Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Typical Day in Jinan

Tomorrow I head to Beijing then fly from there home! So I had a few errands to run today. My priorities: clean, pack, get my nails done.

After eating breakfast, I went to the supermarket to get some supplies to clean with. The supermarket is in the basement of the mall. 

A Chinese New Year decoration in the mall

The mall had some cars on display and some signs displaying Obama's Chinese citizenship card.

Upon reaching the supermarket, a new sale had just started on some kind of meat leg. People literally started running to the cart of meat. 

this guy (below) didn't even bother with a bag

Lunch? Chicken feet all ready for the lunch rush. 

I went down a few aisles to see if there was any small snacks I could bring back with me. 
Milk tea is really popular here...but cheese oat milk tea? 

Or fermented soy bean prawn flavor potato chips?

A new face in the chocolate aisle...milky ways! (reeses are a recent addition as well) 

After leaving the supermarket, I decided to get a baked sweet potato (my favorite street food) 

I walked past a group of men yelling at each other...

Just an intense mahjong game. 

There are no dryers in China so it is common to see clothing hanging outside. But a little unusually to see clothes hanging in a tree that is not near anyone's home. 

I noticed something unusual on the street that I have never seen before...

Two dead rabbits. Roadkill? 

Or dinner? 

Right after I took a picture the man selling the meat held one up and tried to get me to take it. I tried to explain that I don't really eat meat. 

After cleaning for a few hours, I went out to get some fruit and vegetables from the street market right outside the school 

Someone was fixing the electric wires in front of the school gate. Totally safe. 

Then I went to get my nails done. There is a large underground tunnel below the main road near the mall. In the tunnel there's a huge mall of (cheap looking) clothing and nail/beauty places. 
It feels very Chinese. 

All the mannequins look like Mariah Carey 

As I was getting my nails done this woman was getting an eye treatment. No idea what treatment she was getting, she had the band over her eyes for about 30 minutes.

Most women in China (even Asia) want to have bigger looking eyes so they do treatments (even surgeries) to get double eyelids (like all western people have) so I'm assuming it was something of that nature. 

Now time to make dinner and pack :D See you soon America!

Jetsetting (trainsetting?) to Hangzhou

The weekend before finals I always try to take a trip somewhere in China because I have no planning or grading to do. (And there are still so many places in China that I want to see). 

Last week my destination was Hangzhou. Hangzhou was an important economic hub and the capital of China under the Song Dynasty (960-1270) and it is an important place for tea cultivation so there is quite a bit of culture going on. Marco Polo also noted that it was one of the most beautiful places in China.

I took the fast train from Jinan (a little South of Beijing) to Hangzhou--a 4 hour trip and met a friend I met in Shenzhen who now lives in Shanghai. We got in late so we checked out the bar scene: 

There is an entire bar street and a big social scene in Hangzhou (much bigger than in Jinan). 

After that we went to a hostel near the main tourist destinations. The room we stayed in was a shared dorm with 4 beds...the bathroom was at the end of the hall and all the sinks were outside (it was freezing there). It was one of the most uncomfortable hostel stays I've had. Own room, bathroom connected from here on out. 

The next day we got up early to see the biggest and most beautiful tourist spot...West Lake. 
We walked around the lake--which was GORGEOUS. I would love to see it again when the trees and flowers are in full bloom. 

The best part of walking around the lake was people watching. 

Some woman demanded that I take some of these treats. They tasted gross...it was like eating a stick of flour that was stuck together by water. 

I saw my first squirrel in China. This man was feeding it corn--the Chinese were very amused 


Next..this man was painting calligraphy with water

he had a huge crowd 

Some ballroom dancing 

Taking a break at Starbucks (it was so cold out!) 

this man is fishing with a homemade fishing pole from a soda can

I saw so many runners in Hangzhou! It was nice--you never see runners in big cities (or in China in general--its pretty rare unless you are at the gym--maybe pollution is to blame) 

this is a famous pagoda that borders the lake

the lake was beautiful at night! 

After walking around the lake, we checked out a popular "shopping street" 

There was a chinese medicine shop on the pedestrian shopping street--it was really neat to see

most chinese medicines you put into hot water and drink as a tea

there was a store with dried meats and fish...

Any ideas what kind of leg that is? 

A man sniffing the fish (kinda gross if someone plans to buy this and eat it)

Pig parts

chicken or ducks?

Sweets--they had a lot of peanut, sesame and ginger candies

This man is making a crepe and has a huge crowd

this is called "beggars chicken" it is a chicken wrapped in lotus leaves then in foil and baked. At first I thought it was a burrito (doesn't it look like Chipotle?)

The Chinese love Kenny Chesney... 


"Professional mobile phone beauty" 
I asked the vendor what made it "professional" she didn't get the joke

At the end was a food market... 





Pigs--no idea what part is above

I think those are pig hearts...

Pig something...

And finally...pig heads (reminds me of Lord of the Flies)

Sea food

After that we went into the main part of the city. Hangzhou just got an Apple store (it opened the weekend before) and it was PACKED. 

There was a line in the front to go in. 

After that we went out for a fancy meal

I got dongpo pork (it was very fatty--a Chinese delicacy, but not really my style)

And my friend got lobster

The next day we walked around a bit then went to the Tea Museum, which was located in the middle of a bunch of tea plantations. 

For many dynasties, tea was only accessible to the upper class--drinking tea was a sign of sophistication and was prepared in a long step-by-step process

During the early dynasties, tea was rolled into a "tea cake" 

But to simplify the process, the Ming dynasty established that tea would be made from loose leaves 

From left to right you can see white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea and pu'er tea

Each type of tea has a special brewing method and type of pot you should use 

The main difference in the production and preparation of leaves is the fermentation

This is a tea competition--it was in the Tang Dynasty maybe? The competitions were judged on how well the tea was brewed

A tool to make tea leaves

The health benefits of tea

Various products that are green tea flavored or scented (China loves green tea flavor/scent)

A tea set in Tibet

A tea set in Yunnan (Southern China)

A tea set in Chengdu? (central China) 

There were so many stray dogs 

The sidewalk was the character for tea in different fonts (pronounced "cha")

Lu Wu, a famous Tang poet who wrote about tea

After the Tea Museum we walked around a bit then went to a tea shop for some green tea


After that it was time to head to the train station. I had some time to kill while waiting for my train so I went to McDonalds--this is the seasonal flavor for Chinese New Years. 

It is probably the two most common dessert flavors in China--red bean and green tea. Yummm

Chinese New Year's McDonald decoration

I also got this blob--no idea what it is (still) but it was everywhere in Hangzhou. It was among the dessert items (and it was indulging and sweet). The people there called it "ma zi" but my coworkers had no idea what I was talking about when I told them. 

It was covered in a peanut or sesame powder which smelled really good and nutty. 

The inside was a glutinous, sticky rice (which was a bit flavorless and felt really unhealthy) and a black sesame paste (which was good) 

I ate my dessert with a Chinese staple--hot soy milk 

Back to Jinan for an 8 day work week...blah. 

Counting down the days until AMERICA!