China: All Work No Play?

I’m not going to lie. I’m biased towards China. The country where I learnt my first foreign language is truly my second home. It’s no surprise that China is one of the top most frequently visited destinations among travelers either for work or pleasure. The country offers everything- exotic locations to never-heard-before delicious cuisine.

Studying in China I assumed there were more Russians but according to the latest Expat Insider 2014 – the InterNations Survey, you’ll find more Americans, Germans and British people as compared to any other nationality.

While the language remains a huge barrier, except some of the locations where the number of expats is high, the rest of China is either reluctant to accept foreigners or it simply does not want anything to do with them. I don’t entirely blame them, there have been a number of cases where rowdy expats have upset the locals or when, in contrast, fanatic Chinese natives find it extremely hard to adjust to “aliens”. So, it’s not shocking that China falls in 52nd place out of 60 when it comes to judging it on the basis of “Ease of settling” into the country.

When it comes to cost of living, China isn’t so bad. This fact in itself is reason enough as to why many expats decide to move here in the first place. But because of factors like “family life” and “quality of life”, China finds itself on the 38th position out of 61 in the overall index ranking. Not everyone has a fairytale love story like Sara Jaaksola.

To be able to find love in China, get married, gel with the in-laws seems tough- all thanks to respective cultures which stand poles apart. My best friend from Beijing, a Hungarian who recently married a Chinese, is proof enough to conclude- your nationality or not, a mother-in-law stays a mother-in-law.

If you find the numbers I mentioned in this article interesting, do find time to check out the rest of the InterNation Survey 2014.

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image source: flickr/sunlightfoundation

Do the Chinese really eat insects?

This is to answer that one question you always had about the Chinese. Do they really eat insects? Let’s find out.

Even though eating insects is a taboo in most societies, it dates back thousands of years. Not only do the Chinese but a lot of south Asian countries like Korea and Thailand including other parts of the world like North, Central, South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand enjoy ingesting insects.

I come from a culture where we more or less kill insects to protect ourselves and not because we want to eat them. It’s a cultural difference and perspective that’s hard to step away from.

While researching on the consumption of insects or entomophagy, it came to me as a surprise that the main consumers for these creepy guys  are in Thailand and not China. Grasshoppers, centipedes, various bug larvae, silkworms, multiple creepy giant cockroach lookalikes fall into the list of bugs humans consume.

Other unusual food consumed includes seahorses, scorpions, even animal body parts like snakehead soup, duck feet marinated in blood, solidified duck blood, pork lungs, peacock and pig face. Banquet specialties include cow’s lung soaked in chili sauce, goose stomachs, fish lips with celery, goat’s feet tendons in wheat noodles, shark’s stomach soup, chicken-feet soup, monkey’s head, ox forehead, turtle casserole, pigeon brain, deer ligament and snake venom, lily bulbs and deer’s penis… no, no typo, penis.

What came as a bigger shock was that even though people blame the rapid rate of urbanization and industrialization for China’s pollution problems and water shortages, few recognize that meat industries are to be equally blamed. Livestock produces more greenhouse gasses on the planet than all automobiles and other forms of transportation combined.

China’s meat consumption per capita has nearly quadrupled over the past 30 years to an estimated 71 million tons per year. And if China’s meat consumption doesn’t slow down, the environmental consequences could be disastrous.

So is there anything in the world that the Chinese find disgusting ?

Believe it or not, many regard eating cheese or butter as disgusting; they consider eating a plain cooked steak as primitive and unappetizing and find the French custom of eating snails to be strange.

[Images from Flickr][sources: http://factsanddetails.com]

The Next Best 7 Wonders of Beijing

This post is in response to the article on the 7 Wonders of Beijing.

Blue sky days, Mc Donalds delivery, Taobao and Ayis, are few of the seven wonders that the author mentions in his article on thebeijinger. Well, here is the list of the next best 7 Wonders of Beijing.

1. Pyro Pizza

Like all good things, this amazing pizza place, is located in the Wudaokuo district. Offering the most amazing pepperoni pizza, and the most exciting menu, Pyro also delivers right to your door step. Celebrations or no celebrations, good times call for some Pyro!

2. BLCU/BFSU

These two universities are among the most famous universities for foreigners. Located in the Haidian district, majority of foreigners that come to Beijing to study get enrolled here for their bachelors and even language courses. Having studied in BLCU, I have got to say, the sort of university life I’ve enjoyed for one year- learning mandarin, travelling around China, meeting new people and making new friends in addition to my favorite – numerous conversations with the taxi drivers, the ride has been amazing.

3. National Holidays

The Chinese work hard, play harder. The few days they get off they spend travelling around and even out of the country. Unfortunately, I had to travel these national holidays and had the (unlucky) chance to be one of the millions travelling around the same time. For more on that, click here.

4. CCTV 6

The first day I moved in Chaoyang, I happened to browse through the Chinese channels and TO MY SURPRISE, I bumped into CCTV 6 playing “Kites”, a Bollywood movie featuring Hrithik Roshan. CCTV 6, the movies channel does rescue you sometimes even if it’s with some funny and interesting Chinese movies.

5. Roller-blades

Trolling around the city, I have come across people on roller-blades more than once. Enjoying the wind and the crowd behind you, roller-blades are not a bad idea moving through this busy city.

6. The Alien Market, Russian District

After moving to the Chaoyang district, here in Chaoyangmen, I live 5 minutes away from The Alien Market a.k.a The Russian district. Along with the huge shopping malls, there are a bunch of posh Russian restaurants also located here.

7. Thebeijinger

This is one website that might as well be introduced to you as soon as you land Beijing. Including everything from housing, personals, jobs, etc., under classifieds, it offers very interesting blogs as well as the most happening events around the city along with reviews of all the top restaurants the city has to offer.