Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A al Carte Grocery Shopping in Beijing

As I get ready to go home for the summer, I've been in a thoughtful mood about the past 10 months since I've been in the U.S. I'm not sure if all people are like me, but I'm so interested in the psychology behind being expats and our experiences, how it shapes us.

So as I was thinking last week, one of things little things I realized I would miss going home this summer is the completely a la carte grocery shopping experience.

Market at one of the ShunYi communities
While grocery shopping here is a laborious and often frustrating process for expats, I really enjoy the ability when shopping for meat, veggies, fruits, spices and some other items to buy just as much as I need.  In the US, I often feel that I overbuy certain items because I have no choice but to buy the smallest size and it is still WAY more than I need.

An example, shallots.  I rarely use shallots, but I have one recipe that calls for shallots and I've only found one way to buy shallots in the MidWes U.S. and that is by the bag.  It isn't a large bag but it is still way more than I need.  I can't just buy a shallot or two, I've got to waste an entire bag of shallots.  Yes, I'm sure someone out there has a way that I could freeze my shallots and not let them go to waste but as a mother with young ones, that's really the last thing I want to have to worry about most days.  I just want to buy 2 shallots and get on with my money and day.

If I want 25g of curry spice, 50g of almonds, 1 small cucumber, 5 cans of Diet Coke, 2 stalks of cilantro, or 1 chicken breast I can very easily buy it.  And while I'm sure in some stores I shop, I might be able to find things piecemeal like this, it seems much more a hassle versus here in Beijing.

Imported Pepsi cost 7.50RMB which is about $1.25 a can
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there never seems to be a discount on buying MORE of something.  Whether you buy 20 yogurts or 2 yogurts they are the same price per yogurt (priced by the container).  You want a 12 pack of Pepsi, it's the same price per can as buying 3. The same could be said for pretty much anything.  No buy 2 get one 1 free deals to be had in the stores for the most part.  I think if you buy a 10lb bag of rice you might get a slight discount over a smaller bag, but this isn't by sale just by volume.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Karaoke in Beijing, K-TV

K-TV is a nickname for karaoke. A while back I got my first experience at Asian karaoke thanks to a friend. I've always heard Japan is big into their karaoke but I didn't know what to expect in Beijing.  Asia knows how to do karaoke right. Let me tell you, I walked into this K-TV joint and I thought I was at a 5 star hotel.  There were halls and halls of rooms like this one.  It was beautiful and amazing. There was a life-size horse sculpture in the foyer, and a small 20 seat movie theater right off the foyer.  

So this was what our room looked like. Two TVs for the lyrics including the music videos, microphones, a stage including a disco ball.  They had a full menu of food and drinks.  The rooms ranged from our small room for a group of four all the way up to a large group.  We went on a Sunday afternoon and it was funny to see groups of 20s-30s Chinese folks belting out the music in large rooms, drinking. 
Disco ball over the stage

Chinese song a friend sang. I can read 1 character!

I think the funniest part though was the bathrooms. We went with the family, so I took my kiddo into the bathroom and this was one of the first things I saw.  I'm thinking, "Playboy bunny, trashcan, OK this is a bit confusing.

Then I see this right next to the sign. I kid you not, this was a throw up sink.  I was flabbergasted. Can you see the little cups afterwards to clean your mouth?  Only losers throw up in the karaoke room, cool kids go to the bathroom and use the special sink. I guess the family joint can turn into quite the party central. OMG, has anyone seen something like this in the US???

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pictures of Beijing

How about some French fried squid?
Taste different than just plain fried squid.

How about an IV for your tree?

even includes a drip container!
Signs don't stop bad parking in Beijing, this is what they have to do!

Man purse!