User Comments - tysond
Posted on: Chinese Food at Foreign PricesNovember 25, 2013, 06:39 AM
Touristy places in China are a real problem. They rip off foreigners and Chinese alike, although with different tactics.
Anywhere that is "famous" is worth avoiding. It has long turned into a tourist trap full of bad food, touts, liars, and scam artists. If I go to tourist locations I go to reputable, real restaurants nearby.
Stick to the regular areas of China and I find people are generally pretty honest. Get within 500 meters anywhere tourist buses stop and it starts to get dodgy.
I spoke to a guide once who went independent because she couldn't handle the lying and deception that goes with being a tour guide in China. Many guides actually pay for their group (that's right, they pay the agency to guide the group that is already paying the agency) and then they make the money up by taking you to restaurants, shops etc that offer kick-backs. In her younger days she was almost in tears with a group who worked her hard but refused to buy anything, so she was losing money.
Posted on: A Tale of Two Labor UnionsNovember 05, 2013, 10:48 PM
When I came to China I found it very strange that the union (and every workplace seems to have one) conducts all sorts of activities and benefits. None of them are particularly beneficial, but the sheer number of benefits is and gifts is staggering. If you are an intern, half the cost of your employment can be allowances like a daily lunch allowance. I am constantly being pestered to select a fruit basket or a tea set, or change the restaurant of my lunch allowance, come and climb a mountain with my colleagues, or claim for a summer trip or health club.
Posted on: Suitable AttireOctober 29, 2013, 07:17 AM
I have been to so many weddings in Asia where people showed up in t-shirts, shorts, whatever. Men were usually worse than women. Students were particularly bad (no money for clothes), and several of my friends actually called every single male student before the wedding to tell them specifically what to wear and threaten them (just telling them didn't work, you must threaten). Even so some would show up in t-shirts and then get a huge scolding from their friends.
In China people show up to interviews in t-shirts all the time. And not even nice t-shirts - cheap looking ones. And t-shirts with English of them are often not real English or say provocative things, nobody seems to mind.
Posted on: Strange Chinese FoodOctober 13, 2013, 11:10 AM
Lots of my friends come to china and eat scorpions, fried starfish, pupae, and other weird stuff. Usually I don't eat that kind of stuff... But the other day I did have a dish of fried bees. It tasted like... Fried food.
Stinky tofu, duck neck, chicken feet, century eggs, these are all fine, usually a Chinese friend will order them at some point. Lung is ok sometimes you don't even notice. Liver used to be a common dish in the west so no issues.
Drunken shrimp - I ordered it by mistake one time and ate about 20 to save face. They stop moving when drunk. Bite the middle below the head and suck out the meat.
I didn't know they did balut (mature chicken eggs) in china. Good to know sometime someone will offer it to me. I have seen dog meat in a restaurant in Beijing down the road from me.
Posted on: Discounts on DianpingOctober 13, 2013, 10:48 AM
My team used a group buy in Beijing a few weeks ago. We had $100 USD budget for a team lunch. Seven people had sushi, sashimi, grilled meats and seafood, fruit, deserts, soups, curry, etc as a set menu. We didn't even reach $80. No problem with the service. Good lesson. When you can start reading Dianping reviews your dining options in China really open up.
Posted on: Candy PartyOctober 13, 2013, 10:13 AM
Actually I have some trouble understanding children so appreciate the effort to add real children. After such a lesson I can only imagine the amount of candy required as payment.
Posted on: My Friend is InsideSeptember 29, 2013, 02:47 AM
It does take a significant amount of time to learn "the characters" depending on how deep you want to go. It only takes minutes to learn one character, but learning thousands takes many many hours.
Whatever you do, you'll end up having to use a radical/component based technique to decompose characters, then memorize them by building stories out of the pieces. Until I did this I couldn't remember more than around 150.
And you'll want to use a spaced-repetition system to revise them efficiently so you don't forget them due to lack of exposure. If you are in a semi/full immersion environment (e.g. solidly reading 1 hour+ chinese a day this might not be so necessary). Just walking around in China won't exactly do this unless you can read the signs/menus etc and hence are using them actively all the time.
Finally, you need to devote time every day to learning them. I spent 1 hour a day over a year to get a pretty good knowledge of how to write the 3000 most frequent characters. After that effort characters are not a big issue anymore.
Posted on: Visit to a Temple (Part 1)September 15, 2013, 11:32 AM
If you are living in Beijing or visiting with a fairly long time in the area (say more than 10 days) - I would highly recommend going for 2-3 days. Especially in summer time to escape the Beijing heat :-) Great temples, palaces, gardens. Was used in a lot of the early scenes in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
It's not on the foreigner tourist roadmap. There are almost no foreigners in Chengde, and apart from a few high season weeks there's no huge crowds (unlike Beijing).
They speak quite standard Chinese (perhaps more so than Beijing). If you are at HSK3+ you can use your Chinese almost exclusively to get around and do things.
I went and did a 3 day homestay there, spent 4 hours a day visiting tourist sites with a Chinese teacher, learned a lot and improved my listening and speaking a great deal in a short time. LTL school in Beijing organized for me they call it "Chengde Safari".
Posted on: Visit to a Temple (Part 1)September 14, 2013, 11:48 AM
Good lesson. I have used a lot of this vocab while visiting temples in Chendge recently. I hired a Chinese teacher to come with me and we had a lesson at the same time as visiting the temples.
If you do come to China, recommend you study this kind of lesson in advance, it will make your trip much more enjoyable as you can explore the culture and language all at the same time.