Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Times are a changing

For some unknown and not spoken reason, security is on the rise here in China. Airport security really upped the checks and fistfights broke out. I do not understand this but it is not uncommon. For some reason when the Chinese are made to wait they get very upset. Big Daddy was at a railway ticket booth that opened five minutes late one time and he said it became a pushing and shoving free-for-all. All Chinese believe they should be first and they cannot accept the concept that there is only 1 first.

Anyway current advice is to arrive 2-3 hours before flight time. This will never work in China. These people are trained to walk up at the last minute and get their ticket and queue up at the gate. The queue has nothing to do with lining up, it is a gathering of people at one point, followed by a contest of who beats whom to the finish point.

One thing I have learned here is that when you train a Chinese person they will never deviate. Changes are not allowed. How the hell are they going to re-train an entire country.

My guess is that being first explains the Chinese airline pilot, that is really Korean by birth, that would not yield to the Mayday of another airplane when landing in Shanghai recently. I am sure the Captain, pilot flying, was urged on by the FO, we do not wait, that is silly, our job is to be first.

Since Piers Morgan thinks the Chinese are the best of best maybe he can teach them to queue. Y'all know Piers gets on my last nerve.

Big Daddy said the heightened security even reached the trains today. A fully outfitted policeman slept next to him on the train. Never saw police on a train before.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trader Joe's grocery bags

One thing we made sure to do one our last trip home was to bring back Trader Joe's insulated bags. They have zippers and capacity and are made to carry grocery items.

Big Daddy went to the City shop and gathered our food. When he was checking out he heard a scream and shouting. A woman threw herself on him and hysterically cried for information on where Trader Joe's was located in China.

This was sad. There is no Trader Joe's here. And she was obviously having a Shanghai low moment. Her husband was patting her shoulder as she sobbed.

It can be very hard to live here.

Joe Biden hilarity

First the Chinese dissed poor Joe because he ate at a regular restaurant instead of the Golden Palaces used by the Chinese Government people. And then Joe left a tip. Goodness Gracious, someone did not tell Joe that we do not give incentives here in the land of Mao. People may come to expect payment based on performance.

Then good old Joe announced how he thought the "one child" policy was well thought out. How choice equates to the aborting girls policy boggles the mind. But that is just Joe. I am sure Joe would be just as happy with Jack instead of Jill, not that there is anything wrong with that.

But according to the China Daily, also the source for the above information, the real faux pas that Joe committed was his disdain for the awful stew, known as Chaogan. It is offal stew, and Joe instead chose the noodle dish.

Onto our boring little lives, Big Daddy got a drenching Saturday. I was getting my roots blond and BD was buying a bread knife. The heavens let loose with such a downpour the street was under 6 inches of water in a heartbeat. BD was in the street at the time. He dried out at the coffee shop near the salon, the one without water, so he had juice-they could not make coffee.

This gave me a moment of introspection, I, dumbass as I am, for some reason thought that the people selling coffee used bottled water. The water in China is not potable. Boiling water may get rid of most of the nasties if it is done properly. I am not sure making coffee gets rid of all the nasties. But I know it does not get rid of the metals and other things we are not supposed to drink. Like certain chemicals. I remember 20 years ago when I was selling real estate their was a huge concern in Michigan for people drinking from spring-point wells for agricultural chemicals that became "potentially" more deadly when boiled. You had to have wells tested by the health department before you could sell the property.

I think I am off Starbucks for now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yummy, part 2

We have been eating dinner in the Italian restaurant in the hotel. The staff is hilarious, they call us by our first names as if we are the best of buds. First thing she said to me the second evening, so Nola, do you want the same wine tonight. Then she proceeds to hide the bottle as far from me as possible so I will not be tempted to pour it myself. I did get points with Big Daddy for requesting Big Ice with his Tonee water, they brought the glass with usual 3 small cubes and an ice bucket. They all stood there in shock as BD added the ice to the glass.

We ordered the exotic sounding appetizer of what I imagined to be a tiny Monte Cristo concoction on the savoury side. Big Daddy agreed it sounded nice and unusual. It was fried mozzarella sticks. Actually the food was good 2 nights in a row, much less money last night and still nice. I had pasta with lobster and it was about 9 dollars. I was surprised at how well it was done.

I asked the Chef, yes the famous Chef, for a staff picture and he immediately agreed. The wait staff did not want to join in but the Chef said yes, all the people that prepared and served the food. Very democratic of him. And yes that is my wine glass on the counter, and yes they made sure and made a note of the fact I took it to my room.

This afternoon I am having Ayi problems, they showed up with the Chinese Jabba Jabba again and we have had lots of Jabba Jabba and pointing. Finally a Manager showed up and asked me what the problem was. I have no problems, I just can't answer the Jabba Jabba questions. I did get them to remove the dirty coffee cups and glasses. And I got fresh towels. And we decided that I can make a bed if they can't. WTF, if this is the Crowne Plaza standard some shit must have gone down in the states that I missed. Do we get extra points for cleaning our own rooms now?

Update, they brought new coffee mugs and 2 wine glasses, one normal and one from the Italian restaurant, exactly like they took away. There is a spot in the bar console for wine glasses, none of them fit the cutouts. This is why I am drinking the hotel dry.

Inquiring Minds need to know

Does anyone know what this is?

I cannot open it or find a switch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yummy for the Tummy

This is part of my breakfast.

I have a fall-back routine for places where I am not happy. This is close to becoming one of those places.

Breakfast Routine

The first day I pick out my food. The second day Big Daddy picks out my food. The rest of the time I order room service.

 This morning is day one, I meandered around the dining room and picked out a muffin, some grapefruit juice, some watermelon and some cheese and meat. I only pick out very small portions in case it is awful. Chinese food looks much better than it tastes. This was not bad. Then I ventured on to the cooked food. First item is always fried rice as it is usually edible. Nothing else struck my fancy so Big Daddy got the cooks to make me an omelet. That is the large yellow thing on my plate. As I was awaiting for the omelet the Chef decided we needed to have a chat. He was very chatty. He was very proud of my choice of the fried rice. Then he decided to tell me everything I never wanted to know about some noodle station. Somehow he started putting food on my plate, the steamed dumpling with BBQ'd pork filling and chicken feet. The brown things are the chicken feet.

Now don't be alarmed, as the Chef explained to me the Phillipino people don't know shit as they think the chicken feet are dirty. But he washes them and cooks them many, many times. Boil, fry, boil, fry.

As I took my seat at the table BD looked at my plate and questioned my unique selections. I knew someone had to eat this shit and it was not going to be me, so I made him try the chicken feet as this was not his first time at the chicken rodeo. The steamed dumpling was not horrible if you had no other food available. It was light and airy and tasteless with a sweet pork filling. And yes, the Chef came over to see how we liked the food. Thank goodness I had left before that visit.

Crowne Plaza is not up to snuff yet. They must have rushed to finish this to take advantage of the Summer Universiade, it is located just down the street. No extra lock on the door-but the hole is there, no turn-down service and I had to call housekeeping to get the room cleaned. The exercise room is good but you cannot see the television from the equipment. The pool looks great but the construction noise in that area is horrendous.

I will tell you tomorrow about dinner, I will need 2 visits to describe that one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh My Goodness

Pictures tomorrow for those of you that love construction sites.

We are at the brand, spanking, new Crowne Plaza. Yea, can you feel my excitement?

I got just a little taste of it all today.

I got to see the toddlers in butt crack pants. I got my hair pulled by the idgits on the plane sitting behind me. I got to see how they hand out China turnpike cards to asshats to stupid to pull along side the booth, they have a basket. This would have been a perfect Kodak moment but Big Daddy was in the back seat questioning his supplier on why, if they really did read their email this morning, they did not do shit all day to fix the problems.

When the manager came up to fix the room and explain things we found out why they do not have a book of hotel services. He actually called a hotel menu book, which they do not have. That is because they do not have many services, including the Beautiful Room. And dammit, that is the one I wanted. He did however fix us up with glasses and an ice bucket.

Going down to dinner soon, if BD ever gets back. He went downstairs to get the Superstar Desk Clerk to send a Chinese email to the dumbass supplier where to pick him up tomorrow. Don't ask, I did and the look I got made me pee my pants.

Rant of the day; If your job is to copy my passport and note the Visa information and entry stamps, do not ask me where to find it. It is in Chinese and you are Chinese and that is your fucking job. The next time I will call a manager and make you lose face.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Weirdness Continues

I got this the other day, aluminium on canvas. It fit my mood.

Harry Potter movie was actually better than the last book. Glad I am done with that nonsense, but I had to see it through to the bitter end.

Pirates of the Caribbean Part 4013, sucked. But again I am judging this against summer television: The Bachelor Pad and Ice Loves Coco. I would pay good money to talk to the asswipes that agree to go on these television shows if they would really and truly tell me why they thought this was a great idea. Another burning question in my mind is why if you have crappy hair and are overweight would you agree to wear a white bikini and no hat on television.

We are trying to plan our vacation around this stupid tooth implant again, St. Augustine, Florida. Good food and weather in October, plenty of walking around stuff and ghost tours. And The Fountain of Youth from Ponce De Leon, a really old and run-down tourist site with undrinkable water from the fountain. The Hilton looks good and they have carriage rides.  

Well it looks like we are flying to Shenzhen tomorrow for a dose of real down-home Chinese, if we stay at the Best Western we can go to the famous fake market and buy some crappy fake shit. Or some seriously under priced South Sea pearls if everything works out to my liking.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Get a Job

These guys are making brooms, tomorrow they will sweep the streets.

Some people work hard for the money.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Alrighty then.

That is the correct spelling for alrighty in case some of you are not from Detroit.

I got the latest, and last Harry Potter and it is in English and pretty good quality. The new DVD store has a Big Screen and shows you the DVD you purchased, just in case it may be in Russian . And they gave us free small bottles of water, which they reminded us constantly was free. And if we come back we get more free small bottles of water. WTF.

Watching the movie now, get back with y'all later.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just a bit dodgy this week

I am in a funk. No reason, nothing happened, just in a funk.

Went for a walk with Big Daddy thinking anything is better than the apartment funk.


Bunch of asshole young men decided to block the sidewalk. I politely told them to move their asses. Then I asked BD if they were following us to beat on our asses.

Bought suspect fruit from the Chinese side of the street. We will see tomorrow. Place smelled bad but right now everything in Shanghai smells bad.

Whacko bitch asked for employment opportunities in our household and then asked for our food. As she was as well dressed and clean as we were I think it was a scam.

Cretins went out the door to the apartment building as we were going into the building and let the door slam in our faces. Although they looked Chinese, I am going to give the Chinese a break and assume they were Martians as no one can be that fucking stupid.

Good news of the day: Met a guy on the ride up the elevator and he spoke to us. He was British or Aussie, who knows they don't speak often enough for me to tell the difference, but he was decent.

Still in a funk though. Lighted all the candles and turned on all the phony candles and after dinner we will have movie night. Still do not have the latest Harry Potter or The Help so that is pissing me off.

Off to funkville for me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The new school year

I went to 12 different schools in 12 years, elementary through high school. I spent 3 years at my high school and 3 years at one elementary school. There were a lotta changes in those other years. I noticed over time the things I missed in this hodge-podge of education; I never diagrammed a sentence, I never understood math, I have poor grammar and punctuation skills. I did learn Tennessee history and State's Rights, that I was tone deaf and music lessons were futile, I could not sing, and Home Ec was stupid if your mother had no interest.

Back in the day, you know when everyone walked a thousand miles to school (I actually have family that claimed to take a boat across the ditch) there were lists of things you must bring with you. My mother  was not big on those lists. The only thing I remember my mother doing to accomplish the get these kids in school chore, was to wear a hat . . . once. Guess the hat thing did not work out as she never did it again.

Anyway, when I was in second grade I went to another new school. And a day or so later I was moved to a new classroom. So here I am in the new class and I do not have the stuff I am supposed to have. I think they put me in the wrong grade and then fixed it. Whatever, I was the kid without the stuff. When the lessons came up and you did not have your stuff you had to sit in the hall stairway as punishment. I spent so damn much time in the stairway I knew everyone in the school. There was no talking in the stairway but people gave you the look.

No flashcards, sit in the stairway, no jump rope, sit in the stairway, no whatever the fuck you need, sit in the stairway.

This is the same time I got the horrible stomach pains. I remember being paralyzed in pain and not being able to breathe without pain. The pain would last for 4 or 5 hours. I remember going to the hospital for tests and I remember the doctors saying "We need to see her when she is in pain". When you can't talk because of the pain that just does not work out well. Especially if you have a mother that can't figure out when her child is in pain, much less how to buy flashcards and a jump rope.

This is why I hate those damn lists for children to bring their stuff to school. There are parents that are just not that smart, or not that interested, or just plain cannot afford it, or just do not give a damn. So why are the kids left holding that humiliation?

Tomorrow, how I paid my mother back, or why my mother liked my brothers better, or why we are a non-functioning family or shit happens and get over it, because truly no one else cares.

Clean, well kinda

In the morning you strap on your harness and pulley, grab your bucket and squeegee and slop on my friends. Not sure how that hard hat is going to help if you fall 28 floors.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fall Clean Up

Every six months the hotel tears out these fountains and puts them back together. This time they seem to have found a bathtub at the bottom and called the local bicycle cart junk man to haul it away. Good riddance.

I tried to post the building washermen hanging by a pulley outside my balcony but China is fucking with the Internet again. Some dust-up in a place that can't be named, hint hint, read the New York Times, and whammo the net slows to a crawl.

Met a guy from Scotland yesterday. He told me is a Hong Kong citizen so he could screw everyone out of taxes. He told his daughter that I was a nasty bitch for smoking in a dark bar while the sun was shining. He drank pints while his 3 year old fidgeted to leave the dark and smoky bar. Then he pissed me off. He told me the U.S. was responsible for every nasty thing that ever happened in the history of nasty shit and that the attacks on September 11 were all our own fault.

As I blew my smoky circles over his pint I looked him in the eye. And I said one word. Lockerbie. Yea, dude how is the dying asshole y'all gave to the cretin from Libya?

Talking about who stood up and took names and who voted to change citizenship for profit, well . . . hmm.

And I did not raise my child in a pub. And really if he is all that wealthy and he cannot afford a nanny, well WTF. His wife was probably home screwing the Chinese pool boy

Yea, yea people you meet in bars can be suspect idiots, this is just the worst one I have met in 15 or 20 years. But where else are ya gonna buy coffee beans that are affordable as we are not all filthy rich ScotsHongKongians.

On to politics, now we have the woman who will not answer questions, the Mormon who did everything wrong or the Texan with a wink. Running against the man in very expensive government purchased buses railing about our carbon footprints. 

Oh yes, I watched a horrible movie last night, Jumping The Broom. What were those people thinking? It was a horrible movie. At 12 cents it was overpriced. And still no Harry Potter latest movie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

President Obama how are you going to compete with this

These are the dorms where Big Daddy's current suppliers house their employees. So if this is Chinese middle class how is Obama gonna sell this as the way for Americans to build and sell products globally?

Keepin' it real

As I have explained before Chinese employers typically include food and board in the employee compensation package. Remember those workers committing suicide throwing themselves out the windows and such? Yea that is the rooms, dormitories with sometimes 9 to 12 people sharing a room. Above is the food portion, company canteens to feed the workers. Sometimes if you are a lucky customer they invite you to eat in the canteen. Or if you are picky about your pig intestines you can have them get you KFC instead.

This is why the suppliers are so eager to take the customers to dinner, only decent food they ever get. Even managers live like this, only going home on weekends if they are lucky. I think that is what makes the one child policy fairly easy, not much opportunity.

Really, really bad thunderstorms this morning early and now very dreary. Of course, Big Daddy is flying home this afternoon and he says Shenzhen is sketchy in the weather department too. Hope it clears up I need new orchids this weekend and balcony plants.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Daddy is having fun

Big Daddy is traveling in the bowels of hell outside of Shenzhen this week.

First hotel was a Chinese 5 star, no CNN, HBO or any English speaking stations.

Second hotel had a "Weeding Garden", that is how they pronounce wedding. I asked if he took a fuzzy picture for me and he forgot. Told him to get one when the driver picked him up. Then he tells me he told the staff that wedding was misspelled and they were very, very upset. So he gets downstairs for his ride and the Weeding sign is gone. He gets into the brand spanking new Mercedes with the sticker still on the window and the battery is dead. His driver had a solution. Keep turning the key until you wear the starter out. Guess they don't have roadside assistance in China.

His suppliers cannot afford light bulbs or heat or air-conditioning or WIFI but the all have very expensive cars.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I am pretty sure we are back in Shanghai

Brain seems to think we are in a dream state which I cannot understand as I am sure I have slept for about 20 hours. It was a fairly bumpy ride, only the turbulence and the trolley woke me up. The latter is due to the fact that the trolley hit me every trip it took up and down the aisles. And I am amazed at how bad the food was on this flight. Even the FA's were commenting on it. Worst meal was the chicken smothered in BBQ sauce sitting on sweet potato puree with green beans mixed in.

Big Daddy almost got into his first major China incident of the "Return to Shanghai, part 10". The illegal taxi drivers were in high accost mode when we landed and followed him and another white lady into the elevator. I had wisely taken the escalator and missed the showdown. The taxi driver took command of the elevator and and demanded they all get off and ride into town in his illegal taxi. Then the white lady, who had obviously had enough, told him to get out of elevator or she would kick him in the fucking balls. He must have had a fairly good understanding of English (probably one of my former ESL students) as he ran off and hid.

When we got back to the apartment I had a great plan, I would guard the bags at the entrance and smoke and BD would take the first bags up and return for trip 2. For the first fucking time in history the doorman decided to help us. The doorman could not figure out how the wheels and straps and handles worked on the bags. When we got to the elevator BD got on first with his load, the doorman shoved his load in and punched some buttons and then everyone screamed at me to jump on board with my 2 bags. I jumped on, the doorman scurried away and the doors would not close. I could not move as I was squished into the tumbling bags, the alarms are ringing, BD is trying to pull the largest case inside the door tracks and finally we are underway. That is when we noticed that 10 random floors below our apartment are lit up and yes, we stopped at all 10 floors. At two in the morning this was not fun.

So far the only bright spot is the rosemary plant we left in a bowl in the kitchen survived and is happy back out on the balcony surrounded by his dead cousins.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Once again sitting and waiting

Flight delayed due to Typhoon. I am hopeful we make the plane, it takes off and arrives in one piece and we have electricity when we get there. I guess we have to fly between 2 typhoons. Hmm.

We got to have a last lunch with Punkin Head after spending the morning at the bank. When the flight was delayed we took our time and tried to relax.

Waiting for the Metro Car and hope that plane takes off when they said it would. Who knows.

Right now it is raining here like we are in a typhoon. What a mess for the last day at home.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Last minute details

Every Pharmacist in town has told me the only place to get dental wax is from the dentist, his office is closed on Friday of course. So I am hopeful what he gave me lasts until I can find a dentist in China with the wax. And I have never seen a Chinese person with braces so I am not sure that the wax is widely available.

We have what we need but not what I wanted. However I do have enough Dramamine to choke a herd of water Buffalo if needed. And red nail polish as that is a bitch to find.

Packing will commence tonight and the usual arguing will ensue. Big Daddy is already in travel babble mode and Punkin Head is looking at me like we are crazy people.

BD is cooking farewell steaks for our dinner with Caprese salad, should be able to chew the tomato this time.

More later.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yeah, right

Had to start using the blister pack of phony synthroid today. These are the pills that only come in 2 doses and you must cut them to your required dosage. This is not making Mama happy and we all know how that goes. Oh yeah, there are some Chinese people gonna feel the wrath soon. They are not gonna be singing when I am done with them.

Manicure and Pedicure turned out wonderful and it was fun touching base with old friends.

Bought Big Daddy some bath salts that were on deep discount in cute little jars. The one good thing in China is the soaking tub in our apartment and every hotel. The jars are just the right size to take with him and bring back unused bath salts. He asked me if that would be his "Stone Barrington" moment from the Stuart Woods novels. Stuart is always in the tub and BD is following in his footsteps.

BD is making garlic soup for dinner and that is good as the teeth are really starting to ache. I have a special lunch tomorrow so I will be taking the max dose on the Advil a couple of hours before we eat. I can't take them very often as they mess with my IBS and diverticular problems.

Sad news Bubba Smith, Michigan State Alumni and movie star passed today. Sadder news everything on the Detroit media gets worse and worse, Kwame is on his way home to Texas to regroup for his Federal trial. Oh and Aretha Franklin's song writing dude has filed suit against her and she is pissed.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time is running out on the home leave

Just back from the last scheduled dental visit. I have this hunk of metal shit cemented to my teeth wire a spring on the side. The spring rubs my tongue. So I have packs of wax I have to roll up and mush it over the metal and spring. So pretty much I have a glob of wax on the side of my mouth. I can't wait to try to buy this in Shanghai.

Went to the store to buy fat people clothes and the good news is that everyone is my exact size of fatness so I am average fat. The bad news is there were no clothes left as the other average fat women bought them out. WTF.

Got a new hairdo this morning and hair lady approved my new color.

Big Daddy has a meeting in the morning so I don't need to rush and then we can go to the bookstore and the drugstore for odds and ends. Punkin Head got us some great books but the are older and not books I want to leave in China so those must stay home.

I know I should not be doing this right now but I have been following the AF447 crash and reading the transcripts from the final minutes. It is damn scary how those pilots handled that incident and how out of touch they seemed. Some of the pilots on the website I read are astonished that this could happen. You better believe I will be eye-balling my pilots when I get on the plane back to China.