Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, April 29 –I’ve mentioned before that the town next to us, Dalang, is called the “Famous Sweater Town of China.” They have LOTS of tiny little shops with knitting machines, as well as large factories. Once before, I walked down this road with some of these small shops and saw the knitting machines running. I’ve been wanting to go again, but this time, everything seemed slow. There were people napping and many machines weren’t running. The machines that were going, weren’t knitting, they seemed to be undoing the knitting! China is great at recycling, and I guess unused cloth or knitwear is also valuable to recycle. These are two little shops that had their machines operating. I wish I knew some definite info about this, but I don’t. Last October, I posted some pictures of one of the big sweater markets in Dalang: http://www.myownchinesebrocade.com/picture-a-day-1/2016/10/17/dalang-sweater-market
Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, February 28 - This type of three-wheeled carts are very common around us, but usually they are used for work purposes. They carry all sorts of items: recycling, furniture, street food, plants, and .... sometimes people. You don't usually see little kids sitting in the back alone though, but these two were very well-behaved as we drove past them!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, December 16 – I’m always surprised at the huge amount of frozen pizza available when I’m back in the USA! I’m curious if pizza is so popular in other “Western” countries? Anyhow, this picture shows the frozen pizza selection at our bigger supermarket in the next town; I think our smaller supermarket only has 2 kinds. And I can guarantee that outside of the cities, you would never find frozen pizza in China! The “Special Barbeque Pork “sounds pretty good (even though it also has peas and corn on it!), but what do you think of “tropical fruit,” “Durian,” and “Blueberry” pizza?
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, December 12 – I don’t normally eat fast food, but we’ve been curious about this Chinese fast food restaurant chain 真功夫 “Zhen Gongfu” or “Real Kungfu.” We were going out shopping around lunch time today so decided to try it, and we actually thought it was pretty good! You may think you recognize the person on their sign, but you’re wrong (LOL)! The company insists that their logo is no one particular, it just so happens to closely resemble Bruce Lee in his famous yellow shirt! The company however, has no legal permission to use Bruce Lee’s image, so, these pictures are NOT Bruce Lee! Welcome to China :-) Wikipedia says that Real Kungfu is the 8th largest fast food chain in China. Today, I had chicken and mushroom and Leah had pork and preserved vegetables, both came with rice and boiled lettuce and we also got the pork bone soup. They mainly have meals with rice, meat and vegetables, including fish and eggplant and beef and mustard tuber (I don’t know what that is! ) You can get other things like chicken seaweed rolls, steamed eggs, fish balls, steamed buns, and sides of broccoli, mixed vegetables, or preserved vegetables. Both of our meals together cost 52 rmb or $7.50usd.
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, December 4 – This display was set up outside of the supermarket in the town next to us. While this is not regularly there, snakes and turtles are commonly used as both food and Traditional Chinese medicine where we live, they are thought to give longevity and health when consumed. When snake is offered on a restaurant menu, it is often referred to as “dragon.” These people had a large container of snake wine and they were offering free samples, as well as selling bottles of it. Snake wine is made by infusing the whole snake in the wine. On display, there were also horseshoe crabs (which I’ve been told are used in soup), frogs, some kind of insects, and ganoderma (a type of mushroom). I personally missed seeing this, Jim and Leah saw it and took these pictures.
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, November 7 – Steamed buns are a very popular food in China. You can get them with all types of fillings. I can’t eat the steamed buns being gluten intolerant, but they look delicious! In the mornings, you walk past shops with huge steamers piled high (but I can’t find my pictures right now :-( ) Quite often, you also see these cute little piggy buns :-) I think they usually have BBQ pork in them, but not always. The top picture is some piggy buns for sale at the larger supermarket we shop at in the next town, and sometimes buy some Dim Sum. The other pictures are frozen buns you can buy at the supermarket nearer to us. They have panda bears and brown bears as well as piggies. They are more of a sweet snack or dessert with custard or red bean filling.
It is time for another break from my daily pictures, tomorrow, Leah and I head for the USA for 3 weeks. I will post random pictures as time allows. In the meantime, feel free to heck out my old blog from when we first came to China! http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/covemom/
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, November 3 – Buying rice in China, or probably most of Asia, is quite different than in the USA and other western countries. In a western grocery store, I would say most rice is in 1 or 2 pound packages, am I right? Well, I had Leah stand in my picture by the rice aisle so you can see how big the bags are! There are NO small packages! Most of the Chinese people here eat rice with every meal, so, they need these big bags! There is also the bulk section, where you can buy a smaller amount. You often see people running the rice through their fingers; I was told that is how you can know what quality it is. With all of these different types of rice, there is obviously a lot more to choosing rice than I ever learned!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, October 21 – The delicatessens in Chinese supermarkets are similar in idea, but very different in the kind of food you can buy in an American deli! They have whole roasted chickens (with the heads and feet of course!) and ducks and maybe even a goose, pigeons, or other birds. There is also a variety of chicken pieces, usually cooked in a few ways: spicy, something yellow that I’m guessing is curry or saffron?, and … there is breaded/fried chicken! There is no such thing as lunch meat or cold cuts. But, there are fresh rice noodles of all sizes, and you can get a bowl fixed right there. There is no salad bar either, but a “bar” of spicy food dishes, I’m not sure what it is actually called! There is also a big tofu section, a sushi section, and roasted peanuts! Of course they vary, and the bigger the supermarket, the more they have, these pictures are from the same supermarket where we get the Beggar’s Chicken (July 21st post) and Dim Sum. www.myownchinesebrocade.com
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, October 17 – Dalang, the town next to Songshan Lake (where we live) is known as the “Famous Sweater Town of China.” When you get off the highway at a nearby exit, it even states that fact, even in English!... above the toll booths! It was hard to find information in English, but here is a little …. There are supposed to be almost 10,000 knitting and textile companies in the Dalang ‘cluster’! 3,000 of those are in Dalang itself. There are over 300 big companies, but also LOTS of small ones, some with just one knitting machine. Another place (I forget where I copied it from!) stated that “One in every five persons (in the world) on average has a sweater which is made in Dongguan (in which Dalang is the center of the knitwear industry). In 2010, the sweater industry in Dalang employed about 100,000 people and sold 1.2 billion sweaters, with 60% being exported! There are about ten sweater markets in Dalang and today we finally went to one. We chose the largest, the Dalang Woolen Trade Center. It is mainly a wholesale market, but some places will sell individual items and many have racks of samples for sale. The ground floor was full and had a good amount of activity, second floor was partially full, and the third floor was still empty, I guess there is plenty of room for growth! Here’s an interesting video on YouTube of one of the large knitwear companies in Dalang https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEVt1ElQZRA There is also a HUGE knitwear Fair held annually in Dalang which brings in buyers from around the world. Pictures are all from the market today, the one of the outside is the North entrance and half the building length, the others all all different parts of the inside.
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, September 16 – When we went to buy some groceries today, we caught an interesting fashion show at our local shopping plaza. It was put on by a business in Dalang, the next town, that does photography. They provide traditional Chinese costumes that you are photographed in. From looking at the advertising brochure, they are done like the ‘glamour’ shots in the USA. I'm not sure about the significance of the antlers the one is wearing, does anyone else know? Twice while we were watching the show, different sales people came up to Leah wanting to know if she liked it, and showing her their big sample book. Leah did dress up for photos once when we were traveling, just a quick touristy set-up, but maybe this would be fun sometime! Hmm, maybe we can get a family photo done??? www.myownchinesebrocade.com
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 29 – Eye exams in China are basically the same as in the USA, yet different. To start with, the exam is free when you buy the glasses. You don’t need an appointment for a storefront shop, you just walk in. Because space comes at a premium in China, often the exam is just done in the shop, or sometimes in a very small room. They have the machine that reads your current prescription and use that to start with. I was buying a prescription dive mask a couple of weeks ago, and just went into an eyeglass shop and they read my current prescription at no charge so I could take it to the dive shop. Instead of the big machines that the lenses are placed in and swung into place in front of your eyes (in the USA), here, they generally use special glasses that the lenses fit into to test your prescription; They always remind me of big bug eyes! Then, while we are used to reading English letters on the eye chart, in China, there are all capital E’s facing in different directions. As they point to each one, you simply place your hand the right direction … fingers up, down, to the right or left … to indicate the position of the letter “E.”
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 22 – Yesterday, Leah and I had lunch with a Chinese friend at a Hunan cuisine restaurant. There are actually 8 main types of Chinese regional cuisines. Hunan is known to be spicy, and I don’t eat spicy food, so, in a search for some dishes that weren’t spicy, one dish we ordered was the “鸡蛋挑石头,” “Jidan tiao shitou” or “Eggs Stirred with Stones.” I thought by the picture that it was steamed eggs, which are common here, so I was surprised when our dish arrived. The waiter set a hot stoneware pan with big black stones down, then poured the uncooked egg mixture in and started stirring! Amazing how fast the eggs cooked! Basically scrambled eggs cooked in a hot pot with stones! Then as they sat while we ate, the bottom browned a little more and was really good. The eggs WERE spicy! Too much for me to eat alone, so I mixed them with the fried rice we had also ordered and enjoyed it that way. We also had a cauliflower dish. If you’d like to read the basics of China’s 8 cuisines, this page is simple and informative : http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/eight-cuisine.htm
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 11 – Since the stores in China are built “up” instead of “out” you must be able to navigate between floors with your shopping cart or “trolley”. In order to do this, there are flat escalators where the shopping cart wheels somehow catch and lock to keep it from moving. Many times, especially when the store is busy, they have employees at the bottom of an escalator to make sure you get off and moving smoothly, although I have never had a problem. They look similar to the moving walkways at airports only on inclines. I looked to see if there is a specific name for these, and it seems to just be “inclined moving walkway”, and it seems that the USA may be one of the few areas in the world that doesn’t have them??? So, now I’m curious, has anyone seen these in the USA, maybe in big cities? And, where have you seen them outside of the USA or China? They seem quite safe, although there was an accident in Shanghai in 2013 when a woman was killed by a runaway cart that was loaded with over 300 pounds of drinks! Other safety concerns are using other wheeled things like strollers where the wheels don’t catch and lock like the shopping carts do.
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 10 – In the area we are in (Guangdong province), the lychee/litchi/lizhi 荔枝, season is highly aniticipated by the locals. The pinkish-red skin peels off easily to expose the slightly sweet, flowery smelling, very juicy flesh, in fact I’ve been squirted numerous times when peeling one! If you have only ever had the canned or frozen ones from Western Chinese restaurants, it will be hard for you to understand why people like them so much! There are many places where you can pick your own fruit. We did this a couple years ago but not this year, although though I was told we do have a place very close by. You can find the trees in many parks also, but I’ve been told the fruit in the parks isn’t free for anyone to pick! You can also find many vendors selling freshly picked fruit along the streets. They don’t stay fresh long after picking, so when you buy them, they are usually still attached to the branches to help them stay fresh longer. This year, a Chinese friend told us that when the cicadas sing, it’s time for the lychee harvest to begin :-)
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 9 – Today, while shopping, I noticed this bin with a lot of people around it, of course I had to see what it was, and was surprised to see crayfish! LOTS of crayfish! We watched for a few minutes as the people dug through them. Most put plastic bags over their hands to choose which they wanted, and seemed to be turning them over and looking at their undersides before either placing them in their bags or throwing them back. I’m not sure what they were looking for, does anyone else know? Leah said they were calling them “xiaolongxia” or “little lobsters.” I thought they looked like the crayfish I used to catch as a kid, but, I sure don’t remember ever eating them! (Although I do remember roasting some over a fire once while all five of us kids were camping with my dad… while mom stayed home!) Other names in the USA are crawfish, crawdad, mudbugs and yabbies. I did some research and found that in the second half of June there is an annual crayfish festival in a city called Xuyi, in Jiangsu province, which is well known for its crayfish farms, so I guess this is the time of year to feast on the little lobsters! Hmmm, maybe we should try some!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, July 3 – I have new “wheels”! :-) Back in April, my old scooter, which I had had for 4 years, died. Jim had been wanting me to get a new one so we gave the old one to someone who was glad to have it and get it repaired. This weekend, Jim and I went shopping and got my new electric scooter. I don’t go very far on mine like Jim does, but still got one capable of going a little farther if I decide to. It’s a total different look from my old one, and Robin’s egg blue, which I love :-) The pictures show the inside and outside of the shop we bought it at, and the green scooter you see in the picture of the outside is Jim's. The drop cloths are covering the bikes and scooters that were sitting outside because it was VERY hot and sunny!
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, June 28 – Yesterday, a Chinese friend who lives in the nearby town, showed me where the closest wet or fresh market is. It was much closer than I thought, not very big, but it had a little of everything, meat, fish, veggies, eggs, etc. This is the live poultry section. I told her that being a “city girl” I wouldn’t know what to do with a live chicken or duck; her reply was “Oh, for about 2 rmb (30 cents USD) they will kill it for you!” In the past, I’ve also seen live chickens for sale on the side of the road in some places, and people carrying them home live in plastic bags! At least you KNOW the meat you’re eating is fresh :-)
Life in China 2016: A Picture A Day, June 24 – During the cooler months we used to always enjoy having sweet potatoes and tea after shopping at the larger supermarket in the neighboring town. Unfortunately, sweet potatoes seem to be considered a “winter” snack and they are not available already cooked since we have returned from the USA. So, today, we checked out the prepared dim sum at the supermarket. I guess this would be equivalent to the section in the USA with salads, coleslaw, or side dishes, etc. There are so many choices! We decided to each have a slice of water chestnut cake. I posted about fresh water chestnuts back on March 24 and included a picture of my homemade water chestnut cake… now you can see the “real” thing! After we finished our shopping, we bought iced green tea at our favorite “after shopping” place called “Happy Sweet Potato” and ate our dim sum with it :-)
Clothes shopping…the good and bad. Good first: This picture is from an RT Mart in the town next to us, Dalang. (RT Mart is a chain based in Taiwan, like a Super Kmart or Walmart) Stores like this and department stores usually offer pants hemming free of charge. You must pay for your clothes separately in this department, so it’s convenient to just drop them off after purchasing and you can finish your shopping then pick them back up. The store wasn’t busy today, so the lady working was doing something for a man while he waited. The bad: Finding clothes to fit! Although I can finally fit into a US ladies size 12, I am still an XXXL in China! Stores like this usually carry clothes in most styles up to XXL, so walking into stores and finding clothes to buy is rather difficult! Depending on the style, I have managed to buy some things :-)
On January 26th, I posted a picture of me getting a haircut: I like to go to the fancier salon :-) My husband, Jim, on the other hand, goes to the little Chinese salons on the backstreets. He and Leah usually go out “exploring” on his electric scooter on the weekends. Today, he stopped and got a haircut in Dalang, the town next to us. Even small places like this are generally salons for men or women. In our time in China, we have never yet seen a woman cutting hair, they do the shampooing but not cutting and styling. His haircut cost 20 rmb or just over $3usd. Leah said the name of the shop possibly translates as “Popular Password”? If any Chinese friends can offer a better translation, please do! I thought the picture was a little dull (Jim said that’s because it was!) but, I added some “sparkles”! Thanks to Leah for today’s picture. (Jim is sitting in the chair inside)