Monday, December 31, 2012

What's in store for you in 2013 at ASIC?

Around this time of year, many across the world will sit down with their pens, note pads, laptops, iPads and what not to compile a list of the things they would like to accomplish in the following year. I usually don't write this, because I rarely achieve 40% of what I wrote at the beginning of the year. Also, like most, I forget about this list by the second week of January! What I like to write however are weekly and monthly goals, because I like to take on a task few at a time, making sure to give myself a reasonable time frame to complete them. Setting monthly goals also helps break seemingly large tasks into smaller chunks.  

However, for 2013, i'm trying something new and fresh. I've decided to write out a set of goals for myself, breaking them down into monthly goals. And at the end of each month, i'll check off the ones I accomplished for that month and reward myself financially based on how many tasks I cross off the list for that particular month.
                                               Me squished in the Train on my way to work

So what are some of my goals that are related to AfroSista in China (ASIC)?
Well, not a lot really. But you can look forward to these...

1) Get a NEW layout! I've been meaning to pretty up my blog for months now, but unfortunately i'm technically challenged, and so I've resorted to staying with this basic layout. However, my plan for January will be to have a really cool layout before the end of the month. And i'm going to do this all by myself!

2) Post at least once, preferably twice a week, meaning I should have at least 75 postings for 2013. Though I no longer live in China, I still have so much to blog about and i'll keep doing that until I run out stuff to talk about ;) And then may be the blog will get a new name like AfroSista in [Insert Country]

Morning Rush hour at Si Hui Subway station, a Terminal Station

3) Feature some of my favorite readers and bloggers

4) Have a more fun and interactive blog :)
I have lots of these!

5) Include basic Chinese in my post, with translations of course!

6) Oh, and one more thing, post more of my photos in China. Also in January, i'll have a slide show running on this blog and also open a fotki or some sort of  photo uploading/sharing website. Pictures do speak louder than words!

These guys were "privileged" to have me in their brief but unwanted photo shoot

What are some of your goals for 2013? And for you bloggers out there. what are some of the things we should look forward to on your blog for 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year and Thanks for an Awesome Year!


As the year comes to an end and we prepare to enter a new one, i'd like to pause and take the time to thank each and every single one of you. From the frequent to occasional and even the one-time readers who have taken the time to read my posts, leave comments and even took the extra step to send me a personal email.

Through this blog, I have improved my knowledge on the world atlas, since I've had to check where certain cities or countries are located on the map each time I get a visitor from such countries. I look forward to receiving visitors and readers from countries on the Pacific, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and many more. 

Thank you again for being a part of Curious Kinks and now AfroSista in China.

I wish you and your family a great 2013, I hope it's filled with many joy, good health and wealth.

I look forward to reading your comments in 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!

In light of the season, I'd like to wish all my readers and followers a Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.
Around this time last year, I managed to snap some photos around Beijing since that was my first and last Christmas in the city. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of lights, trees and other Christmas decors that were intricately displayed on buildings, streets and public squares. 

Here are some of the pics I snapped around this time last year with a brief description of each photo. 

Two Santa clauses at Xidan (a large shopping district in Beijing) handing out a "wish/luck" card to write a wish on.

After writing on the card, you tie it anywhere on the Christmas tree. Writing on a piece of paper and hanging it on some sort of object is a popular practice in China, as they are very superstitious.

Toy Story? at Sanlitun, an International Shopping District

Christmas Tree at Sanlitun

 Still at Sanlitun
These Lights changes colors!

Xidan subway station on Christmas Eve
Xidan Shopping District

Christmas lights on the 3rd ring road 

A Christmas present one of my students gave me. By the way, it's an apple. An apple? you might ask. Well, the Chinese word for apple "ping guo" sounds like "ping an ye" which means peaceful night or what we call Christmas Eve. And so people will give each other an apple wrapped in beautiful wrapping papers. You'll also find street vendors, supermarkets and little shops selling them around Christmas Eve. Don't worry if this doesn't make sense because I still don't understand how an apple relates to Christmas eve.  

To see how Xidan looks like at night, you can visit this site.

Jeeze, I need to get back to actually writing more on this site! I still have a lot to write about, and in case you're wondering, I haven't forgotten about the Facts vs. Myth series.

Anyway, I hope the season brings you lots of joy and warmth. Have a safe Christmas! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Myth #6: Main form of transportation is Bicycle

A big MYTH! This was an initial culture shock for me after stepping outside of the Airport.  I was surprised at the vast variety of luxury cars that were cruising the streets of Beijing. I mean, it wasn't like I was expecting everyone to be riding bikes everywhere, but I sure wasn't expecting an entourage of Audis, Cadillac, Mercedes, BMWs and practically almost every luxury car model in just one city. But then again, when I found out that about 20% (200,000 people) of the country's millionaire live in Beijing alone, this quickly made sense.
A bike parking lot at a major shopping center in Northwestern Beijing

May be if I had gone to the country about 30 years ago, then this would have been a FACT. However, the country is changing at almost the speed of light which makes most of the stereotypes we have about the country to be nothing more but stereotypes.
Liangmaqiao, Chaoyang. An affluent part of the city
To emphasize this myth, my very close Chinese friend and her boyfriend can't even ride a bike! I was shocked when she told me, because I thought EVERY local can ride a bike, since that was the main form of transportation back in the day. She then told me that she didn't need a bike since she is from a small town where everything was within a walking distance. However, someone from a big city like Beijing might need a bike.

Xidan; a major shopping district in Beijing

To add, people of all ages ride bikes to get around, I mean I was always surprised each time I saw seniors riding bikes around the city, especially when they have an 80 pound or heavier grandson/daughter siting at the back! And sometimes my jaw drops when I see a "poor" senior with a tonne of stuff stacked sky high on his/her tricycle.

Talk about overload!

To conclude, I believe the major form of transportation in a big city like Beijing is the Subway!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Myth #5: Staple food in China is Rice

This is well, partially a MYTH!, Although if you live in a city where rice is consumed during practically every meal, you might be led to think this is true for everywhere else in the country. For some parts of the country, the staple food can be steamed buns, noodles or a flat bread (sort of like Indian Nan).


Though i'll have to say that rice is eaten more frequently than other types of food since since it is consumed in many different forms and variations. And so it's not uncommon for an average Chinese to eat rice 3X a day, 7 days a week. For example, at a summer camp I worked at, we were served rice three times a day! Our typical meal schedule was something like this ...
Breakfast: Congee (rice porridge) with boiled eggs and toasted steamed buns
Lunch: A bowl of white rice with veggies and meat side dishes along with a bowl of soup
Dinner: A bowl of white rice with different varieties of veggies and meat combo, and a bowl of soup to drink

I believe this was my last bowl of rice noodles in the country. 

I for one like eating rice in any different form, color and preparation method. But when i'm constantly served the SAME thing three times a day, every single day, then it's easy to get bored of it.
I guess this is why many Chinese children don't consider rice to be their favorite food. Many often tell me their favorite food is noodles or dumplings.

Also, I've dined with many Chinese who never seemed to finish their small bowl of rice because rice isn't widely consumed in their hometown; and so, they're not used to eating it.


So in conclusion, not EVERY single Chinese likes to eat rice every single day and with practically every meal. And so for them, rice wouldn't be considered a staple, perhaps, another type of food would. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New name for the blog

As you might have noticed, Curious kinks has now changed it's name to... Which means the previous URL is now non-existent and will automatically be redirected to this website. So, please make sure to update the new address on your computer, phone, address book and other devices you may use.
A group of elementary school students I often take the bus with after school  at  around 5pm
In other news, you can expect my other blog to be launched by the end of this week. I was contemplating whether to go with Wordpress or just keep everything in Blogspot. But I think Blogspot takes the cake for now.

Also, my fact or myth series will be resumed shortly, though I might have to hold off on some controversial topics until after the Weeklong National Congress which is currently taking place in Beijing.

Blog you later!
再见 (Zai Jian)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A new blog is conceived!

Lately, I've been having a very STRONG desire to start a Black Hair/African hair/Black people empowerment blog. Like most people, it just ends there; a strong desire with endless research and planning but absolutely no action. So now i'm saying enough wishing and thinking, it's time to start DOING.

I know what you're thinking, "another natural hair blog, as if we don't have enough of those already". Well, first of all, I mentioned earlier that my blog will be about African hair, which covers all cohorts of African hair, whether it be virgin/natural hair, relaxed, weave, corn row, locs and everything under the umbrella of black hair.
One of my sisters who has Relaxed hair and whom I've educated about black hair care will be covering the relaxed hair part and since I've been relaxed more than I've been natural, I guess I can also throw in my two cents once in a while.
Also, I feel there aren't enough Canadian hair blogs for us Canucks to read, and so I've decided to create one. Besides, there is power in numbers, we have to be loud and be up in people's faces to effectively create a movement on black hair. We can already see gradual changes in Hollywood with celebrities coming out of the closet. So yay to us :)

And so what about the Black Empowerment part? I'll be sneaking in some posts on common Black issues. And hopefully provoke a reader or two or ten to do something out of the ordinary.
I'm just tired of black people limiting themselves because oh, "that's so white" and then we wonder why there aren't enough black people in leadership position. See, I'm usually the only black person in every organization I've been a part of, including many events I've attended. I'd like to see more black men and women in organized sports, organizations, leadership position, and be CEOs of multinational companies.

Mission: To educate readers of all ethnicity about black hair and motivate Black Men, Women, Youth and Children to strive for the best in all they do.

Plain and simple for now.

See you over at my second blog soon :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Notice: Upcoming Renovation

Curious Kinks will be undergoing some renovations in the next couple days, so please bear with me while I change up some things. I've been meaning to pretty up the website since I started it, but each time I tried to do this, I just get so overwhelmed by the task that I often give up. So now I'm saying NOW is the time!


So, why the change? Well, here are a few reasons
1. To fully reflect the content of the blog. My original intention was to blog about my experiences in China and everything else I happen to be curious about. But I've realized that I've only been blogging about China even 3 months after departing from the country.
2. To generate more traffic. I will also be changing the name of the blog to something like "black sista in china" or "Afro Gurl in China"? lol, any suggestions? I often get emails from new readers who happen to "stumble" upon my site, which have led me to think may be my website just isn't OUT THERE enough for people to be stumbling on it instead of easily finding it in their searches.
3. Pretty it up and make it competitive with other travel blogs out there :)
4. Go start another blog for my ramblings! I've had so many ideas for things to write about, but I've decided to strictly stay to the content of the blog.
5. And just because it needs a change!

So, what should we expect?
This blog will be mostly about Life in China from a black woman's perspective, its culture and other randomness. It will also cover topics on expat living, travelling and related topics.
Mission: To inspire more Black people to travel and possibly live in a foreign country. By foreign, I mean a country which is very different from the one you're currently living in, in terms of language, food and culture. Travelling and expat living isn't just for White people, students or the rich. Anyone can do it, because I did it and I don't even fit into any of these groups.
And oh by live in a foreign country, I mean as an expat, not as an immigrant or permanent resident ;)

Myth #4: With 5,000 years civilization history, The Chinese must be Highly civilized

Well, it depends on what your definition of a highly civilized person is.
And no, I'm not saying that they act like cave men and women, but sometimes I've been led to think this based on the way locals present themselves sometimes.

 I mean I don't think a country with 5,000 years civilization history need these posters posted across the city.

There are several reasons why I think the nation as a whole still needs a few more years, perhaps decades to fully reflect their highly claimed "Ancient" civilization. One of these reasons is the ubiquitous snorting and spitting in the bus, trains and public building. And don't even get me started on littering, especially when there's a garbage can just few meters away.
How about the pointing and name calling each time they see a foreigner, a black foreigner to be specific. Hello, I'm already aware of my skin color and my origin, I don't need you or your child pointing and calling me a black person (hei ren), African (fei zhou ren), foreigner (wai guo ren) or any other names you wish to call me. And oh, it's not necessary for you to get the attention of your child or friend, so you can both point and laugh together.
Me with a Tourist from I believe South West China

And last but not the least, I don't need your greetings, even if it's just an "innocent' way for you to show off your English skills. It's very common for Men to Scream "Hello" each time they see me walk by. And they will continue to scream it out loud until I reply with a Hello or just quickly walk out of their sight. Excuse me, I don't scream "Hello" at every Chinese person I see walking the streets of Toronto, so you have no reason to greet me, unless I know you.
I often excuse these "foreign" behavior when I think of what the country has gone through in the past few decades.

Personally, I was just completely shocked by local customs because I had gone into the country with an outdated and completely false preconception about the country. I had thought the Chinese would be the most highly-behaved people on the planet due to their history and a long list of superstition which are meant to encourage good living practices.

But then again, I guess this is why it's important to travel. Travelling definitely broadens our mind and opens our eyes to see the way the other part of the world REALLY is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fact #1: They eat with chopsticks in China

They sure do! Including kids, and they drink soups with spoons. The only time they will eat with forks and knives would be when they dine at western restaurants such as Pizza Hut, which by the way is a fancy, family restaurant in Beijing.

Will they ever merge with the rest of the world and use "regular" cutlery?
NOPE! Because this means they would have to change how they prepare their meal, the type of food and rice they eat as well as the small dishes they eat with. This also means that they will need to change their communal eating style where everyone eats from the same dish. In case you're wondering, chopsticks are lighter and easier to use than metal forks and knives.
although they can be annoying when eating noodles, I sometimes carry around a plastic fork and knife set for days when I don't feel like splashing soups all over my face trying to get my noodles to stay on my chopsticks.
*Green Noodles* don't know what it was particularly made out of to give its green color, but it was delish ;)

What if I can't eat with chopsticks? Can I ask for a fork and knife?
Well, I've never had to request for one neither have I seen any of my expat friends request for them, since most of us already knew how to use chopsticks before coming to China. However I've heard certain restaurants which are frequented by foreigners carry western cutlery so you can request for one if you're just not feeling cultural at the moment.

But I will advice you to practice your chopsticks skills because chances are most restaurants WON'T carry  the type of utensils you're used to eating with, unless you don't mind carrying a back up fork and knife set with you like I sometimes. Not only this, you will also impress locals with your attempt.
A  huge bowl of rice noodles (noodles made out of rice). It took me a few tries to master how to use Chinese spoons

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Myth #3: Chinese live in traditional homes, like the ones you see on Kung Fu Panda?

For most residents living in cities, small or large; this is far from the truth. Most are crammed in multi-story apartments, which allows the government to fit the most number of people in a small area.

So where were these people living before they were all stacked in apartment buildings?
They lived in Hutongs or other types of traditional homes which can house up to three generations. These are traditional homes you see in Kung Fu Panda and other traditional Chinese movies

What happens to the spaces after these homes have been demolished?
They are simply replaced with office buildings, shopping malls and what not
Sky piercing towers of Hong Kong. I call them sky-piercers instead of the commonly known name - skyscrapers because I've never seen such tall and skinny buildings in my entire life! And some of these buildings look like they are swords piercing into the sky

Are local citizens unhappy about their new living standard?
Personally, I'm not sure really. But I expect they'll be happy since newly built apartment buildings are equipped with modern home appliances, private bathrooms and better sewage systems. Hutong residents often have to use the public washroom which is share with the entire neighbourhood. Although I don't know how they shower since these public washrooms only have toilets and a sink, with no showering facilities. These multi-storey homes are also able to withstand a flood. Something traditional courtyard homes was lacking. Also, did I mention local residents are given a relocation compensation to go purchase a home elsewhere. 
Talk about maximizing space!. one of the many housing community in Beijing. This is why it can take up to an hour locating a building since there are sooo many of them in one tiny space!

Does everyone live in Apartment buildings?
Oh no! Some are still living in these traditional homes. However, it's only a matter of time until the urban planning "team" gets to them. the only exception would be homes located in protected areas, which means residents can have a peace of mind and be assured that their homes will still stand many years to come. 
                                    Downtown Xian, China's capital city before Beijing

So, they either live in old homes or more modern apartment buildings?
Oh no, some also live in villas, American or European style homes which are stand alone 2-3 storey homes with a basement, garage, drive way and all those good stuff. These homes are only occupied by Diplomats and wealthy locals. It's also common for these type of homes to be built OUTSIDE the city where there are more trees, fewer people, less noises and partially cleaner air. So depending on how far a purchased villa is from the city, a family might purchase an apartment in the city for conveniences purposes and choose to spend the weekend and holidays in their spacious homes. 

Taken from the "Centre" of the city, from the bell tower

So do Chinese people live in one-storey traditional homes or not?
Only very few of them do, at least in Beijing and other big cities. While most of the population live in apartment buildings.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Myth #2: They still practice foot binding

This is mostly a myth, mostly because I once read that such practice still exists in little isolated villages where villagers are uneducated and are still living in ancient times. I didn't see anyone personally with tiny feet while I was living there, neither did I hear someone talk about the topic.

Foot binding is an Illegal practice in Modern China as it is a painful beauty practice which limits the "victim's" mobility. And so this is why it was SERIOUSLY banned in the 1950s after the Communist came to power. They SERIOUSLY forbade the practice because it had been previously abolished few times in the past with no success.
But then I guess parents finally stopped crushing their daughters feet when they realized a full stomach was more important than a prized 3-inch golden lotuses. Huh? how does a full stomach relate to foot binding? Well you see when China was going through it's Economy Reform, people's lives were put on hold so they could 'build" the country. Both professional working class and lower income class ALL had to go work really hard on farms and factories, or else, no food! But when you have such tiny feet which limits you from doing such hard labor, then you're in BIG trouble! 

So what is the punishment if caught? I don't know really, I guess they get fined, but I don't know by how much.

For a quick history and more info on foot binding in China, please read this great npr article.

Friday, September 28, 2012

#1 Fortune Cookies in China? MYTH

This is a myth! Great answer Jen. Fortune cookies were invented in California in the early 1900s. It then made it's way all across the Nation and then to Canada. However, it never reached China.

May be they had a ship wreck or a plane crash during it's transport across/over seas. Perhaps a group of Somalian Pirates captured the ship and killed all the crew members? Whatever the reason may be as to why these awesome cookies never made its to China is unknown. I mean if Oreo cookies, chips ahoy,snicker bars and other American goodies could make their ways onto Chinese grocery shelves, then I can't see why fortune cookies never made their way into restaurants in China.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fact or Myth about China, You Decide!

Before I set my feet in China two years ago, I tried to do a lot of research on just about anything I could possibly find useful upon my arrival in the foreign land. Unfortunately, I came up with nothing, perhaps I didn't do a thorough research. And so, I decided to just go with an open mind and well, with the background knowledge I already had about the country. But I made sure I left some room to take in the experience the country had in store for me.

So, what were the knowledge I had about the country before going and what did I come across during my research? I have listed below most of my findings from what I can remember. While most of them turned out to be a myth, but many of these findings turned out to be facts.

1. Fortune Cookies are commonly eaten after a meal in China

2. They still practice foot binding

3. They live in Traditional Chinese Hutongs, you know, the ones you see in movies?

4. Because China has a 5,000 year civilization history, it's people must be well civilized and well-mannered

5. They eat with chopsticks

6. Everyone is so skinny and fair skin

7. There is no religious freedom, Christians are still being persecuted

8. Main religion is Buddihism

9. The only food they eat is rice

10. Everyone rides a bicycle

11. The national language and only language is Chinese

12. Chinese are very smart and innovative individual

13. Since China is thought to be "The Factory of the World", brand name and electronics must be realy cheap over there

14. They eat dogs

15. They are so short and petite

16. Everyone fights kung fu

17. It must be crowded in China since it's the world's most populous country

18. There is a disporportionate ratio of Boys and Girls

19. Every family has only one child

20. Since there are so many ESL teachers in China, they must be able to speak basic English.

21. They are racist and close minded

22. Chinese are cheap, they like to save money and overcharge customers

Now which ones do you think are actually true or just a myth? You can simply identify the facts and post them in the comment box. Later, I'll differentiate between the facts and myth and talk about them in a later blog post or may be a series of them since it's quite a long list. Also, i'd like to hear some of your facts vs. myths if you've ever lived in a foreign land.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

So I was recently nominated for this awesome award by two of my favourite bloggers and readers Coilybella and Deepbrown & Kinks.

So what are the rules for this award? 
1. Create a versatile blogger award blogpost and thank the blogger who nominated you by posting a link back to their blog
2. Nominate 15 other bloggers you follow
3. Inform the nominees by posting a comment on their blog
4. Share 7 random facts about yourself
5. Post these rules on your blog

What are these 7 random facts about me?
1. I love to cook and bake, though i'm not the best baker
2. I don't own a cellphone, camera, computer or a car... well, at the moment
3. My favourite biblical scripture is Philippians 4:13
4. I enjoy reading and commenting on other people's blogpost than I enjoy creating one myself
5. I'm obsessed with checking my email!
6. I enjoy going to church even if it's more than once a week
7. I like reading non fiction, especially motivational and inspirational books

Now, it's your turn fellow bloggers
Deepbrown & Kinks
The Kinky Apothecary
Naija Hair Can Grow
The Natural Haven Bloom
Love Your Tresses
Labyrinths of Lahrah
African Naturalistas
Jen Going Natural
Chronicled Blog
This Battered Suitcase
Natural Nigerian
My Beautiful Adventures 
Curly Chic

Now lovelies, remember the rules :) and as always, thanks for reading

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alright, Break Over

Time to get back to my own blog, instead of being distracted by other people's blogs each time I log into my account. Sometimes I spend hours on end reading blogs that I end up not having enough energy to devote to my own! Not that I don't like reading what others have to say and all, but I need to find a balance.

Haha, I LOVE these kids. My Friday cooking class with 2.5y/o
So it's been about a month since I returned from the far far east and I haven't been up to much lately. It took me about 2weeks to recover from  jet lag, a VERY LONG time since it usually takes me about a week to recover. And what's more weird is that I never feel jet-lagged when I go from west to east, i.e. from Canada to Beijing. May be it's because I always have stuff to do when I get there or because of change in environment.

What have I really been up to?
Well, mostly job search. I recently completed a Business Analysis course which gives me some foundation in the field. And because this is a completely NEW field for me, I am just slowly applying to jobs while I get my feet grounded in this field and prepare for interviews. Like many people out there, Job search stresses me out, I mean the search for a full time job is a full time job on its own. With long hours spent online filling out job applications, writing resumes, tailoring each cover letter to every job you apply for, reading LONG job descriptions and then applying for suitable jobs! Oh My! What about those overwhelming Dos and Don'ts for a job seeker? Jeez, I think I might need more time to psychologically prepare myself for the stress that comes with securing an awesome job. Oh, and do you know you need a Criminal records check for almost every job these days, including cleaning jobs? Thank God i'm an angel ^-^
@ Jay Leno.

I've also being watching the Olympics, Go U.S! I almost thought China would win the most medals. I hope team Canada will make me more proud at the next summer Olympics, no need to worry about winter Olympics, since we got that one ;)
Congrats Phelphs, Bolts and of course, my sister from another mother, Gabby Douglas! You make me proud, regardless of what hatters are saying about your hair

So what will I be talking about now that i'm no longer in China?
Anything my kinks are curious about; be it on health and fitness, hair, travel, professional and personal development, finance and may be cooking! yay!
Also, from time to time, I will  be blogging about Teaching in China, for those interested in embarking on the exciting journey.

I hope to have secured A job, PT or FT by my next blog post.

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I'll Miss & Sending Postcards

So what are some of the things I'll miss about China? To prevent this post from becoming a book, I will only briefly list some of the things i'll miss along with some personal pics. Drum roll please...............

1. Cheap food, as long as it's in a Chinese restaurant. Foreign owned restaurants are very expensive.
Gong pao chicken, tofu, rice, tea and cold water for less than $3
2. Hospitality of locals. People dine out very often here and so it's very common for them to treat each other or a guest at one of their favorite restaurants. Since a lot of business deals are done in restaurants, most of my first meetings with a potential student or employer are often in a restaurant. And because I leave soon, many friends have been "treating" me lately :) 
Hot Pot in Xi'an with Aiesecers

3. Having fun can be free or cheap!
African Village at World Park Beijing

4. Interesting people you meet. Expat community in Beijing gives you the opportunity to meet professionals in different fields from all parts of the world. You also meet people from countries you didn't know existed.

5. BIG multi-floor restaurants with creative (traditional or modern) interior design. I also like the fact that you can try different kind of restaurants from all parts of the country.
4 storey traditional restaurant. I never ate here, so I don't know the kind of food served there.

6. Cheap phone cards. a $9 phone card can last me about 1month if I don't send international text or talk for too long.

7. Cheap public transportation (buses, subways, trains and taxis). Cost of buses 40cents, subways-2RMB.  Also, China's extensive and cheap railway system makes it convenient and economical to travel across the country on land.And so it's common for travelers to take a weekend trip to a nearby city and be back by Monday morning. Also, the bullet trains travelling between major cities makes a long trip such as Beijing to Shanghai just as fast as taking the plane.
China's railroad map
8. My churches. I go to two  international churches for different fellowships, I have met christian friends from across the world at these churches. 
A  Chinese church which I only attended once or twice.

9. My two favourite shopping websites; and

10. Funny things the locals do and say here
"The Beijing Belly", only visible in the summer
11. Novel foods, fruit, vegetables and spices. I only try "interesting looking" foods at the restaurants as I wouldn't know how to cook them if I were to buy them raw at the supermarkets.

Dried goods
12. Teaching English to my students, both young and old as well as cultural exchanges through class discussions and talking to parents.

Kids with their moms and grandmas learning their ABCs before preschool!

From China with love, Postcards giveaway: To thank my readers over these past few months, I have decided to send postcards to 10 lucky readers or less.

How to enter
1. Be a follower, I currently have 15 followers, so chances of receiving a postcard is quite high
2. Leave a comment below about this post 
3. Comment by Tuesday, July 17th (China Time +8GMT)

I will contact randomly selected winners by Wednesday to ask for the address you would like the postcards to be sent, I'll then send the cards by Thursday.   

I look forward to reading your beautiful comments.