02 Mar 2013 Leave a Comment
in Uncategorized Tags: 798, ANimals, animation, art, beijing, caochangdi, chinese government scholarship, gallery, guard dogs, jamaica, korean, media, new experiences, public transportation, sun xun, tourist, wangjing, white space
During the last two weeks of the Spring Festival, my sister came to visit me in Beijing. She left last week Saturday. I took her to a couple of places I hadn’t gone before like the 798 Art Zone and Qian Hai.
It was really nice to “re-discover” Beijing, to just walk around, observe and to try new foods, just because. After 1 1/2 years of living here, I think I had become disenchanted with Beijing.
The “First” that took the cake however was when we went to an area of Beijing called Caochangdi (an area devoted to artists) to visit the animation studio of a popular artist called Sun Xun. I had never been to that side of Beijing, heck I didn’t even know there existed such a place in Beijing. My sister and I were staying in Wangjing (the Korean area), a pretty developed area towards the north of Bejing, she compared the look and feel of the place at times to New York City.
That morning we took a bus from Wangjing to Caochangdi and the more the bus drove, the more it seemed as though we were driving into wilderness. I have only ever been scared twice in Beijing, the first time when I was walking back to my dorm alone at night in a deserted part of campus and that day when we got off the bus in Caochangdi. People were just staring and it felt like one of those places where you don’t go if you don’t belong, but we kept walking trying to find the animation studio.
We finally found a compound where we thought the animation studio was located, we later found out it was the wrong area. Now in all my time in Beijing, I have never seen a dog bark at a person, much less attempt to bite a person. In the compound, we had wandered into the wrong yard of an art studio, only to be greeted by a tiny mangy looking dog, I think the best visual description would be a furry rat with long legs, a small mouth and tiny teeth.
At first when we walked in, the dog was looking at us out of curiosity. It was a bit confused, maybe it was wondering if its owners were expecting company and didn’t forward the memo. Then I think it realised that we did not know where we were going and that’s when the barking started, followed by repeated attempts to get close to us and bite us with its tiny teeth. Everytime I pretended to get ready to kick it or my sister swung her bag at it, it ran away, only to advance again. The dog did not stop until we were out of the yard.
I really have to admire that dog, because it knows we could have done some serious damage to its body, but it did its job. As long as we were in that compound, we never went back into that yard, and we were very cautious whenever we walked passed.
Good or bad, here’s to first experiences wherever we are.
19 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
February 10, 2013 was the 1st day of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). Based on the Chinese Zodiac this year is the year of the Snake, which also happens to be my sign.
Beijing is usually jam-packed crowded, but since the 1st of January Ive been seeing people with small suitcases traveling up and down the subways as though they were going back home, and very gradually there would be less and less people until February 10 when all those who were supposed to go home, went home.
My university treated foreigners left behind, the workers and some others to a Spring Festival dinner in the cafeteria yesterday. It felt a little bit like what Christmas should have felt like. They had chicken, shrimp, beef, different types of bread and rice and Chinese Dumplings (jiaozi 饺子）. I love jiaozi! And it’s also traditional for them to be eaten during Spring Festival.
Then the fireworks began. They rang all through the night and even into the morning. Every night since then I’ve seen or heard at least one fireworks display. Sometimes there’s so many going off at once it sounds like a war zone. I guess I’ve never been so close to fireworks before.
So, next year when Christmas comes and I’m wondering how the Beijingers can go about their business as though it’s a normal day, now I will understand.
05 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
I built my first snowman on Sunday after church. It’s my second Winter, but I’ve only just now had the motivation, company and right timing to attempt it. There was not much time to perfect our design since we were just trying to pass time until our driver came to carry us back to school. So our "snowman" actually ended up being a tiny snowbird.
With the little experience that I have gained, these are the things I learned:
1. Use a rock as the foundation for the snowman. Sounds simple, but even when the base kept falling apart, it didn’t cross my mind.
2. Building a large, glorious snowman that is often seen in movies requires alot of snow and patience.
3. Prepare for frozen fingers and toes when it’s all done.
It was fun building my first snow animal, and I’m always grateful for the snow to fall because it makes it so much warmer as well as reducing the pollution a bit. I’m always glad for that.
02 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
I’ve been in Beijing, China for 1 1/2 years now. Wow, time goes at a nice moderate pace. I’m not in school now but busy enjoying my Winter vacation until February 26th, when I start my final semester of Mandarin. Then, in September, after 2 years, I will finally start my Masters in a yet to be determined program of studies. I can’t wait! It will either be something in TV, Radio, Film or a combination.
Early last semester I lost my way with the blog. A major setback and buzzkill for me was losing my camera while horseback riding in Inner Mongolia. I have the drafts for the blog entry for that trip floating somewhere around in my email’s drafts folder.
But two things pushed me to start again, a promise I made to write a blog about an amazing experience I had last week and a walk that I took around my school campus tonight. Plus I bought myself a smartphone. Yay! Not only can I now actually look up words and characters that I don’t know when out on the road or in class (instead of nodding and smiling and not having a clue what is being said to me) but I can also take pictures and videos.
So I’m back! This time through different eyes, more experienced but still trying to find my way in Beijing.
14 Nov 2012 Leave a Comment
12 Nov 2012 Leave a Comment
I still have to tell you about my "I’m-never-going-to-do-that-again" experience in Inner Mongolia during the Mid-Autumn Festival also known by me as "Moon-cake Season", but right now I’m going to tell you about one of the difficult aspect of living in China.
Last year when I first came to Beijing, for the first couple months I felt as though I were in a dream. Was I really in China? What is this amazing and wonderful place? I dreaming, but it was a good dream, one that aroused my curiosity enough to keep "sleeping" so I could enjoy the experience. Now one year later and this dream-like state is not as strong as it used to be but it comes and goes periodically…and not in a pleasant way.
Tonight I went out to a Mexican restaurant and met up with fellow Jamaicans. It was really nice to be around people who spoke Patois and who shared the same cultural experiences that I did. On my way back to the University, the other 2 Jamaicans at my school and myself were talking about how University was for us back in Jamaica. While we were talking, I began to look around and that’s when it hit me(for the millionth time) that I was in China. That was when I started to feel as though I was in a dream again, but it was no longer exciting, it was actually a little bit scary. It was scary because although we were talking about Jamaica and the lives we had before, it was a little hard to fathom having lived a life in Jamaica before China. It was also uncomfortable thinking about how far away my previous reality is from my current reality. If anything happens I can’t just jump on a plane and return home; The plane ticket is too expensive and even if I could just buy a ticket, I’d have to spend an entire day traveling between time zones to get to Jamaica.
Most days I feel well adapted to life in China, but then other days it hits me and I realize how different Beijing is from Jamaica and I think that is what scares me. Since these two countries are so different trying to imagine a life outside of the current one becomes a bit challenging at times.
Whenever this happens I remember the saying "If you dig a hole deep enough, you will come out on the other side of the Earth in China". I can understand why, China is a whole other world all on its own.
30 Sep 2012 Leave a Comment
Moon Cake Season is what I call China’s Mid-Autumn Festival/National Holiday Week. It falls during the 1st week of October Aside from having classes on the weekend to make up for the holiday we will be getting, it’s a holiday that many people look forward to.
The first reason: It’s an entire week (7 days) of not going to school/work. Apart from Winter and Summer holidays, this is the longest holiday I’ve had so far.
The second reason: This holiday comes 3 or 4 weeks after school has started. So we get a holiday almost right after we come off of Summer holidays.
The third reason: It’s traditional to eat Moon Cakes under the moon on the 15th of October, so people exchange them as gifts and they are sold in almost every shop and bakery. Although many of people don’t like them, I love Moon Cakes. It’s similar to eating Bun and Cheese at Easter, or Christmas Cake during Christmas. There are many varieties, but the more traditional ones are filled with Red-bean Paste, Lotus Seed Paste with a duck’s egg yolk in the middle (the yolk represents the moon), Jujube Paste and Five Kernel Paste (5 types of nuts ground together and mixed with Maltose Syrup).
The fourth reason: It’s a very good opportunity to travel. Last year, I had just come to Beijing, so I was not very familiar with even my immediate surroundings, so I stayed at school the entire week. This year I decided not to let the opportunity to travel pass me by. So for the first 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) of the holiday, I will be going on a Church retreat in the north of Beijing The next 3 days and 3 night will be spent in Inner Mongolia. Inner Mongolia is a part of China, but it’s right underneath Mongolia and is at the northern most part of China. The culture and landscape of Inner Mongolia is more of less the same as Mongolia itself.
I’m excited about the Church retreat, but I’m more excited about the Inner Mongolia trip, because I initiated and planned this trip by myself. I’ll be going with six other people from Norway, Poland, America and Costa Rica. We will spend Wednesday night on the train, arrive on Thursday morning, then spend Thursday night in a tent, leave Friday night and get back to China on Saturday morning.
When I get back, I will tell you all about it.
23 Sep 2012 1 Comment
After the very long Summer holiday in Jamaica, I had to face reality and come back to Beijing to finish the 3 years of studies that I have left.
Unlike the 1st time that I came to Beijing, this time I traveled the 26 hour trip alone. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds though, because most of the time on the plane was spent sleeping and the time in the airports was spent walking around or reading a magazine I bought at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport called "Ideas & Discoveries".
I left Kingston at 6:30AM Wednesday morning and got to Beijing at 11:50PM Thursday night. Although it was raining and I was homesick, I was happy that I could give directions to the taxi driver without any problems, but then when I got to the school and the driver refused to drive up to the dorm because according to him, there were cars parked on either side of the driveway and his car couldn’t fit, therefore forcing me to walk in the rain, that was when I said to myself, "Yup, welcome to China".
After that, I was homesick for about 2 days, but I have been getting back into the groove of everyday life and now everything feels normal again.
There have been a few changes:
- I moved to a bigger room and I now have a new Korean roommate. She seems very agreeable and friendly so far but we are not often in the room together at the same time.
- I’m no longer the only person from the Caribbean at my school. There is a guy and a girl from Jamaica, as well as 2 women from the Bahamas. They are all here for one (1) year to do their Masters in International Communication. I am glad that there are people from the same culture here, but at the same time I am no longer a novelty.
Everything else has remained more or less the same. I have continued with violin classes (my teacher says my sound is getting better), and I am now in class 4 Mandarin. So far I am having trouble remembering the vocabulary, but it could be that my mind has not shifted to the memorization mode as yet. Hopefully it switches soon because once it does, then everything will be completely back to normal.
25 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
in Uncategorized Tags: 2012, baking, beijing, bread, Caribbean, chicken wings, chinese government scholarship, communication university of china, cooking, danielle, fried chicken, jamaica, low fat, recipes, skinless, Summer, Vacation, youtube. korea
I love to bake…and cook…and…well, as long as I am trying a new recipe, any kind of recipe, I am happy. So this summer (after spending a year in a shared dorm room and sharing two (2) kitchens with the entire building) I am going to run wild in my kitchen at home.
The first recipe I jumped into was a Korean “Sweet and Crispy Chicken” also called “Dakgangjeong“. This recipe was really intended for chicken wings, but mixed chicken parts were cheaper.
I was super duper excited by this recipe because I had never made fried chicken before, much less Korean Fried Chicken. This chicken turned out to be the best fried chicken I have ever had in the world, and I have backup to prove it.
The things that I did differently to making regular fried chicken is:
- Remove all the fat and skin from every single piece of chicken
- Season only with salt and pepper, then dump cornstarch, flour and eggs on top of the chicken then mixing them all together to make the batter
- Double fry each piece of chicken.
- Coat the chicken with a gingery sweet/sticky sauce
- Not add peanuts or sesame seeds (I didn’t have sesame seeds on hand; Why do I need to add peanuts to chicken?)
And it was amazing!
If you decide to try this recipe yourself, I would definitely applaud that decision. Or, let’s say you put it on your Bucket List, I wouldn’t hold it against you.