Amazing Food and Amusing Dialogue

If you ever come to China just be aware, the food is pretty mediocre. It’s not terrible. I’m not saying that at all, although there are things you probably want to avoid. It is just profoundly banal. Everything is greasy, or lathered in sauce, and piled on with rice for filler. Any given restaurant doesn’t offer many vegetables, so don’t expect a balanced meal. If you get a bowl of soup with noodles you’ll probably get one stalk of a green something thrown in there, but don’t expect much more than that. I usually ask for extra tomatoes put into my noodles and they are usually happy to do that much for me. I would say that the best food I’ve had in this country was from the student cafeteria; which is either a great compliment to their facility, or a vast insult to this city. Regardless of how you choose to read that, last night changed my mind completely.

It was a friend’s birthday party and he wanted roast duck, so about thirty of us went down to a fancy restaurant down the road. In China you generally don’t order separate dishes, you figure out what the whole table wants and they put it on a big glass turnstile in front of you. We ordered three whole ducks by the end of the night (priced at 50 “big” RMB each, or $7 American). Each is enough to serve a whole family, and they divide the duck into three different dishes, spring roles, deep fried duck, and duck soup (also the title of a favorite movie of mine interestingly enough). The spring roles are supposed to be very dainty and neat, but I was just hungry and didn’t have the patience to eat beautiful food. It was so delicious it felt sinful to take bites. I ended up wolfing down each one whole, to the chagrin of my esophagus, and the joy of my stomach. By some stroke of hedonism we also ordered about 8 other sides, and yes, every single one of them was delicious too. The whole experience makes me wish I knew how to cook so I could take all these with me back home. Of all the side dishes, my favorite was probably the simplest: edamame with a bit of lime juice. I think these could easily replace popcorn for me when I’m watching movies. They’re these brilliant little soybeans that you just pop in your mouth and enjoy. My fingertips hurt from touching so many salty bean pods by the end of the night.

After my belly was contented (and it definitely was) we topped off the night at a karaoke lounge. It was a good night indeed, and another mark on my list of adventures.

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A brief dialogue from a recent encounter:

Me: Hey, I saw your ad online. I am looking for a tutor to supplement some of my class work.

Tutor: Okay, when would you like to meet up?

Me: Is Tuesday okay? I’m busy Monday.

Tutor: How about at 6?

Me: Okay sounds great. How much do you charge by the way?

Tutor: Haha, you should have asked that in the beginning. I’m very expensive. You might not like my price. (wholly serious)… 50 RMB ($7 American) an hour.

Me: (keeping my poker face on) Hmm…okay why don’t we see how our first session goes and then we’ll talk about price.

***I love China. I live like a king where ever I go.***

United Springdom

“You alright, yeah?” is a typical greeting among British youth. I hope you are alright indeed, and I apologize for the posting silence. As finals are now done, I have been travelling around the UK, and seeing things that I have always dreamed of.

I returned from Switzerland and Germany (a ten-day trip) on the Queen’s birthday. It was really a fitting day to fly back. During my time in Europe, on the continent, I was homesick…or rather, home-base sick, for the UK. Upon landing, I vowed to myself that I would dedicate the rest of my time abroad this semester to seeing the UK and all that it has to offer!

To celebrate our return to England, my friends and I went to Cambridge. Like Oxford, Cambridge is a university town, but with much more open space. The highlight of our day was our punting boat ride down the river Cam, which weaves its way past the various college campuses!

Cambridge

Just two days later was one of Britain’s biggest holidays: May Day! The first of May is a Bank Holiday, but more importantly, the cermonial start of Spring! Kingston had its very own May Day festival called “May Merrie”. The local park green was completely transformed into a fairground, with rides, games, booths, puppet shows, and a jousting competition. I honestly forgot I was just right around the corner from my flat!

MayDay

My favorite part of the day was seeing a real “Punch and Judy” puppet show. “Punch and Judy” originated in the 17th century and is the oldest puppet show in Britain still performed today. The main character, Mr. Punch, is a naughty man who beats his family members and the local police officer with a giant stick. Despite the violent nature of the show, “Punch and Judy” has retained its popularity for over three centuries.

The following week, my friend Niki and I attended the “Punch and Judy Festival” in London’s Covent Garden, where over ten puppet booths were set up at a time, running numerous shows at once. Different models of Mr. Punch and the other characters graced the various stages, each putting their own spin on the classic storyline.

More UK Springtime adventures to come!