Tweets from Beijing, China

I didn’t do much writing in Beijing. I did regularly update my Twitter profile, Those tweets with elaborations sum up what I did in China.

in beijing, I paid two ****ing dollars for a liter of milk!
Sep 22

When contemplating Chinese global dominance, keep in mind these people eat with sticks and shit standing up.
Sep 22

Actually, this is inaccurate. They do eat with sticks, but I assumed they shit standing up because most public toilets are just holes in the floor. No toilet, no bowl, no seat. But they don’t stand, they squat.

Don’t know what’s worse in China, the food or music. You can try to tune out or ignore the music. But you can’t ignore your food.
Sep 22

Traditional Chinese music, as with any culture’s traditional music, is great. But people get into trouble when they try making another culture’s music, which is difficult to pull off. White people doing reggae, Latin rock, British rappers – all of it is poxy fuckin’ music. Still, Chinese rock and pop is less tolerable than all that.

Most Chinese food is fried, steamed, or boiled. They believe eating raw vegetables isn’t healthy, so all vegetables are boiled or fried. Walking around hutongs you’ll see all kinds of unindentifiable foodstuffs meant for human consumption. In grocery stores you walk through aisles and aisles of unrecognizable items.  It’s discouraging. I resorted to eating duck and fruit for most meals.

On a positive note, I’ve had more duck in the last 2 weeks than in my previous 31 years. Duck kicks ass, and there’s a lot of them in China.
Sep 26

Duck kicks ass. Peking duck is the proper way to eat it. They roast an entire duck and serve it with wheat tortillas, cucumbers, and Chinese barbecue sauce. Chinese duck tacos. I’d also buy pre-cooked legs and wings on the street and microwave as needed.

The goddamn heathens I hung out with last night ate dog at a North Korean restaurant for dinner. Dogs are pets, not food!
Sep 26

Here’s a page in the menu of a Korean restaurant I ate at:

The dog dishes (for heathens only)

I told my American friends about that and one sent me this article about Chinese cooking and selling rats as chicken.

In Bogota, I ate at the local McDonald’s twice in over a year. In Beijing, I’ve eaten McDonald’s four times in less than two weeks.
Sep 26

That rate increased to four times per week and my last week I was going every day. Sometimes you just don’t want Chinese food. That was often for me.

A Mongolian prostitute offered herself to me in a high-end Beijing nightclub for 1000 RMB. I told her SHE had to pay ME. That gets rid of em
Sep 26

This was at Xiu where I paid 50 RMB ($7) for a Heineken. Prostitutes are in all the Beijing bars since most Chinese women don’t party. So if you go in a bar and it looks like the men to women ratio is about 2:1, it’s probably 3:1 if you exclude whores.

I was talking to one in Suzie Wong’s who I suspected to be a pro. At one point she asked me to get the bartender’s attention. She wanted water. I ordered it, but when it came I didn’t pay. She had conveniently turned around when it arrived. She didn’t come back after realizing I didn’t pay. That’s actually a good way of qualifying the buyer if you’re a whore.

I ate a whole duck last night – granted it was probably just a baby – for 21 RMB, or three dollars. What I lose in milk value I gain in duck
Sep 28

Duck is greasier than chicken, so eating the whole duck is messier than putting down a Cornish hen. I eventually switched to legs and wings.

maybe canceling the India trip in favor of a week in Vietnam and a few days in Thailand.
Sep 28

Everything was cancelled except Beijing.

finished The New Asian Hemisphere, White Tiger, and Art of War – 3 books by Asian authors – to supplement my Asian adventure.
Oct 01

White Tiger was an amazing look at contemporary India and a compelling story. Skip Art of War.

Highly recommend The New Asian Hemisphere for those interested in world politics, economics for insight to the non-Anglo-American viewpoint.
Oct 01

If you like my posts from Michael Reid’s Forgotten Continent, you’ll love The New Asian Hemisphere for opening your eyes to a non-Western point of view. Can’t recommend this one enough.

In China, Kazakhs have the reputation of fighters in bars and clubs. Bouncers try to keep them out. They don’t look like Borat.
Oct 02

I saw a fight start outside Vics one night. Only a few on each side would be active, but it’d get broken up and move to another side of the parking lot. The skirmishes went on and on around the parking lot until I lost sight and quit watching. Some twenty minutes later I saw it was still going on, moving its way around the parking lot.

To a lesser extent, Mongolians and Russians share the reputation. I had to yell at a Russian guy one night. Nothing happened.

Smoking culture in China is crazy. Chinese men usually smoke while eating, and also while sitting on the toilet! (if they sit)
Oct 02

At a restaurant you’ll see four guys with hot food in front of them, and three of them are smoking. You see cigarette burns on the toilet seats and butts on the ground. When I was in a hostel, I once had a Chinese roommate who woke up around 9am and chain-smoked four cigarettes before breakfast. If I didn’t open the window, he wouldn’t have. There is no shame about smoking in China.

Beijing is built like Los Angeles: long, wide streets. Impossible to get around on foot. But subway’s excellent and only costs 2RMB, $0.30.
Oct 01

Beijing’s not as flat as LA, but it’s definitely sprawled. Evening rush hour lasts from 4 – 9pm. One city block is about a quarter mile. The subway is excellent and efficient. Train frequency increases at peak times so you never wait long. Driving a car every day is a silly option.

Another positive for Chinese taste: the beer is amazingly drinkable. I must’ve had 12 big bottles last night, paying for it today.
Oct 01

Lithuanian food is the only cuisine as bad as Chinese, and Lithuanian beer sucks too. In China Budweiser’s everywhere and not too expensive, but unnecessary because Chinese beer’s great.

Chinese nationals caught dealing drugs face the death penalty. So wholesale traffickers sponsor and import Nigerians to sell in the streets.
Oct 06

I actually met more South Africans than Nigerians. I assume they’re picked for English fluency. Africans patrol the streets of Sanlitun hard-selling weed and coke to guys who look like me. The prices are higher than in America since the risk is much higher. Chinese nationals face the death penalty, but Africans caught selling drugs are just deported.

I got to know a couple of these guys from the perch I drank at, located on the main corner entrance to the Sanlitun bars. It’s an outdoor liquor store with tables and chairs. Big beers are only 3 RMB ($0.40). It’s mostly Africans drinking there. A couple Russians and randoms here and there. And me almost every night I was in town.

secured a furnished apt near Jinsong for my last few weeks in Beijing. 1st night wasn’t spent alone, 1st morning found the local duck joint.
Oct 07

I grew sick of the hostel and got a furnished room in an apartment.

Here’s the view from my apartment:

Bought 3 duck legs for 9.60 RMB, or about $1.30. That’ll be an everyday thang.

Oct 07

Do Asians believe they’re more evolved than whites? I’ve heard two Chinese girls say so.
Oct 08

I first caught this in an offhand comment from an American’s Chinese girlfriend. She said something about his arm hair, but the quickness with which she said it is what got me. I asked Lucy, Margaret, and some other Chinese girls. They all think white people are “closer to the monkey” than Asians. Aside from our body hair, one of these girls said our food is primitive, very “simple.” Steaks cooked rare especially make them think we’re animals. I guess dogs, snakes, and monkey brains make good nourishment for higher beings.

Played flag football Sunday. The presence of a flag football league shows difference between the expat experience in Asia vs. Latin America.
Oct 14

Not soccer, football. American football. The only people who play football are Americans plus a few Canadians. And still there are enough Americans and Canadians to have a Beijing flag football league with ten 5-man teams. They’re sponsored by Vitamin Water (free cases during game days), Bank of America, Blue Frog (uniforms), and Elite Nutrition Center. They played on three turf fields. They have a website, a draft, playoffs, a super bowl, the works.

This illustrates how many foreigners there are in China. It’s completely different from Latin America. In one year in Arequipa, I met two foreigners. In Bogota, excluding La Candelaria and Zona Rosa, you can go weeks without seeing a gringo. Maybe a month. In China, you can’t go a day. You can’t go an hour without seeing a white person if you take the subway. They’re everywhere. In Bogota, you’d be hard-pressed to organize one game of touch football.

Hung out with all French people last night, which there are a ton of in China. The French are damn good people in my book.
Oct 14

There’s a group of five or six French I went out with often. There are a shitload of French in China. I may have heard French spoken more than English. I hear there are even more in Shanghai.

I saw a scuffle / shoving match at the Apple Store in Sanlitun. NERDS!
Oct 16

This was the day iPhone 4 was released in China. My meathead friends in St. Louis call me a nerd for having a blog, but they’re rednecks. The technophiles and especially Apple addicts are the real nerds, not to mention unashamedly materialistic. To get upset while waiting for a goddamn phone – no, to even wait in line for a goddamn phone, NERDS!!!

spent last night the freakiest girl I’ve ever met, and I found her in China. Definitely an exception to the rule.
Oct 18

This was “Marilyn.”

Something The Mick taught me: If someone regularly pays your way and you want to keep it that way, never say ‘thank you’.
Oct 23

This was inspired by “Margaret.”

After 4 weeks of eating it once or twice a day, I’m getting a little sick of duck.
Oct 23

This is when I started eating McDonald’s every day.

Price Haggling – Latinos got nothing on the Chinese. Despite being in China, I don’t want to shop anymore. I’ll wait till Colombia.
Oct 23

In Silk Street and Yashow markets Chinese sell fake brand clothes and accessories. All prices are negotiated. They start with ridiculous rapist prices. I once asked about a “I ♥ BJ” T-shirt – a white T-shirt with four characters printed on it – and was quoted 380 RMB, or $54. For $54 I could get an American Apparel T-shirt custom printed in Los Angeles and shipped to Beijing. I walked away and she seemed pissed I didn’t continue the negotiation.

What turned me off about the haggling was how most Chinese would rather lose the sale than give a foreigner a fair price. I saw it again and again – I’d walk away when they wouldn’t come down from a rapist price and they often let me go. The Zoo market was the worst in this respect.

I got used to the silliness my last week and got a Swiss Gear backpack and extra large suitcase for good prices.

I’m in Beijing where Twitter is censored by the Great Firewall of China. This is a test to see if I can tweet from my LinkedIn feed.
Oct 23

The Chinese government’s official name for the firewall is the Golden Shield Project. Chinese buy VPNs to bypass it. Also censored are Facebook, YouTube, and URLs. I could only access these sites when at a friend’s who had a VPN. Here’s the complete list of blocked sites.

Asian chicks shed a lot. Good thing is if you get accused of cheating, you can tell her it’s hers because it’s all the same color.
Oct 25

After I had Lucy spend the night, I was picking long black hairs out of the sheets and floor for more than a week. Just as I’d gotten them all, I had Marilyn over. Again, the long black hairs were everywhere. More so than I’ve noticed with other kinds of girls.

I flew out of Beijing Sunday Oct 31 at 7:55am and landed in Chicago Sunday Oct 31 at 7:25am.
Oct 31

The flight is about thirteen hours. China is thirteen hours ahead of Chicago, so I landed at an earlier hour than when I left.

@rossjamesparker Summer Palace and Forbidden City are mandatory. Eat Peking Duck. Check out the 798 art district and eat lots of Peking duck
Oct 31

Chinese tourist stuff gets redundant after a while. The architecture’s all the same. So if you hit Summer Palace and Forbidden City, you can skip all the temples and lesser attractions. I didn’t make it to the Great Wall. 798 is the off-the-beaten path attraction, a neighborhood of galleries and crazy art. See my pictures of Beijing tourist stuff.

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  1. Just read the link on the Chinese selling rats as chicken.

    I’m speechless.

    I have a friend who was just in China about a year ago. She also said the food was nightmarish and ate McDonald’s constantly instead.

    I thought she was just being picky and close-minded, but after reading your post I understand why she did what she did.


  2. Dennis – The food is all fried, then covered with a sauce of sodium, MSG, and
    maybe sugar, then piled over rice. And that’s the good stuff. Then there’s all the weird shit you don’t recognize.

    I believe I forgot to mention Jian Bing, a pretty decent Chinese street food. It’s half pancake, half egg and sold as breakfast food. They also sell it when the bars are closing and I’d eat them while wasted. One is 3.50 RMB ($0.50). An extra egg jian bing is 4.50, and I’d always eat two for a total of 9 RMB ($1.30).


  3. Thanks for sharing your China adventures, Colin. I remember the first time I tried the food too and it took a lot of getting used to after living in China for a few years – I acquired a taste for it.

    You are so on point about the duck! I tried to make a Beijing duck last week – the ducks over here just aren’t the same as the ones in China.

    Wish I could go back soon, in the meantime I’ll live vicariously through your blog. 🙂


  4. Hi Colin,

    I had several meals in China with business associates, and they have a habit of ordering waaaay too much, but among those things, I’ve tasted some of the most delicious stuff ever. Admitting, there were also things on the table that were repugnant. I remember a particular bit of meat that was extremely chewy and foul tasting. I might have been whale, or some animals hide. From what I heard, the reason for these disgusting dishes is because of Mao. Since everyone was starving during those days, they started munching away on everything they found. No animal or edible object was safe anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if even some humans found a spot on the menu. So, apparently some of these “dishes for the starving” became excepted in society, and just stayed on the menu.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Chinese food can also be exceptionally good. The trick is to order the right stuff.

    Good work on the blog! Very relaxing stories.

    P.S. Did you see the chicken paws in the Chinese shops? Neatly packed as a snack?


  5. Bart – chicken feet soup is common in Peru. I ate it often. I’m not a picky eater at all. I eat hormigas (ants) in Colombia, beef heart, mollejitas (chicken gizzards) in Peru, and I clean bones of all the tendons, skin, and gunk that most people leave. The difference is I eat clean animals as detailed by the Bible and Koran. I’m not a big fan of pork or shellfish, but I’ll eat it if it’s all there is. The Chinese have no rules about safe animals, and that’s gross to me. I was excited one night when some friends chose a fish restaurant, until I saw the menu and all they had was catfish (catfish don’t have scales so not meant for human consumption). 20 different kinds of catfish but not one item a civilized human would eat.


  6. “The difference is I eat clean animals as detailed by the Bible and Koran…(catfish don’t have scales so not meant for human consumption).”

    Uh…what does the Koran have to say about being an alcoholic? What do both of those books say about having sex with random people all the time? Obviously they can’t have addressed using cocaine specifically but somehow I doubt Jesus or Muhammad would be too keen on that.

    But the “don’t eat things with scales (for some reason)” part. That’s right on. Let’s all live our lives by that.

    “20 different kinds of catfish but not one item a civilized human would eat.”

    Was this part a joke or something?


  7. Sorry, that should have been “only eat fish with scales (for some reason)”. I don’t know how I could have made that mistake when the importance of having scales is so obvious.


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