Sunday, December 23, 2007

two miami weddings

Susie unexpectedly tied the knot. Her wedding was small and sweet. I finally met the groom... he seems pretty awesome. Best of luck to them.

My brother and Carin finally got married! The wedding was in my parents' backyard. Only immediate family came, so it was intimate and wonderful. It makes a lot of sense to me to have such a small wedding. I think we all felt like we were and will continue to be an important part of my brother and my new hermana's life.
I luf ju, mano!

The big reception will be Christmas night in my folk's backyard. If you know where my house is, you are welcome to join us. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the monkey 我小猴子

The monkey gives me humidity. Something I thought I would never miss.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Reading a Chinese newspaper

There aren't many newspapers in China which are written in English. I've seen around 5 : one dedicated to business, a couple others that have to do with sports and two all-around news ones, my favorite being The China Daily. It is definitely the most well written, but that's not saying much. About every other day I pay my 1块5 (around 20cents) and read while I eat lunch . It's become as entertaining as the Onion. My favorite section is one called Across China, which is comprised of many short articles where they bring you up to date on the happenings in other provinces.

Things like this...

All the people injured during a stampede at a Carrefour outlet in Southwest China are recovering, officials said. Three have been discharged from hospital, an official of with the Shapingba district government of Chongqing Municipality said.
The stampede happened early Saturday morning when people flooded into the Carrefour outlet in Shapingba to take advantage of a sales promotion for cooking oil.
Three people were killed and 31 others were injured in the accident.

Occasionally, when I am in the van which takes all us teachers from the office to the elementary we teach at, I read the colorful headlines aloud...

The more serious, worldly articles in the newspaper manage to say nothing at all in 2000 words. I read the main articles, but somehow, am not any more informed, which is quite frustrating. That frustration, however is easily fixed. You gotta read the headlines, skip the uninformative blabber and jump right into the juicy sections like Across China where you get tiny informative niblets of ridiculous substance.

I understand you, China Daily.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tracy opening her present

Beijing DVD stores are filled with great findings.
Skinemax was one of those hilariously awesome finds.

sanksgiving en la china

Last Saturday we celebrated Thanksgiving. I went to Ross and Ariel's a bit early and helped clean up and prepare for the festivities.

Ross made stuffing and sweet potato. I made mash potatoes and gravy. Ana brought some veggies. And Tracy's husband made some kick ass Arroz con Tofu! We bought a chicken and a duck which I was hoping would somehow morph into a turkey, but no luck. The party was a success. We played Corey Ruffins and came up with some amazing drawings of dead children and elicit superhero porn.

Hopefully, there will be another party soon.

Be on the look out for the new Corey Ruffins blog.

Here are some pictures, mostly of the aftermath...

all of us eating and chatting at Ross and Ariel's

Aftermath leftovers. I was so nervous I hardly ate, so when everyone left Ross Ariel and I pigged out on leftover slop and it was de-lee-she-oush!

tired but still hungry

Sunday, November 18, 2007

found at ross' corner shop

immediately eaten.

春咬 Spring Bites

A cute satire of a famous Chinese poem (春晓)...


Two translations: the first is from babelfish, the second is from me:

Spring sleeps unconsciously understands
everywhere the mosquito to nip
gets the phosphate insecticide
not to know dies how many

Spring slumbers unconsciously understanding it is time to wake
Everywhere Everywhere one finds biting mosquitoes
We receive the insect poison
It is not known how much we will die.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a ride on a three wheeled box car 坐三轮车

When I get out of the subway exit closest to my house there are tons of these small sort of cars. What they are, are three wheeled motorcycles (三轮车) with a sort of box in the back where you can sit. They're only 5 kuai and take you to anywhere relatively near. I was exhausted yesterday, so i decided to hop on one and was at home in no time.

my young driver who in this picture is weaving through on-coming traffic

The back door is held by a bungee cord and so it cracks open while you're riding.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

a fogged-up window painting inside a hotpot place that was so-so

the waitress drew it and laughed at me when I photographed it

Monday, November 5, 2007

国都公园 GuoDuGongYuan

Last Sunday, Ross, Ariel and I visited an abandoned theme park called 国都公园(National Capital Public Park). The park is right off 北苑 (BeiYuan), a subway stop in Northern Beijing. It seems that whoever built this park thought that the subway line would bring people, which was obviously very wrong. The park seems to have opened on February 25th, 2005 at the same time as an adjacent park, which has a very similar name, 国都宠物公园 (National Capital House Pet Public Park) that was very popular at one point because they had tunnels and tracks for the dogs to play on. Dogs and their owners still go there, but it's just a piece of land now. I'm not sure what happened in the last two years, but it doesn't seem like much. The kiddie park is very small and seems to have been very cute at one point, but at the present is something else entirely. As we were roaming around in awe and taking about a million pictures, a woman saw us and screamed, "买票!" (buy a ticket!) as she smirked and walked away. People are funny here.

We wandered away from that park and headed towards 国都宠物公园. It was full of extremely cute big dogs and their owners, which you don't see in the middle of the city that often. The middle of the city has cute dogs and owners, just not big dogs. As we wandered out of that park we noticed that the entrance had been turned into a bus stop for some unexplainable reason.

We left the park and did some more roaming in a field with beautiful tall trees and weeds which germinated by attaching themselves to our socks and having us pick them off. We reached a long fence that Ross was scared to touch in fear of being electrocuted. Along this fence we found two shepards herding their sheep and goats. Walking along a bit more, we realized we had been cornered by the toxic chemical canal of death. We had no choice but to cross the canal by walking, or crawling rather, on 3 pieces of trees that were lodged between the canal walls.

We finally made it back to civilization and had a victory 小吃 meal.
Sometimes Beijing feels like a strange place where the past and present are having a bloody fight.

Some pictures:

Monkey on a pole

people use this space to husk corn now

Ross and Ariel

park name-stamped tiles with a weed

The canal of toxicity
WHAT is your name WHAT is your favourite colour? WHAT is the average speed velocity of an unladen swallow?? African or European? AHHHHHHHH!!!!

The shepards' sheep and goats who secretly terrified me

Thursday, November 1, 2007

a picture-less post

Seasons are strange.
It's fall but it's really cold.
This morning, I woke up in my bed and couldn't bring myself to take the covers off because of the unbearable cold awaiting outside my sobrecama cocoon. When i finally gathered the strength to take a bath, I had trouble turning off the hot water. Ahhhhhh!

miami! 我真想你啊!

Friday, October 19, 2007

the 498 四九八路!

When I moved into my new place about a month ago, I noticed there was a bus stop right in front of my building. The only bus that stops there is the 498. I soon learned that the bus' route isn't like a regular bus that has one route and goes back and forth. This bus' to and fro routes are a bit different, which means I can only take this bus on the way back from work.

In Beijing, there are many different kinds of buses. There are standard every-decent-public-city-in-the-world sort of buses, double deckers, long snake-like ones which are cool 'cause you can stand in the accordion-walled swirly-floored middle of the bus and whirl around and there are old blue buses. The blue buses are the crappy ones. My 498 is a crappy bus. The 490 is one of them but a bit bigger than my 498. The 498 is the tiniest blue bus I have ever seen (about twice the size of those RAM vans) and if it's anytime near 5pm on any day, the bus is PACKED with people. Literally, PACKED.

One day I got on the 498 and the driver was constantly checking that there was sufficient water in the radiator which was inside the bus, exposed! with the cap off!!
But everything was fine and that hasn't happened again. (okay, mami?)

I've fallen deeply in love with the Beijing bus system. It's incredibly efficient and cheeeap (.40RMB if you have a card; 1RMB if you don't). At every stop they have signs explaining which buses stop there and every stop which that particular bus makes. So once you become familiar with the stop names it becomes extremely comfortable.

If I've never gone to a certain area before and I'm a bit self conscience about taking the bus what I do is take the subway as far as it will get me and then take a cab. While you're in the cab, you pay attention to nearby bus stops. Then it's always easier taking the bus back home 'cause you're not in a hurry and you're familiar with the place you're going. The next time you go, you can confidently go there by bus. Of course, be sure you know the names of the bus stops nearest to your house.

Or there is an extremely helpful site called BJbus. You tell them where your starting and finishing points are and they tell you the various routes you can take, and show you a cool map, too. The thing is you need to know the names of the locations in Chinese. The website has an English version but I'm not sure how good it is.

Something I did when I first moved to my house was to hop on this blue bus I love so much just to see where it went. It's a good way to find awesome places that you've never noticed like DVD shops, 两块stores, markets and good restaurants.

Enjoy and don't pay any mind to the ticket ladies, they're almost always like that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

身体的部分 parts of the body

I'm not in class anymore, so I made a book to help me study on the subway or bus...


arms and legs

back, mouth, nose and eyes

what should be the next book?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let's Eat 奶粉

These two have a place called Let's Eat or the Chinese name, 奶粉, which means powdered milk. They sell coffee, cookies, cake, mousse some kind of fruit liquor that is still not ready to drink and yes, people, FLAN. The baker on the left hand side told me that she studied in 广州(Guangzhou). Ross and Ariel told me about this little place. They stumbled upon it one day and decided to take me there yesterday. They had the chocolate mousse and I had the flan which I must say, competes with my Tia Tita's flan.

Here's their website. It's in Chinese but you can look at the delicious pictures.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Monday, September 24, 2007

long time

so it's been an extremely long time since i've posted last.
China has been crazy. In the last three months, a lot has happened. I guess the most significant thing has been my job situation because that has effected everything else. About two months ago I was assured a job at 中国戏曲学院 which is a college for the arts and culture. A well known one which holds beijing opera twice a week for free. They told me I had the job and we were going through all the paper work and such. I signed the contract and was waiting for the official 'okay' to move in. The day before I needed to move out of my apartment, they apologized and told me I could not work there. It was because Beijing didn't declare me an 'expert teacher', it turns out I am lacking previous university experience. So Chinese... they told me the day before I had to move out of my apartment. Mind you, they had my resume for 2 months.
Anyway, I now have an apartment in 积水潭(jishuitan) which is a nice location and a job at an elemantary school (2nd grade and 5th grade) a bus ride away. I also teach on saturdays at a korean-owned school. I'm hoping to fill up my weekday mornings with some one-on-one tutoring. Everything seems to be falling into place.
Ross and Ariel have been dragging me out of my house which is good. I was a little bit of a hermit for a while.

Last week was my birthday and many people treated me to food. Thank you Ruby and Lix for the pizza, thank you ross and ariel for the beer, thank you 만영 for the icecream cake:D, thank you 도형for the barbeque.

Friday, June 29, 2007

teahouses and monkeykings

LaoShe Tea House

(erin's here!!!)

Sunday, June 10, 2007


It finally happened.
Sometime last week, I started to be able to actually use this language. Ross and I have nights sometimes where we are only allowed to speak Chinese. Of course, our conversation is extremely limited but it's not so much about what you want to say, its about what you are able to say.
For example, I befriended this one Korean guy from my Chinese classes which i take 2 hours each weekday. My Chinese speaking level is about par with his and so we only speak in Chinese. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating because you can't say exactly what you want to say, but it's not about that. It's about taking the words and structures you know and applying as much fucking vocabulary that you possibly can! It is incredibly rewarding. Luckily, we're able to communicate a bit easier cause he knows some English. So we use Chinese structure and apply English vocabulary. I think its called Chinglish.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Usually near the subway stops there are street vendors selling animals... kitties, puppies, turtles, snakes and the occasion piglet. Every Chinese person I have met has told me not to buy one of these animals because the majority of the time they're very sick. I've heard countless stories of people buying animals from the street and within weeks the little creatures die.
Last weekend, Ross, Masa and I were walking after lunch and saw a crate full of kittens. We had talked about maybe aquiring one of these little beasts. It's nice to have an animal walking around the house. So, that's how we got 澄汁(chengzhi).

Sad, to say that Chengzhi didn't make it a week. He got really sick a few days ago. We took him to ... a woman by our house who owns a petshop... she's not a doctor, but she's had a lot of animals. After a 5 minute language barriered conversation about the word 'dissolve', we bought some medicine and began treating this 小东西。 He just got weaker and weaker. Yesterday, Ross and I came home to a meloncholy roommate and a dead kitty. Saul saw this little thing die. We took 澄汁to a little piece of land that borders 东王庄and buried him. It was strange to have a little friend like that for such a short period.

小澄汁猫。。。 poor tiny thing.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


There are 7 green friends on the balcony and all of them are either wilting away or have been chopped to stubby stubs, except for the desert rose. I'll keep you updated on my favorite, she grows magenta buds which bloom purple, but she's very fickle. I think she's getting too much sun.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

nearing 3 months...

Yesterday, Ross and I went to 司马台长城 (Simitai Great Wall) and 金山岭长城(JinShanLing Great Wall). We woke up early, dragged ourselves to the subway station, caught the train to 东直门 (Dong Zhi Men), took the 980 bus which smelled of old shoes and had a bus driver who loved to tap that break, until we reached a suburb of 北京(Beijing) called 密云(Miyun). We were reminded to get off the bus by a nice bus worker who lead us to a few men who offered to take us to the great wall. We were able to knock 30kuai off this one seedy man's original price- he then lead us to his small toyota-like car and off we went. Getting off the car at 司马台, I realized how incredibly hot it was. We began climbing/walking/stepping-up the wall at around the hottest time of the day, for some reason...? Maybe we wanted it to be more of a challenge?

Alright, so the wall is not in any way easy. It is probably the hardest hike I have ever done in my life. I can't think of anything more physically demanding except maybe swimming under the water for long periods of time handling langosta. Anyway, it's unbelievably hard.

The millions of tourists and castle-shaped trashcans made this part of the wall feel like Disney, so we decided to walk until there were no people and sleep on the wall if the sun set before we reached a town. Ross and I planned to walk to a completely different part of the wall called JinShanLing (金山岭), but realized one hour into the hike that we were walking the wrong way. hah! So, we started back- my god, is it easier to go down those steps (except for the heightened possibility that you might tumble to your death)! So, we took around 30 minutes to get back to where we started. On the way down we saw a path to a tiny village between the mountains which we decided to visit. We crossed the scary bridge of death after handing over some money to a guy tending the bridge who gave us pretty tickets, which were never checked.
When we reached the path, there was a sign saying 'dangerous, no crossing', but after explaining to a guard that we wanted to maybe sleep in that nearby village he told us to go ahead. The hike was incredibly fun, better than the great wall. We were walking through what seemed to once be a stream... finally we reached an old village where we met an old woman which reminded Ross of his Grandma. After asking her if we could stay at her house, she laughed at us and said there was no food and walked us to a neighboring tiny village of sorts where we met another old woman who told us she had too many people staying at her house. The first older woman kept telling the second woman to charge us 100kuai (to rip us off)... we told them it was way too expensive and then starred at them awkwardly for a while before saying thank you and leaving.

We kept walking down that path and quickly realized that the path was following the great wall. The path finally met up with the great wall, this part very far from the first part of the wall we were on. We had reached 金山岭... it is the most incredibly beautiful thing... In this part of the wall there are hardly any people and few castle shaped trashcans. We saw three guys walking in the opposite way and then a couple about an hour later. Most of 金山岭is not restored and so makes the walk somewhat dangerous, which makes the experience better for some reason.
It felt like I was walking through some sort of Lego 'the orient series' construction that my brother put together when he was younger. I wish I could have stayed there over night with ross reading Lolita and eating our spoiled tuna fish with crackers, but we live in a desert and deserts get unbearable cold at night. We finally saw the town and found a steep path which we slid down most of the way. About 20 minutes before the sun set we arrived tired and smelly to 金山岭. We washed up, ate like savages, drank beer and paid 20kuai to sleep on wooden beds which were really comfortable. Before we went to sleep, Ross read some Lolita to me which worked out perfectly 'cause i like being read to and he loves hearing his own voice.

The next morning we took some strange motorcycle carriage thing to the bus stop and then took a bus to Beijing.
It was my first time outside of 北京. I feel a tiny bit more Chinese. ><

Ross has some more pictures here.