Sunday, 3 November 2013

FC Seoul vs Guangzhou Evergrande

The first leg of the final of the ACL (Asian Champions League) ended in a 2-2 draw.
Goals scored by FC Seoul: Escudero 12', Damjanovic 83'
Goals scored by Guangzhou Evergrande: 30' Elkeson, 59' Gao Lin

The second leg takes place on the 9th of November in Guangzhou, at the moment, Guangzhou seem to have the upper hand and Seoul will have to pull off a good game away to take the win.

Because olive oil is too mainstream...

I recently stumbled upon this video which has put me off Chinese food even more than before.
Do not watch this if you are planning on eating anything within the next 30 minutes.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Ridiculous comeback in the Scottish Premier League

Motherwell 6 - 6 Hibernian
The defending was shocking to say the least, but the last goal was just the cherry on the top.

Friday, 11 October 2013

From Laowai to Laowinner

What is a Laowai?

It's not uncommon for me to be walking down the street and suddenly hear the word laowai shouted out followed by some finger pointing in my direction. The term laowai refers to a foreigner or an "alien", some may consider this term condescending, however whether it is used in a derogatory manner or not does depend on the tone or context. The bigger cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou...) don't tend to have as much finger pointing, as there are quite a few laowai's in those areas. However in Changzhou, I can walk for 30 minutes in town without encountering another fellow laowai. I have had my picture taken by complete strangers and get quite a few odd stares(more so by the older generations). Thus, the more rural the area, the greater the finger pointing and staring.

Put your belly on display

If you wish to truly infiltrate the Chinese culture, you have to adapt to local fashion. Men over here tend to pull their t shirts all the way up to their nipples during the summer or hot days. It's mainly the larger men that tend to do so (probably easier for the t-shirt not too fall down). One step to becoming a laowinner is to adapt to these local customs and proudly put your beer belly on display whilst walking around like a boss.

Spit often and spit hard

Hrrrwwwwwaaaaaa Splaat
Spitting is far from being considered rude over here, on the contrary it is a common belief that it is healthy. Furthermore when you spit, you need to make sure that you spit good, in order to evacuate all that unwanted crap that's living in your throat. It makes sense in a certain way, however it takes real skill to shamelessly do so in the middle of a crowded street. The key technique for this one is to make sure that the noise of your throat clearance can be heard by pedestrians on the other side of the road, the spitting part is merely you revealing your latest conquest.

Learn to squat

You're not going to be able to spend the whole year over here without having to use a turkish toilet. It takes real leg strength to use one of these, however it may be considered more hygienic than our western toilets. Not having a seat does make it extremely hard to pull out your smartphone whilst you're doing the deed and start playing some doodlejump. Furthermore, the drainage systems are so small that all toilet paper(yes, used toilet paper) is chucked into a bin next to the toilet rather than in the toilet itself. You can risk chucking the toilet paper down the toilet in an attempt to maintain a reasonably smelling bathroom, however you might become best friends with your plumber if you were to continuously do so. 

Master the chopsticks

I lost quite a bit of weight during my first week in China due to my incompetence with chopsticks. I mean, how exactly were the chopsticks invented? 
"Hey guys, i'm getting bored of eating, I mean, we eat 3 times a day, let's spice things up a bit..." 
"Hey I know, let's get two tiny sticks, balance 'em between our fingers, and see how fast we can eat this whole bowl of rice til the last grain" 
"Great idea, eating is going to be so much more challenging and fun from now on!"
At least, that's what I'm guessing was the reasoning behind the first use of chopsticks.
Regardless, I still struggle with chopsticks, I sometimes get finger cramps after long meals. I get a few weird looks in restaurants when I'm caught spearing a dumpling after multiple failed attempts of trying to grab it the conventional way with the twigs. However, you do get a certain sense of satisfaction when you clear your plate with the chopsticks and without the help of those wonderful, convenient and ergonomic tools known as the spoon, knife & fork.
For anyone seeking to improve their chopstick skills, I would suggest locking yourself in a well lit room and staying until you manage to catch a fly with them.

China's WTF Factor

The main cultural differences between the UK and China

There's quite a few strange things over here, however I've managed to categorise the main cultural differences within 3 different categories quite conveniently supporting the WTF acronym.

Weather: It's not so much the case anymore, but I arrived on the 20th of July at the peak of the heat wave, during which a Shanghai man supposedly cooked some bacon and eggs on the pavement. It wasn't so much the scorching sun that was hard to adapt to(mainly blocked out by the grey skies), it was the humidity. Impossible to survive without air conditioning and after 5 seconds of walking outside you would be under the impression that you just jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed.

Traffic: Pure madness. I only have to cross one intersection to get to work every morning, despite this fact, I treat every breakfast as my last. I've seen pretty much everything, scooters carrying goats and whole families, cars driving down roads the wrong way and grandmothers speeding past cars on turbo boosted electric wheelchairs. Road signs have no significance whatsoever over here, there's only one rule, the biggest gets priority. They do nonetheless have cameras on top of traffic lights taking pictures of people to verify that seat belts are being worn. I can't imagine how tedious it would be flipping through 1,000+ pictures a day of people sitting in cars to check the seat belts.

Food: After having lived in France for 10 years, the first time that I actually ate frog was last month in Shanghai(after our host told me to guess which meat it was, which I reluctantly agreed to). I'm quite picky with my food, I don't like seafood or spicy food. So this is probably the hardest adjustment for me and has resulted in me mainly eating at KFC, MaccyDs or Subway (whom know what sandwich to start making as soon as I walk through the door as I eat pretty much every lunch there). There is a saying that the Chinese eat everything with 4 legs, apart from the table. This saying has so far proven to be extremely truthful. I have witnessed chopstick fights during a meal over who gets to eat the fish eyes. They sell chicken feet as crisp packets in corner shops. Whilst walking through Shanghai I also saw some kind of scorpion brochette being sold by a street vendor. I am sure many will disagree with me in regards to my lack of nutritional curiosity (and I don't blame you, as I said above I am picky) and I mean no disrespect to the Chinese bravery in the face of food, but I do feel as if there are many things in this country that are being inexplicably orally ingested, which should not be. I miss my steak & ale pies and salt & vinegar crisps :(