Archive for April, 2009


April 29, 2009

We have decided in the past few days that we’re going to find ourselves a tutor to continue learning Mandarin. In so many situations we find ourselves listening intently to Chinese people speaking the language and our ears prick up at each and every recognisable word.

We learned a large amount of Chinese prior to living in China and even more while in the country. While we can piece together quite a large number of words and phrases and also navigate the country quite comfortably, we are still nowhere near being conversational.

So the short-term goal is to pay a Chinese tutor once a week at first and continue learning the language that really interests us. It’s difficult, but so very interesting.


April 27, 2009

Chinese school Daping high school for girls which is in the city of Chongching has recently won an international soccer tournament. The team went on to win the prize by beating Germany. It was later revealed that the reason for the victory was that only 3 of the team members were actually from the school – the rest of the team being from the national team itself. The principal, Zhang Jianling initially denied cheating but later came clean.

“In order to have a best result in the tournament, we used other members in the team without making it known to superior government and the public,”  he was quoted as saying.

“What we have done goes against sportsmanship and has undermined the image of our city as well as soccer’s development in China”

Cheating in Chinese sport? Well you can colour me surprised! Recently in an unrelated story, Chinese teachers and parents were also charged with assisting students pass their university exams. The teachers had been paid by the parents to provide small electronic devices to the students so they could in turn feed them the answers. Saving face to the extreme! Well until you get caught that is.

A long time between drinks…

April 21, 2009

img_0250It’s been a long time between drinks and I bet you went so far as to even think I had lost interest? Wrong. Well, not entirely true, I have just been super busy with moving, starting a new job, etc etc. Add in a period of no internet at home and well the end result is no activity.

So we have moved into the town of Box Hill. Situated around half an hour east of Melbourne it’s well-known for its large Chinese and Vietnamese population. Can you guess what drew us there? Bingo! Box Hill had two main allures to us, firstly it’s on a busy train-line which suits us perfectly as it means an approximate 10-15 minute train ride to work for both of us. And secondly of course, the food.

In some ways Box Hill is like a mini-version of China. There are areas where it comes fairly close – just minus the chaos, the rubble and the pollution. The place is littered with a myriad of different restaurants to which we have only begun to scratch the surface. It cracked us up to notice that a Xinhua bookstore had recently opened on the corner of Station Street – with the Xinhua red banding we knew so well. It was also good to see it had the celebratory flowers outside the door – we oddly felt at home.

We headed into town on Saturday night and went to a restaurant called simply Sichuan Restaurant. We had seen this place before and went there specifically looking for certain dishes we miss from China that have since not been able to find in Australia. This restaurant was buzzing and was filled with 99% Chinese people. This alone is a good indicator that the food inside would be what we were looking for.

The restaurant specialises in hot pot – a dish that we have still somehow yet to have. That didn’t matter however, we had other things on the agenda. We sat down outside amongst the Chinese and immediately felt like the minority. We couldn’t believe it when the women behind the counter referred to us as ‘laowai (foreigners)’ in Australia!! Even in our own country we’re still somehow the foreigners to them.

We found the dishes we ordered and were overjoyed that they were almost exactly like the ones we so loved, but so missed. The deep fried green beans were spicy and salty perfect. The shredded potato and chilli wasn’t the same as in China but was not too bad. The other dish we ordered was a spicy beef and bamboo shoots combination which was likewise pretty fantastic.

I can’t explain it, but we feel a closer affinity to all things Chinese since living there. It’s like we left a part of ourselves there and continue to miss it on a daily basis. I for one can’t wait to return there someday soon.

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