There’s a chinglish term we learned quickly in China: Chi-arrhea. You don’t have to enroll in Berlitz classes to figure out what it means. The squirts, or as the Chinese accurately call it –fire belly–is as common in Kunming as street food vendors (you think there’s a correlation?). But whatever you eat, Chinese cuisine is like starring on your own personal episode of Bizarre Foods.
I’ve eaten some weird stuff since I’ve been here, and I’m not talking about Cola flavored Mentos or hot Pineapple Tang. On more than one occasion, I had no clue what went down my gullet and eventually squirted out the other end.
My first adventure of dare food was when we were invited to a fancy dinner at a rooty-tooty restaurant, the kind of establishment where you’d have an assortment of forks next to your plate in the States. Since we were in China, all we had were chopsticks and Kleenex-thin paper napkins.
Multiple bowls of edibles were placed on the table. First, there was something that looked like “Horton Hears a Who Balls”, delicate puffy white things that were actually deep fried goat cheese. There were platters of thinly shaved mystery meat which we believed to be water buffalo. For drinks, there was a tea sweetened with yak butter. Yeah, I know. I affectionately referred to it as yak-acinno.
For the main course, there a big bowl of soup with what appeared to be chopped bike tires floating around. It was a local specialty, a spicy broth featuring chunks of coagulated blood. Not a flavor you’d find back home in the Campbell’s soup section. The spicy broth was like Viagra for the taste-buds, bringing all of my senses to full attention. It was good, but the chunks of blood had a texture a little too weird for me, like hot melting Jello.
I chased the weirdness away by daring myself to try the deep fried chicken head. Proper poultry part etiquette is to dig out the brains, which resembled a chewed up piece of Wrigley’s. I passed on that. I did manage to suck out an eyeball, which reminded me of an oversized piece of roe from a bad sushi restaurant.
< Vegetables at the local farmer markets look like they are from Mars. Dimpled and bumpy gourds, squash the size of small children, and some things from legume family that looks like the result of bad inbreeding.
This weekend, we will venture to out to a restaurant for our most bizarre food venture yet. We have located two Dairy Queens and a Pizza hut in Kunming.
What’s that smell?
If you go to Kunming, China, your nose will work overtime. The country is a whirlwind of odors, from the pretty, to the stinky to the super stinky. It’s in the heart of Yunnan’s flower district, so there are roses everywhere! You can get a dozen for less than the price of a Big Mac in the states.
That’s a good smell (the roses, not the Big Mac).
There are loads of fresh markets, serving up an assortment of smells from live chickens to fresh herbs to aromas you can’t put your finger—or nose hair—on.
Then there’s those that if you did put your finger on…it might peck you back!
There are deliciously bizaare aromas…
Then there are other mystery odors… like a cross between “what’s for dinner?” and “is there a cat on fire?” The answer? Probably both.
Here are pictures of our abode. It’s huge so we can’t always find where we left our socks. Four bedrooms and balconies on both the west and east side of our unit. Our nieghborhood is called a Xiao Qu, pronounced Show-chew (the chew being a cross beteen too and chew).
We have a master bedroom that we aren’t using, preferring to sleep in a smaller bedroom that is quieter (to live in China is means to live in a state on constant construction. Not just nine to five, but around the clock.) We still don’t have Chinese cable. We miss TV almost as much as we miss Toostie Rolls, surfing channels, only if one channel is in English. We watch a lot of DVDs, including shows that we would never stomach if we could be watching Deadliest Catch or COPS.
Our open-air laundry room….
Dining Room Table (no TV trays)….
Balcony view…(fish farms and mountains).
We didn’t take photos of our bathrooms or bedrooms. One has been transformed into a yogo studio (meaning, it’s a room without furniture) and another is a small little office.
Please let our moms know the picture below is NOT our home. So they can erase those NAT GEO visuals they have playing in their heads!
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Finally, some English!
If you ever wonder what it likes to feel illiterate, just come to China. You can’t read much, and you appreciate the occasional English word, even if, well uh, you don’t appreciate it.
But some things translate into any language, such as back-to-school banners at a local store.
Then there’s the Colonel who is surprisingly bi-lingual and the Wal-mart logo, which looks more at home here than in the US.
As for the 3-A-Day logo that followed me to China like a bad penny? Like I said, you appreciate the occasional English even if, well uh, you don’t appreciate it.
“Lady, if you don’t like slow we’re walking, don’t drive on the sidewalk!” That’s what our bi-lingual group leader kindly said to the Yunnan Mrs. Magoo who was honking at us on our stroll back from the bank. It was just another day in China. Driving here is a free-for-all. People drive the wrong way down major one way streets, obeying red and green lights are optional. The rule is, if you are a pedestrian, don’t make eye contact with the car driver or the cyclist. If you do, the one with the biggest vehicle “wins”.
As for the bikes? The creativity will never cease to amaze me. Jeff is getting an old Chinese beater bike on Monday.
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Finally, I learn how to upload pictures onto this site. It’s a lot easier than learning how to do laundry in China. We have a top loader that makes the same rumbling my stomach did when I accidentally drank the water. The friendly directions are in Chinese.
The Chinese clothes dryer is easy: it’s just a clothes line. But there are more options in clothes pins than Baskin and Robins has flavors of ice cream. Sock hangers, pants hangers, underwear hangers, you name it, they got it.
But why all the fuss about clean clothes? Today, we get the government mandated health check for all new residents. I don’t want to know the details and if I did, I wouldn’t share them with you. Just put it this way: good thing we have clean underwear!