Monday, September 23, 2013

The Bank

Tonight I'll tell you about The Bank.

Although I haven't travelled to enough places, I try to play basketball wherever I go. And in China, I think I've found my favorite court. It's a secret spot, but since you know me, I can probably get you in. The Bank is located under the rainbow bridge in the Wanda neighbourhood of Jilin, and it's one of the most perfect spots I've ever played at. The people are friendly, and very willing to let me join games, which is fantastic because I don't own a basketball. There are six full courts, so there's plenty of room if you just want to relax and shoot around, or you can join up and get into some pretty great action!

Check out this tiny video I made to express my love for The Bank.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy Moon Cake Day!

Today I'm celebrating my first Moon Cake Day.

It's part of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and today it's Chinese tradition to think about the people that you miss. This is extremely fitting for me, as I am away from my hometown, family, and friends. When people eat moon cakes (which have been for sale virtually EVERYWHERE for the past couple weeks) they think about friends and family, and those that they miss.
This tradition, as near as I can tell from what Chinese people have told me, came from the story of an ancient hero, which I will now relay to you in perfect detail. Many years ago, there were 10 suns in the sky, which you have to admit is just too many. Seriously, it was so hot that people were dying and everyone was uncomfortable at the very least. So one guy, who happened to be an amazing archer, got sick of it and shot down nine of the suns. He said, "Come on, 10 suns is just overkill. 1... 1 is OK." <roughly translated>

Obviously people were really happy about this. Finally people's ice cream stopped melting so quickly, their lemonade stopped evaporating, and they could go to the beach without spontaneously combusting. So the archer was named a hero, and everyone wanted to hang out with him. And they did! But while he was off eating (probably free) dinners and having people toast his name and skilled archer hands, his wife was at home feeling neglected. As time went on, she even got depressed.

Then one day, I can't remember how, the hero got his hands on a pill that takes you directly to the moon. Someone gave it to him I think. But he didn't want to go to the moon, so he left it at home. He told his wife that it was poison, presumably so she wouldn't take it accidentally with her other, non-poisonous pills. But unfortunately, he didn't realize how depressed his wife was. It's a shame really; many couples have a hard time communicating, even regarding important matters.

His wife ended up taking the pill, hoping for suicide, but instead was whisked immediately to the moon. Her husband was devastated. After that, whenever he looked at the moon, he would think of his wife and how much he missed her. On the moon, she would make moon cakes and send them to him (which probably explains why moon cakes tend to be quite heavy, because they need to survive space travel).
Moon cake!
So today, in the spirit of that hero, I have been eating moon cakes and looking at the beautiful full moon, and thinking of people at home. The idea is that even though we are far apart, we can still look at the same moon and appreciate its beauty together. I think it's a great story, and a sweet, genuine tradition. I really appreciate it, especially in my current position. Happy Moon Cake Day everyone!

Monday, September 16, 2013

4 Things I Appreciate More about Winnipeg

Well I've been in China for over three months now, and I feel that's long enough to qualify me to discuss things I miss about my hometown. Here's an unranked list of things that I'll definitely appreciate more when I go back to Winnipeg...

1. Chocolate
Honestly, I didn't think I could appreciate chocolate any more than I already do, but when I get home I'll find a way. The chocolate selection here is extremely limited, and the good stuff that's available is pretty expensive. The only chocolate bars that have made it in China are Dove and Snickers, and chocolate chips (possibly my favourite food) may as well be non-existent. China is torture. Thankfully they have Oreos over here though, so I've gotten into them in a big way.
I wanna dive into this picture and eat my way out of that alternate reality. 
2. Multiculturalism
A very cool aspect of Winnipeg, and Canada in general, that I didn't consider much before is how prevalent other cultures are. I'm not talking about bottled up, specific evenings like Folklorama that brag about here or there once a year; I mean the wide array of choices that are available to you on a daily basis. If you want to get a Greek gyro, drink a bunch of bubble tea, do whatever French people do, and hang out with a busty gal from Trinidad and Tobago all in the same day, you're free to do so. You have those opportunities!

3. A Clothes Dryer
If you read my blog, you know that I'm an outspoken supporter of clothing dryers. Here in China I have a spin dryer, and it's just not the same. I spin my wardrobe like a breakdancer testing out a new cardboard sheet, then I still have to hang it all up to finish the job, like a breakdancer that can't afford a clothes dryer. All that is actually fine, but the finished product is stiff and scratchy, which I imagine is how clothing felt a hundred years ago. Who am I, Tom Sawyer? Also, without that hot dryer keeping things tight, all my t-shirts are slowly getting bigger. Necklines are plunging further and further, and in a few more washes that white v-neck is going to get downright revealing.

4. Clean Air
It's pretty amazing because I'm not even in a large city by Chinese standards (Jilin only has around four million people) so I should count my blessings, but the air just ain't as good as it could be. Now I actually look forward to some rain here and there, welcoming the refreshing, crisp air that follows it. I think of wide open, green spaces just minutes from my home in Winnipeg, and miss the clean air that goes along with it.
I'm told this is Winnipeg. Look at all that clean air!
Of course there's a few other things that I miss while I'm out here... specific foods like spinach (for spinach salads), and dairy products like cheese (for spinach salads with cheese on them), and specific activities like training jiu-jitsu, and going to movies and concerts. But I won't bore you with discussing all of them. The point is that yes Mom, I miss home, and yes I'll come back sometime.