Monthly Archives: July 2007

How to Paddle Dragon Boat Hong Kong Style

1. Unlimited booze and cigarette is crucial for good performance.  In fact, it is encouraged that you keep smoking and drinking till the boat takes off.  People will throw cans at you to make sure you remain hydrated.

2. Just grab a paddle and pick your seat.  Get onto the boat whichever way you like.  Climb the ladder down, jump into the water and haul yourself up, step on from another boat…

3. If you need to pee, just take a one minute swim.

4.  Plenty of food between heats.  Roasted pig, stir-fried crabs, BBQ duck, chicken, spring rolls, wanton soup, fish… and a big bowl of rice or noodle. After EVERY race.

5. If you need to back paddle, just turn around, move your butt onto the seat in front of you and start paddle forward facing the tail.

6. The trophy makes a nice beer mug as the metal keeps the beer cold…

7. Bailer is useful for splashing water onto other teams.  5 gallon buckets are preferrable.  Weapon of choice is a 1.5″ hose (from the pump that is working overduty to empty the boat of water being dumped into our own boat). 

We all agree that we should bring some of  these great traditions back to Miami.

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Posted by on July 30, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, Travel


Weird Food in China

Okay, I suppose no traveler to China can refrain from talking about the weird food they eat there.   Even for someone used to werid food like I am.

Bunny Marshmallow

Starting with something very benign.  Just cute, fluffy, little marshmallows shaped like bunnies.


Next level up.  I pulled my friends’ legs and said it’s a cocoon, but it’s really a candy.  Coconut, sesame and sugar wrapped in spun sugar. It’s called dragon beard candy and is a childhood favorite of mine, though it’s hardly found on the streets of Hong Kong anymore.  It has to be eaten fresh or the “beard” dries up and hardens.   I was delighted to find them all over Hangzhou but didn’t see them at all in Beijing.

Now ready?

Yuck food

Scorpions, centipedes, lizards and what not found on the night market of Hangzhou.  The same street we found those delicious cocoons.

Marc, Raul and I were actually quite hungry at that point, having found nothing to eat except a Dairy Queen which we refused.  And there is a limit to how many cocoons I could take as a prelude to a real meal.   The kabob place did have more ordinary offerings such as beef or lamb kabobs, but the guys didn’t feel like their food sharing the grill with bugs and pests.  We saw a McDonald’s, decided to go hungry instead, and finally stumbled upon an alley with lots of normal food. Normal relatively anyway. Raul had a bamboo rice, which is rice and other ingredients stuffed inside a bamboo and steamed, Marc had something with duck blood, and I had a dan dan noodle.

Dog Meat

This is a pack of five spiced dog meat sold on the train.


Saw this at Wangfujian. Ehm… Hey, give me one strawberry w kiwi and one scorpion.  Yup, dip both in chocolate please… Not that I would order cut fruit on the street, but uhm…   Wangfujian is the place to go to for weird food – they have even more variety – starfish kabob, snake kabob… although you don’t see any locals eating them.  They were all happily munching on normal food.  I suspect the fear-factor food are just there to attract tourists.   That said, they have plenty of offerings to fill any stomach, even a vegetarian one. 

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Posted by on July 19, 2007 in Asia, Food, photos, Travel


Detector Dogs Trading Cards

Dogs trading cards

Found this at the Hong Kong airport.  Not that I collect trading cards, but these are just like fun!

I would suggest that they put in the weight and height as well. Then kids would have a really fun time playing them.

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Posted by on July 19, 2007 in Animals, Asia, photos, Travel


Photo Stickers

I’ll admit I am a sucker for photo stickers.  The phenomenon never quite caught on in the U.S. as it did in Asia several years back, but I was just obsessed with these things, feeding in coins after coins like a crazed gambler in front of a slot machine.  Esepcially when, in the earlier models, there is no take-two.   One of my friends had commented, somewhat perplexed, I could have a bunch of much nicer pictures Photoshop’ed at home, AT NO COST.  I would go, yes, you are right, why am I wasting good money…

Anyway, in Hangzhou, I came across a photo sticker booth in a plaza (Hangzhou Fashion Market) across from the Hangzhou Bus Station.  Addicts never win out…

It was FUN.  I went inside one of the booths.  The girl gave me the remote, and I started posing and clicking.  Don’t like it? Just delete it. Smile. Click. Next. Pout. Click. Delete. Smile. Look this way. Click Look that way. Click…

Photo Sticker

And it only cost 2 RMB. For ten shots, unlimited retake. Plus 1 for a sparkly matte lamination.  You could blow up some of your favorites, make them into key chains, posters, hanging scrolls (which unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t have time for.)  That turns out to be less than 50 cents USD.  Wow. That’s the best cheap thrill 50 cents can buy.

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Posted by on July 19, 2007 in Asia, photos, Travel


Met a Favorite Author – Lisa See

I was thrilled when Lisa See made an appearance at Books & Books. She wrote Snow Flower & the Secret Fan, one of my best loved books of 2006. She was in Miami to promote her new book, Peony in Love. I haven’t read it yet but know that it’s somewhat based on the Chinese opera The Peony Pavilion, which I briefly studied in high school. When we arrived on Sunday 4pm, we were amazed at the crowd. I didn’t realize, but was gladly surprised, by how popular her books are. 

At the book signing, I asked her to sign my copy as addressed to: Dear BookCrosser. This is what she wrote:

Dear BookCrosser –
To share with your sworn sisters.
                     Lisa See

(Full article on my book blog)

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Posted by on July 17, 2007 in Books & Movies


Chi Lan Nunnery

It was a few years back I saw a picture of the nunnery in a magazine.  This place looks beautiful, I thought.  Then later, whenever I mentioned to my mom that I would like to visit the place, she would tell me that she heard it is a very beautiful place.  A Buddhist friend of mine told me that she wishes to live in the elderly home there when she gets old. 

Once I got there it is not hard to see why.  As Sherra, who went with me, said, once you step inside, you felt your heartbeat slowed.  Beyond the door, heavy traffic bustles by, the air is heavy with exhaust and heat.  However, once you cross the door, you enter another world. 

temple entrance

The nunnery is newly rebuilt, and you can tell.  The architectual style, however, is not.  It is based on the building style and technique of the Tang dynasty, around 8th century.   Not a nail or screw was used in its construction, but rather dowels.  As Tang dynasty is  the period that the Japanese studied from the most, the structure feels very Japanese Zen. 




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Posted by on July 12, 2007 in Asia, Travel


Care for the Girls


Saw this at ShenZhen but was a little too slow in taking out the camera.  It says “Care for Girls is to Care for the Future of Our Nation.”  Reminding me about the sad fate of all the unwanted baby girls in China, this sign made me rather sad.  On the other hand, the mere existence of it gave me a gleam of hope, that someone cares. 

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Posted by on July 12, 2007 in Asia, photos, Travel