Chinese Frogger

AKA: Crossing the Street

One of the craziest scariest things when you first visit China is the experience of trying to cross the street. It’s not really something you can explain. There are cars, and bicycles, and people. Sometimes, donkeys. Going in every direction. All at the same time.

Just… crazy. Really crazy.

And kind of an adrenaline rush.

We always “joke” that it’s like playing frogger. You know, the old school arcade game where you have to get a little frog across the street without getting him squished by cars and buses and stuff.

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Yeah, it’s like that. But in real life. Dodging REAL cars. (and bikes, and mopeds, and people.) Continue reading


Squatty potty

So I just realized I’ve haven’t shared too much about the bathrooms in China. I did mention my first experience with one during our Chinese Medical Exam and if you’ve ever done any reading about visiting or living in China, this is not a new subject. But a blog about China can not be complete without mentioning it, so here’s my tribute.

Bathrooms in China

Affectionately called the “squatty potty” by most Westerners, these little fellows are pretty much porcelain holes in the ground. This is a very “nice” specimen, photo taken at my favorite place in Shenyang, IS Cafe. I say nice because this one is usually clean and sometimes even has paper!

Speaking of paper, there are two things you should never leave home without when you’re in China.

Pocket packs of tissue and wet wipes. No need to pack them from the US (except maybe a couple of packs the first time you visit so you have them before you get to a store.) because you can find them everywhere. You’ll find lots of uses not the least of which is toilet paper when you have to visit the public toilet. Most do NOT have tissue available. Of course, you’ll only forget them once.

The wet wipes are great when there is no soap or towels to wash your hands with afterwards.

Most westerners hate these things and you learn pretty fast where to look for a western toilet if you have to go. For example, this is where McDonald’s is your friend. They almost always have western toilets. The western hotel chains are also a good place to find a “normal” toilet.

I have a little confession to make though.

I really don’t mind them.

Now, I hate it when they’re dirty and smelly, don’t get me wrong. But the actually squat pot, I don’t mind. Personally, I’m not sitting on a public toilet no matter where in the world it is. In that case, I actually think it’s easier to use this kind. Plus, it’s really not that different than going outside when you’re hiking or camping. And if you grow up on a farm, you’ve usually mastered the outdoor squat before you’re even potty trained.

What do you think? If you live in China, do you hate the squatty potty?


Making bling

So I’ve mentioned a few times how much China loves bling.


But I had never given much thought to how exactly the things get blinged until I spent a little time watching this lady work.


She glued each jewel on one by one. It takes an awful lot of stones to really achieve the look.

I have a whole new appreciation for the bling.


Where y’all going?

Part of the reason we wanted to come to China is to learn both the culture AND the language. Mandarin is definitely a challenge but I think we’ve done at least a fair job so far. Country Fried and I have very different language skillsets though. She’s much better at giving directions (particularly around Shenyang). She’s good at haggling and asking shopping questions. I’ve tended to more basic conversational skills with my work colleagues and am not so good at giving directions.

So I will give directions if we’re going someplace normal (the apartment or Carrefour) but anytime else it’s her. Even better is when we have one of our other expat friends, J, with us who has really good Chinese skills. We went to Harbin a few weeks ago with J and got into the taxi in Shenyang to go to the train station. J proceeded to give flawless directions to the driver in Mandarin.

As usual, I’m quite impressed and not really paying attention. Continue reading