish of oil grease and soy sauce.
|Tuesday, March 8/2005|
|Today's breakfast was pretty much the same as yesterday. It was today we realized we had a lot of frozen food in the freezer. We should probably stop buying more the stuff and eat some of the junk we already have.
Today, Ami tells me it it suppose to be woman's day. A day where female office workers get to go home early for the afternoon. Sure I guess why not, we seem to have silly days like casual day, and tacky tourist day and hat day and the dreaded spandex day.
So for a treat, we decided to go for western food. There is a place called the Count Place. It is a small tucked away restaurant which on the outside looks like a Greek Restaurant. It is a quiet restaurant that has the standard knife, fork, spoon with servette table settings and a nice ambient English songs playing in the background. The menu contains foods from all over the world, Japanese styles, Italian, North American and some Indonesian type dishes.
The big ones that caught my eye was the Sirloin Angus Steak for 98 yuan which also comes in T-Bone style. However, they didn't have that in stock so too bad. They also had a beef steak in black pepper sauce for 25 yuen but that is more like a Japanese style cut of beef. Ami ordered this.
We also ordered a sausage Pizza. It was interesting. It was around 20 yuan but the size of the thing was not bigger than my hand span (about 8 inches, so a personal pan pizza). The sausage was more like hotdog mystery meat, didn't have any flavour like pepperoni, salami or even ham. The mushrooms were substitued with Chinese mushrooms. They still had melted cheese but didn't have the tomato based pizza sauce, although I did detect some proper spices like oregano. The crust was flaky because they used something similar to wonton noodle wrapping. Also, the crust was deep fried not baked. So you can see this was an interesting... pizza.
I ordered a green salad for 10 yuan. It was about the side order sized salad. Fresh red onions, lettuce, slices of tomatoes in a 1000 Island dressing. I do believe that the only choice of dressings...
I also ordered deep fried prawns which was 45.00¥ for 4 shrimp split in the back and fried, on a skewer stick shell and all.
So what did I order? Well, since my steak was not available, I decided for Spagetti in Bolonges sauce. The noodle was at least a pasta noodle and the sauce did have ground beef in it, but I think that is were the similarities stop. The sauce was not thick it was just mainly ground beef. It did have some spices in it but it didn't have a strong tomato presence.
Since today was woman's day, they served an extra piece of cheese cake for the added touch.
For the rest of the afternoon, we went window shopping. We found the mall that her brother's wife works at. It was in the clearance section where they were selling off their winter clothes at big discounts. The area was just shoulder to shoulder packed with people trying to get good deals on clothing. You would think it was boxing day. Anyway, she was one of the uniformed sales staff attending a display table full of women's under clothing.
We continued down the street to find a rather big music video store. They had pretty large collections of movie and cds and vcds. It actually had a reasonable selection forgien titles including a copy of the M2M cd with Mirror Mirror for 12 yuan and the Remixed Bond CD which comes with an extra vcd of the two music videos for 27 yuan.
We went over to Ami's mother's house to pick up my hat and some of the other stuff we left there last day. She was in the middle of making dumplings. So we helped her finish them. That would be our dinner.
|Wednesday, March 9/2005|
|This morning for breakfast, it was a simple twist stick with a pound cake with coffee. I just noticed today with the new toaster that there is a slight recipe difference between the big supermarkets. The twist is basically flour dough rolled into a long rod, folded three times and twisted. I had just assumed everyone made them the same way. Well, the ones from Carre Four were more floury and more powdered tasting. Probably because they used an oven to bake theirs. The one from Zhongxing Supermarket, I saw them make it, they deep fry them. It just means, next time we head down to Happy Mall again, we need to head into Zhongxing's for that!
Today, we had to go out and buy another book for Alexandria because she lost one. So it was out to the book store to get it. While I was there, I spotted a rather nice anime notebook with magical high school girl from a Japanese Windows game so I picked it up. While out, we decided to go to the really big multi-floor book store called books365.com. I guess it is like their Amazon.com thing. Anyway it was rather fun looking through their travel section to see what books they had on Canada. I found the National Geographic Book on Canada and I looked up the West Coast section. It has the pictures of a long shot of the Granville Street Bridge, the steam clock of Gastown, the entrance to Chinatown, a cruise ship parked beside Canada Place and a bunch of street performers at Granville Island. There we go, that is what the Chinese people think Vancouver is... It also doesn't help that they stuck an Invit Eskimo in a fur coat on the front cover for the book of Canada.
Upstairs was an impressive CD, DVD, VCD, and software selection. I went crazy and picked up 18 titles, almost 500 yuan worth of stuff. If I was in Japan, the two Ayumi Hamasaki CDs would have been all I could have bought for the same money. It is today I had the inspiration to write a sub-page on the cost difference between items that you would by in Canada vs things bought in China.
Lunch was the meat dumplings that her mother gave us.
Today for dinner is was another dinner with Ami's government worker friends at the Hollywood restaurant, that's the Karaoke dining room place we went to on Feb 28th. This time it is the last time for the man who his wife was leaving him. He is relocating to another city. Today, was not really too much from the last time. We started again with a really strong bottle of white wine. We finished the evening with 9 bottles. The mayor's wife and the philospher didn't drink anything today, they drank milk. The guy who is leaving started the Karaoke. He is has a real good strong voice not an improvisor but still a very technical performer.
The group that I am with it is getting tougher to find songs that they haven't heard me sing. I found the "Cha Cha Cha" by Finzy Koutini but unfortunately, they removed all the English lyrics on the version here. So my first song ended up being "You Are Not Alone Rap version" from Modern Talking. Followed by "Scarbourgh Fair" by Simon And Garfunkel. It seems some of them recognize the song but not the lyrics so they just hummed it. I also did "Wings Beneath My Wings" by Barbara Striesand.
After dinner, we decided to take a nice walk around the neighbourhood. This also promoted me to start drawing a map of the area with some of the major land marks on it since it might be useful to some visiting foreigners.
|Cost of Goods Comparisons Between China and Canada|
|Thursday, March 10/2005|
|This morning, I was still feeling my usual stiffness after drinking too much. I started with breads again so cheese toast with pound cake and coffee.
Lunch was some of the meat pies from her mother.
In the middle of the afternoon, we got tired of sitting around the house all day. Well, at least I could use the fresh air. Ami already went outside and it was a really windy day, which made the wind chill pretty brutal. So, we got bundled up and went for a walk. We decided to go to Carre Four to go get the SD memory card for Ami's digital camera. In the end, we ended up spending too much time at the grocery part of the CF and thus ended with a big shopping cart full of food. Our bill was a bit over 300 yuan. I can quickly see, if you are one those people who only makes 300 yuan a month, you could get by, you just have to watch which foods you spend it on.
When we got outside the mall with our cart of junk, we walked out the staging area for the taxi cabs and they were all gone. There enough room for over 10 cabs here and there usually a bunch of them lined up waiting, but today they were none. A few cabs came but they were immediately snapped up before they reached the mall or staging area. Well, after about five minutes, or about 10 cabs later, we got a cab down the staging area to pile our stuff into and go home.
Ami made Chinese style soy sauce noodles with onions and green peppers and a little bit beef. Quite tasty although the bottom was swimming in the oils, water, and sauce. I suppose it might have helped to drain the noodles like spagetti before mixing and adding the sauce into it.
|Friday, March 11/2005|
|This morning, I had a chance to try another new bakery item. It is basically a hot dog bun with a sweet white centre strip. It is quite tasty when it is all toasted up. I also had a slice of cheese toast.
Today's task was to go and pick up Alexanderia early today because she has exams tomorrow. We left a little early in the afternoon to go by CarreFour for some light foods. Also to pick up some of the things she would need to take to school. We went to the usual bus stop loop by the stadium.
When we get back, Ami has a try at making tomato soup. I added sugar this time at the advince of Vince and it made it sweet. It was good, Her mother showed up with a whole whack of cut up pork bits.
|Saturday, March 12/2005|
|Today is test day for Alexanderia. The first exam was at like 8:30am in the morning and it was back at her school out 45 minutes in the countryside. I guess it is like shipping your kids out to Langley to go to school for a week. I know some here parents would love that! First, they are out in the boonyland so outside influences won't affect their schooling. Two, they are out of the parent's hair for 5 days out of the week. Three, don't have to cook for them for 5 days out of the week.
Anyway, since Ami needs to catch a carpool out there, she left the apartment around 7:30am. I stayed in bed. I was woken up by one very persistant telephone caller. I decided not to answer the phone since I only know how to say "Hello" and that was it. Well, after three different tries, I thought maybe I should answer it. Well, sure enough, it was Ami telling me that she will have to stay out there waiting in cars all day. What a bummer. The exam was like from 8:30am to 11:30am, lunch break, then second part of the tests 1:30pm to 3:30pm. There is no lunch room or waiting area for the parents inside, so they have to sit outside in their cars where is it like countryside windchill and freezing -10C to -15C outside. Good thing I didn't go. Anyway, she said she will be back to helop me out.
She arrived back to make up a light breakfast of toast. After breakfast, she was going to head back to the school before the 11:30am finish. I was going to help her install some hanging hooks in her cabinets for the spatuals and soup ladals. She left me with the keys and she sped back to school at 10:40am.
So, I decided to install that, and have a quick lunch. Then I bundled up and decided to do a mapping mission at noon. It was a semi-nice sunny but windy day. So I started out on Wuai Le and went down that until I got down to the city core where the Summer Palace was. From here, I knew how to get to the Happy Family Mall, where the arcade was.
So, it took me about an hour to walk all the way downtown. Today the drum machine was working, unfortunately, it was Percusion Freaks 1. The sticks were tied to the machine, the green tom was a bit flaky, and there as no chair. So yea, it is hard to do anything decent on that but it is ok, Ez2Dance was what I was after, The crowd was big with all the shcool kids and parents too. Now that I got my game in, I started to head back. I figured if it took an hour to get downtown, it will take an hour to get back. I also decided to choose a different route back so I will get to see different things.
I returned at 5:00pm. I knew they were late so I decided to start making something for dinner. Wasn't much I knew how to make with potatoes and the beef I had, so I decided beef stew. Ami and Alexanderia returns home at 5:30pm. I finished up the stew and it was ready for dinner. It turned out not too bad.