Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Love Kids Boutique in Macau

A scene from yesterday evening in Macau:

Love Kids Boutique in Macau

That is all for today, but tomorrow I will share many more scenes from a part of Macau which receives far less attention than Macau's casino resorts and colonial era historic sites.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today's Interview Subject in Zhuhai: Me

the female college students, one wearing a "LOVE" hat, in Zhuhai

While I waited for a meal at a Singaporean restaurant at a mall in Zhuhai today, three college students approached and asked if they could interview me. They were all business English majors and as part of a class project needed to interview foreigners in English. Considering all of the impromptu interviews I have conducted in China myself, I figured this could be a small way to do something more in return. As I was about to agree one of them added, "Oh, and we need to video record the interview."

In similar situations in the past students had simply requested a photo, but their teacher desired more compelling evidence. After I commented the video request was rather unusual, one student shared that all of the foreigners they previously found had refused upon learning about it. I wasn't at all surprised. And the student added that if she was similarly approached while in another country, she would respond int he same way.

Still, I decided to submit myself to their questioning. But I felt inspired to add a stipulation: the one student would lend me her hat to wear during the interview. We had a deal.

After I finished my meal, the interview was recorded on a Huawei mobile phone. The questions were light and typical, such as "What's your favorite city in China?" Soon they had sufficient material and stopped recording, though the conversation continued afterwards with me now taking the opportunity to ask a few questions. It isn't an interview I would want shared with the world, especially in video form, but I will likely survive if it isn't deleted as promised. Hopefully none of it appears out of context in a surprise China Daily piece.

The students' challenges reflects a tension in China between schools seeing value in their students speaking with fluent (or more fluent) English speakers yet seemingly not valuing it enough to invest money to make it happen more regularly in environments where "natural" opportunities are few. More thoughts on this issue another day.

And yes, I really wore the hat.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mid-Autumn Festival Lanterns in Taipa Village

From last week in Taipa Village, Macau, here are some holiday lanterns for today's Mid-Autumn Festival lit up at night along with two children and a dragon:

lantern display in Taipa Village, Macau, for the Mid-Autumn Festival

young girl standing under Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns in Taipa Village, Macau

boy walking near a stone dragon in Taipa Village, Macau

Friday, September 25, 2015

Turning Down a Shave in Zhuhai

Since injuring my leg last week in Zhuhai, to keep the wound and bandaging dry per doctors' orders I have altered my body-cleaning methods. A high concentration of hair salons offering inexpensive "head washes" near Zhuhai's border with Macau has helped. A head wash which includes a head massage and often a shoulder & arm massage as well typically costs about U.S. $2.50 to $3.30 and lasts about 15-30 minutes. To make the most out of these difficult times, I have made the sacrifice of visiting multiple establishments to compare them, though evaluations are complicated by usual large variations of workers' skills within a single establishment.

Today I tried yet another salon. The experience reminded me of many others in China in terms of the persistent and sometimes blunt sales pitch for other services and pricier options. For enlightenment, here is a key part of the conversation I had with the hair washer, translated into English, which followed several attempts to convince me of the glories of a cleaner face:
Would you like a facial?
     No thanks.

Your beard is rough! How about a shave?
     No thanks.

It's ugly.
     Thank you.
I will admit I was surprised. Other salons here didn't offer shaving.

She kept on trying until I stopped replying to her comments. After that, all was good and my hair was soon clean. As usual, at the end they seemed rather amused I didn't want my hair blowdried.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Determined Plant in Zhuhai

When I was in a condition where walking a lot was not an issue (such days shall return), one day I saw a plant in Zhuhai reaching through small openings for freedom . . .

plant reaching through a steel window grill to soak in more sunlight

. . . or sunlight. The plant overcoming a less-than-ideal placement and an metallic obstacle provided a a bit of inspiration.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mobile Fruit Sales in Zhuhai

people buying fruit from a fruit vendor using a motorized tricycle cart
Near the Walmart in Gongbei, Zhuhai

Diaper Spillage Averted in Macau

A good save the other day in Macau by men on opposite ends of a flatbed wagon:

two men stopping stacked boxes of Pamers diapers from falling of a flatbed wagon

None of the boxes of diapers hit the ground. These diapers, which are designed to avoid another type of spillage, were apparently being delivered to locations in Macau. Given this area's close proximity to Macau's border with Zhuhai, many of the diapers are likely destined for locations in mainland China, whether as personal purchases or part of a grey market which I first looked at several years ago. During my recent time in Macau and Zhuhai, I have revisited the topic. Later, more about what I found, including how goods not only flow out of Macau through the grey market but into it as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lighting Up for the Mid-Autumn Festival at Portas do Cerco

large lantern display for the Mid-Autumn Festival at Portas do Cerco in Macau

The above scene at Portas do Cerco shows a bit of how Macau is sprucing things up for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. I share the photo also because I will not need to cross the border between Macau and Zhuhai as much as I have been for the past several days, reflecting improved conditions regarding my recent injury. I think I will have a story about that to share soon. Whatever the case, I look forward to returning to some pieces I had hoped to post last week.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Standing Firm at the Macau-Zhuhai Border

girl wearing a backpack with the words "Stand Firm" approaching Porta do Cerco in Macau
Approaching Portas do Cerco, the Macau side of the immigration checkpoint on the border between Macau and Zhuhai

Thanks to an incident earlier this week, I have been crossing the border between Macau and Zhuhai far more than I had ever expected. Many other events were unexpected as well. More soon . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fun at the Sewing Machine and an Unfortunate Encounter With Metal in Zhuhai

two kids at a sewing machine outside at night

Last night after doing my best to make the most of a buffet dinner, I saw two children outside amusing themselves around a sewing machine. Fear not, it was not an example of child labor. There are numerous people who offer inexpensive sewing services in this part of Zhuhai. They always look much older.

I share the photo in part because it reminds me of a happier period last night. Not long after seeing the children, my shin made contact with a metal object firmly connected to the ground. I wish I had noticed it earlier, because if I had I would have chosen to avoid gashing myself. Since then, life has been interesting in a number of unexpected ways, some of which I could do without. After two trips to Macau in a single day, too much blood, and too little sleep, all is now OK.

And yes, the post I keep delaying will be delayed further. Really, I have a good excuse and a story to tell as well, if I can motivate myself to relive it. In the immediate future, I simply look forward to following the doctor's orders and get some rest.