Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Changde Red

I should be able to return to my more usual posting frequency shortly and also deliver my previously promised stories of "fun". In the meantime, for a contrast to a black, white, & green photo, here is another Changde scene, sans any color filtering, which is heavy on reddish colors:

 field of red flowers in front if Chinese style gate building

Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Dogs in Hengyang

In Hengyang, Hunan, I have seen dogs taking a run, a ride, or sitting around in a park. One day in Hengyang next to the Xiang River, I also saw dogs taking walk . . .

. . . and taking a swim.

Just some more dog love in Hengyang.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Black, White, & Green in Changde

Now that I finally have a functioning laptop and access to the Internet with a VPN once again, here is a black, white, & green scene from Binhu Park in Changde, Hunan province.

lily pads in a lake with apartment buildings in the background at Binhu Park in Changde, Hunan

I pondered much as I walked around the park on Tuesday earlier this week. However, I did not ponder that soon my laptop's video card would suddenly stop doing what a video card should do, that I would not be allowed to use the computers at local Internet cafes, that flooding would cancel a night train I had no idea I would book later that night, nor much else related to several days of unexpected "fun" during which I was unable to post here.

More on those stories and some of what they say later.

In the meantime, I will take a few more moments to ponder my pondering at a now far away lake.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Still Shoe Shining in Hengyang, China

Last year I shared a shoe shining scene from over two and a half years ago in Hengyang, Hunan:

shoe shining on a sidewalk in Hengyang

Despite only spending a couple of days in Hengyang during my first visit and the long period of time since then, I thought I could find the same location and see what it looks like now. Would the shoeshiners still be there?


shoeshiners waiting for customers at the same location in Hengyang

Like other comparisons of scenes from over two years ago and now in Hengyang, some change is noticeable. Most surprising to me was that I recognized one of the women. So I told her I had been there over 2 years ago, and she claimed to recognize me as well. Although I doubt I would have recognized her without having recently looked at the old photo, perhaps she did remember a foreigner taking her photo long ago. Whatever the case, after a friendly chat and a thorough "shoe shine", my sneakers almost looked like new.

woman smiling as she cleans a sneaker

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hengyang's Happy Zone

Many people in the world seek a happy zone. I had the pleasure to pass by one today near Lianhu Square in Hengyang, Hunan province.

Happy Zone (开心地带) in Hengyang, Hunan

I didn't go inside Happy Zone, which I believe is an Internet cafe, but simply seeing the name brought me a bit of happiness. In case you are wondering, the English name is a direct translation of its Chinese name 开心地带 (Kāixīn Dìdài).

If Hengyang is too far away to visit, even for a zone of happiness, perhaps other establishments with the Happy Zone name, both offering karaoke, in New York and Houston are closer to you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Giraffe on a Vivo in Hengyang

At a restaurant in Hengyang, I noticed a waitress's mobile phone.

Instead of a Starbucks cup or an insect, it featured the image of a giraffe. And the phone was one of many examples I have seen suggesting that Vivo's presence in Hengyang is far more than just promotional marches.

Statues in Hengyang and Zhanjiang

statue of a male holding a Coca Cola glass "speaking" with a statue of a female

The above pair of statues, one holding a cup of Coca Cola, near the main railway station in Hengyang, Hunan province, reminded me of the statue below I saw in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, wearing a shirt with the Chinese characters for "Zhanjiang" followed by "Very Good".

statue of Western-looking man with a camera and wearing a shirt with the words "湛江 Very Good"

I suspect there is an interesting story or two to tell here, but, at least for now, I will just say it was another unexpected connection.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Fourth of July in Hengyang, China

If I had been in Beijing, Hong Kong, or Shanghai on July 4th, I would have had many well-suited options for places to celebrate America's Independence Day. Off the top of my head, I can also easily think of such places in other Chinese cities such as Changsha, Kunming, Nanning, Xining, and Zhuhai.

However, enjoying a bit of American spirit proved more challenging in Hengyang, Hunan province, and required some improvisation.

My attempts during the evening to find proper American-style food not from a fast food chain restaurant were not fruitful. But a beer at a cafe caught my eye, and I decided to drink my first American Budweiser in a rather long time.

An bottle of American Budweiser with a Chinese label

Unlike Zhuhai, I have yet to see anything approaching a hoppy beer in Hengyang.

Not by design, I later continued the beer theme and picked up a Pabst Blue Ribbon World War II memorial beer with an explicit US military theme.

A World War Two edition of Pabst Beer in China with an image of a soldier and "Yes We Can"

Pabst Blue Ribbon World War Two beer in China

I first saw this beer in far away Changchun 4 years ago, and I still would like to speak with the team who designed the can.

At the same supermarket, I picked up another item. The BBQ steak flavored Pringles definitely had much more of a taste than the beer despite lacking a military theme.

A can of Chinese BBQ Steak Pringles

I wasn't sure how I could properly followup beer and potato chips. When I saw a Dairy Queen the answer became obvious—an Oreo Blizzard.

Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard in China

I was now ready for the main meal. I thought my best option would be another supermarket where hopefully I could buy ingredients to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But by the time I arrived it had closed.

So I gave up on avoiding fast food and headed to KFC for some fried chicken to wash down the beer, chips, and ice cream. Protein, grains, vegetables, and dairy—a good American diet, right?

After waiting in something approximating a line at KFC, the server explained it would be another 30 minutes until the fried chicken was ready. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something incredible about that.

Whatever the case, I didn't want KFC that much.

I decided to call it night. The earlier delights combined with a long walk in extremely muggy weather had decreased my appetite anyway. But later I noticed a store with a selection of foods similar to the Bart Simpson themed snack store, so I picked up something to top it all off—Filipino coconut water and Chongqing spicy peppers.

Can of Philippine Brand 100% Coconut water and bag of Chonqing crips peppers

I just pretended I was enjoying freedom water and freedom peppers.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Table Dancing in Hengyang

A scene tonight at one of my favorite restaurants in Hengyang, Hunan:

little girl standing on an outdoor restaurant table in Hengyang
Server video recording a girl dancing on a restaurant table

Tomorrow I will share a little about how I celebrated America's Independence Day. For better or worse, it did not involve me dancing on any tables.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Marching for Vivo and Oppo in Hunan

Two days ago in Hong Kong, thousands joined a pro-democracy march. On the same day I saw a group of people in Hengyang, Hunan province, also marching down the street.

group of people marching down the street wear Vivo shirts and hold Vivo promotional signs

I feel safe saying democracy was not at all on the their minds, though. Instead, the march was part of a promotion for Vivo mobile phones.

A few minutes later, I saw another group of people who were taking a break from their own march.

group of people wearing Oppo shirts and hold Oppo signs and other promotional material

Again, it had nothing to do with democracy. Again, it was a promotion for a mobile phone brand—this time Oppo.

Vivo and Oppo are two Chinese brands of mobile phones often not mentioned in discussions of China's mobile phone market. Yet as the above scenes suggest, in some parts of China their presence can be easy to see.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More Blue Skies In Hengyang

Blue skies in Hengyang have not been frequent during my time here, but fortunately today was another exception.

blue sky and white clouds over a building in Hengyang

kite flying in a blue sky with clouds

More about blue skies (or lack thereof) elsewhere in China, mobile phone sales, and other topics soon . . .