Saturday, December 13, 2008


Qustion: What do you do when you can't afford a car but don't want to walk..... shelloo, ride your bike of course! Bikes are cheap, convenient, and most of the time faster than the bus or a private car (traffic is horrendous, don't even think about going anywhere during rush hour!) I think if "Pimp My Ride" started working on bikes more people would want to ride.

This is Mike's death trap: it has over 25 pounds of steel, no brakes, and is operated by a man with a need for speed.

Almost everyday we ride through what are referred to as 'villages'. They consist of tightly quartered homes and business with very narrow streets.

It's hard to acurately describe villages and these pictures don't do it justice, but I hope they help. The villages are very traditional and actually being phased out by the government and replaced by high-rise apartment buildings. While this may seem terrible, I can't imagine that the cramped quarters are very comfortable to live in and most are very old and in terrible condition.

The communities within these villages are very tightly knit. They all support one-another both emotionally and financially. They could probably subsist on their own for quite some time. I caught this picture of three generations and thought it was so typical. People sitting out in front of their home enjoying the weather, life moves at a different pace here.

Real men play chess. Chinese Chess is soo incredibly popular here. They have little 'gaming corners' all over the city where men gather and compete, or just watch. This is an average sized crowd that has gathered on a Sunday afternoon to watch two people duel it out. Notice the stools they are using, they are huge here. They are cheap, easy to make, and portable.

Construction is everywhere and you can never guess what's going to be gone next. The other day Mike went out to get water and the same place we've gone since September. He came back saying that the entire street had been torn down and was no longer there. It's crazy, where do these people go?

I consider myself a candy connoisseur, and it's under this title that I make it my duty to try all things that look least once. I found these a few weeks ago and have been DYING to come back. They have a crepe-like exterior and a creamy filling that comes in three different flavors: red bean, white cream, and a vegetable-type filling. The lady thought I was a total freak for wanting to take a picture with her but whatev. What can I say, I dig Asians.


Brent Danley said...

It looks like he needs more air in his tyres. does 'e stop?

Great post, Kim. I hope you keep it up regardless of where your travels take you.

jeannette stgermain said...

those little cakes look delicious, what are they called in Chinese? (I wanna tell my son who teaches English in Nanchang, Jianxi). Yeah, i know about the traffic - since we were there only a week, just crossing the street was heart-stopping (have to say that it was because our son did it the Chinese way).
With the villages, do you mean "hutongs" - I made a painting of that - will send it to you sometime-cheers, jeannette

sparkyballet said...

From my understanding of what a 'hutong' is their are two definitions. One being a gathering of rooms around a central courtyard area. The other being a series of very narrow inter-connected streets. By the first definition, no these 'villages' would not be 'hutongs' as from what I can see of them they have no central courtyard, just a series of cramped homes and business'. But if you mean the second definition then yes, by the narrowness of their streets these would be 'hutongs'. Most people also associate 'hutongs' with Beijing and I am several hours southeast of Beijing in a city called 'Jinan'. Sorry for the lengthy answer I hope I helped to clarify that.
I will have to ask my Chinese friends what the name is. I know that food varies a lot from city to city so this might be food that is only prepared in certain provinces of China.

sparkyballet said...

Brent: Haha! He probably does need more air. The man he takes it to when he has problems calls the bike a money pit. There is always something wrong with that bike, Mike loves it though and that's all that matters.
Mike has two different methods of stopping, the first being riding around in slow circles till he loses speed, the second, his 'emergency' stopping is putting his feet on the ground and using his running shoes as brake pads.

Burbidge Family said...

That bike pictures is classic. I can only imagine what it would be like to try to pick your bike out of the middle of that pile!!! I must say you are pretty brave to try as much food as you do.

LeBaron Family said...

I'm soooo glad to know you have a blog!
How fun that you are in China!

Anonymous said...

honestly kim, those cakes look nasty!!! How can you classify those with candy??

sparkyballet said...

Natalie: When your only two choices of American are KFC or McDonalds, venturing out is not so much a choice but a, but we do have fun with it.

Megan: Thanks for the welcome!

Emily: Puhleeese, you are totally missing out on an entire sub-culture of candy by limiting yourself. The Asians may be the last ones on the band wagon but they are catching onto the candy craze and doing it well! : )

Kirsten Danley said...

A vegetable filling in a candy. Hmmm...sounds intriguing. Seriously!

I like Mike's methods of stopping, especially his "emergency" braking. LOL! Enjoyed your post Kim!