Photos and stories about my expat experience in China, currently in Bejing.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Chun Jie (Chinese New Year)

Happy Chinese New Year!

I went to Hunan, to my girlfriend's hometown. It was nearly impossible to buy train tickets, most tickets were already sold out before the ticket office opened... (due to corruption). Everybody was stressed, since it is very important for Chinese people to visit their families during the Spring Festival/New Year. We had to buy our tickets from some office that charged nearly double prices. They were delivered by some guy on a motorbike at midnight the day before we left. We were lucky to get tickets at all! We were also lucky to have sleepers in the 13 hour train ride, and it was sort of comfortable. We arrived in Changsha, Hunan's capital city at 10:00 AM, and had to buy bus tickets to the small town we were going to. This was not easy. We spent 1 hour in line to buy the tickets, and then boarded the last bus there.

The endless queue in front of the ticket office. There must have been at least 100 people waiting in front of us.
The ticket hall
Almost my turn..
Once in Dong Kou, everything was good. We were welcomed by Chen Yi's family and ate good food and drank home made wine. This picture was taken behind the house, were there is a mountain and forest. We went out to get firewood, since they cook on coals and wood.
A little room is reserved for 'la ruo'; dried and smoked meat and fish. This was the warmest room in the house so we stayed here all day. (We smelled like smoked ham afterwards)
Getting firewood
Banners for the New Year with good luck wishes. People paste them on their front door
The town was very crowded the day before the New Year, with people doing their shopping. It is tradition to give lots of gifts during this time, such as cigarettes, wine, candy and food.
Smoked meat. So delicious!
I learned how to make 'mi jiu'; rice wine. First mix rice and water with yeast...
Then distill it three or four times
Everything made with local products
Cooking on wood fire

Wild deer from the mountains, oh so delicious! We ate dog meat, deer, wild pig, frogs and many, many more delicious things

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Our new bookshelf

Et voila! Our bookshelf was ready. . .

Deeming IKEA a little too pricey, we decided to buy a bookshelf on the Internet. This one cost 15 Euros, was delivered one week later. We hired our little friend 'Xiao Kui' to put it together. As you can see, it was quite a job...

- The wood was wet and smelled like a pine forest after the rain
- it took forever to put it together (46 pieces that were supposed to fit into each other)
- half of the boards didn't fit or were bent
- The wood is so soft that our pet bird has chewed through the top level already
- the whole package weighs next to nothing (shipping costs was only 3 Euros, coming from Nanjing, a city some 15+ hours by train from here)

That's the price to pay for cheapness, I guess. Anyways, our books don't have to sit in a box on the floor anymore :)

ijspret in Hou Hai, Beijing

The weather in Beijing has been nice. Today it is -9 degrees and a bit windy, also no snow yet. The wind comes from the huge avenues and highways that cross the city, and is quite awful. Anyways, we had some good fun today on the ice. Hou Hai is a small pond/lake surrounded by cheap Westernised bars.

We went ice skating today with some friends (see pics)

For rent were all kinds of unusual 'vehicles' including this bicycle, welded 'ice ready'

Without embarrassment did some people poke and peddle around the ice, looking kind of dumb...
Latest shopping in hand, this man couldn't resist having some fun on the ice

That 'car' runs on an electric engine! It was zooming around the skating people
Caramel candy
This man made us one: a dog & snake, as my birth year is the year of the dog and my girlfriend's is snake. It took him about 3 minutes to craft a beautiful looking piece of work.

The end result; made of only sugar!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing you all the best for the new year, and good luck in jobs, health and personal life!

Our pet; "Xiao Pengyou" with his favorite toy.
He can be a real pain sometimes; we let him fly around all day, and he will eat anything that's loose, including jewelry, electric cables, remote controls, our hair, matches and his favorite: sunflower seeds... Needless to say, he's a full time job.

Wishing you all a Happy New year! - From Chen Yi & Xiao Bai (Bram)
View from our window on New Year's Eve, 6:00 PM.
Our special dinner. We ate a traditional Chongqing spicy hotpot (in the rice cooker) at home with lamb, mushrooms, tofu, blood sausage and green veggies. Simple but beautiful!