Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza Hut Introduces Its Own Durian Pizza in China

Last month I tried an unusual and odoriferous pizza at La César in Shenzhen. One half had a black mushroom topping, and the other half, more notably, had durian — a strong-smelling fruit people often describe as either glorious or revolting. Although I would be happier with just plain durian, my first experience with durian pizza was mostly a success, especially when eating the leftovers for breakfast.

About a week ago in Jieyang, I noticed Pizza Hut is getting into the durian pizza craze too for a limited time.

advertisement board for the durian pizza at Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
Tempted by this durian pizza?

Normally in a city such as Jieyang I would want to immerse myself in the local food offerings as much as possible. But I have been here long enough that I found it reasonable to sacrifice a meal to give Pizza Hut's durian pizza a try. So I stopped by for lunch today.

image of a durian on the window of a Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
Partially-opened durian sans pizza

The menu included a special for a half and half pizza. I went with the durian and "New Orleans style" toppings.

option in Pizza Hut menu for a split pizza with one half durian
Can't say I found the photo enticing

I took a seat on the second floor, which offered a great perch to watch the flow of traffic at the adjacent street intersection. Happily, no accidents occurred, and soon my pizza arrived.

half New Orleans style and half durian pizza at Pizza Hut in Jieyang, China
As expected, a bit different from the photo

It was smaller than the La César pizza I ordered, not surprising given the lower cost, and the durian appeared to be distributed in larger chunks.

Like before, I started with the less sweet non-durian side. Also like before, one drawback to the split pizza was the strong durian smell somewhat interfered with enjoying the other side. Disappointingly, the New Orleans toppings reminded me far less of the American city than the New Orleans roasted chicken street food I ate last year in Hunan. Unlike most food in New Orleans, the pizza tasted rather bland. After just one bite I made a dash for Tabasco sauce. It didn't help that much. The durian side was also rather unspectacular, though the large chunks of durian on two of the slices were appreciated. I didn't consider adding any Tabasco sauce to it. One positive is all of the pizza had plenty of cheese.

This is an easy call. I don't expect to order the pizza again. Both halves of the pizza I had at La César were far superior in taste and texture. In all fairness to Pizza Hut's durian pizza, I am not a big fan of their style of pizza in general. There are other places for pizza I prefer in cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, or even Zhongshan. I am not familiar with Jieyang's pizza world, though, and could imagine Pizza Hut is one of the better options here.

So if you like Pizza Hut and also durian, their durian pizza may still be worth a try. But if I develop cravings for a durian pizza, I will hold out for somewhere else. And for dinner tonight, I will be returning to Jieyang's local delicacies.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Taking the Dog for a Scooter Ride in Jieyang

As I wrote several days ago, seeing dogs on motorbikes isn't an unusual event for me. The example I shared then involved a motorcycle. More often I see dogs on scooters, though, like I did today in Jieyang.

dog on a motor scooter with two people in Jieyang

Readers familiar with Chinese customs or firecrackers may recognize the red colored paper on the ground. It represents a bit of what brought me to this part of Jieyang. More about that another day.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Riding with the Kids in Jieyang

No dog. No sleeping. Just a man and two children riding a bicycle on a festive day in Jieyang's Xiangpan Village.

man riding a bicycle with children in seats in the front and back in Jieyang

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Small Survey in Jieyang, China, on the U.S. Presidential Candidates

This morning I felt inspired (not sure that's the right word) to watch the Fox News GOP Debate. I tuned in after the "hands moment" but was able to watch most of the debate on the live stream both with and without using a VPN (useful for jumping China's Great Firewall to reach blocked sites). The only exception was towards the end when I could only watch it without the VPN, I suspect due to increased local internet traffic.

This afternoon I looked for a place in Jieyang, Guangdong, to do a small survey, and Monkey Noodles seemed like a good choice. There I presented three people in their 20s photos of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates still participating in the televised debates. In short, nobody recognized Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, or Bernie Sanders. Two people recognized Hillary Clinton and one of them recognized Donald Trump as well. I didn't hope to draw broader conclusions from this small sample, but the results mapped reasonably well with what I would expect for a larger similar sample.

The person who recognized two candidates described Trump as a man who became rich through real estate. His first comment about Clinton was he thought she was very pretty. When I asked which would make a better president for the U.S., he immediately said Clinton. He felt she had stronger management skills. He described Trump as extremely egotistical and having strange ideas.

I didn't ask about hands.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Taking the Dog for a Ride in Jieyang

I didn't see anybody asleep on a moving motorbike today, but I did see one especially awake rider.

dog with a front seat view rides a motorbike with a man in Jieyang, China.

It reminded me of a dog riding on a different pair of wheels two years ago in Hengyang. I don't see dogs on motorbikes every day, but I wouldn't call it an unusual event. More rare is successfully capturing the fleeting moment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Leaving an Ephemeral Mark: Another Lesson from Jieyang

Yesterday two lessons came to mind after unexpectedly making an impression at a Jieyang shopping center.

Today at the same location, a related lesson came to mind: even when an impression you make appears to be nearly set in stone, it can quickly disappear.

a flat unmarked patch of dried cement

On the side, I wonder what was going through the mind of the bank security guard as he watched me take a few photographs of this patch of ground. I may have made a longer lasting impression that way.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaving a Mark: Lessons from Jieyang

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I approached a shopping center in Jieyang today, including the various obstacles in my path such as the motorbikes, the common-in-China stools, or signs indicating a bank's dedicated parking area.

front of a shopping area with parked motorbikes, plastic stools, and parking signs

So as I walked to get a closer look at a storefront sign, I effortlessly weaved my way without much thought. But then suddenly I had a sinking feeling.

Soon I was reminded of two important lessons about life.

1. How you make an impression on the world often happens in ways you don't expect.

large footprint in wet cement

2. You won't be the only person to leave an impression.

small footprint in wet cement

On a more pragmatic note, I'm mildly pleased I decided to wear a worn out pair of shoes a bit longer despite having already purchased a replacement pair.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Sunny and Fishy Day in Jieyang

After a number of cloudy days Jieyang, today's clearer skies inspired some to head outdoors.

woman drying a large number of tiny fish on a table standing in the street in Jieyang

After all, the weather was good for sunning your fish.

drying tiny fish in the sun

Friday, February 26, 2016

Resting on the Go in Jieyang

Last year I was impressed by a man sleeping on a motorbike in Hengyang, Hunan. Today in Jieyang, Guangdong, a similar sight zipped by.

child sleeping on a moving scooter in Jieyang, China

Despite the closed eyes, though, the apparent grip on the side of the motorbike makes me question whether the child is asleep. Either way, it was a reminder there is nothing like an early afternoon nap.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Assorted Links: Hurt Feelings, Less Love, Less Info, and Mao's Holy Mangos

It has been a while since I semi-regularly did "assorted links" posts, and I would like to return to the practice. To kick things off, here are a few links with brief excerpts and little or no commentary.

1. David Bandurski addresses some questions about a common phrase heard from China when it is not pleased with foreigners' or other countries' actions or words:
In 2007, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters that diminutive Saint Lucia had “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

This was quite a feat for Saint Lucia’s 183,000-odd residents, given China’s population of more than 1.3 billion.

Is China really so sensitive? Why must it resort to such petulance? . . . And what on earth did Saint Lucia do?

2. Lilian Lin and Chang Chen report China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has suspended yet another gay-themed show:
The Web drama, which follows the lives of four high school students played by fresh-faced actors, has generated buzz on social media ever since it went online about one month ago. The show’s Beijing-based production house said that the drama was viewed more than 10 million times in the day after it premiered.

3. Edward Wong and Neil Gough report that gay-themed shows aren't the only thing the Chinese government is further clamping down on:
Chinese leaders are taking increasingly bold steps to stop rising pessimism about turbulent markets and the slowing of the country’s growth. As financial and economic troubles threaten to undermine confidence in the Communist Party, Beijing is tightening the flow of economic information and even criminalizing commentary that officials believe could hurt stocks or the currency.

4. Finally, Benjamin Ramm tells the fascinating story of how mangos became "holy" during China's Cultural Revolution:
To quell the forces that he had unleashed, Mao sent 30,000 workers to Qinghua University in Beijing, armed only with their talisman, the Little Red Book. The students attacked them with spears and sulphuric acid, killing five and injuring more than 700, before finally surrendering. Mao thanked the workers with a gift of approximately 40 mangoes, which he had been given the previous day by Pakistan's foreign minister.

They had a huge impact.

It's hard to top the mango story. So that's all for now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Brief Look at Some Movie Posters in Jieyang

Building with the Rongjiang Theater on its upper floors

It has been a while since I shared two movie posters which caught my eye in Shaoguan, Guangdong. So I will mention when I passed by the Rongjiang Theater today in Jieyang, Guangdong, I noticed a poster for Mermaid (美人鱼), a new movie from Hong Kong (a review).

Mermaid (美人鱼) movie poster in front of the Rongjiang Theater in Jieyang, China

On the poster was a schedule for today's showtimes.

movie showtimes at the Rongjiang Theater in Jieyang

Notably, two of the three movies are in Cantonese, a common dialect in Guangdong. Most people in Jieyang speak the local Chaoshan dialect, which is very different, in their daily life. But the few people I have asked told me they are able to understand Cantonese, if not speak it. The third movie is in Putonghua, a standardized form of Mandarin and China's official language.

Nearby were other movie posters. One pair represented future and past movies with a space theme.

Like the Midnight Whispers movie poster I saw months ago, the Star Wars poster includes an error. This one made me think of The Shining (spoiler alert: relevant movie excerpt). Perhaps the error wouldn't have occurred had they used the Chinese poster, though that version raised other questions.

I had intended to see if there was anything interesting to say about the Space Panda movie. But an online search first led me to a potentially seizure-inducing video about the Space Panda video game. I am guessing it is of no relation to the Chinese movie, but it has left me feeling like its best to stop here regardless.