yang wawa

posted in: china, travel | 0

we’ve just come back from several weeks of holiday in Hong Kong, China (Shenzhen and Xiamen), and Taipei–and wow, was baby S ever popular! especially in China, where girls (and the occasional guy) on the street would often come up and ask to take a photo with him:

Extremely popular in China

(same thing with waitresses in restaurants, shop attendants, etc.)

Extremely popular in China
Extremely popular in China

(not everyone was so forthcoming–some only stared after we passed by)
head turner

it was all a little bizarre… and then on the train from Shenzhen to Xiamen, some little kids saw the baby and started yelling “Yang wawa, yang wawa!” over and over, and were so excited to pet him:
Yang wawa

I asked my parents what “yang wawa” means–and I didn’t quite understand their translation. But perhaps this google image search will give you a (terrifying) idea of what our baby apparently looks like to Chinese people.

how Ai Weiwei got his name

posted in: china, words | 0

well, this is according to Wikipedia, but it’s cool if true: Ai Weiwei’s father was a famous Chinese poet called Aì Qīng (艾青). But that wasn’t his real name; his original name was Jiang Zhenghan (蒋正涵), styled Jiang Haicheng (蒋海澄)–in addition to his numerous pen names.

Anyway, this poet was tortured and imprisoned in 1932 for opposing the Kuomintang (KMT) party. While in prison, he wrote his first book Da Yan River–My Wet-nurse (《大堰河——我的保姆》)… But while writing his surname (Jiang) he stopped at the “艹”, because he resented sharing the same surname as KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek (“蔣介石”). So he finished the rest of the word with an X. This happens to be the Chinese character ai (), and since the rest of his name, Hai Cheng, meant qing (, the color blue), he adopted the pen name Ai Qing.

sounds like an interesting family.

Self-portrait by Ai Weiwei: its caption(草泥马挡中央, "grass mud horse covering the middle") sounds almost the same in Chinese as 肏你妈党中央, "Fuck your mother, the Communist party central committee". (The Australian via Wikipedia)

mala xiangguo (麻辣香锅)

posted in: china, food | 0

Mala xiangguo is a new dish I discovered on my last trip to China; and I’m hoping someone just recently invented this, because I don’t know how I could not have tried it before! After seeing people line up for this dish at different food courts, we finally tried it at a sit-down place called… yep, the name of the dish. (ma la xiang guo = “numbing spicy fragrant pot”)

Unfortunately this is a post-eating shot, but you can see it’s for spice lovers. You could say it’s kinda like a dry version of hotpot… Basically there’s a counter with raw ingredients (similar to what you would find for hotpot), and your server fills a gigantic metal bowl with whatever you tell him. Then after choosing either regular or really spicy, the cook does some sort of magic cookery while you wait for its final delivery to your table. YUM! and NUMB!

I believe you pay by weight at food courts, but at this particular restaurant it was a set price. which apparently also included ice cream to cool you down after (or maybe even during?) your meal–like this guy here, who we watched alternate bites between the bowl and his two cones:

a day at the beach… in Dalian

posted in: china, food, travel | 0

Since it’s December and minus 15°C out, I thought I’d write about the beach. Or at least about the last time I’d been to a beach, which was in Dalian on China’s Northeast coast.

Dalian was rated China’s most livable city in 2006–a fact that kept popping up everywhere we went (or maybe we were just watching too many CCTV commercials at the hotel). Dalian also happened to be the site of a massive pipeline oil spill in July, equivalent in size to the Exxon Valdez accident (though I suppose this is minuscule when compared to what was happening in the Gulf of Mexico at the time).

Anyway, we were curious to check out the beaches since we were there barely 3 weeks after the oil spill.

business as usual

As far as Chinese beaches go, things appeared to be normal for August: i.e., insanely crowded + blazingly hot. We opted to stay away from the crowds and crossed over to a rocky area by the water. No oil residue in sight!

…and only one wedding photo shoot.

[the job of the woman behind the bride was to throw the train of the dress high into the air–imitating a gigantic gust of sea wind, I guess?]

The heat was too much, so it wasn’t long before we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel… and after some rest and A/C, we headed to a sichuanese restaurant and had some of my favourite dishes for dinner: shui-zhu-yu (fish), pickled cucumbers, and yu-xiang-qiezi (eggplant). woot!

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