Wuxi Grand Theatre

Chinese Word of the Day:  剧院
(ju4yuan4) theatre

Saturday, what a day: The belated celebration of my sixty-fifth birthday.  We started it with a bike ride to Starbucks in Wanda Plaza where I got a bit of marking done before calling Xiao He to meet me there and take me to my 1:00pm dentist appointment. I got a temporary cap on the tooth that had the root canal last Monday.  That ate up most of the afternoon but by four I was back at Wanda and three venti lattes into the day.  Ruth and I rode our bikes home.  I rode straight to a little restaurant close to the campus and ordered dinner while Ruth stopped off at home to pick up the dog, a bottle of red wine, and some aspirin for my tooth ache.  By six thirty we were at the little East gate for the trip the Wuxi Grand Theatre.

Picture: Wuxi Grand Theatre.  It's grand indeed.

Ruth Anderson photo

Ruth’s birthday present to me this year was tickets to see a violin concert.  The Wuxi Grand Theatre is huge and very impressive, with spectacularly tricky lighting that can change colour and dance all over the roofs.  We were in a small auditorium that seats 700 seats.  The main auditorium, which we didn’t get to see, seats 1680.

Picture: inside the Wuxi Grand Theatre.  Built to impress.Picture:  She's an usherette, but she functions more as a guard.  No cameras, food, drinks, or backpacks allowed.Since they don’t allow cameras in the auditorium, I had to settle for a picture of this usherette, one of a closely matched pair.  She directed us to some nearby lockers to stow our backpacks, which are not allowed in the auditorium.

Picture: violinist Kai Gleusteen and his accompanist Catherine Ordronneau.  Making beautiful music together.

The concert was wonderful.  The violinist, Kai Gleusteen, is a Canadian and his accompanist, Catherine Ordronneau, is his French wife.  A beautiful couple who make beautiful music together.  I listened critically and did not detect a single sour note through some very demanding performances.  For the first piece I felt that the piano was played too loud, and was overpowering the violin.  But then they seemed to find the balance, or maybe I was just more tuned to listen.

They played a selection of Chinese classical pieces, some of which I recognized because my friend Wang Yijing has played bits of them for me.  One piece in particular is very famous here in China.  I wish I knew the name.  It’s by turns lyrical and sweet and technically demanding allegro all up and down the neck.  All in all a virtuoso performance that had me on my feet yelling “ENCORE” as they walked off stage.  And the encore was the best part.  They returned to play one of my favourite show off pieces,  Vittorio Monti’s Czardis.    Complete with the harmonic passages.  You know the piece.  It’s the one that makes you feel like crying like a Gypsy or dancing like a Cossack.  Beautiful.  I have that piece in my violin case and keep promising myself I’ll get back to practising and maybe someday finally be able to play it.  It’s way beyond my ability at the moment.

After my loud and very un-Chinese initiation of a call for an encore, the audience seemed to catch on to the idea and called the pair back for two additional pieces.

A few words about the audience: I’ve attended concerts at this university when the audience talked quite loudly during the performance.  It was annoying and embarrassing, and I briefly posted a video of the behaviour to express my outrage.  But then I took it down again.  I’m a guest here, and it isn’t my place to criticize my hosts.  But I was worried that this concert would have the same behaviour, which could have ruined it for me.  Not a problem.  I did turn around to tap the knee of a woman behind me and ask her to stop talking on her mobile phone.  She was talking as quietly as she could, but it was still annoying.  I hope her call was important.  Other than that, there was only good behaviour from this audience.

After the concert I wanted to meet the artists.  Actually, I had intended to bring my copy of Czardis with me to be autographed, but forgot it at home.  Just as well.  I asked where we could go to meet the performers, and we were directed to the 大门 (da men, the big doors) 七号 (qi hao, gate seven).

Picture: Our view of the Wuxi Grand Theatre as we walked away to head home.So we went out and walked completely around the building without finding any gathering of anybody.  我们在中国。By that time any cabs that had been waiting for patrons had left, but it was a beautiful evening.

Picture:  The unexpected view under Lihu daqiao (Lihu Big Bridge)This view under the bridge was quite unexpected.

We walked under Lihu Daqiao, both of us stopping to take pictures whenever anything caught our eye, then failed to flag a taxi on the main road back to the campus.  Finally we ended up at a bus stop and on a bus back to the North Gate.

Picture:  This lady sells the best chou doufu (stinky tofu) in China.  Delicious.  Not good for you.The best stinky tofu in China, judging from a very small sample size,
just outside our North gate.

Since it was a cheater day, the one day of the week when we can eat anything we fancy, I had some of the best 臭豆腐 (chou4 dou4fu -stinky tofu) in China from the only lady in China I will buy it from.  We stopped at a store on our way home and each had a Magnum ice cream bar.  Then we harnessed the dog and rode our bikes to the campus commercial area where Ruth had a chocolate drink while I had a caramel macchiato.  While the drinks were being prepared I went back to the fruit store for some durian.  We sat at a table on the sidewalk enjoying our durian and drinks, watching some amazing kung fu choreography in a movie playing on the drink stand television, like being at a drive in movie.

What a great evening.  What a great way to celebrate my birthday.

Chunking in China

// ]]>

Chinese Word of the Day:  练习
(lian4 xi2) practice.

Much to my surprise, the weather turned very warm today.  Who’da thunk it.  We’re back to t-shirt weather and we took the opportunity to take GouGou to the little island for a romp.  I took along my new ukulele.
I bought a ukulele last weekend.  It’s a fun little instrument, and after years of guitar playing it didn’t seem too hard to pick up some chords and make music on it.  But I watched a YouTube video, which I can do occasionally when my VPN actually connects,  and  this guy who looks like a gang banger from East LA gave a lesson on playing “Stand By Me”.  You should check this dude out.  He’s straight out of central casting.  Problem was, he makes a sound on the ukulele that I couldn’t make.  Then I heard him slip the word “chunk” into his description of what he was doing.  I noticed another YouTube video with the title “Chunking Lesson” so I checked that one out.  This guy is even more of an American low culture stereotype.  But lo and behold, he explained the secret.  I learned something from this kid.

Picture: Ukulele practice on an unseasonably warm day at Jiangnan University.

Ruth Anderson photo

I’m left a bit humbled.  These are people I wouldn’t expect an intelligent thought from if I met them at a bus station.  And here they are, enjoying an enthusiasm for a  rather esoteric instrument that is not normally identified with youth culture.  Not only that, they are sharing their knowledge with their Internet friends.  There’s a community here.
After an hour or so of flailing around I have chunking on the ukulele pretty much down.  It’s cool.  I’m exceedingly gruntled.  I sure do love this Internet age, when kids in America can give me ukulele lessons for free.  And I’m grateful to them.

Oh, maybe I should mention that “chunking” is a strumming technique that uses the upper palm of the hand to damp the strings immediately after the strum so that they don’t resonate.  It’s used to give a rhythmic quality to the strum.  You’ve probably heard it, but like me didn’t know what it’s called.

Update:  Ruth has just twigged me to the idea that both these young men could be Hawaiian.  That would explain a lot.

Photography Phame

Chinese Word of the Day:  相片
(xiang4 pian4) photograph

A couple of weeks ago Jack, one of our colleagues here, passed on an invitation from the Wine Loft, a downtown wine bar and entertainment centre,  to enter their photo contest.  There’s the lure of attention, and possibly some kind of prize, but mostly we’d like to see our pictures blown up and exhibited.  Ruth has been a photography enthusiast for years, but never more so than since she got her hands on her new camera.  So she entered 43 pictures.  A couple of days ago she learned that two of her pictures had been selected for exhibition.  This one, of the pagoda at Nanchan Temple market.

Picture: It's looking up At Nanchan Si, Ruth Anderson photo.

Ruth Anderson photo

And this one of a photo shoot on Nan Chang Jie.

Picture: Yi er san qiezi on Nan Chang Jie

Ruth Anderson photo

I had also entered a few pictures, and was feeling a bit disappointed that nothing of mine had been selected.  And then I got the news that they wanted the original, full size, of my photograph of 里湖大桥 Lihu Daquiao (Lihu Big Bridge).  I’ve posted this picture before, quite recently in fact, so it may seem familiar to you. Picture:  Lihu Daqiao (Lihu big bridge) at night.I wanted to enter the best picture I’ve ever taken.  But unfortunately the original is not a large enough file to qualify.  I did enter a picture that a former teacher here raved about, but it didn’t make the cut. Picture:  an erhu factory in Wuxi.This looks like a very effective promotional initiative by the Wine Loft.  Ruth and I will be down there on Sunday afternoon to see what our pictures look like when blown up and printed.  No doubt we’ll drink some wine.

Speaking of pictures, Ruth now has posted the picture’s of my sister Catherine’s visit on her Flickr site  Two hundred and  fifty two pictures.  Check ’em out, and feel free to leave a comment, on her site or here.

The Shanghai Weekend

Chinese Word of the Day: 牙痛
(ya2tong4) toothache

First a word about the ads you may see appearing on this site. I’ve signed up for Google Adsense in the hopes of generating a bit of coin from this otherwise labour of love. The very first ad appeared on my site this evening, soliciting donations for Mitt Romney. I just want you all to know that I have no control over the content of ads for this site.

As I count down the last few minutes to my sixty fifth birthday, it’s been a rough weekend. I’ve had a flaming toothache. At times, like right now, it almost disappears. Then it flares up until I can’t identify the source and one whole side of my head is a ball of pain. Scenes from “Castaway” keep flowing through my mind, and I’m considering searching out a woman’s figure skate and a rock, but I’ve found that yellow wine seems to calm it down, which may account for a somewhat disjointed post. I’ve called our favourite driver and he’ll meet me at the little east gate at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I’m taking an emergency leave from my morning classes. We’ll head straight to the dentist.

In the meantime I learned a Chinese verse this evening.

牙痛不是病 ya tong bu shi bing
痛吃来要人命 tong qi lai yao ren ming

Playing fast and loose with the words in order to preserve the rhyme but not the meaning that’s:
A toothache is not a fatal disease
But it makes you feel like ‘let me die, please’.

Given the state of many teeth in China, especially in the rural areas, it’s not surprising that they would have a folk rhyme about the pain of toothache.

Picture: Nanjing Lu, the pedestrian mall in Shanghai, is always full of life and fun.But that’s been the only downside to an otherwise wonderful weekend in Shanghai. Ruth and I checked in to our favourite hotel in the core of the city on Friday evening. Saturday we wandered. I bought myself a ukelele, because I simply must have one more musical instrument to play. Ruth took me to dinner at Zen, our favourite restaurant in Raffles Plaza. Then we loaded our stuff into a cab for a ride to another hotel in the north of the city, where we were guests of our dear friend Jenny and her family for Jenny’s wedding.

Picture: Ruth on Nanjing Lu looing for another photo op.It’s always fun to visit Nanjing Lu, the Shanghai pedestrian street, but I didn’t realize how much protection Ruth gives me. When she went off to take photographs, I went looking for a pharmacy for some clove oil for my toothache. Three different pimps approached me, showing pictures and offering me a lady. I’ve been thinking: When the next one approaches I’m going to tell him I don’t want a lady. I want him. Let’s see if he’s as willing to sell his own body.
Clove oil turned out to be unobtainable at any pharmacy.  I did find some pain tablets, which seemed to do nothing at all, and an absolutely horrid spray medication for topical application.  That didn’t help either.  Yellow wine is the only answer.

Picture:  For some reason, Chinese people want their picture taken with foreigners. Foreigners continue to attract attention in China, even in cosmopolitan Shanghai. We’re often approached by strangers wanting to have their picture taken with us. Usually these are people visiting from out of town, like these folks from Anhui Province. The Shanghai residents are all too familiar with foreigners.

Picture:  Mobile blood donation in Shanghai, provided you are younger than fifty-five.These lively young people were trying to attract donors into their blood mobile. The young man had a bandage on his hand.  I asked if the girl had bitten him.  That was good for a hearty laugh.  Turns out she’s his sister.
I asked if they wanted my blood, and at first they were very enthusiastic.  But then they asked my age.  Apparently once you are over 55 you are not an acceptable blood donor in China.  I asked why not and was told that it was because of my health.  That is disturbing.  I think my blood is still plenty functional, but another door slams shut because of age.

Picture: Wedding lunch for 30 tables of ten guests each.  Delicious food.We arrived at our new hotel late Saturday evening, and were greeted very warmly by Jenny and her family. Sunday we were ferried to an eleven o’clock luncheon served to 300 guests.  Another Chinese feast, with yet again dishes I’ve never seen before.

After lunch we were driven back to our hotel, and told we didn’t have to check out.  We could just leave our stuff in our room until the evening when we’d be given a ride back to Wuxi.  I washed down some aspirin with yellow wine and had a nap until it was time to leave for the dinner and wedding.

Picture:  This is a picture of the poster that greeted guests.  The above picture is of the poster that stood at the top of the stairs to the wedding reception hall.  Our friend Jenny was looking incredibly beautiful all evening.  A little Chinese doll.  And her husband also sparkled.  Literally.  He had sparkles in his hair.  Together they looked like they’d stepped off the top of a wedding cake and inflated to full size.Picture: The Bride and Groom arrive at their wedding amid the firworks litter.

The bride and groom arrived immediately after a great burst of fireworks.  You can see the remains littering the ground here along with the heart shaped ash trail.

Picture:  There were fifty tables with ten guest each.  You do the math.This was the setup for the wedding and dinner.  Serving about five hundred guests.

Picture:  Free cigarettes for each table.  Just a part of hospitality.Ah, the social aspect of smoking, a good part of its appeal.  Like some cheerful Father Cancer, this gentleman visited each table handing out free packs of cigarettes.  Later the bride and groom followed, with Jenny lighting cigarettes for the guests and encouraging even the non-smokers at our table to light up.  The young men at our table accepted cigarettes reluctantly, but “Not even for you, Jenny,” Ruth told her.  At our table the smokes were extinguished as soon as the bride and groom moved on.

Picture:  A few of the attending children at Jenny's wedding.This was the least produced of all the weddings we’ve attended recently.  I really enjoy seeing the kids running around between the tables, and the grand parents and other relatives so obviously enjoying the event.  Family is what it is all about here.

After dinner Ruth and I had our turn in the spotlight, singing our new Chinese song, 大中国(Da Zhong Guo / Big China) and our wedding standard “You Belong to Me”.  Both very well received.  And then it was time to go back to the hotel and pick up our bags.  Jenny’s classmates at Jiangnan Daxue gave us a ride back to our door in Wuxi.  How tough can it be.

Update:  The Root Canal in China

As arranged last night, I met Xiao He at the small East gate this morning.  After a stop at Starbucks to get me a birthday venti latte, we headed downtown to the dentist.  Feng Chenchen remembered me and took charge of my treatment, first sending me in for an instant xray then upstairs for Novocaine and removal of one of my ancient crowns, then finally back to the first floor to have the root canal itself.  Not too much pain involved, and certainly worth it for the relief I’m now feeling.  I have to go back on Saturday afternoon for a temporary crown, and a third visit will be required for the final version.  Today’s bill was 105RMB or $16.65 Canadian.  Try that back home and check out the bill, folks.

Ruth took about a thousand pictures over the course of the weekend.  The best of them will be posted to her Flickr site soon.  So be sure to check them out.  And thanks for visiting.  Don’t forget to leave a comment, or wish me a happy birthday.



Winkle Bearing Lobsters

Chinese Word of the Day: 上海
(shang4 hai3 literally “up sea”) our current location, Shanghai. We in the west pronounce this with the emphasis on “hai”, but the tones call for a falling tone on the first syllable and a falling and rising on the second, which puts the the emphasis on the first syllable. The first character, shang4, meaning “up” is very easy to remember because the vertical line and dash are above the bar. The opposite, 下 xia4, meaning “down” has the vertical line and dash under the bar.

Actually Winkle calls them lobsters but we’d call them crayfish. Whatever. Winkle delivered them to us yesterday, but I forgot to take her picture. So we invited her to join us for lunch today and help us eat them.
Picture:  Winkle delivers lobsters.

Picture: Winkle with lobster pot.Winkle, whose Chinese name is Guan Yingying, had alterior motives. She needs a letter of reference because she’s applying to a school in Singapore where she’ll study for her masters in Business Administration. I’m only too happy to provide that, even without the lobsters.
Winkle is one of my favourite Chinese friends. She sparkles. I met her six years ago when I was asked to put on a special English class for non-English majors. It was a limited class, and there were hundreds of applicants. So I very choose the very best students, and Winkle was one of them. I scored a couple of great young friends with that class, including Zhu Kaining, our friend George. You may have seen George in previous posts. And Winkle for that matter. We keep in touch.

Picture:  Winkle and Ruth eat lobsterPicture: Ruth eats lobster.  Check out the picture over her left shoulder.That is a wedding invitation in the background of this picture.  Total accident, but that’s where we are now.  I’m posting this from a Starbucks in Shanghai.  We’ll be here for the weekend to party out my sixty-fifth birthday and our friend Jenny is getting married on Sunday.  Stay tuned for that.

One fun incident on the way to the train station this afternoon.  We stopped at a bank to get some money out of the bank machine.  I pushed the “take card” button but then stood there counting my money until the machine sucked the card back in and informed me my session had timed out.  Yikes.  Fortunately it happened at a bank that was open.  Still, it took me half an hour to get my card back.  Lesson learned, I hope.  That would have been really inconvenient if it had happened at a machine without a bank attached.

The fast train took us to Shanghai Station in what seemed like fifteen minutes.  We caught the subway to People’s Square and walked down to our favourite hotel.  No reservation, but fortunately that didn’t matter.  We asked for a room with a double bed.  The girl at the desk sent us to the twelth floor, to a room with two single beds.  Don’t Chinese married couples sleep together?  This is the third time this has happened at this same hotel.  So back to the front desk and a short pause before we were sent to room 711, dropped off our stuff, and made it to this Starbucks to start writing this post.
On the way we picked up tickets to “Looper” now playing on the fifth floor of this mall.  I started writing this post, then ran out of time so we took a break and got an adrenalin rush for an hour and a half.  Now I’m back in Starbucks, about to press publish.  Ruth has gone off to take pictures on Nan Jing Lu.  She just phoned to propose we go to the Starbucks there, but I am already seated with my second venti latte of the evening.  So she took my order for a Subway sandwich.  Time to get some food.

Dinner with the Students

Chinese Word of the Day:  东道
(dong1 dao4 literally “east road”) = host.  Why east road?  Because traditionally the host sits at the eastern place at the table.

Our students invited us to dinner this evening.  Lots of beer.  Lots of food.  Lots of laughter and loud talk.  Fun.  they collectively picked up the tab, with a contribution from one of their teachers.  They wouldn’t let us contribute at all, not even when I added to the bill by ordering 黄酒 (huang2 jiu3 yellow wine).   Sometimes the hospitality of China can be overwhelming.

Picture:  The student party.  Great fun.

I could hope for better pictures, but there was no way I could capture this event in my camera.  You had to be there.
Earlier today after class our sparkly friend Winkle came by with lobsters from her home town as a gift for us.  She’s currently preparing to go to Singapore for further studies.  I meant to take a picture of her and the lobsters, but in the rush to get to the student dinner I forgot.  I’m hoping she’s coming for lunch tomorrow to help us eat crustaceans.  That will be the time for a picture.

Stylish in China

Chinese Word of the Day:  时髦的
(shi2mao2de) = stylish

If you are wondering what the stylish young blade wears to university in China, here’s one representative sample.

Picture:  one of my more style conscious students.  Bright kid.

I’m starting to see more and more of this look around campus.  Rolled up pants showing a couple of inches of bare ankle.  Shoes with no socks.  Reminds me of some era from the past but I can’t quite nail it.

Anything like this showing up in Canada these days?


We Sell Sushi but We’re Chinese

// ]]>

Chinese Word of the Day:  文章
(wen2zhang1 literally “literary composition + item”) = essay

Today we spent the afternoon at Starbucks marking student essays (Sweet angel of death take me now. Okay, it’s not that bad, not like working for a living. But still it was a grind.) Since it’s our cheater day we followed that up with a lasagna at Pizza Hut, then headed up to the third floor to see if there was a movie we wanted to watch. (Somehow Jaws 3D in Chinese failed to attract us.) That’s when we noticed the Japanese restaurant doing its very best to be Chinese. Chinese flags everywhere. Some time ago I posted about the ugly rumblings in China over the Diauyu/Senkaku  Islands.

Picture:  Japanese restaurant trying it's best to be Chinese.The big flags flanking the door, and the tiny flags on the counter for each place setting, are an obvious plea to the more volatile element in China to not hassle the staff or throw things through the windows, two results of having anything at all to do with Japan that are well within the realm of possibility right now.

Picture:  Chinese flag at every place setting in the Japanese restaurant.  More flags than customers.So the restaurant had more Chinese flags than customers.

Perfect Night Bike Riding Weather

On the way home we stopped our bikes to take a couple of pictures. Wuxi sure is colourful at night. The big Ferris wheel was putting on a light show for us.

Picture: The big Ferris wheel at night just before Lihu Daqiao, the Lihu Big Bridge.We’re having a wonderful fall season, and I rode my bike home wearing just a T-shirt.  And trousers of course.

Picture: Lihu Daqiao (Lihu Big Bridge) at night.  The right side is the bicycle lane.  There's one on both sides.This is the big bridge on Lihu Blvd, appropriately named  Lihu Big Bridge.  In this picture you are looking down the bike lane. There’s one on each side of the bridge, which would make it safe to cross the bridge if it weren’t for the electric scooters coming up silently from behind and passing unexpectedly. I may enter this picture in the Wuxi Through Foreign Eyes photography contest that’s coming up.

Cottage Cheese in China

Chinese Word of the Day: 晚饭
(wan3fan4 literally “evening food”) = dinner

One of the things I’d been missing here in China is cottage cheese.  Low fat cottage cheese is a wonderful substance when I’m watching my weight.  It goes great with anything, and replaces butter and any other lubricant you can think of.  But I’ve never seen it in China.  Our friend Elaine gave me a recipe for making cottage cheese, and before the summer I tried it out.  I found that Elaine’s recipe overcomplicated the situation.  There’s no need for a specifically wooden spoon, or hanging the results in cheese cloth.  The cottage cheese I make is plenty dry enough.  In fact, I usually add back some of the whey just to make it softer.

So you don’t really need a recipe.  Just take a litre or two of milk (any kind except UHT.  I usually make it with skim) and pour it into a sauce pan.  Heat the milk until it’s almost boiling, stirring constantly so as not to scorch it to the bottom of the pan if you’re not using a double boiler, then add white vinegar a table spoon at a time.  You’ll hit a point where the milk curdles.  It seems to do this all at once when you reach a certain PH level.  If you add the vinegar carefully and stop as soon as the milk curdles, the vinegar leaves no detectable flavour.

Elaine’s recipe called for using lemon juice instead of vinegar.  That works, but I don’t like the resulting lemon taste.   I’d recommend you go with the white vinegar.

Pour the results through a sieve and let the whey drain out.  We use the whey in cooking: Anything that could be cooked in water can be cooked in whey.  Dump the curds out of the sieve into a container.  Salt to taste.  I usually chop the cottage cheese up into larger curds and add some of the whey back.  I find the sieve cleans easily if I just rinse it with cold water.

Picture: Baked potato with a cottage cheese stuffing.

A little cottage cheese in the baked potato is a good substitute for butter, and far healthier.

Picture:  Salmon and squash dinner with cottage cheeseA bit of cottage cheese on the squash really adds to the dinner.  Making the cottage cheese turns out to be beyond simple, fairly quick, and very satisfying.

P.S. congratulations to Mo Yan and to China for winning the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature.  Presumably they will allow this peace prize recipient to accept his award.


Chinese Word of the Day:  超市
(chao1 shi4 literally “to exceed/surpass” + “market”) = supermarket

After a rather gruelling day of paying individual attention to student essays, which kept us both well past the bell at five o’clock, and a quick dinner we set off for the north gate to meet Xiao He and go shopping.  We do this usually once a week, and I’m going to post about it here simply because it is so ordinary.

So here’s where we go shopping.  This is the supermarket called Auchan, about ten minutes from our apartment.  Xiao He drives us there, waits while we shop, and drives us back to the little east gate, the closest gate to our apartment.   He charged us 30 RMB for this, $4.70 Canadian at today’s exchange rate.  In the past he could pick us up at our door and take us back there, but for some reason the black taxis are no longer allowed on the campus. If you think there’s anything difficult about living in China, check this out.

Picture: The electronics department at Auchan.The first thing inside the entrance is the electronics department, with mobile phones, televisions, cameras.  Past that is cooking ware and back packs and suitcases, shelving units, batteries, tents, and all manner of household items.

Picture: Auchan market sundries and household items.Auchan stocks such a variety of goods, from dog food to garbage bags, that it’s a surprise when we can’t find something that would be quite common back home.  Like dish racks.  I’ve never seen a dish rack in China.

Picture: Auchan shoes.Then we move past clothing and shoes and pharmaceuticals and laundry supplies to the start of the food section.Picture: Auchan French bread.Chinese bread is generally horrible.  Too sweet and more like cake than bread.  But this French bread is just what you would expect.  They used to make a whole wheat version,  which we much prefer, but they’ve stopped doing that and now only produce the bleached flour white bread version.

Picture: Auchan bread and meat.  Perfectly ordinary.Past the bakery is the deli, with a wide variety of Chinese ready to eat food.

Picture: Auchan deli.  No Italian or Mediterranean, and much deep fried.

Picture: Auchan pumpkins and veggies.Picture:  Auchan greens.

Of course this wouldn’t be China without things a foreigner would find exotic.

Picture:  Auchan durians

Or disturbing.

Picture: Auchan eels

Picture:  Auchan supermarket frogs

Picture:  Auchan supermarket fishSometimes Auchan stocks Norwegian salmon, but not today.

Picture:  Auchan supermarket fish tankPicture: Auchan supermarket liquor section.Picture:  Auchan supermarket scotch at 66 RMB/bottleAt 66 yuan a bottle, that’s $10.26 Canadian at today’s exchange rate.  Did I mention that there’s no sales tax in China.  The price you see is the price you pay.  So of course I had to try this brand.  It’s okay.  If they were charging a hundred dollars a bottle for it, I’d probably think it was great.  But at ten bucks a bottle it will work just fine.
On this visit they were out of Breezers, and apparently Bacardi isn’t making them any more.  So that’s a minor disappointment.

Picture: Auchan supermarket beer section.  The Chinese do love their beer.The advertised price there is 2 RMB per can, or about thirty cents Canadian.  And it’s not bad beer, though Ruth and I seldom drink the stuff.  Correction.  I seldom drink beer.  Ruth never drinks it, having lost her first fight with it as a teenager and been turned off ever since.

Picture:  Auchan route to the dairy products.There is a foreign food aisle, and Ruth stocks up on muesli every time it’s available, which it hasn’t been for our last few visits.  Our last stop is usually the dairy section where we stock up on milk, butter, cheese and yogurt.

Picture: Auchan dairy section.  Very limited stock of cheeses and milk.The dairy section is full of things we would never drink, but a very limited selection of milk and cheese, with no cottage cheese ever.  I’ve learned to make my own, but that’s for another post.
After the dairy section it’s on to the checkout.  That’s one place where we notice a big difference between a supermarket back home and here.  In this supermarket there is no moving belt, just a stainless counter.  That’s not a problem but where the purchases land past the checkout is a small sloped area.  Obviously the Chinese are used to shopping more often, for smaller quantities.
We’ve posted about shopping in China before, and Ruth has done a lot of translation of labels.  So if you are looking for anything specific, click on this link.  And there’s more buried in the archives someplace, but I’ll have to hunt it down.  I think the main take away from this post is that exotic China is very much like home now.  So much so that it feels rather silly to take you through a Chinese supermarket.

I love to get comments, so please click on the link below and at least say hi.