Chowtimes Eighth Anniversary

I can’t believe we have been at blogging for eight years already. Today is chowtimes’ eighth anniversary. So I thought I make a customary birthday post today.


When we started writing, our boys were barely into their teens and we spent countless meals eating out with them. Today they are young adults on their own, and sadly, they are going out eating more and more with their friends. Continue reading

Merry Christmas 2012

Wishing all chowtimes readers a very Merry Christmas 2012.

Here are some of the Christmas scenes in Beijing which I would like to share with the readers.


The grand staircase of Continental Plaza.


Night and day shot of the decor above the grand stair case.


Decorations which lined the sides the grand staircase of Continental Plaza. Continue reading

Richmond Culture Days: Cantonese Opera Costumes and Performance Techniques Illustrations

After the makeup demonstration, we proceeded to another room for the demonstration of the performance techniques, follow with a short Cantonese Opera performance.


Cantonese Opera originates from the Southern part of China. It includes elements like music, singing, martial arts and acting.

There is generally a lead actor, a lead actress, a supporting actor, a supporting actress, a clown figure and a bearded male role. The female sings and speaks in soprano voice to indicate a young female role. The female performer who undertakes an old lady role will sings and speaks in their ordinary or tenor voice. There are female who act as a male role and they sing and speak in their ordinary voice or tenor voice.


The Cantonese Opera costumes are usually elaborate and handmade. One costume can cost few thousands of dollars. The costumes represent the status of the performer. The one above is likely for a princess or empress with the motives of phoenixes. The belt also represents of high statue in the society, usually for officials.


The above head piece is used for high official or imperial members. Continue reading

Richmond Culture Days: Cantonese Opera Makeup Application Demonstration

The city of Richmond held it’s third Culture Days weekend from September 28 to 30, 2012 at the Richmond Culture Center (i.e. Minoru Public Library area). Culture Days is a collaborative coast-to-coast volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

Culture Days featured many free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind-the-scenes”, to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, designers and other creative people in their communities.


What caught my attention was the Cantonese Opera activities during this Culture Days event. The first activity was Chinese Opera’s Signature Make-up Application demonstration. This demonstration was carried out by the Vancouver Cantonese Opera which is a non-profit organisation.


How does the Cantonese Opera actor/actress transforms from the left to the right? It takes a laborious make up session and dressing up. I will show you the steps here. The makeup usually takes 2 hours from start to finish. Continue reading

From a Non-Japanese Saying: “私は日本人です”

I am not Japanese but I have the urge to declare that “私は日本人です” to stand in solidarity with the Japanese people.

Ever since last Friday when the Tohoku earthquake struck Japan, the first I did when I woke up to start my day was to check Yeah, I checked the news even before I checked the comments left on chowtimes which I habitually did. The comments justs did not mean as much to me.

Each morning I was hoping to read the time when the country starts it recovery. Each morning I was confronted with more grave news.

In my whole life, I never had to live through a disaster or war or even famine. I read about many humanitarian disasters but not the scale that befell Japan.

I can’t think of any nation that had to endure what Japan is going through. And I fear that the worst is yet to come.

Out of a whim, I took out the logo on the banner yesterday. I replaced it with the words “be strong”. I don’t know why I did that. Maybe it is just a way for me to tell the Japanese people that I am with them and my heart goes out to them. It pains me not knowing when it will all end.

As a late baby boomer, I was taught from young to hate the Japanese. I was reminded of their cruel role during the Second World War. However, Japan rose from the ashes of destruction, turn their backs to war and built a nation that gained the respect of the world. Yeah, feelings of the Japanese people turned from distrust and fear to one of admiration and respect.

The Japanese people are resilient and I know that these catastrophic events will make the people even stronger. It gives me much hope in humanity reading about the courage and especially the gracefulness when faced with such challenges.

4SlicesofCheese sent me an email today and I want to share it with you all:

Hi Ben and Suanne,

This is _____ aka 4Slicesofcheese. I just had lunch at Ramen Sanpachi on Robson. I don’t believe you have been there and I am not trying to promote the restaurant, although I do like their food.

The reason why I am writing is because at lunch today I noticed that they have a sign that said 1 dollar of every bowl of ramen they sell will be donated to the RedCross to Japan. I don’t remember the dates exactly but I believe it was until the end of March.

I had a small chat with the owner lady, she thanked me for supporting and I learned that she has cousins in the Sendai area which she has not been able to contact since the Earthquake. You can see the pain in her eyes yet she is still optimistic. She tells me with a smile, this should make you cherish every day in your life and not take it for granted.

I believe this is a good cause and the owners are very nice people. If people do not want to donate in the conventional methods this way you can make a small contribution and also enjoy a bowl of ramen.

I hope you can do a small shout out in one of your post to get the word out.

Thanks a lot,

Yeah, I am curious why there are so little mention of countries coming to Japan to help them in their hour of need. Maybe it is because the country has the resources to deal with the calamities and it is not financial assistance that they need. Instead I can just imagine that Japan will want to pick herself up, on her own … with grace and strength.

But I know that there is one thing that the people of Japan will appreciate … that the world tells them that we all stand with them and pray that the day of rebuilding starts.

So, Japan … BE STRONG.