Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dinner In The Mountains

Wild Goose Pagoda with the Quinlin Mountains in the background
Breaking News - With timeline conflicts there is the possibility that the 2018 ESL Derby could be postponed until August 2018. This will give all the horses a chance to re position themselves plus it will give the handicapper the opportunity to visit a few of the stables and check on the conditions of the contestants..

Latest Updates- We have a new entry in the 2018 ESL Teaching Derby. Indonesia is coming in very weak and I think she is just looking for attention. Vietnam has shown great support and looks to be the class of the field. Russia has gained quite a bit of momentum and, although a huge mystery, she is big, powerful and confident. If she takes the lead she may not give it up.

* Timeline conflicts. The race is in March but the Horse needs to be ready in September 2017.
(1) = Number of conversations with the Trainer for inside information.

Latest Odds
Vietnam 2 - 1: Holding Steady (1) *
Cambodia 4 - 1: Quiet Strength Could Carry The Day
Russia 8 - 1: Gaining Momentum But Still An Outsider (2) *
Thailand 10 - 1: Attractive But A Weak Payout (1) *
China 15 - 1: Fading, Losing Strength (1)
Indonesia - 50 - 1: New Entry. Jockey Might Be To Old (1)
Nepal 50 - 1: Outclassed But There Is Interest (1)
Mongolia - 99 - 1: Needs A Miracle

Now onto other things. China is about food and eating. A normal greeting in the West is "how are you doing". Here is China it is not uncommon for someone to ask "did you eat today?" or "what did you have for breakfast?". I do not know where it stems from but that's just how we roll here in the Middle Kingdom. When I head into work it usually takes about 15 seconds for someone to ask "what will we have or lunch/dinner today?". Our lunch and dinner breaks are at set times, usually 12:00 and 5:00 so depending on your shift it is one or the other. A long day gets you both and that is a huge "happy day" to work because "we can eat twice" (these are true quotes).

Why the talk about food? The last couple of weeks, myself and three colleagues, Siscola, Candy and Owen, have finished our shifts early and decided it would be fun to do something. A few weeks ago we went to the Qinlong Water Park which was as insane and fun as you could imagine a Chinese Water Park to be. There was a massive wave pool, great slides and steep drops into warm pools. A funny observation from the day. Everyone was having a great time. The lines were not to long and there were smiles all around. Every person in the park was soaking wet. Then the skies opened up and everyone ran for cover (except for Owen and myself). The girls yelled we must stay out of the rain and get dry. We just looked at each other knowingly that that comment made no sense. As I looked around I notice we were the only 2 people not taking shelter and we got more than one odd look. I mean it made no sense to be wet, run in from the rain to get dry and then when the rain stopped run back to the pools and slides to get wet. I think the thunder and sheet lightning had a little bit to do with it.

Standing in the Rain
The noodles are taking their toll
This week Candy suggested we head into the mountains for a BBQ. That got our attention. Her husband would drive if we picked up the food. Now the thing to remember is when it comes to food the Chinese, and in particular Chinese woman lose their sh** when organizing a meal. This was going to be fun to watch. We were warned to just go along and do what Candy and Siscola said.

I do not need to go into details of our market shop but needless to say we ended up with 4 huge bags of meats, vegetables, fruits, noodles, snacks and other assorted goodies. It was not just a BBQ, we were going to have Hot Pot as well. Hot Pot is a Chinese staple. The pots sits on a burner and it has a divider in which one side is water boiled with a bit of sweet and the other side is a spicy soup. You then take whatever you have prepared and toss it in to one side or the other and let it cook. You then take out bits at a time and eat it. Simple, delicious and filling. Good thing there was BBQ as well. Thankfully Siscolas partner showed up because at least 6 of us could put a dent in the food.

Zhang, Candys husband, picked us up and we loaded in the food into an already packed car. This boy knew what he was doing. We were going to drive to the Qinglin Mountains which were about an hour away depending on traffic. We found a little spot along a well traveled road beside a mountain stream. There was a house the provide parking and electricity for patio lanterns for about $5.

We unpacked, put the beer in the stream and started cutting and preparing. We skewered the beef, cut the vegetables and tofu, prepared the sauces and, well just got organized. How did we get so organized so quickly? When we got out of the car Zhang said to us with a sly grin "just do what the woman say and we will be ok". So we a point.

The location was great, the food was beyond delicious and everyone just relaxed and enjoyed themselves. There was a combination of Chinese, English and Chinglish spoken but nobody was hurt or insulted. It was mostly laughs at the absurdity of it at times.

I think the Chinese get a bad rap. Maybe because they seem so very aggressive in the way the speak, or live their lives. Remembering there are 1.3 billion people in this country personal space is not a luxury so if you want to do something you do it. There is no please or thank you but then again nobody is insulted as they do not have time for such pleasantries because it is "normal to do these things". It is normal to do these things!  In the west we have come to expect platitudes. In China it is normal. The simplicity of that logic astounds me every day.

What they lack in Western social graces is a warmth and generosity that bubbles up under all that "loud". Sharing food with them is considered the ultimate compliment and it is taken very seriously. Driving back later that night we suddenly stopped at a makeshift road side stand. Candy jumped out and returned with fresh peaches. "These look delicious. Let's eat them now". 

"What did you eat today?"  Say that to the next person you talk to and monitor their reaction. Will they think you are concerned about their health or will they think WTF is wrong with you? I am thinking the latter.

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