Saturday, October 4, 2008

Soy Sauce

Last night we went out to dinner with some students and happened to order fried rice with dinner. Fried rice is typically seen as a snack food, not normally ordered at dinner (not fancy enough).
When the rice came, I asked if one of the students could ask the waiter if they could bring me some soy sauce. Soy sauce is only used to cook with and add color and a bit of flavor, not doused on the rice like we do in the west. But I happen to think that fried rice with soy sauce is great.

The student looked at me like I was crazy but he did it anyway and came back with a liter-sized bottle of soy sauce and watched as I drizzled it on (amazed). I told him and the other student to try it, they were hesitant at first but once all of the other foreign teachers started to do the same thing they acquiesced and gave it the ol' college try. Within the first bite both of them were like wow, this is really good, you could see in their eyes "a little blowing of the mind".

And we have done our best to convert some of the country folk.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Living in a foreign country can be very frustrating and annoying with new customs and things that don't make any sense. Many of these topics I have already covered, but after going to the supermarket yesterday some of these people will get a little bit of a free pass. There is a relatively new supermarket in town like 8-9 months old. While most shops are little mom & pop places this is a proper supermarket with all sorts of Chinese food goodies.

It just also happens to be 3 stories tall, so in order to move the masses up and down they have installed some amazing modern technology (escalators). So anyway, onto the point of this post, I walked in yesterday and grabbed my basket to do some shopping and was waiting to get on the escalator and noticed there was a little backup. "What could be holding up a constantly moving escalator?", I thought to myself. Then I noticed it was an older woman early 50's probably who was having trouble timing her step onto the escalator. Kind of swaying back and worth as if she was getting ready jump in and do some Double Dutch. After about ten seconds she picked her step and went for it, and mounted the escalator without falling (phew!).

After witnessing this I couldn't help but laugh a little bit as it gave me some insight into some of the activity that we see the locals partake in every day. I think some people could call it a moment of clarity.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back and Forth

I finished my first year in China and went home back to Fort Lauderdale. It was amazing how quickly I fell back into life in the States, it took me about 12 hours to get over the fact that I was back in America. Maybe it's because I went home and knew the area so well, or maybe it's because I'm American and felt comfortable in the US, either way it was strange to me that I fell back into my routine after being gone for 10 months. I worked for about a month at a Law firm and realized that I really don't enjoy working in an office, it's just too confining.

I'm not gonna lie I definitely thought about not coming back, about just staying where it's easy and comfortable, but I felt for my sake I needed to come back and try to learn as much Chinese as possible. Once I bought the ticket I felt a little at ease and almost excited to come back, I guess my life for now is here in China.

I plan on staying in Longhu for only another semester, leaving at the beginning of January and then plan on going to Beijing or Taipei. I think living in the big city will help with being a foreigner, as there will be a bigger expat community. Overall all is well back in the HU as we call it and I will be updating once again.

Here is the new google earth satellite view of where I am living It is the big White building in the middle of the frame. That is the foreign teachers apartments, if you zoom out you can see the rest of the school. Zoom a little more out and click the map button to see where I am in relation to Zhengzhou and then a little more out to see where Zhengzhou is in relation to Beijing. I always like to know where someone is.
View Larger Map

That's all for now until we meet again.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Earthquake Aftermath

So I was obviously one of the first to report the quake, but the aftermath has been just astonishing, 80,000+ dead of missing, total destruction of towns, highways destroyed cutting off help. The response was also amazing, the Chinese mobilized their army almost immediately, I wonder if the debacle of Katrina had anything to do with it, or the Cyclone in Myanmar.

But, on the ground the response has been nothing short of bizarre. The Chinese suffered a massive earthquake in the city of Tangshan in 1976 that is believed to be the largest in terms of death toll in the 20th century with anywhere between 255,000-650,000 dead. At the time, the Government had just been through the Cultural revolution and wasn't ready to admit that there had been a disaster, not letting foreign journalists in the area for a few years after the quake. Because of the pattern of denial and the idea of saving face the government has a knack of not admitting problems when there have been problems.

This time was different, either because of the sheer magnitude of the event or because they are turning a leaf the response was totally different than the Tangshan quake, there was public mourning for the first time in the PRC's history, people were donating heavily to private charities, there were candlelight vigils, all these things never happen in China. So hopefully, after all the bad that has happened here, some good will come from the madness.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Today I felt my first earthquake and it was really weird. I was sitting at my computer and all of a sudden I felt dizzy but then I noticed that my the clothes hanging in my room were swinging, needless to say it was crazy. Here is a timestamped conversation to prove it.
(02:33:40 PM) Riley Gelwicks: dude there is fucking earthquake right now
(02:33:46 PM) Daniel : what
(02:33:59 PM) Riley : holy shit
(02:34:06 PM) Riley : the fucking ground is shaking
(02:34:06 PM) Daniel : the ground is shaking?
(02:34:12 PM) Daniel : holy fuck
(02:34:30 PM) Riley : woah that was crazy
(02:34:34 PM) Daniel : its over?

And here is a nice link to provide provenance for my observation.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Resurrecting My Career

I am trying to resurrect my acting career, I have just recently starred in a Chinese commercial selling pesticide, that's right I'm back and better than ever. Pictures and video to follow. Just in case you don't believe me. IMDB knows best.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Everything is Made in China

This is absolutely hilarious, I am sorry I don't try to get into politics on here too much but I can't resist this article. It really is true everything is made in China.
Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.

The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Here is the link

Monday, April 28, 2008

Beijing Trip

So I and some other teachers from the college went to Beijing this past weekend. In a word the trip was "excellent". We had great food, great drinks, didn't have to dodge spit, hell we even broke into the Olympic contruction site "accidentally".

The crazy part was coming back to Zhengzhou, because when you are here you forget what it is like "out there". In the real world, where it is clean and garbage isn't thrown willy nilly into the street. It was saddening to come back, yet not 3 days later I was riding my bike to the supermarket and saw a little concert on the side of the road and felt happy that I am experiencing this lifestyle in this part of the world, because how many people will never do this?

So I decided to reup my contract and sign up for another six months, if only because they will pay for me to come back, making like $500 a month makes it difficult to be a jetsetter. At first, I was scared to do this but now I am excited because I know that if I can live here I can live anywhere.

Run for the Border!!!!

I was buying toilet paper of all things at the corner store and guess which bag they gave me.

I can assure you there is not a Taco Bell anywhere near where I live, otherwise I would be there at least once a week. How these things happen nobody knows.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I went to Pizza Hut yesterday, and it was awesome. But the Pizza Huts here are very nice restaurants. Silverware, real plates, real nice. One of the quirks in Chinese culture is that they don't like to touch their food with their hands. That is why every type of food you buy comes with a little bag, piece of paper, or glove so that you don't have to touch the food.

Well, Pizza just happens to be one of those foods that needs to be eaten by hand, like tacos, hot dogs, donuts, chips, nachos, fried cheese, wings well you get the idea. So How does one get around touching their yet still eat pizza in the way it was meant to be eaten.

If you can't see, she has literally jammed her fork into one end of her pizza creating kind of like a pizza popsicle of sorts. Who says that the Chinese are not innovative?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This might be the pot calling the kettle black, but I can't believe how many of my students "try" to cheat. Not only do they try but they are terrible at it, maybe I was terrible at it also? I got caught when I was in high school so I must have been bad at it. But these kids are just stupid about it.

Last week I caught some of my students looking through my tests when I had gone to get some water. I mean the hallway is at least 75 feet long before you can get to the door, if they were smart don't you think that they would have posted a lookout.

I have been giving movie tests and the movie plays really loudly, yet they start to whisper when I stop it between scenes. You'd think they would wait until a loud scene to get their cheating done. I should teach a thing or two about cheating.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Off topic but cool.

So today or tomorrow depending on where you live is the release of the new version of Ubuntu. I have been using Ubuntu exclusively on my computer since October. Click the link and check it out, you might be surprised by what something that is free can do to your computer.

Update on the Men are Pigs post.

So this afternoon not more than 24 hours after I had this conversation with the kid, he sent me a text message:
I decide to take your suggestion, i'll introduce my classmate to my friend tomorrow. maybe i really need to change my opinion

Maybe, I am reaching them on some level, I did not realize I was that persuasive.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Male Chauvinist Pigs

Look I am certainly not a feminist, I don't believe that strippers are being taken advantage of, or that all men are pigs, but something one of my students told me is troubling. I asked him why he was late and he explained to me that he had to meet a friend for something important.

When asked what was so important? He explained that his friend had a crush on one of his classmates and was looking to meet her. He asked this kid if he could introduce the two.

So, naturally, I asked well are you going to introduce them? He said, "of course not". Puzzled I asked why and he explained that she had a boyfriend. I again asked so what? You are just introducing them. To make a long story short he explained to me that when a girl has to pick two boys it is very difficult and she is easily manipulated....BUT when a boy has to pick from two girls it is much easier. I asked him to explain and he said, dead serious, that women are weak minded. I started to laugh and said man if you only knew the truth.

He tried to explain to me that he is very traditional, but he just didn't get it. I was like so women don't have a choice? and he couldn't really give me a straight answer. It was just funny because these kind of conversations happen daily, almost.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Postfest, Picfest

So after slacking, I am now on a posting binge,

Here is a good one of the poo problem trying to be solved. If you recall, the toilet post that I put up a while back.

Chinese Toilet

At least they are trying to fix the problem, granted this is Beijing the host city of the 2008 Olympics in case you forgot.

200 yuan is $28.50, that is a hefty fine, in my opinion.

Great Firewall of China


Anyone want to see what censorship looks like,

There you go. It is roughly translated as: "Sorry, prohibiting access to this site!"

Bear in mind this is when I tried to go MySpace. Yeah I know myspace is weak but I don't care.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Special People

The Chinese have a hard time with mental disabilities, they tend to take the ignore approach (like many things) as opposed to tackling the issue head on. However, this is a restaurant that we go to sometimes called "The Swingers" (we give english names to all these chinese places, something about a language barrier), and every Wednesday they place host to the local special kids to help give them some job training.

I'm usually not that sentimental/soft but when I saw what they were doing it made me feel like "Wow, people actually care about their own." So we went back there last night and it was the "Special" night and there was this kid who was just fascinated by us. Usually rural Chinese are just amazed to see a non Chinese, but they have the werewithall to look away when they are staring (at least some of the time). But given this guys predicament I was gonna let it slide.

The funny thing about this event was that the kid, was very polite, nice, could speak fine he was just a simple man. But he failed to grasp that we spoke another language, to him we were just different looking Chinese people I guess. He would speak to us and I would speak back saying I'm sorry I don't know what you are saying I don't speak Chinese. So he would respond accordingly, speaking slower, it was very funny. But then we noticed that what he was doing never happens, to him we just didn't understand what he was saying so he clarified, but when you are talking to a "normal" Chinese person, they tend to get flustered or speak very fast at you or get really embarassed and just quit. This kid, though, had tenacity he kept at it, and it was very refreshing that he wasn't "scared or embarassed" to talk to us. It is amazing that it takes a mental disability to make me feel like people are treating me normal.

The question then becomes who has the mental disability? Me or the Chinese people? Bias leads me to say them but who knows, right?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beijing Trip

So I and some other teachers from the college went to Beijing this past weekend. In a word the trip was "excellent". We had great food, great drinks, didn't have to dodge spit, hell we even broke into the Olympic contruction site "accidentally".

The crazy part was coming back to Zhengzhou, because when you are here you forget what it is like "out there". In the real world, where it is clean and garbage isn't thrown willy nilly into the street. It was saddening to come back, yet not 3 days later I was riding my bike to the supermarket and saw a little concert on the side of the road and felt happy that I am experiencing this lifestyle in this part of the world, because how many people will never do this?

So I decided to reup my contract and sign up for another six months, if only because they will pay for me to come back, making like $500 a month makes it difficult to be a jetsetter. At first, I was scared to do this but now I am excited because I know that if I can live here I can live anywhere.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Also put a new graphic up of Shanghai, I took this in January, and spliced 5 images together, I think it looks pretty cool myself.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hong Kong

Day 3 (Hong Kong)

Arrival! Got to HK magically without the assistance of a tour group. You'd think that it would be easier to get from the Shenzhen airport into Hong Kong, but surprisingly you have to speak a little bit of Chinese to get there. If I learned anything on this trip
My first impressions of the South is that it is sick. Palm trees, warm air, beaches, hot skinny chicks, seriously awesome.
On my way into Hong Kong, I decided to hide my passport in the hidden pocket of my back pack that is inaccessible from behind me. I'm like “yeah I'm gonna be safe, protect myself from pickpockets”. Plus if I lost my passport I would never hear the end of it from my Mother/Brother. So I have a big back pack and my day pack. Not to mention all of these things stuffed into my pockets and I am little tired because I didn't get my sleep the night before. I get off the train and head up into the subway station and feel around for my passport. Oh F#$@!!!! Where did it go?
I start to freak out, running contingency plans through my head, where the hell could it have gone? I will never hear the end of this “How could you lose your passport dumbass?”, I rush back into the train before it leaves again. I am on my hands and knees looking under seats getting people to stand up. Sweat starts to form on my forehead, lower back, how could I be so stupid to lose my passport on the first day of my trip? Then like a light switching I figure out that ohh, I am a f-ing idiot, and all normalcy returned to my thoughts. I took a few minutes to settle down and then I went and got a hotel room and hit the town.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Ok, so I know it's been a long time since I have posted anything but it is tough to get on the internet and when they are charging you by the minute and you don't have much money it seems cheaper to just write things down on paper and recall them later.

So I have decided to post excerpts from my journal somethings I won't put online just to protect the innocent but I will try to give you an idea of how much fun I had.

This is day 1:

Day 1 (1/12/2008- Zhengzhou, China)

So, I leave about 9:00am in some broken down ride that Mr. Dai, the superintendent of my building, arranged. The car is a Geely ever heard of it? I didn't think so. It looks like a mid 90's S class that didn't take its vitamins as a kid, and its mother disciplined it with a wrench instead of love.
Mr. Dai, one of the nicest guys I have ever met, decides to tell me the driver (his buddy) needs me to pay before I get to the airport so the police don't harass him. Just like everything else in this country, all it takes to get things done is money.
So I hop in his hoopty and set off on my adventure that is supposed to take me up the fabled East Coast of China from Hong Kong in all its majestic glory to Beijing who thinks it is the next D.C.
Lonely Planet calls it the treaty ports tour because all the places I am visiting (minus Beijing) were concessions given to the colonial powers after the Opium wars. It involves everything that I love, drugs, war, colonialism and the beach. From Hong Kong, I will travel across the mouth of the Pearl River to Macau the former Portuguese port and now considered the Vegas of the East (it isn't really though) up the coast and back “into” China to Guangzhou (British, French), up to Xiamen (British, French, Japanese), onto Shanghai (British, French, German), and Finally Beijing. Considering how I have never really traveled by myself I didn't really know what to expect but lets just say I felt a mix of excitement and fear.
Back to the Geely, a wonderful maroon ripoff of a car and flash to ten minutes away from campus on my way to the airport. The temperature is -3C (24 or so F) and of course it has rained/snowed the night before and so everything is covered in a thin layer of ice, including the roads. Salting doesn't occur here they think that salt is only good for putting heavily into your food. So it's more like skating as opposed to driving down the road. And no more than 1 mile from school my driver decides to turn a corner and low and behold the bastard coming down the other road forgot there was ice on the ground and literally slid into us. Not too fast but fast enough to cause a bit of damage. Here I am thinking great I'm gonna miss my f#$%ing flight because these idiots learned how to drive after my little sister did.
The driver gets out and starts yelling at the other driver who in turn starts yelling at him. Meanwhile a small crowd begins to form not only because of the small accident but also because of the white guy sitting in the back of the Geely. Finally 10 minutes after the accident the other driver pulls out his shoelace ties it to the bumper and kicks it once to show it's not gonna fall off and boom thats it. Again we are off to see the wizard........
This got me thinking what are the odds that anywhere but here that the police would not be called, names not exchanged, insurance not called etc. To explain this you must understand Henan. Henan province in central China is just bizarre, I live in a dump, but my school has a nice campus. It has the worst reputation in China, they say that the Henanese are all liars and thieves, it's not true but I could see how the stereotype could come into play.
On the way to the Airport we drive through places that don't exist on any map, past one room schoolhouses, chicken farms, some emperor named Jujubes garden and all of a sudden arrive in this amazing airport that seems to grow out of the ground like all the crops that surround it.
Sitting in this western styled brand new airport, I begin to understand one thing, if foreigners are expected to see anything in this country it will be ridiculously nice. The airport compared compared to the city it serves is like night and day. It looks European or Japanese but definitely not Chinese.
Suddenly, these memories of civilization come over me. Maybe, it is the lack of garbage on the ground, or the fact that nobody was spitting on the floor, or smoking in my face, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was having a normal experience. One that was not noteworthy for any reason, and you would be amazed at how good that felt.
China maybe growing fast but it still has a very long way to go.

Day 1 (Zhengzhou Airport)
Have a great time at the airport and then I am off in two short hours I will be in the south of China in the boomtown of Shenzhen and then on my way to Hong Kong. The excitement is palpable and I really can't believe that I will be having Mexican food in less than twelve hours and I won't have to squat in a bathroom for a long time.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hong Kong is sick.

So I arrived in Hong Kong yesterday after a few hitches (my taxi driver got in an accident on the way to the airport), and I must say this is my new favorite city. It is just an amazing city, doesn't feel like China, and is like surreal to think that this exists after living for 5 months in a rural backwater. I met the former head of HSBC and he bought a few rounds for me and then I proceeded to get tore up. First time in a real bar in months felt amazing but ridiculously expensive literally like 30X more expensive than I am used to living in Zhengzhou, overall I feel like anyone who is thinking about coming to Asia you have to go Hong Kong everybody speaks English, there is hardly anyone smoking or spitting on the ground and it is simply amazing.

I'll update you on the tour de China as I get to internet cafes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I hate ice!!!

So after living in a warm climate for basically my whole life this whole ice and snow thing is really strange to me. It is icy outside because it rained yesterday and then froze last night. As I was walking back from the last thing that I had to do for the semester, I was messing around in my new 6 dollar winter boots and slipped and fell flat on my back. Needless to say my elbow kills right now and I hate ice!!!!