Shenzhen Solo Booze Cruise

I had to pick up my bike from the barimg_20160917_154513 that I left it at a previous night. Somebody had the bright idea to do Fireball shots. Picking up the bike Saturday afternoon, I started my ride north thinking about how you might do a bike booze cruise, and without any plans for the rest of the day… I thought I would go ahead and try it on my own.

Stop #1. Taps. Stout.
– Just outside the area called Shekou, I stopped at a brewpub (i.e. they brew their own beer). And they have brew a good stout! So back on the bike, following the sidewalk. Not far away, past 2 subway stops I made it to:

Stop #2 Frankies. Rogue Hazelnut Ale.img_20160917_162658
– Its a great American bar. Plenty of tap handles from the US, as well as local beers like Bionic available. They also do some good western food, so I got the Cordon Bleu fries, you know, to tide me over for the long road ahead. 1 pint + 1 plate of fries, I was ready to head out.

I rode a block west, but found the intended bar was closed. The guy next door surprisingly had good English and told me they usually didn’t open till 5pm. It was 5:05pm…

From here, it would be a long dry run. I didn’t know any good bars until I got to a more populated area, and even then, there were only ‘realty’ shop fronts. Not even a 7-11. It was probably another mile of riding to find a convenience store for:

Beer #3. Convenience Store. TsingTao. beer3
– Long warm day, I needed the hydration of a cheap Chinese yellow beer. Turns out the other Paradise store was closed too. It was about 6pm, so now I was starting to wonder if the company is on break for their Mid-Autumn festival. Rode through the busy urban-village and headed to the trifecta of Baishizho:

Beer #4. Bionic Brew. Special K golden ale.beer4
– Bionic Brew has about 6 taps, and some solid IPA’s. I asked for their seasonal Lychee beer, but has to go for the Special K as they were totally out. By this time, I was feeling super full… and tired…. and thought about lying down on their benches for a nap.

Beer #5 &6. Peko.  Chocolate img_20160917_192654Porter.
– Next door to Bionic is Peko. Another bar that brews their own stuff, and also sells other things like Boxing Cat from Shanghai, or in this case, a local brewed Chocolate Porter by Crafthead. So good I decided to have another.

As it was getting dark, it felt a good time to slowly make my way a little further north to get home. Fun was had. Lessons learned if I think about doing it again. Maybe.

** PS… almost forgot, yesterday I got my first Amazon sale for my socks!! Yes, I produce socks while here in China. My site: UncleWigi.com

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Factory visit in China

This was the 2nd time I visited this particular factory, in the far Northeast part of Shenzhen. Previously, the English speaking rep of the company/factory told me to take a local bus all the way, and then later admitted she really didn’t know how to get around Shenzhen using public transportation. (WTF?!?!?!)
– This time, I knew to take the subway across town (much faster and smoother) and then grab a bus for the last part of the journey.

I was picked up by 1 of the bosses of the factory and the English speaking rep. We drove a few more minutes to the factory site, and also said hello to another “big boss” as we were entering the building. I don’t know how many bosses there are, and didn’t seem necessary to ask.

Once up to the 2nd floor, I was asked if I needed to take a rest. This is a very common Chinese question. I don’t totally understand it, but seems to be a necessary question by my hosts. Instead of getting striaght to business, the boss set up some tea, at his special tea desk: large grate area to pour hot water over the small porcelain tea cups, and then prepared a nice jasmine tea.
– The day before, I had actually asked the English rep of the company that I did NOT want tea. Did she pass on the info to her boss? I have no clue. I felt it was easier to just say “OK” and let them do their tradition. When in Rome, right?

We then took out the garment that I need them to copy, and went through the usual business questions for producing a garment:
– kind of cloth?
– how many colors?
– what kind of graphic printing? Screen? Sublimation?

Everything seemed to well, and of course as it was the afternoon I was invited to lunch. Again, I had told the English rep the day before that I wouldn’t be looking to go to lunch, but felt like it was the polite thing to accept, and after being away from China for a full month, I looked forward to a traditional Chinese meal. I was not disappointed. 14349169_10157406685980534_1248979767_n

In a private dining room the boss, the English rep and I had lunch.
Everything came out in a staggered order:
– roasted duck
– clear meat broth
– sautéd greens
– pork and bitter melon.
– clear noodles
– fried bread & red bean

It was a great meal, and there was plenty of Budweiser served as well. Although I prefered to drink a full beer from the can, but it was more customary to share a can and drink from a smaller glass.

Although I was concerned that it feel rather awkward to be eating with the factory manager that couldn’t speak English, everything was very nice and it was a great meal. The estimated quote for the coats that I asked about was also very positive, so hopefully in a number of weeks I will be able to offer custom happi coats on my website: UncleWigi.com.

Z visa, US edition

The “Z visa” is the legal way to work in China for a Chinese company, and earn money. Other visas are not as legal (though common) to earn money while being here in the country. To get it done, I HAD to go back to Texas. I was given all documents I needed. While there, I needed to notarize my degree. Its a new rule from the Chinese authorities, so I was caught in the fun limbo of new rules for everyone to figure out.

I arrive at the consulate office in Houston, and the guard tells me I have to get my degree notarized in Austin. Why Austin? Because Austin is the capital of Texas. OK….
Took a couple days to go to Austin and get it done. Also happened to have some AMAZING Bar-Be-Que from La Barbeque in Southeast Austin.

When I returned to the consulate in Houston, I was told, “sorry, these documents are addressed to the embassy, and this is only a consulate.” This was also quite the surprise to my college liaison back in Shenzhen.
Options:img_20160617_072928
– I could go to Washington D.C.: fly there, find a place to stay for 4 days, and hope my documents are accepted. What if they weren’t?!?!?
– Maybe I could have the documents changed in China? My college liaison told me it would take a month or so to do that. Not sure I had the money to stick around Texas for a month. My brisket and stout habit was having a toll on my wallet.
– Turns out the easiest option was to use a visa service, and have them mailed to D.C. and mailed back. $300 got it done and dusted in about a week. BONUS: the fee could be reimbursed by the college.

In the end, I had to delay my flight about a week, which was fine. I hit up a couple of hashes, and tried to find some stores that may be interested in my socks.(UncleWigi.com)

Although it feels like this should be the end of the Z visa journey, it is but the first part of a multi-journey. The stamp put in my passport was only good for 1 entry into China, and it took a WHOLE page!  Now that I am back in China, I have to send my passport to another national agency, I have to register with the police, and register with the public security bureau, etc etc. and then I will get a whole OTHER visa put into my passport.

All of this means two things:
1. all these visas + stamps for coming in and out of Hong Kong means I’ll be needing a new passport soon. The US doesn’t add pages anymore.
2. I’m without a passport for the next few weeks, possibly a month. Without a passport, I can’t visit Hong Kong, and can’t even take a trip to another city in China without a special letter from the government for me to be able to buy a train ticket out of the city.

I have 1 month in the city before classes start. So much time and so little in my plans of what to do with it.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Job in China, take 2

So after a rather quick departure from the the job that I had originally moved to China for, I am finishing my first week of orientation at my new job.
After a few weeks of looking around, applying, and going through a number of interviews, and quite a few offers, I have accepted a job with a large, well-known, company,  Web. I’m excited because it will be teaching adults- people that actually pay to learn! I am also very impressed by its evidence of understanding how a person learns a language, and how a teacher should facilitate, not lecture, to improve language learning.
On the positive, it is an improvement in pay, philosophy, and method. On the other hand, its a 35+ minute subway commute, and I have to work evenings and weekends. I had to take some time to consider it, because I think this pretty much takes away my chance of doing many bagpipe gigs, as well as go hashing. Vacation time is pretty scarce compared to schools as well.
Other points to note, the branch I’m working in is in the middle of a BIG shopping area in town, and potentially a great night out.  The facilities are very modern, and I work from 1-9 most days. Not great if friends are doing something in the evening, but to get in a morning workout, or be able to run errands before work is nice. The folk here seem pretty friendly, and the few classes I’ve been able to observe have gone well.
In the interview for the job, I had a south African guy talk to me bluntly about why some teachers had left: some very anti-american answers from students offended a teacher or 2.This was backed up by a co-worker that told me the most recent teacher that left had 2 different students say they admire Osama Bin Laden. Gotta say I’m not all that surprised. I have seen at least twice now that Chinese people deep down believe that Americans just push the Chinese around. Once from a co-worker, and another from a Chinese woman that I basically got in a fight with. In my view, I held her accountable for being a bold faced liar, and instead of responding to that, she just yelled at me that Americans are always pushing Chinese.
– Many westerners have said the Chinese are the most dishonest people they know; its a cultural difference of saying what you mean vs. saving face.
Anyway, the first week has gone fine- no teaching, just orientation, and observing. I found a grocery store within the massive mall complex, so can usually get my lunch/dinner for about ¥17-20, which is roughly 3 US dollars.  Noodles and BBQ pork slices!! The job requires shirt and tie, so I bought a couple extra shirts, and I’ll probably look for another tie or 2.

My batch of Texas Red (chili)

To be honest and upfront, I don’t remember my family ever making chili at home. I know my mom won a competition at church, but I wasn’t even there. I have made chili only once before, and it was in Korea last year.
– However, as far removed as I am from certain Texas things: guns, trucks, and sweet tea, I like to think I know what a good chili tastes like. Chunks of beef slowed cooked with fresh hot peppers and a ton of spices: Cumin, Paprika, chili powder, salt and some brown sugar.

I heard about the cookoff, and had 2 weeks to take a quick glance at some recipes, source what ingredients I could, and do a couple test batches. How I wish I could have got my hands on a habenero. I never got the chili as hot as I wanted.
– That might be a good thing for the other folk eating it, though.

Thursday night, I did of the cooking, and let it rest overnight. Friday, I took the pot out of the fridge and brought it back to a low summer. I bought and cooked a bit of extra beef as I was worried I didn’t have enough. I donned my boots, belt buckle, and  cowboy hat and headed down the block with a hot pot of Texas red in my hands.

Once there, and set up, I took a quick smell of the competition. All others had some beans visible, and more ‘runny’ than mine. One of them even reminded me of, spaghetti sauce. I could smell cinnamon in one, and recognized my friend Jorgen’s German chili with chocolate in it.
– folk asked which was mine, but I chose not to say as I wanted honest feedback. Some folk could tell mine immediately, just by the aroma and appearance.

“Well I cooked it the way I think it should be made. If everyone hates it: awesome! I get to eat it all.

I had a table a older guys ask me: “What’s in your chili?”
– “meat, peppers, and a ton of spices.” They seemed a bit confused, and asked, “No beans??”
– “Texas chili ain’t got no beans!” I told them.
“That’s only true for 1 area in Texas. You must be from Houston. Talk to Scott, he’s a semi-pro.”

I went in and we spoke briefly as I finished my beer. After trying all the the different entries, Scott, the chili aficionado came to me and told me: “hands down, you won it. It was great. I gotta know, what’s your throw? What’s your recipe?”
– recipe? I asked. I just kinda told him the various ingredients I used. He was rather surprised I didn’t use tomatoes either. 

I was told my chili had 1 problem: there wasn’t enough.

The runner-ups were announced, and then I was called out as the winner and given a bottle of Tequila as my prize. I opened the bottle immediately and gave the first pull to the runner up, Juliet. She and I had happened to be shopping for pots in Walmart at the same time. – funny enough, last month I had to tell a bar that I was her to get in on a free beer night guest list. But that’s a story for another time.

A picture of the cooks was taken at the stairs, I passed the bottle around, and continued to celebrate the rest of the night.

All in all, it was fun making the chili and talkin to people about cooking: I do love talkin about cookin!  But after running my mouth so much, I have a lot of folk telling me I have to make more so they can try it. I guess that’s not really a problem, I could use the practice.

And so I have an announcement. Although I only beat 6 or 7 other people,  I have decided to go pro. I’m going to give up this glamorous life of teaching English and devote myself to the spiritual practice of chili… in China.

Shanghai Beer Fest’ing…

IMG_0431a*** Apologies, this is a copied post from ChinaBagpiper.com. I’ll try to get separate content when time and and resources are a bit more available.*** 

This past weekend, I was invited to Shanghai for a beer festival. There were lots of different beers and breweries represented. Many familiar names: Corona, Stella, and Kirin.
Also present were plenty of Local craft brews, including Shanghai brewery, and imported German beers, like the one I was asked to help out: Alpirsbacher.

There was a costume for me to dress like a monk, and although it was rather warm, it was a lot of fun to play around in. Everyone wanted a picture with me and my big beer bottle.
More importantly, I got to play my bagpipes. Then everyone REALLY wanted a picture! I usually got a pretty god crowd formed when I played, and there were definitely some questioning looks,
– “How is a German monk connected to the Scottish bagpipes???

Still, a great time was had. Maybe I’ll get a chance to play the festival again next year.

  • Until then: Slanje!Prost!  IMG_0420

A year? oops… Borsch!

So its been a year since I’ve posted? Oops. I should try to get better at this thing.

On the positive, recently I was taught how to make Borsch!! My Russian friend showed me. It was great!
– Although, we couldn’t din any beetroot, whcih is a main ingredient… So was it really Borsch? was great anyway, and I look forward to playing around with the recipe.

If I remember right she made it as such:
– boil a couple chicken breasts. then take out of water and add chooped cabbage to boil for a bit.
– saute onion, and a chopped potato, and then add shredded carrot. Add a bit of ketchup to cook for a bit.
– cut up the chicken, and put ieverything in the boiling water. Add a lttle salt.