[Photo Gallery:] It’s Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!

fu5 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!

Qingdao’s canal bed Licun Daji traditional market is epic on a normal day (see photos here). But on the last market day before Chinese New Year, it’s “here a , there a , everywhere a -” — like a ginormous red, yellow and black ant colony that some kid has just poked with a stick, all charged up and buzzing with Chinese New Year colour, food and traditions.

fu1 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
Have a fu.

On locals’ advice, a coworker and I squeezed around back and forth through it during xiūxi time (aka after lunch siesta), when the crowds weren’t as lethal as in the morning. We weren’t aiming to document the whole thing, just look around and chat and take pictures of whatever caught our eye, and ended up with a lots of red and religious stuff (in which Chairman Mao makes an expected strong appearance), along with the usual things that make foreigners stop and take pictures.

gods1 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
财神,the money god, for sale.

(Aside from one pile of pig heads, there aren’t any other photos of piles of animal parts, though it was interesting to see shoppers inspect piles of cold, shiny intestines the same way you would check over tomatoes — i.e. with your bare hands.)

apples [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
Apples grown with stickers to make the sun shine “riches” , “respect” , and “advance” into the peels.

Anyway, here you go!

More photos from this market: Licunji – Qingdao’s most epic market

Chinese New Year photo galleries:

Chinese New Year songs to learn:

Lucky Panties & Fu:

Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neck

Not understanding what people are saying sometimes allows one to feel safe when one maybe shouldn’t. We have enough Chinese now that China is sometimes a little more frightening than it otherwise would be.

Like at the hospital the yesterday. I was there to get a cyst cut out of my neck. And this hospital, as you can see, makes a point to reach out to English-speaking foreigners:

fertilizinghealth1 Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neckethicsrules1 Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neck
dontsleepwithim1 Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neckdownwithcharity1 Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neck
I find the Chinglish endearing. Can you imagine attempting the same thing in reverse?

At 3pm I’m talking with the surgeon. We’re using Chinese. She’s treated me for a similar thing before and I actually really like her. She’s the kind of person where being decent and polite gets results. I’d already thanked her for the good job she did when she cut on me a couple months ago. So far so good.

We’re in her office; I’m sitting on a stool at her desk, she and her nurse are standing in the doorway discussing my imminent operation.

“Oh,” the nurse suddenly remembers, “We’re out of clean surgical equipment. You used the last set this morning. He’ll have to come back after Chinese New Year.”

I pretend not to understand — it’s a reflexive, passive-aggressive expat response to unwelcome news in Chinese. Sometimes playing dumb means they’ll decide that solving the problem is less hassle than trying to make you understand why you can’t get what you want. (Not saying I’m proud of this…)

“Did you understand what she said?” asks the surgeon. “We can’t do the surgery today. You’ll have to come back next week.” She knows I understand. And if she wanted to she could tell me in English anyway.

“There’s no more? This is a big hospital! And I came all the way from Licun…” We live in what’s more or less an all-Chinese district that’s not near downtown or the foreigner district. It was almost a 40元 taxi for me to get to this hospital.

“Well, our dept. doesn’t have any more…” She turns back to her nurse, “He came in from Licun. What about…” and they discuss who to call and where to go look. A second nurse goes off to ask someone somewhere.

And then the first nurse gets an idea, “Or maybe you could just use a ______.” They both stop and turn, eyeing the lump on the side of my neck from across the room.

“Hmmm…” the surgeon mulls it over, her eye still on me. And it’s in this moment that I wish I had a bigger vocabulary. I don’t know what a ______ is; technical medical terms are outside my Chinese vocab range. I probably don’t even know what a ____ is in English. But I’m sure it’s something sharp. And not what they would normally use to cut a hole in the side of my neck. In fact it took them a while to even think of it. What could it be? Is it big? But I don’t dare say anything, since they seem keen on finding a way to not send me away until next week.

In the end they just took me to the O.R. on another floor and used that dept.’s stuff. I thanked them profusely for finding a way, and for using extra anesthetic (last time they used too little — ow). If I grow anything else that needs cutting out, I’d be happy to go back. I like this crew!

stitches Hole in your Chinese vocabulary? Hole in your neckP.S. – Apologies for the blood. But it’s my first time to get stitches (apparently I’ve lived a very cautious life). Is it normal to do four holes per stitch?

P.P.S. – If you liked this (I mean the writing, not the gross picture), you’ll probably also like:

Hate flagging down taxis in China? Problem SOLVED [Updated!]

I don’t know about taxis in North America; I can’t remember ever being in one. In China they’re relatively cheap and common, faster than the bus, and you probably don’t own your own car. We take the bus as much as we can, but that still means at least one taxi per week.

Taxis save a ton of time if you don’t get stuck not being able to get one. Flagging down a taxi in China can sometimes be a major pain. They’re all full. Or there aren’t any. Or someone “steals” “yours”. Or — most annoyingly — they’re empty but they inexplicably wave you off. Turns out there are reasons why empty taxis pass right buy you. Sometimes they’re about to change shifts. Sometimes they fear the hassle/awkwardness of a foreigner who might not speak Chinese. But more likely, they’re using one or both of these two free smart phone apps: 快的打车 and 嘀嘀打车. And now that we are, too, our arm-flapping on the side of the road days are mostly a thing of the past.

Taxiapp Hate flagging down taxis in China? Problem SOLVED [Updated!]We’ve been using both these apps for weeks now, and they’re genius. It basically means you never end up wasting time waving your arms at the traffic while trying to out-position all the other roadside arm flappers. You enter where and when you want to be picked up and your destination, it notifies every driver instantly, and they choose whether or not to accept. So far it’s only taken seconds for us to get a reply. You can talk to the drivers directly. And they’re motivated to follow through: this app means they have much less empty car time, but if they fail to show up you can ding them and they risk getting temporarily banned from the software.

dididachelogo Hate flagging down taxis in China? Problem SOLVED [Updated!]UPDATE: Turns out these apps are having an app war, and Zhīfùbǎo is involved, too. That means some great promotions for drivers and riders. You can set them up to use your bank card or 支付宝 (sort of like Paypal). Right now if you use both apps you get 10元 off your fare five times per day (two times with 快的打车 and three times with 嘀嘀打车). Plus you earn points that you can redeem for phone charging or hotel discounts, etc. The drivers get 10 or 15元 for every five people they get to pay with 支付宝,depending on which app they use, which is why they’re all suddenly asking us if we want to use Zhīfùbǎo. – 2014-01-26

This going on our China essentials short-list, along with Pleco (Chinese language learning app), the China Air Quality Index app, and DIY air purifiers.

taxiapp2 Hate flagging down taxis in China? Problem SOLVED [Updated!]

[Photo Gallery:] Licunji – Qingdao’s most epic market

We’re celebrating one whole year in Qingdao! So here’s a photo gallery from the most epic market I’ve ever seen anywhere (scroll down past the blahblahblah and click a thumbnail to begin). It just happens to be a 20-minute walk from our place.

post01viewmarketscape20131001 LicunDaji 003 [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
The middle third of Lǐcūnjí.

李村集 has occupied a usually (but not always) dry canal bed for over 100 years, stretching between four bridges. You’d need a few hours to see everything. It’s a site to behold any day of the week, but “big market” days (大集) — lunar calendar days ending in 2 and 7 — bring breathtaking scale and variety (and near-apocalyptic traffic jams). For anyone who wants to learn about China, the amount of culture on display here — relating to food, medicine, religion, leisure, etc. — is just incredible. The streets immediately parallel to the canal are also packed. But two streets away you’ll find spanking new upscale malls, trendy shopping streets (步行街), and a forest of in-progress highrises. Lǐcūnjí is an old-school island in a sea of rapid development, and who knows how long they’ll let it stay.

post02people20130930 LindysLicunDaji 025 [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
On one of the two middle bridges that stretch across Lǐcūnjí.

There are many ‘Chinas’Lǐcūnjí is one that foreigners encounter less often, and that perhaps represents (economically at least) a larger slice of China’s population than the university-educated urbanites foreigners are most likely to interact with. I couldn’t find anything online about it in English. So it’s almost like I get to play Marco Polo with this. If you’re a lǎowài and you visit, you’ll be the only one for miles. And chances are good you’ll see some things you’ve never seen before. Lǐcūnjí isn’t for tourists, domestic or foreign. It’s China unedited.

post03medicinepenisclaw20130930 LindysLicunDaji 052 [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
Tiger paw, horns and assorted dried penises (tiger, deer & seal).

Photos are all by me or Lindy (a good friend from our Tianjin days), taken on her real camera and my point-and-shoot and iPhone. We spent most of a morning there, and I’ve accumulated some pictures over the months because I pass through there almost every week. This doesn’t come close to documenting or even summarizing the entire place. Still, it’s an eyeful (though not for the easily queasy!). Photos are loosely grouped by theme: marketscape (7), gods (10), pets (4), people (14), places (5), medicine (11), lunch (20), trinkets (3), meat (10), produce (9), and more marketscape (14).


When living in Tianjin we stumbled upon a different but similar sort of place:

lunch04bridgebbqIMG 2367crop [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
At Lǐcūnjí’s under-the-bridge BBQ pits, they’ll prepare whatever meat & veggies you bring from the market.

post04viewbathhouse20131001 LicunDaji 043 [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
The “Bridgehead Bathhouse”

post05viewmarketscape20130930 LindysLicunDaji 005 [Photo Gallery:] Licunji   Qingdaos most epic market
The south-west third of Lǐcūnjí.

InstaChina & InstaQingdao — Our China Instagram feed

So we’ve moved to Qingdao. And we’ve started using Instagram. Our actual Instagram feeds are private because they have lots of family pictures, but you can see all our public China Instagram fun at ChinaHopeLive.Tumblr.com. And here’s the RSS feed.

licunji InstaChina & InstaQingdao    Our China Instagram feed

octoescape InstaChina & InstaQingdao    Our China Instagram feed

Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

Below are some screen stills and scene clips that some friends and I were extras in for the Jackie Chan/Chinese propaganda film “1911″ 《辛亥革命》.

For some photos from filming and info about the 1911 Revolution, see:

You can see all the photos and screen stills at the photo gallery:

Denver Library scene

1911 movie: Denver Library scene (YouTube)

20110130 moviestills 09labelled Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

20110130 moviestills 05labelled Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

20110130 moviestills 08 Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

Sun Zhongshan speech scene

1911 movie: Sun Zhongshan speech (YouTube)

20110120 moviestills 07 Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

20110120 moviestills 11labelled Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

20110120 moviestills 10labelled Scene clips & screen stills from “1911″ (we were extras!)

Related stuff:

We were extras in “1911″ — a big-budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)

Filming 1911

1911 movie poster 02 We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)It’s maybe not as big as that other big propaganda movie from this year, “The Founding of the Party,” because without the Party reality itself would cease to exist and Sun Yat-sen was into some stuff that the Party doesn’t really go for, but this is still big stuff. “1911″ is a big-budget Jackie Chan Chinese propaganda epic commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution (辛亥革命, see below for historical info/links), with “over 70 famous Chinese actors” including Winston Chao (赵文瑄) as Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) and Lǐ Bīngbīng (李冰冰) as Jackie Chan’s wife.

And we were extras for two days of filming! Or, some friends and I were; Jessica had to stay home. So if we’re reeeally lucky I or someone we know will get part of an appendage in the background of a scene for a split-second.

On our first day of filming they needed foreigners to be political delegates for a scene where Sun Yatsen gives the speech announcing that he’s giving up the presidency of the brand new republic (knowing that he can’t retain power due to Yuan Shikai). Basically we stood around, and occasionally they filmed us standing around, clapping for Winston Chao/Sun Yat-sen, and acting surprised when he makes his announcement.

The second day was better: we were foreigners sitting in the “Colorado Denver Public Library”. Sun Yatsen is in the States on a fundraising trip. He comes into the library, starts reading the paper and discovers in the headlines that revolution has broken out in China. He chokes on his food in surprise, and we foreigners look up from our books at the disturbance.

Here are a couple photos, with more in the photo gallery.

IMG 0029a We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)
With Natalie on a veeeery cold set.

20110130 movieshoot 95 We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)Dingle (aka James) poses cooperatively so I can get a shot of Winston Chao (赵文瑄).

20110130 movieshoot 105 We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)The “Colorado Denver Public Library”.

20110130 movieshoot 106 We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)The books were real.

More photos in the photo gallery!

Competing 1911 historical narratives

The 1911 Revolution marked the official end of five million years of unbroken imperial rule in China (this other propaganda movie is about the unification of China and the beginning of imperial rule). For a quick history lesson:

  • China 1911: The Birth of China’s Tragedy (History Today)
    “…for all the celebrations in the mainland and Taiwan this autumn, the revolution of 1911-12 brought no real solution and left China facing decades of suffering.”
  • Reading Round-Up: The Xinhai Revolution, One Hundred Years Later
  • The Xinhai Revolution (Wikipedia)
    “The Xinhai Revolution…, also known as the Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution, was a revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1912), and established the Republic of China. The revolution, which began with the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911 and ended with the abdication of the “Last Emperor” Puyi on February 12, 1912, is named after the Xinhai year in the sexagenary cycle of the Chinese calendar. The Xinhai Revolution marks the end of over 2,000 years of Imperial China and the beginning of China’s Republican era.”

And here’s an intro to the battle between Taiwan and China over the 1911 historical narrative:

  • What really happened on Oct. 10, 1911?
    “In the run up to the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, Beijing has been performing a spectacular tightrope walk. Officials have been told that it should be a grand affair, but must be careful not to upstage the celebration of the Party’s 90th anniversary. This is because even though Sun Yat-sen is seen by many Chinese as the father of modern China, his ideas do not fit the country’s current direction.”
  • One revolution, two interpretations
    “Taiwan and China have taken different approaches to commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising, which took place on Oct. 10, 1911 and marked the beginning of a series of revolutions that eventually ended dynastic rule and led to the establishment of the Republic of China.
    [...]
    “These differences are created by the complex history of and sensitive political disputes between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, who are both trying to put forward their interpretation of history as definitive.”
  • China’s Communist Party celebrates 1911 Revolution in low key
    “Naysayers note however that celebrations for Sun Yat-sen and 1911 Revolution (Xinhai) are low-key compared to those in Taiwan, where Sun is seen as the ‘Father of the Nation’, and an inspiration for the country’s cardinal principles: nationalism, democracy and people’s wellbeing. Others believe that Sun’s low profile is probably designed not to overshadow the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party, celebrated last July.”
  • A Century After Xinhai: Whose Revolution?
  • 1911: the Xinhai Year of Revolution 辛亥革命
    “A hundred years on the Xinhai remains a controversial period. The year 2011 started with Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 in Taiwan lauding the Xinhai centenary… On the other side of the Taiwan Strait reflections are not quite as sanguine. The previous official monopoly over the interpretation of history has long since been undermined.”
  • Profound shift as China marches back to Mao
    “Both the Communist Party and dem0cr@tic activists claim the Xinhai Revolution as part of their historical ancestry.

    “”The left, in the sense of representing anti-dem0cr@tic dictatorship, does not own revolutionary legitimacy in China,” said David Kelly, research director at China Policy in Beijing and a visiting professor at Peking University. “The anniversary of 1911 brings into play the fundamental decision between social dem0cr@cy and revolutionary dictatorship.”"

If any interesting movie reviews come out, or if we get some incriminating screen stills, I’ll post them here.

Scene Clips & Screen Stills! [2011-10-30 update]

The movie’s out, and you can see video clips of the scenes we’re in and screen stills of us in action here:

The photo gallery has been updated with all the new screen stills.

20110130 moviestills 05labelled We were extras in 1911    a big budget Chinese propaganda Jackie Chan movie! (here are some photos)