Hong Kong Visa Run – What I Ate

Getting a new visa was one of the worst experiences of my life. Not only did it prove to be the biggest hassle I’ve ever experienced, but it rained for all 4 days and made sightseeing extremely unenjoyable. I’d even go as far to say, “I hate Hong Kong.”

However, there was one redeeming quality about this trip: the food. HK was part of the British empire until 1997, so western quality is the norm. Here is what I ate:

Meal 1 (Dinner): Steak

Meal 2 (Breakfast): Baby back ribs

Meal 3 (Lunch): Baby back ribs and chicken wings

Meal 4 (Dinner): Steak from Morton’s.

Meal 5 (Breakfast): Steak and eggs with a side of bacon

Meal 6 (Lunch): Steak sandwich

Meal 7 (Dinner): Steak

Meal 8 (Breakfast): Eggs benedict.

 

*Note: All of this stuff is available in Beijing, but it’s either poor-quality or ruined by idiot Chinese chefs.

 

 

New Student

I taught a class to a new student today. I was told she is very picky about her teachers, but I wasn’t told why. I was informed that our class would be held at the Capital Mansion Club, a very swanky place in Beijing that’s often considered “a place where deals are done.”

I arrived to the place and two of this woman’s “assistants” came to greet me, saying she was running late due to finding a new store she liked. They asked me if I knew her or her husband, and I said I had no idea. After 15 minutes of chitchat, she walks in surrounded by a bodyguard and 3 more assistants… kind of like the guys in Entourage walk around. Apparently she is the wife of some famous Chinese pop/movie star, and I could tell.

It’s not every day you see such surgically-enhanced women unless you live in Las Vegas or Las Angeles (or frequent strip clubs). She’s about 45 years old, dressed in the nicest clothes I’ve seen on a Chinese person, and her face was shrouded in oversize sunglasses. I was told by her assistant that her husband’s one rule for English teachers is they can’t tell her how pretty she is.

Her English was very, very basic, but she wanted to learn phrases so she could be social and host. Our first order of business: how to eat at a restaurant. After teaching her the basics, she insisted that I teach her alcohols. Except we’d learn by doing. She ordered shots for her and her entire entourage as well as myself, and then made us drink them. After each, I was supposed to announce the type of booze and name. We drank vodka, tequila, 2 types of whiskey, rum, gin (shots, yes), and baijiu – all while chasing everything down with red wine. Our total bill was about US $650, which she paid without blinking an eye.

Anyways, that was at 11am this morning. I think I have a new favorite student.

 

The blog is back

Hi everybody! I’m alive. I’m going to start blogging again. It just so happened I fell into a job, made a great group of friends, and have much to share with the Western world. Plus, I’ve noticed that my English skills are getting worse, so I need practice writing.

I didn’t expect to become a teacher, but I actually enjoy it. Right now I teach 30 hours a week of 1-on-1 lessons, the majority of which are at the houses or offices of my students ranging in ages from 3 to 45. Unlike teachers who have to deal with 30 students at a time, I pretty much have free reign to teach what I want to who I want, depending on the level of their Engrish.

“This jerk gets teach whatever he wants? Those poor Chinese!” You just said that to yourself.  I’ve actually got the highest teacher satisfaction rating at two of the three agencies I work through. And it’s because of my refusal to teach through the standards Chinese learning (rote memorization) that I get to have fun with my students and teach them something specifically not taught in Chinese schools: critical thinking and creativity.

I’ll share more stories about teaching another time. For now, I’d encourage all of you to use the Google Chrome browser’s auto-translate feature to read through these two Taobao blog posts in Chinese. Subject matter: ugly Asian women’s makeup routine to look pretty. Turning shit into gold. Which is an excellent metaphor for what the Chinese government is trying to do with their nation. I repeat: Turning shit into gold.

The pictures are disturbing but the translations give great insight into the linguistic differences between English and Chinese. Not to mention, they’re downright hilarious.

http://bbs.taobao.com/catalog/thread/10395529-256088536.htm

http://bbs.taobao.com/catalog/thread/10395529-256121077.htm

 

Nerd-boner (aka I need some Avenging)

Yes, I can be quite the huge nerd. I grew up on Marvel comic books and have been a faithful viewer of every single superhero movie that Marvel’s put out in the past decade. I even own Daredevil on DVD. Granted, its a pirated copy from China, but I still own a copy.

But seriously folks, I have a mega nerd-boner right now for The Avengers. The trailer just came out yesterday, you can watch it here: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/marvel/avengers/

Why am I posting this? Isn’t this supposed to be a blog about living in China?

I’m looking to hire a crack squad of mercenaries in revenge for the worst hair cut I’ve ever gotten. Readers of this blog/friends/family know me as quite the self-deprecating individual, but I’m actually too embarrassed to post pictures. This is really, really bad. I’m going to use pictures of other people to describe.

From the sides:

From the back:

 

Yes, I have no hair on the back of my head. He cut it so close (with scissors) that you can’t see it.

From the front (but spikier):

 

It’s not quite a bowl cut, because bowl cuts are even. Since the left side of my head is significantly longer than the right side of my head, I guess it’s safe to say I looked like a botched, circumcised penis. Now I’m definitely not getting a job.

If I wasn’t so afraid of Red prison I would have given this stylist a serious curb-stomping. Avengers, assemble!

 

 

 

 

 

On Protesting

As I’m reading the news about the Occupy Everything protests going on in the USA, I can’t help but laugh. These people are protesting the system while simultaneously trying to re-elect the leader of the system, President Obama. I don’t think pepper spray is going to help these people wake up or cure them of stupidity.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Chinese newspapers on the Occupy Wall Street movement:

  • The movement has amazing sustainability. Although it has lasted nearly three weeks, protesters have not lost any passion for the movement and are still determined to achieve their pre-set goals. -People’s Daily. [Editors note: what pre-set goals?]
  • However, one puzzling thing ist hat the big shots of Wall Street, who designed the financial crisis of 2008, not only escaped punishment but also have become much greedier. –People’s Daily. [We planned the world economic downturn]
  • Actually, the Untied States has turned into a wrestling arena between Wall Street and common consumers and between the rich and the poor. -People’s Daily. [I ❤ WWE]
Did anyone else notice they called us the “Untied” States?

Here in China, protests are quickly suppressed. There is no right to assemble, peaceably or not. The news sometimes reports of protests complaining about Beijing’s rapid consumer product inflation and housing prices, but nobody ever sees them (in pictures) and they rarely last more than a few hours. Don’t feel bad for them, however. The Chinese really aren’t complainers – they’ve had extremely strong central government for thousands of years and this is just business as usual.

As we celebrated the 100 years since the fall of the Emperor last week and the 62nd birthday of the People’s Republic of China, people came to Beijing from all over for the parades through Tiananmen square. I wasn’t able to make it to the parades because I simply didn’t give a flying fuck. But as my new apartment only has one English-language channel, CCTV English, I got to watch people from all over being interviewed with translations. “We miss Chairman Mao!” or “China is number 1!” or something of the sort. All while at the site of one of the most famous crackdowns on a protest in modern history.

China is in the middle of a capitalist revolution. The people here are obsessed with money and status. It’s commonplace to spend two month’s salary on a cell phone (you should have seen the reaction to Steve Jobs’ death and the new iPhone 4S) and people have cars even though they don’t really need them. Counterfeit clothing is huge because people want to be seen wearing international labels.

Our countries are totally switching philosophies.