Saturday, April 28, 2007

Delayed Photo Friday

I had another interview yesterday and didn't get a chance to post this. I have decided to have Photo Fridays on the blog from now on (assume I can find a good one from the millions I've taken since getting a digital camera). If you're interested, interview went very well, but I'm not sure if I'm interested--I think I have a better offer from my current job. I still have plenty of time to make my decision, there's no rush here.

Today's photo: On the walk to Phoenix Temple in Shenzhen. Translation: Today's special stupid chicken duck.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


What's that you say? You can't find a different tasting beer in China? Well, that's not entirely true. On my way home tonight, I stopped off at the 24-hour store for a beer. I figured I'd get my usual Tsingtao, but something else caught my eye--it was a beer I hadn't seen before.

I picked up a bottle of Anchor for a change of pace--it was only 4 kuai, how bad could it be? I was pleasantly surprised. It did have a slightly different taste from that of Tsingtao, Kingway, Snow, and the rest. It was a little bitter, which I like. But it was still a lager, which I'm bored of. Still it's different enough for me to purchase again in the future. At least I can have it more often if I'm too lazy to walk down to Ren Ren Le to buy another Blue Diamond Stout (not really a stout) for 5 kuai or take the bus to the Xinjiang restaurant for a black beer for 10.

If I read the label correctly (it's all in Chinese), I think Anchor is brewed in Haikou, Hainan province by Asia Pacific Breweries.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Woohoo! TV!

After enduring the last three and a half months without TV (ok, that's an exaggeration, I have 3 channels all in Chinese), I finally can watch something worthwhile. Thanks to some friendly info on a message board, I've downloaded a great little program for my computer. I can watch hockey! I'm actually watching some of game 7 of Vancouver-Dallas. The picture quality isn't great, but it's good enough. I can also get CNN, BBC, and ESPN. I'll have to see how much hockey I can really watch here. With any luck I'll also get some football when the season rolls around.

Life in Shenzhen just got a lot better.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Friday was great fun here in Shenzhen. A group of us started at the Xinjiang restaurant for lamb and black beer. It's always a good meal there. From there we set out to the bowling alley--on the sixth floor. We drank our beers, cracked jokes, and bowled some decent games for people who don't usually go bowling. It's quite an experience in China--just looking around at their version of the alley. This was the cleanest bowling alley I've ever seen--it was spotless. There was even a sound-proof private room for the groups that don't want to hang around with others. They also had championship-size pool tables. The only unnerving part of the evening was watching the Chinese bowl--not a single one of them was drinking or smoking. I'm used to walking into an alley and getting hit with the odors of stale beer and cigarettes.

It was Jia's first time out bowling. In her first game she got 104. We were all impressed. She didn't do as well in the second, but it was still respectable.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A photo for today

This is one of my favorite photos from Thailand. This was at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
I realized today that I haven't visited Wal-Mart in quite some time. A little more than a month ago I stopped in there to buy some extremely cheap ties for work. In all, I think I've made about two trips there in the last two months. Ever since Carrefour opened nearby there hasn't been a reason to go there--although both stores have stopped carrying blocks of cheese (WHY?). Although I suppose I should stop by one of the stores soon to buy some cheap dress shoes so Jia and I can go take our wedding photos. I'm still convinced I'm going to look ridiculous in those photos.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Walk in the Park

Yesterday, we decided to walk through ZhongShan Park near the Nantou special economic zone border checkpoint. This park is supposedly dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. As we walked through the fake rock formations at the entrance to the park, we could see the monument with his head on it--there were plenty of people taking photos there.

The park was unimpressive and crowded. I didn't even take any photos inside. The most interesting part of the walk through was seeing all the people flying kites on a nice day in Shenzhen.

There is almost nothing natural about ZhongShan--all the trees are trimmed and purposely planted. We passed by at least four places at which people were poorly singing karaoke (two of them were across the path from each other). There's also a small amusement park containing mostly rides that you can find at a state fair in the U.S. But they do have bumper cars (which I think is the Bao'an driving school).

Disappointed on the way out, we found the old city. There were a few buildings leftover from the times before reforms of Deng Xiaoping. There were two neighboring structures that were (as I was told) a pawn shop and a cigarette shop. The only one that was open was the temple--not a Buddhist temple, but rather a temple to one of the characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms by the name of Guan Gong.

The funniest sight in the old city was a claw machine filled with cigarettes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I hate Tampa Bay. I've never been there, but right now I hate it. Those stupid Lightning beat the Devils this morning... and I did manage to listen to the entire game this time. We need Scott Stevens back to knock out Vinny. Anyway, I'm not really worried, Tampa doesn't have a good defense. I guess the series will just last a little longer than fans hoped.

I got a message last night that might help with my hockey withdrawal. My friend said one of his co-workers is going to buy a satellite dish and he'll invite us over to watch some of the Stanley Cup games. I have to hope the Devils go far so I can really enjoy watching.

On another note, we watched The Graduate last night. I don't remember when I saw it before. That's a great movie. Dustin Hoffman is really funny.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Going to Jersey

This post is sponsored by

I can't believe I've never heard of this site before. has all the possible information anyone could ever need about visiting Jersey City. There are links for dining (not just Jersey diners), parks, museums, and art galleries around the city. I had no idea there were so many art galleries there.

For someone who spent the first 23 years of life in New Jersey, I'll admit I don't know much about the city. I know how to get to my brother's house near the Holland Tunnel and the way to the PATH station to get me to NYC. But to think, I've been missing out on a lot of cool parks and museums (I don't really need to go to the Liberty Science Center, but I know plenty of people would like to go). I didn't even realize it was a shorter ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty from the Jersey side. offers everything to find your way around. It provides a list of every shop and shopping center (alphabetically or by district) and restaurant within the city limits. Of course, I recommend the Hamilton Park Ale House (there's also a great Vietnamese restaurant nearby, but I can't remember the name). Don't forget to check out the events calendar if you plan a visit--it looks like there are a bunch of art exhibitions coming up.

I'll have to keep bookmarked for the next time I go home. I'll even bet my own brother who has lived in Jersey City for about seven years doesn't know about some of the things to do. I'm sure I can have lots of fun when I bring Jia home to show her around.

On another note, reading through this Web site made me a little homesick. I really need to take a few weeks off and get home to Jersey this summer.

Booking Travels

This post is sponsored by

Do you need Hotel Reservations? If you’re planning a vacation, holiday, or business trip, give a try. Their Web site offers a variety of deals for travelers to numerous destinations worldwide.

You can book more than just hotels from the site—flights, car rentals, vacation rentals and packages—and the prices are on par with other major travel-booking sites.

I checked on summer flights from Hong Kong to New York’s JFK airport to find approximately the same price I had seen on Expedia (about $1400 for a round-trip economy seat). It appears as though their focus is on North America and Europe, which makes sense considering the number of travelers from the two continents.

On flight search pages, they offer a link in the top right of the screen for destination guides. The guides offer quite a bit of information on cities. The Beijing guide is quite interesting with the overview focusing on the modernity and demolition of hutong neighborhoods. offers mostly high-end hotels in China. As for Asian airports, Shenzhen was not recognized by the system for flights, however, Guangzhou was recognized. The flights within China were slightly more expensive for the upcoming May holiday than my usual Chinese travel site.

The site is fairly easy to navigate, even from the almost cluttered homepage. They offer how-to guides and FAQ on every aspect of the site to ensure effective browsing and booking. You can also switch languages to Spanish if you so desire.

For those weary of online booking, they offer 24-hour telephone service for users worldwide. The phone service can be used for booking as well as travel inquiries.

From now until May 31, the offers a mail-in rebate worth up to $100 on a 12-night hotel reservation. You can also receive $20 on any three-night reservations. Check the site for further details regarding this offer.

For more information, visit their web site: Hotel Reservations.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Another reason I miss home. I haven't seen a hockey game since October 2005. All I can get now is NHL game radio, and that sucks. Half the time it doesn't work properly (partly due to slow internet connection). Today, it crashed my computer on the first try and I missed the first period and part of the second of the Devils game. That's 5 goals I missed. I'm convinced, I have to earn enough money next year to buy a satellite dish so I can watch real sports on TV.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Learn Chinese

If you’re looking to learn Mandarin Chinese, there’s one resource on the Web of which you must take advantage. offers users free lessons in mp3 format everyday. Lessons are fairly short, useful and easy to follow. For those wanting more than just verbal skills, the site also offers transcripts in pdf format. As their slogan promises, “Learn Mandarin on your terms.”

ChinesePod also offers a pay service for more ambitious students who want to progress with more structure. Plans start at $9/mo. for the basic level of structured podcasts and transcripts and reach $400 for an eight-week course that includes a 10-minute daily call from a native Mandarin speaker. But for those studying at their own pace, browsing through the immense archives and downloading lessons can be quite effective.

Lessons on the site are divided into seven comprehension levels from complete beginner to advanced learner and business. As of April 9, 2007, they have a total of 558 podcast lessons available.

ChinesePod began broadcasting online in 2005 in Shanghai and has established a following among English-speaking foreigners residing in China. Newbie and beginner podcasts are hosted by Ken Carroll and Jenny Zhu, with intermediate and upper intermediate hosted by John Pasden along with Jenny. Many lessons rely on user feedback through a comments section in which users may pose questions about vocabulary or grammar. Questions are generally answered promptly by the ChinesePod family or other users. They also welcome ideas for future lessons.

Newbie and elementary levels are slow paced with short sentences to memorize in an average of 10 to 15 minutes for each podcast. In the early levels of Mandarin, Jenny’s pronunciation is slow enough for beginners to notice the difference in tones—occasionally Ken will inquire as to the tone of specific words. Unfortunately, they tend to contain a large amount of English conversation that can be distracting for many students. As the levels progress, the amount of English spoken become minimal—in many upper levels, vocabulary is often defined in Chinese. Using the pdf transcripts will help any student to follow along with any lesson.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Review: The Departed

Martin Scorsese's recent Oscar winner, The Departed, is a great piece of entertainment. This film is filled with plot twists (some are a bit obvious, however) and action. The all-star cast includes Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin all providing wonderful performances replete with Boston accents.

"We deal in deception," Sheen's character Queenan says to Billy (DiCaprio). And that's exactly what the movie is about. Every major character leads a double life in the roles of state police officers and Irish mobsters. There are two sides to every scene--the good and the bad--and the audience usually knows which side is being seen. Scorsese provides the viewers with close-ups that deliver the emotion or lack thereof emitted by the characters trapped in duality.

I was impressed with the minor role of Baldwin playing Ellerby. There isn't a dual role in here, but he does act like a speed addict trying to be a straight cop. He adds subtle comic relief to the drama that film portrays.

This is the Americanized version of the Hong Kong original Mou Gaan Dou, written by Siu Fai Mak. I'll have to try to find it to see how it matches up--I doubt the Hong Kong version has the style that Scorsese brings to the screen.
Yesterday I went wandering with a friend around downtown. We decided we wanted to find what was in the area (restaurants, stores, etc.). We came across a couple small Japanese restaurants with little sake bar areas--we'll check those out next weekend and I'll be sure to write about them here. We found a run-down arcade with some fairly old games--it was dark, dusty, and we got some uncomfortable stares as we walked in. There was also what appears to be a small temple (a building more than 25-years-old in Shenzhen??)--we'll go back there as well to see if it's open and/or interesting. So, we've found some new adventures around here. Next weekend we'll explore a bit more to see what's worthwhile. We're planning on slumming about at some point because we're getting tired of the same bar, even if we are treated exceptionally well when we go.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Language Barriers

Last night I was in Shekou for the second seder. It started much later than I expected. I had the opportunity to attempt to speak with H. as we waited for others to arrive. The rabbi and another Israeli had stepped outside to talk in Hebrew (another language I don't understand). The problem I had was H. is from Colombia and I haven't had a Spanish class in almost 8 years. I did prepare for this though--I've been watching The Simpsons with Spanish subtitles. Anyway, I came to the conclusion that I can remember a fair amount of Spanish vocabulary--it's the verb conjugations I tend to forget; especially the past tense. The other problem I kept encountering was that I would use Chinese pronouns most of the time. The entire conversation we had was a mixture of three languages.

Fortunately, H.'s English skills are about as good as my Spanish skills; unfortunately, neither of us is very good in Chinese. I think I came away with saying, "我 necesito trabajo more." I think I'm just inept in three languages.