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Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A View From Above of Minzu East Road in Zhongshan

The Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan is, not so surprisingly, located on Minzu East Road. I have photographed numerous scenes including vendors and a variety of items for sale at similar markets elsewhere in China, but in this case I didn't take many photos. Two of the photos I did take while at the market especially stand out me, in part because they happened after opportunistically looking out of a second floor window reachable only because a vending location had been vacated. Additionally, the photos are significant for how they capture a side of Zhongshan harder to see from other perspectives.

So below are two photos taken from above of life on Minzu East Road on a recent rainy October day. The scenes also include some of the older buildings which remain in the area along with newer and taller buildings in the distance.

Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan


Minzu East Road (民族东路) in Zhongshan



For a bonus, the entrance to the Minzu East Market:

Minzu East Market (民族东市场) in Zhongshan

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Fufeng Pagoda, Mountain Climbing, and the Chongyang Festival in Zhongshan

One of the photos in the previous post which shared my excitement two days ago about seeing yet another rainbow in China included Zhongshan's Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) in the distance. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Zhongshan Park and climbed Yandun Hill (烟墩山) for a closer view.

Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) in Zhongshan


Had I been at this same spot when the earlier rainbow appeared, I believe I could have easily captured them together from there.

As with visits to the park in previous years, the tower was closed, so unfortunately I couldn't climb higher for a hopefully clearer view of the park's surroundings.

closed entryway to Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔)


I took another path down the mountain and was surprised to see apparently new netting which not only blocked access to the adjacent green areas but also several other paths.

Stairs lined with a rope net at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


Stairs lined with a rope net at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


People walking up stairs lined with rope netting at Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


I didn't recall seeing anything like that at the park before. The large numbers of police and China Militia around the park were also unusual.

But for anybody who was confused about the changes, there was at least one sign that explained the conditions.



They were due to the upcoming Chongyang Festival (重阳节 — Chóngyángjié), also called Double Ninth Festival in English. One of the traditional activities for the holiday is mountain climbing. The sign indicated people could begin their holiday ascent as late as half hour after midnight that night but would need to leave the park by 1:30 a.m. The park would later open at 6 a.m. on the day of the holiday and close at 6 p.m. Then the park would reopen at 5 a.m. the day following the holiday for normal operations. The sign also asked people not to light fires, smoke, or bring anything that could explode.

A little after 9 p.m. yesterday night I returned to the park and found one of the more popular entrances filled with people and lined with police.

Entry to Zhongshan Park at night for the Chongyang Festival in Zhongshan


From there, the path from there to the top of the hill was a lot more crowded than it had been during the day.

people on stairs at night in Zhongshan Park in Zhongshan


Other than the many people, security, and rope nets, there wasn't much else that was unusual at the park. I did meet some people under a tent doing some community service by highlighting the dangers of illegal drugs though.

informational display of illegal drugs


At first I feigned surprise that they were selling so many types of illegal drugs, but they quickly set things straight — perhaps an especially good idea with all of the police around.

This wasn't my first time to participate in some Chongyang Festival climbing. My most memorable experience was the time friends in neighboring Zhuhai invited me to take a night hike up Banzhang Mountain, which is a much more challenging climb and affords more open far-reaching views.

Zhongshan had other sites open this year for the holiday, such as Dajian Mountain (news article in Chinese), with higher climbs as well. But this year's holiday climb still had its charms. And now I have finally seen the Fufeng Pagoda up close at night — definitely no rainbows in the sky.

Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) with lights on at night in Zhongshan

Monday, October 15, 2018

Another Rainbow and Another Pagoda in China

After visiting a large electronics market today in Zhongshan, I found it was raining outside. I then noticed some brightening in the distance and wondered if a rainbow would appear.

I have posted before about having lived in China for many years without seeing a single rainbow in the sky. But this year I have had far better success, whether in Qingyuan or in Ganzhou. Maybe my luck would continue.

So even though it was still lightly raining, I crossed Fuhua Road for a less obstructed view in the expected direction for any potential rainbow.

That was easy . . .

rainbow in Zhongshan, Guangdong


Hoping for a more something more scenic, I headed down the street. I thought a pedestrian bridge and river ahead might offer good opportunities, though I figured I couldn't top a rainbow over a pagoda in Ganxian — my most recent previous rainbow sighting.

But when I reached the top of the pedestrian bridge, I excitedly realized I had yet another pagoda with rainbow opportunity.

rainbow in Zhongshan, China


Fufeng Pagoda (阜峰文塔) isn't easily noticeable in the above photo, but if you look closely you can see it standing on the top Yandun Hill (烟墩山) in Zhongshan Park.

The rainbow was mostly gone by the time I reached the river. Nonetheless the impromptu excursion was well worthwhile.

And on the way, I pointed out the rainbow to some people who may have otherwise missed it due to walking the opposite direction like what once almost happened to me. One man appeared to think I must be crazy when I first pointed at the sky behind him. But I noticed him beginning to turn around as I passed by.

I then heard an appreciative "Oooooooh!"

Friday, October 12, 2018

Three Offers in 24 Hours: Enjoying and Surviving Free Beer & Mijiu in Zhongshan

Yesterday after 6 p.m. I was ready to head back to my hotel in Zhongshan. A small bar across the street from Shishan Park (狮山公园) had earlier caught my eye due to its setting and name. Especially since the weather was rather nice and they had outdoor seating, I decided to get a single drink there first. Nothing more . . . I still had work to do.

Park Pub in Zhongshan


After walking into the Park Pub, I quickly appraised the situation. Sitting at a table were a young woman and two young men. They offered a mostly typical-in-China selection of foreign beers, and nothing particularly excited me. But one young man strongly recommended the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. 7.5% alcohol was a little stronger than what I was aiming for, but what the heck. I asked the price and the woman told me they were treating.

They didn't offer a reason, and I wondered if they were presuming this was a worthy investment if I ended up buying many more drinks that night. So I made it clear I only wanted one drink and was happy to pay for it.

That wasn't happening. To my surprise, I was soon sitting outside next to a soccer field behind the pub drinking a free Guinness.

Bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout


A little later, I noticed one of the young men locking the back door to the bar from the outside. He told me they had to go somewhere else for dinner, but that I was welcome to stay out back. He also insisted on leaving me with something more. So my view changed a bit.

two bottles of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout


After about an hour at the bar I was ready to head elsewhere, even though a soccer match was now underway. Nobody had returned to the bar, so I did my best to clean up and left via an entrance for the field.

With more alcohol in me than planned, I decided to take a walk through the old neighborhoods surrounding Shishan Park. As I approached one intersection I saw a group of men. They shouted, and I immediately realized there was no escaping.

Soon I was been treated to more drinks.

group of men eating and drinking at an outdoor table


The men were all (or mostly all) from Guangxi and had brought with them a jug of mijiu, a Chinese rice wine, from there. It appeared homemade, and I was intrigued. So although they first poured a glass of beer for me, they were excited I was game to try the mijiu and my drink changed.

Even when the jug of proper mijiu was later emptied, the drinks continued to flow. The man who was the boss of all (or mostly all) the men sometimes bought bottles of Chinese beer but generally bought Blue Girl Beer — a brand popular in Hong Kong — when he decided my glass needed filling.

After I took a photo of my new friends, a woman working at the restaurant, possibly the owner, shrewdly suggested I take one including the front of the restaurant.

local restaurant in Zhongshan


A couple of hours, some tasty chicken gizzards, and who knows how many drinks later, I gave them many hearty thanks and finally made my way back to my hotel where I soon went to sleep.

This afternoon I was exploring the same areas around Shishan Park. A man sitting in front of a small convenience store on West Road (西大街) who appeared curious about my photo taking asked if I would take one of him. I happily obliged.

man posing for photo in front of a small convenience store


Then he offered me some beer.

This time, I had to turn down the kind offer. I thanked him but explained I still had work to do and that the night before had more that satisfied my desire for beer.

While the experience at the Park Pub was somewhat unusual for me, in a positive way of course, the other two experiences were far more typical. They could be fit into the category of experiences in the past I've categorized as "Chinese being friendly to a foreigner in China".

And now I have indirectly explained why there wasn't a post here yesterday as planned. My night didn't exactly go the way I had expected.

Thanks to all for the drinks, whether I drank them or not.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Straight from National Day to Halloween: Another Toys "R" Us Promotion in China

The month-long National Day holiday promotion Toys "R" Us held in China, which featured deals on toys such a Nerf guns and Hamsters in a House, ended yesterday. Today, a Toys "R" Us store in Zhongshan hadn't skipped a beat and had already moved on to the next great thing: Halloween.

"Halloween Headquarters" sign at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Most of the related items appeared to be on a single rack sitting at the front entrance of the store.

Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Halloween items for sale at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


I wasn't at all surprised by the Halloween promotion or it lasting from October 9 to October 31. After all, I've seen more impressive displays of Halloween items for sale before, including at an RT-Mart in Shaoguan. And last year in Zhongshan I saw a promotion running during the same period of time. That one was a bit more surprising, though, since it featured a Halloween sale on cosmetics.

Late Night Broken Colors in a Zhongshan Alley

Piece of art in a broken frame in a Zhongshan alley

Monday, October 8, 2018

More Toy Guns and Hamsters Too in a Holiday Sale at Toys "R" Us in China

Last week I posted about Toys "R" Us commemorating the founding of the People's Republic of China with a holiday sale featuring Nerf guns. I had seen the toy gun special at two different stores in Zhuhai, China. The very next day after writing the post, I happened to come across a Toys "R" Us store in neighboring Zhongshan. Unsurprisingly, this store offered the same deal.

Nerf gun National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Despite the sale, perhaps some parents don't think the best way to celebrate the holiday is to buy a gun which shoots projectiles, even if cushiony. Fear not, Toys "R" Us had another holiday special, this one on Silverlit laser tag guns.

Silverlit laser tag National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Some people may even find creative ways to use both types of toy guns at the same time.

For people who just aren't into any sort of gun, there were some other items on special as well. For example, if you fancy hamsters with a penchant for burgers, Hamsters in a House can do that.

Hamsters in a house National Day special at Toys "R" Us in Zhongshan, China


Notably, according to the sign this special didn't start for two weeks until after the ones for the guns. I don't know why. I also don't know if these hamsters would appreciate a Nerf or Silverlit gun.

In any case, the month-long holiday promotion at Toys "R" Us ended today. This doesn't affect most toys sold there, but you will now have to pay more for some guns and rodents.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Toys "R" Us Celebrates National Day in China with a Special Deal on Toy Guns


"Golden week Toys Fun" promotion at Toys "R" US in China
A "Golden week Toys Fun" promotion at a Toys "R" Us in Zhuhai, China

Whether in Mudanjiang far to the north or in Zhongshan far to the south, during recent years I have shared some of the National Day sales I have come across in China. Recently in Zhuhai, a city bordering Zhongshan on China's southeastern coast, I saw a promotion that might strike some people as more notable than others because of the retailer and products involved.

The promotion was at Toys "R" Us. Although the U.S. based company no longer has stores in its home country, stores still exist elsewhere, including China. Asia in particular has been a bright spot, and the company hopes to sell its stores there, though there are complications at the moment.

So I wasn't very surprised to see a Toys "R" Us promotion for National Day at two different stores in Zhuhai. And I wasn't surprised the "Golden Week" holiday sale lasts for over a month. And I also wasn't surprised by the "I ♥ China" roller coaster on some of the signs.

Portion of Toys "R" Us "Golden week Toys Fun" sign with "I ♥ China" rollercoaster


But I will admit, they did do something I didn't see coming. They commemorated the founding of the People's Republic of China by featuring a special price for a Nerf toy guns combo — the N-Strike Elite Retaliator and the Microshots N-Strike Elite Firestrike.



Save 49.9 yuan! (about U.S. $7.25)


Retaliate against who? The signs didn't specifically say.

In any case, the special on Nerf guns reminded me of my old posts about children in China conducting "war training exercises". Now, to commemorate the founding of the People's Republic of China they can do it at a discount.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Another National Day Sale at War Ground in Zhongshan

Three years ago at a store in Zhongshan, War Ground — a military-themed clothing retailer — had a sale for China's National Day, which commemorates the founding of the People's Republic of China. I wasn't surprised at seeing the sale in Zhongshan, since earlier in the year I saw the same store having a sale for International Women's Day. Last year I saw the store having a sale on National Day, but none of the signs visible from the outside made an explicit reference to the holiday.

Not only is it now National Day once again in China, but today I arrived in Zhongshan once again. So of course I checked the store. This year it is back to having a clearly labeled National Day's sale.

War Ground store in Zhongshan, China, with a National Day sale


A later post will feature another National Day promotion in China this year. It is at a retailer much more familiar to people outside of China and perhaps inside as well. Their promotion has more bang in it than the one at War Ground.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

High Speed in Urban Zhuhai

high speed rail train in Zhuhai


Five years ago when I first travelled to Zhuhai by intercity high-speed rail I could only make it as far as the Zhuhai North Railway Station, from where I took a high-speed taxi. But now the high-speed rail line reaches all the way into Gongbei at the border with Macau. Today in front of the Chengfeng Plaza (诚丰广场) shopping mall, I saw a train pass by. The trains don't move at a high speed through the city. This makes photos a bit easier, though presumably that's not the main motivation.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos in China: A Taste Test, Combo Version Included

Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos
Two spicy new Oreo flavors


Nearly a month ago I first heard about the introduction of two new Oreo flavors in China — Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi. The news provoked some strong reactions in the Western world, and several of my own friends in the U.S. shared stories about it. One wrote, "No!! Stop it!! What did the Chinese ever do to you, Nabisco??"

Nabisco probably can't be blamed (or commended) for this one though. While Nabisco produces Oreos in the U.S. for its parent company Mondelēz International, it doesn't make them for China and many other countries in the world.

Initially I had hopes for the Wasabi Oreos due to positive experiences in the past with chocolate with spicy red pepper. Hot chicken wings seemed rather peculiar, But then a friend reminded me that there is chocolate in the sauce for chicken molé, and that is good stuff. She had also just made chocolate chicken chili, which is now on my list of things to try. I now had higher hopes for the Hot Chicken Wing Oreos.

Additionally, the new flavors were of interest given my interests in how Western companies localize their products and services in China, and I have tried other Oreo flavors in China in the past. For example, six years ago in Shaoxing I tried Peach-Grape Oreos. They weren't my thing, but presumably other people feel differently because they are still available. Then three years ago in Hengyang I tried Lemon Cheesecake Oreos. I liked them a lot more, and they're still around too.

So I was ready to try the new flavors. However, there was a problem. After checking more than five large supermarkets in Ganzhou — including a Walmart — I came up empty. They all sold Oreos, but they didn't have these two flavors. Although I occasionally revisited the supermarkets, I expected I would have to wait much longer or switch cities before finding Oreo spiciness.

Recently, I left Ganzhou and am now in Zhuhai. Yesterday, I went to a Vanguard supermarket and finally found the new flavors. But they only had giant-sized boxes, and that was far many more Oreos than I wanted. After that I went to a Walmart. Their selection was rather uninspiring, and they didn't have the new flavors. So then I headed to the place I had thought would be my best bet here — Carrefour, a French hypermarket chain.

Yes, the Carrefour in Jida, Zhuhai, indeed had a wide selection of Oreos.

selection of Oreos at a Carrefour in Zhuhai


And yes, my search was over. Soon I had two fine boxes of spicy Oreos in my possession.

Boxes of Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos


Each box of 10 Oreos had a price of 5.8 yuan (about U.S. 85 cents). I tried sharing my excitement with several other people shopping at Carrefour. As far as I could tell, they didn't understand why I was so happy, but they at least seemed happy I was happy.

Now, a look at some of the info on the boxes:

Nutritional information for Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos


Based on this information, the Oreos have equal nutritional value. So being on a diet probably wouldn't affect a choice of one over the other. Also, the Oreos are made in Suzhou — a city in Jiangsu province bordering Shanghai. Suzhou has many canals and presumably many Oreos as well.

Opening the boxes reveal they both held two pouches of cookies.

pouches of Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos


If I didn't like them, I could easily give half away. If I did like them, half would stay fresh longer. I call that a win-win.

And finally, a look at the innards:

opened Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi Oreos
Note: some creme missing due to imperfect wafer separation


Now the moment we have all (or at least I have) been waiting for: the test taste.

I thought about this a lot (too much), and I will start with the Hot Chicken Wing Oreos. Prelude: a sip of milk, of course.

Here we go . . .

Huh, um . . . it's more like a hot pepper flavor Oreo. Or maybe more of a barbecue potato chip Oreo. I feel like it is flavor-shifting, but at no point do I taste a chicken flavor. It is . . . different. I like it more than the Peach-Grape Oreos. I'm not at all a fan of the Peach-Grape.

Now I will just try some of the filling on its own. That is . . . odd stuff. It isn't sweet. I liked how it worked with the chocolate wafers much better than on its own. If I had tried the filling without knowing what it is, I think I still wouldn't know what it is. Actually, I'm not sure I know what it is regardless.

By the way, it has been a long time since I have eaten Oreos of any flavor.

OK, now another sip of milk before trying a Wasabi Oreo.

Here we go again . . .

Wow. Just wow. Unlike the Hot Chicken Wings Oreos, there's no mystery here. This was undoubtedly a Wasabi Oreo. The kick isn't as strong as the wasabi that comes with your sashimi, but the flavor is clear. Now just the filling . . . Again, not sweet, but I wouldn't use it with sashimi. Like before, I prefer it with the wafers more than on its own.

Finally, I will try something the Oreo folks might not condone. I will eat half a Hot Chicken Wing Oreo and half a Wasabi Oreo at the same time.

Here we go . . .

Hey . . . that was a zillion times better than I expected (note: I had expected a near complete disaster). And it tasted like nothing I have tasted before.

The final verdict (for today): The Hot Chicken Wing Oreos were better than I expected. I don't find them gross, though I can't recommend the creme on its own. The Wasabi Oreos fit with my expectations, and I could imagine they have addictive potential. I wish I could say more about the improvised combo version, but I can't. It's like seeing a new color for the first time.

In short, while I expect some people wouldn't like either of these Oreo flavors even if they gave them a fair try, I definitely can now see how some people will like one, both, or even the combo.

I don't think I'm giving away my remaining Oreos.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

From Ganzhou to Lütian to Zhuhai

long-distance bus traveling from Ganzhou to Zhuhai
My mighty steed out of Ganzhou


Last Wednesday I boarded a long-distance bus in Ganzhou, Jiangxi. After the bus left the station, the man who had just moved to the seat in front of me began watching a loud action movie on his mobile phone without using headphones. After considering the early morning time and world peace, I inquired as to whether he would be willing to turn down the volume. He was. And shortly afterwards he stopped watching the movie. During the long journey, he watched video on his phone a few more times but always at a low volume and not for extended periods of times.

About four hours into the journey the bus and its approximately 15 passengers stopped at the Lütian Service Area at the side of the toll highway.

Lutian Service Area (吕田服务区)


I bought a chicken leg and some beef balls for 20 yuan (about U.S. $2.90) — pricey but such things can happen at a highway rest stop. Otherwise, as far as highway rest areas in China go, it was unremarkable. But the rest area at least offered a pretty good view.




I later learned that Lütian is a town in Conghua, a district in Guangzhou. Honestly, at the time I had no clue I was already in Guangzhou. I will forgive myself since this mountainous area is over 100 km (60 miles) from Guangzhou's central urban areas.

After a 7.5 hour journey, including the 20 minute rest stop, we arrived in Zhuhai — a city on the Guangdong coast I have posted about many times in the past. We could have arrived more quickly, but the bus also makes a stop in neighboring Zhongshan — another city featured in many past posts here.

Overall, the journey was comfortable, especially since we all had room to spread out on the bus. And it was more convenient than taking a train, which would have taken about the same amount of time, likely have been less comfortable during at least one leg of the trip, and have required transferring between far away train stations in either Shaoguan or Guangzhou. One motive for taking the train and transferring in Guangzhou, though, would be a lower price if 2nd class seats were purchased on both trains.

There's still much I want to share about Ganzhou. Some things I held off on because I first wanted to explore as much as I could there. So more about the city and life there is on the way. I wanted to share this travel experience, though, because it offers some clue for why this blog has been quiet for a few days and it helps explain why some non-Ganzhou-related posts may soon appear here as well.