Chang Fen ~ Rice Crepes with Filling

Shrimp Chang Fen 虾仁肠粉

The other day I had a hankering for chang fen; pronounced “Chong Fun” in newspaper-phonetics. It’s not the cleanest option for eats in the neighborhood, but it tastes awesome. Getting good chang fen in China is like getting good pizza in America – the most dilapidated pizza dive is usually the best.

Basically, chang fen is made of rice flour that starts out quite runny- kind of like very runny pancake mix. It gets spooned into a steam tray and spread around as you can see in the photos below. Eggs, meat, chives, etc. are tossed on randomly and then the tray gets put in the steamer. After a couple minutes the tray gets pulled out the the contents get scrapped out. I chose extra egg because I don’t trust the meat in these places… Continue reading Chang Fen ~ Rice Crepes with Filling

From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

Teacher Student Time

It’s common for us to praise countries like China, Japan, and Korea on their teaching methods. Of course, their math scores frequently deliver a spanking to American children and the future of American students gets even gloomier from there. The results are in the numbers and the proof is ample, but this educational success doesn’t come without a cost. As we attempt to compete academicaly, and globably, this cost has been (or is still being) experienced by American students with mixed responses from their administrators. At least the few administrator I’ve talked to were not full of praise about their new exam-based system. Continue reading From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

A Super-Sized Metropolis in China?

A Guess from The Telegraph

A metropolis of humongous purportions is said to be in the works for southern China, although there are reports on this being false. The cities of  Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Jiangmen, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Huizhou and Zhaoqing would merge together, theoretically, amalgamating various public services, including: health care, job opportunities, communication networks, transportation, natural resources, etc. With one big city they would eliminate long-distance calling fees and reduce over-burdened facilities, such as hospitals. Merging into one unit, with a completed high-speed train network, would allow citizens to travel to other city areas when their current location is overwhelmed by local demand. Continue reading A Super-Sized Metropolis in China?

Was there an Earthquake in Guangdong?


Earthquake Region
Earthquake Region

No worries… at least for now. I was in the library this afternoon preparing for the HSK exam, when I felt a slight shake in the room. It was like an earthmover rumbling past the other side of the campus; not too close to hear, but just close enough to feel. As a New Englander, I’ve never experienced the actual “feel” of an earthquake before today. It was just a couple hours ago in fact. Yang Jiang seemed to have the biggest part of it with 4.9 mag. (See the far-left city on this map.)

With the Asian Games going on in Guangzhou right now, Chinese blogs are already comparing it to the massive quake in Sichuan before the Olympics in 2008. Of course, from what I’ve seen today, it hasn’t been a fraction of the size of that disaster. Thankfully, I hear business-as-usual around the neighborhood and the streets are buzzing as the sunsets outside my window…

For my family, please don’t worry. I’m perfectly fine. 🙂

Jack and Magic Pea’s Taiwanese Coffee Life

March 2, 2007 – In passing conversation with a Coffee Shop girl, Sally (Floor Manager)

I have been going to a Jack and Magic Pea coffee shop a lot recently because it has some really cool customer-friendly bits to it. You can pump your own lemon water at the table. The menu is full of so many different kinds of drinks, coffees, juices, and meals. Movies play on flat screens in the main areas as well as in the toilets. The music varies all the time. It also has ports for laptops! Of course, this shop is a product of Taiwan and has been rather successful in Zhuhai, with a few shops open within a couple years.

My offer here was rather simple. Gather the employees together and offer some English training sessions so that foreign customers can receive better service. When i visited the shop recently, i had been using Chinese to communicate. When i started using English with them, their only use was just to be looked at.

Here are a few things I learned when approaching Sally with the training ideas:

1. “Pretty girls don’t need to speak English, that’s why I work here to help the foreigners!”
a. So, girls in a coffee shop are just eye candy. Makes sense i guess.
b. Ordering coffee or food is so simple too. Just point at the menu, eh?

2. “My boss will send me to TPR for studying English. It is 1,000RMB per level. 26 classes per level and 6 total levels.
a. Here is a useful bit. Now i know what the going rate is for group lessons at the local Foreigner meat shop. It is a large chain of English schools. 3 or more in Zhuhai already. It’s big competition for me if I choose the generic route of English training.
b. GLV 和平English is much more expensive. About 1,000RMB per two week stay. I have heard that many of the girlfriends/wives of rich Guangdong men like to study here. Maybe this is a good part-time job option… “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
c. I’ve also learned that many little English schools dot the city selling something like English to people. That is a saturated market if I’ve ever seen one. But, i am always approached by people who want to study English more. So, i wonder how they can be served…?

3. Don’t waste much time with coffee shops. They might be interested in hosting an English Corner for publicity reasons. They basically need one person who can communicate when they need her to. This is the typical way to deal with the “English problem.”

—-

Without realizing it, I found common answers which put a silencing finish to my questions. It’s not a reason to give up. I know people need private tutoring and improved English interfaces. China is still not English-friendly. It will take time to produce the right mix of services that can be accepted by Chinese businessmen and the hospitality industry.

Don’t lose hope! There are still plenty of private opportunities that can be networked around the local cities. We just need to start looking at the teacher-supply side. That will take more Internet based communication. Foreigners tend to get lost in these massive Chinese cities. I’ll figure it out in due time.

– Ben杰明

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