Archive for November, 2012

Home is where the highway is

November 28, 2012

In China, the unstoppable progress juggernaut has claimed the homes of millions of people. From the relocations due to the flooding of the Three Gorges, to the entire Olympic facility and a bajillion miles of highway in between, nothing can seemingly stop it. Except for this man that is. Upon refusing to vacate his home, this stubborn individual now lives in the middle of a highway. The Government will normally pay out people for their homes, offering them the same amount of space but in apartment. Sometimes if you had a particularly large home, you would get several apartments out of the deal. This poor guy simply wants another home. In the Chinese future, unfortunately that particular luxury is becoming fewer and further between (well unless you’re a party member of course), with high rise living being the new norm.

This particular house was labeled a ‘nail house’, which is a Chinese term to refer to people who simply wont move when ordered to- ie ‘stubborn nails’.

A famous Chongqing nail house

Behold, pumplings!

November 20, 2012

Busy! That’s this week’s excuse! Four times a year I’m hit with a pretty hefty publication deadline, and yes you guessed it, this is one of those times. As I have been completing my course programming for Summer 2013, I have also been completing my Cert IV in Training & Assessment, while continuing to study Mandarin.

Last night marked my final Chinese class of the year, so the class hit Chinatown to a place called the Red Emperor and got our dumplings on. Funnily enough, since moving into the city, I have felt a bit disconnected. I haven’t had a regular dumpling haunt and it’s phased me a little bit. We’ve tried a number, including an awesome Japanese cafe’ named Yoyogi on Swanston Street, but hey, I miss Ramen King!

I am also fairly certain that the Red Emperor is where we had a farewell dinner with friends and family back before we moved to China. It’s been a few years now, and my perception of Chinese restaurants has changed somewhat. Back then it would have been oooer ahhh a Chinese restaurant in the city! Prestigious! These days it’s just eh, another cheap eatery with passable dumplings. That’s not to say the food there wasn’t good, it was quite hao chi actually.

I ordered a few of our regular dishes, trying to covert my classmates to the cucumber (+soy/garlic/chilli) salad that Courtney and I always order, and the shredded Sichuan style potato dish (+vinegar/chilli etc) which were both hits. Along with a range of dumplings I also came across a dish I don’t believe I had ever eaten before – but it was one of those dishes that has you saying, how the HELL did I not know about these?

These were pumpkin cakes – or pumpkin dumplings – hell, I don’t know what they’re called. One guy jokingly said they were called Pump Dumps – while his girlfriend called them Pumplings! PUMPLINGS! HAHA I freakin’ love it!

Anyhow, I am not normally a fan of pumpkin, but these PUMPLINGS are bloody delicious! They’re like small, deep fried cakes of puree’ pumpkin, and they’re sweet. They’re actually a dessert, so you wouldn’t go dipping them in your soy or chilli oil or what not. But god, are they delicious. I only managed to get two of them in total, but I swear, had the others not been there, I would have destroyed the entire plate. You can be assured I will be ordering them on a very regular basis.

In other news, I am thoroughly loving living in the city. It is without doubt one of the best decisions we have ever made. But more on that later 🙂

MMmmmm pumplings!

City of exhaustion

November 5, 2012

I used to always consider being a removalist as one of the worst jobs conceivable. When I actually think about it though – the moving portion is really not too bad. I mean, when you’ve done it a hundred times, you’d have a fair head for what to move into the truck first and last, and applying the rules of tetris to every item in between. There’s none of the packing, the organising, the unpacking and the backbreaking cleaning (both at the new place and old).

Well today we finished moving the last items across, and finished cleaning the old place in Box Hill. Christ – we were absolutely *exhausted*. On top of this, it’s been hellishly muggy the past few days. All I can say is I am so glad – so glad, that that portion of the move is over. Now we get to simply enjoy living in the city and enjoy the freakin awesome view from our new little pad’s balcony (see below!). Here’s to that!

Helloooo Melbourne!

Farewell, Box Hill

November 2, 2012

I write this post feeling a little sad for tomorrow we are moving away from Box Hill and into the city. On the bright side, I have always wanted to live in the city – like, right in the CBD, though on the downside, I really like living in Box Hill. I’m a sentimental kind of guy, and while I do like change (hell – moving to China was testament to that), I also do get all funny when moving on from somewhere I have enjoyed living.

Box Hill is a great little suburb. We moved here just after we returned from China back in early 2009. We picked this suburb because it was like China – and it is. Not only could we find many of the local dishes that we discovered in China, but it also had a similar vibe and energy that we had come to enjoy. It also had a decidedly lack of the typical aussie bogan surburbanites, other than the occasional band of druggies between the centres.

We capped off our final night as Box Hill residents eating at one of our old favourites. When we first moved here it was known as DC Dumpling. The people here were always super friendly, super welcoming, and most importantly, the food was delicious. They have always provided one of the most delicious hand-made spring onion pancakes we have ever come across, and their xiao long bao’s are exactly what xiao long bao’s should be – delicate and delicious. A xiao long bao just isn’t the same when it’s in a thick casing. At some point along the way, DC Dumpling renamed itself to Dumpling Specialist – and it was quite possibly the best move they ever made from a business point of view as it suddenly became the ‘white people’s’ dumpling location of choice. We used to dine there among the Chinese – and when it changed its identity, it lost a lot of that charm. It became just any other Australian restaurant. It also was recently renovated with a fresh paint job (which you can still smell incidentally), a brand new chairs and tables. Again – with all the paintings made by kids gone, replaced by a big generic painting of flowers – it’s just not the same. (ps. also try the cucumber salad – cucumber + garlic + soy = happiness)

Ra Ramen was the same – once a quaint little super busy eatery with dumplings to die for – then expanded into the shop next door and went downhill. Ahhh.

Anyhow – I will miss Box Hill. I will miss the way it changes from day to day, with new restaurants, and weird little shops popping up and disappearing equally as fast. I’ll miss wandering into town and enjoying one of the amazing Vietnamese rolls from Baker’s Hill cafe upstairs in the new Centro, then washing it down with a coffee. I’ll miss the predominantly Chinese atmosphere and everything that goes along with it. I’ll miss it when white folk turn up my nose and look slightly surprised when I say I live in Box Hill and love it – because of course, with that many dirty Asian’s living there, it must be terrible!

 

Next stop – Melbourne. Zai jian, beloved Bok!

 


%d bloggers like this: