On My Way

Originally published September 4, 2009 8:10 AM. This has been reposted from its original home at chinasharah.ycool.com

Well I did it. I crammed all my belongings into 2 suitcases, a backpack and a handbag (leaving everything else either packed into boxes in Dennis and Carrie’s basement or in a pile to be taken to the DI) and jumped on a plane. Or two. No, I’m not in China yet. I have a 9 hour layover in Seoul ICN airport before my flight to Qingdao this afternoon.

I got on a plane in LA at 12:20am Thursday (or Wednesday night to normal people) and then 13 hours later arrived in Korea at 5:20am Friday. Sept 3rd was short this year, huh? I kinda missed the whole thing.

For dinner they offered us a choice between steak and bi-bim-bab. I, of course, chose the one I had never heard of. It turned out to be a Korean dish that luckily came with an instruction leaflet on how to eat it. I am not making this up! Here’s a transcription of the English instructions:

How to enjoy ‘BI-BIM-BAB’
Mixing and Harmonizing

‘BI-BIM-BAB’ is a famous korean Cuisine which contains steamed rice and other assorted vegetables.
There are various types of Bibimbab such as ‘Octopus Bibimbab’ and ‘wild greens Bibimbab’, which are depending on main ingredients.
A sweet and spicy pepper paste along with sesame oil add a mild tangy flavor.
It is a dish that people from all over the world can enjoy.
Without a doubt, it is a healthy food choice for all.

1 Put the steamed rice into the BI-BIM-BAB bowl.

2 Add sesame oil and hot pepper paste to the rice and vegetables.

3 Mix the ingredients well.
You may use spoon or chopsticks to the best way of mixing.

4 Best served with side dishes and soup.

There were illustrations for each step and the instructions were repeated in Korean and Chinese. I think it would have tasted better if they’d served it with chopsticks instead of a fork and spoon. Everything tastes better with chop sticks.

It came with a salty watery soup that I liked. I’m pretty sure there was some kind of dried squid in it. There was also a dish of something that the man next to me thought was sprouts. It wasn’t. It had eyes. Lots of little tiny eyes staring blankly up from the little grey worm-like bodies of what I’m pretty sure were tiny little fish. I couldn’t eat it. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even try it. I’ve heard that some carnivorous animals kept in captivity need their keepers to wiggle their food for them so it appears alive. I’ve realized that I am from an opposite culture; not only do I require my food to be thoroughly dead, I don’t even like being able to tell it was once alive. That’s why when I eat chicken I don’t want it on the bone, I want it in breaded strips like it was manufactured in a factory by happy little elves right along with kool aid and cheese whiz. And I especially do not like any food that stares at me.
I should be a vegetarian.
For breakfast when the flight attendant apologized that they were out of spicy kim chee and would I be okay with a cheese omelet I was not the least bit disappointed.

I watched 3 movies on the plane (I’m listing them here for Robert because that’s the only part of the trip he’s interested in. I think as far as he’s concerned, watching movies is the whole point to flying): 17 Again, Star Trek and The Proposal. They collected the headphones before I had finished The Proposalso I watched the last 15 mins without any sound and only Chinese subtitles. They were all predictible but entertaining (although that seduction scene between Michelle Trachenberg and Zac Efforn may have scarred me for life… so wrong!).

Does anyone else see The Proposal as a cross between While You Were Sleeping and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?

We all had to fill out a “health questionaire” before getting off the plane and there were airport people waiting for us wearing those paper surgical masks who took our temperature with some high tech thermometers. At least, that’s what I assumed they were doing. Maybe they were implanting alien technology into our necks but my first guess seems more likely. The airport was pretty dead so early in the morning so I found a bench and stretched out and slept for a few hours. So now I’m just chillin, feekling underdressed in my sweats around all the men in nice suits and women in dresses and heels.  Only about 5 more hours til my flight.

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Learning Chinese

Originally published September 1, 2009 1:56PM. This has been reposted from it’s home at chinasharah.ycool.com


I got my Teach Yourself Chinese book and CDs today. I was disappointed. No pictures or colored boxes or nothing! Just words. My French and German textbooks were never so depressingly stark. How am I supposed to really believe this dialogue between Mr. Li and Mr. Wang if there are no illustrations showing me what they look like? I have to use my imagination and learn a foreign language all at once? Boo.

Chinese is surprisingly simple. The grammar seems pretty easy. It’s just the pronunciation that’s gonna kill me. My mouth just doesn’t know how to make those sounds!

I’m glad I’m an English speaker learning Chinese and not a Chinese speaker learning English, cuz English is hard. Sheesh, people, do we really need a jillion conjugations for each verb? The Chinese do not appear to conjugate their verbs at all. How I am I supposed to teach the concept of conjugation to people who aren’t accustomed to it? I’m hoping they’ll have other teachers to do the actual teaching part and I’ll be there for conversation practice. Maybe?

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In the Eye of the Beholder

In the Eye of the Beholder

This was my submission to an Easter egg decorating contest. I didn’t win.

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This is a test post.

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