Exploring South of Tiananmen

Hi Honey:

It’s actually already Wednesday morning right now. The past two days at work was grueling to say the least. So yesterday when I got back to the hotel, I had a quick dinner and crashed. Just got up at 5AM. Had a good sleep. 🙂 Yesterday I had dinner at this Kung Fu Fast Food place that many people were telling me about. It was awesome — simple goodness and it is soooo cheap. I’ll tell you more about it later.

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I’ll just continue to tell you about the what happened on Sunday … and picking up from the visit to the National Museum of China (above).

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It was after 3:00 PM already when I got out. I wanted to head to the … (more…)

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A Sunday On My Own: Roots

Hi All: Sorry about this but I just wanted to write this post with Suanne in mind. Somehow I felt everything I wanted to say is for her. It also makes it easier to write what is on my mind. So if you want to continue to read this, you don’t have to pretend you are Suanne. Just pretend you are eavesdropping on us and then if you want to chime in with a comment or two, please feel free. 🙂

Hey honey:

I must have been so dead tired and I did not realize it. It was Sunday, my second day in Beijing. This is a free day for me and I wanted to make full use of it. Actually the whole idea for me to arrive in Beijing on Saturday is so that I can have at least 1-2 days to deal with the jetlag before a series of meetings start on  Monday.

I was woken up by my team members at 9:30 AM in the morning when they called my room saying “Hey Ben, are you coming with us?” They wanted to go to the Jade Market and the Forbidden City. Since I just woke up, I needed to have time on my own to deal with some matters and told them to just go ahead and I’ll probably catch up with them later on.

Frankly I wanted to go on my own. Sometimes it sucks going in a group and you wanted to see something and others wanted to see something else … or I wanted to spend more time in one area and they did not. Done that before and so I prefer to just go on my own.

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LOL! My executive suite had what they call Club Floor Privileges on the 24th floor. Free breakfast and I reckon it is nothing to sniff at. I was not interested. Instead I am hell bent on eating where Beijingers eat.

So after settling my stuff, I walked across the street from the hotel and just went into a restaurant. It is weird. The moment I walked in I hear a lot of people speaking in Cantonese. And then I saw Bolo Bau on some of the tables … and also milk tea. Since I could not read Chinese, I did not realize it is a HK Style Cafe.

Well, guess what I got. Bolo Bau (Pineapple Bun) just like everyone. They normally sell this at a pair at 13 RMB which is like just $1.00 Canadian each. I told the lady … (more…)

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My First Day in Beijing

Hi Honey:

Oh how I wish you are here today with me. Been going around Beijing for the past two days and all I think of is how delighted you will be experiencing what I had been seeing the past couple of days. Exploring China and Beijing is something we should be doing together.

For all I care, this is the first time I am in China. Being in Shenzhen so many years ago for just a day trip from Hong Kong doesn’t count. This one is the real trip.

I am surprised I can blend in more than I thought I could. That is until I open my mouth. For the most part, I get along better speaking English and pretending not to speak Mandarin at all than if I were to try to speak my weird Mandarin. LOL!

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At the airport, I wanted to be adventurous to take the subway to the hotel. It is so cheap. Each use of the subway regardless of the distance is just 2 RMB which is like 30 cents! Can you believe that? LOL! Actually it is a bit more expensive taking the subway from the airport to the city. There is a surcharge. But at 30 cents, it is so ridiculously cheap. I keep wondering why a two zone transit in Vancouver is, what, $3.50?

Actually, good thing I decided not to take the train. It is super crowded and it is unbelievably packed. I won’t be able to make it with my luggage and all. So I decided to take a taxi.

At the taxi stand, people does not respect lines. For the most part people does but a few bad apples could ruin everything. Anyway getting a taxi is easy at the airport. And yes, people smoke in the public. So I know you will hate it.

My taxi driver was a chatty man. I tried to speak to him in Mandarin and we got along quite well. He was patient when I tell him once every two minute “Woh Bu Min Bai” (I don’t understand). When I told him that I am Canadian and that my family left China about 120 years ago, he told me that I am a “Wah Qiao” (Overseas Chinese). He asked me which province I was from and so I told him that mum and dad are Fujianese. The one thing I did not expect to hear from him was that China will “take me home” if ever I get into trouble … giving me the example how Chinese in Libya was rescued. It was a strange feeling to hear that, although from a taxi driver.

The past two days made me think about my heritage as a Chinese and how all these fits togther. I had never considered myself as a true Chinese and for sure I had never felt any allegiance to the country of China. But in my muddled mind right now, there are a lot of questions for sure.

The picture above was taken just a block away from my hotel. It is the CCTV HQ building, I think. Amazing structure! I sure don’t want to work in the section of the building where there is nothing below. Next door to this was a all burnt out building. LOL! I remember reading about how they had a fireworks celebration and light up the building … and ended up burning it down!

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After having a shower, it was already about 3:00 PM. I decided to walk around the block to get some food. I wasn’t really hungry but my first act has to be food.

There were a LOT of eating places of all types. Fancy ones, run down ones, food court, fast food type … they are everywhere. I am not kidding … (more…)

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Wow, No One Guessed Correctly

Oh wow.

No one had guess correctly my final destination. I thought it would have been easy but then maybe there were a red herring that threw people off.

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The red herring I am talking about is the Hong Kong International Airport. Above is the view from the plane of the new airport in HK. It would have been more exciting flying in and out of the old Kai Tak airport. I remember being able to peer into people’s apartment in the city from the plane and thinking if the plane I was in will be the first to crash into the middle of the city.

Choi. Touch wood – touch wood.

Anyway, the stop over in HK was unfortunate. That’s the … (more…)

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Landed After a 13 Hour Flight

Hehehe … knew you guys will try to guess where I was going to. Very interesting guesses!

The 13 hour flight was not too bad. I was so dead tired, I slept pretty much all the way there. Love the flight. Cathay Pacific (along with Singapore Airlines) is one of the best airlines according to my books.

I like their new entertainment system where they have 100 movies on demand. I managed to watch The King’s Speech, a show I missed when it was showing in the theatres. Then I watched 10 minutes of three other movies … fell asleep after just 10 minutes. In a way it is good I could sleep and so time passes faster.

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The flight landed at just after 6:30 AM in the morning. Can you guess where this airport is? Tall mountains in the background with super tall apartment buildings too.

Well …  (more…)

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All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go …

Oh boy. Am totally drained right now. Just managed time to get some breather before things ramp up again.

And this is exciting times for me.

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The order came down just 40 hours prior. All the instructions I had was summed up in a 10 minute phone call and a couple of documents to review. I am given two days to make my way half way around the world to take on a new project.

So I had less than 2 days really to get all the paperwork ready, the travel arrangements, and multiple phone calls to gather as much information I can. That doesn’t give me much time. For every piece of info I got, spawns more questions. Oh well, I’ll just have to deal with the what, why, who, how and when along the way.

I slept about 5 and 2 hours the last 40 hours. So I am mentally and physically drained right now. I will have time to catch up on the much needed sleep on the long flight ahead.

I just love the job! All the adrenalin rush are just the sort of stuff that gets me all motivated.

When I first heard of this project on the grapevine, I was already … (more…)

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Gyo-O Japanese Restaurant, Richmond

I have a new project and Suanne hates me for it.

It is called the “Japanese Cuisinization of Suanne”. I had been pushing her to give raw fish a try. I roped in Arkensen and Nanzaro to put collective pressure on her. Each time she just coolly tell us “I just don’t like raw fish”. End of story.

Actually it was not that hard to break Suanne down. She is simply just too sweet and will do anything for her boys at home. My point of attack is Chirashi. It is something that was just milling around my mind over and over again. I had never tried it before and I wanted to try it. I wanted to try it WITH Suanne.

When I asked on Facebook and Tweeter a good place for Chirashi, back came a number of suggestions. One of them was Gyo-O. I like that name. I think it is pronounced as “Ghee-Yoh-Oh”. Is that correct? Whatever it is I will call it “Ghee-Yoh-Oh”.

Anyway, when I declared that we are having Japanese and we are driving outside of Richmond AND that mummy is going to try raw fish dish, the boys let out a cheer and gave me high fives. Suanne on the other hand refused to even look at me as she muttered “OK”.

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Gyo-O is part of the Gyoza King group which operates several excellent Japanese restaurants. Among them includes Nanchuu on Alexandra Rd, Richmond and G-Men Ramen just across the parking lot from Gyo-O. They use to also have their name on a food cart in Richmond called Grazy-Dog but I don’t see them around anymore.

Gyo-O is located on the Continental strip mall on Sexsmith and Cambie.

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Lovely joint. Excellent service.

The walls had this wooden panels with Japanese words on them. It was all over the restaurant. I have no idea what they were but if you ask me to guess, they could be their menu.

The service is very Japanese. Very courteous. I had never been to a Japanese restaurant where we had poor service before. Have you ever encountered bad service in a Japanese restaurant before? It is just how the Japanese people are and how this is all ingrained deeply in their culture.

The young waitress who served us speaks English in a heavy Japanese accent. This restaurant is definitely a … (more…)

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Argo Cafe on Ontario and West 3rd Ave, Vancouver

The Argo Cafe is certainly a place I would not have found on my own. It was HM who alerted us about this hidden gem. After doing a bit of research on line, it appears that it is very well known and popular with people who works around the area.

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The Argo Cafe is perhaps one of those place you will not bother check out. At a quick glance, you might not even think it is a restaurant. The painting outside is very gaudy. There is the heavy metal door and the windows are barred. If I did not know anything about this restaurant, I don’t think I would even go in for a cup of coffee.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. The Argo Cafe is already … (more…)

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Jing Long Fang: Cheaper Than Food Court, Over 75 Dishes, All $4.99

Updated 9th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

Cheapskate Alert!

Driving along Garden City about two weeks ago, I noticed a sign outside a quiet strip mall. It was bright yellow and all the Chinese. I knew this place used to be a really quiet bubble tea house called Iced Cafe. We never bothered visiting Iced Cafe because we were not really that much interested in bubble tea and stuff.

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The moment I saw that I swung into the carpark to have a closer look. I like checking out new restaurants.

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It was this sign that caught my eyes. I can’t really read Chinese but I sure can read  $4.99/lb … and that price was over the picture of a crab dish. That was ridiculously low, I thought. I am not sure if you could even buy frozen crabs at this price from the supermarket, let alone have it cooked and served in a restaurant.

Although I knew that this is just a … (more…)

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Pork Skin in Laksa Broth, with Rau Thom in Moderation

I know. This is not exactly the healthiest of breakfast.

When I was young and growing up in Malaysia, I used to always walk to the open air wet market near my house to buy breakfast. There are a lot of choices but there is one thing I like to buy most of the time is the curry with pork skin. I like it so much that in my last trip back to Malaysia a few years ago, the first place I headed to for breakfast is exactly that.

For some reason, back home in Vancouver, I completely forgot about it.

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The reason was because I did not come across pork skins until now. So with the help of Suanne, I made the pork skin in laksa broth above. Maybe the proper word to describe this is not made, but rather assembled.

For those of you who love laksa and pork skin, this will be something you will like a lot. I am sure. The pork skin does a great job in absorbing and holding the laksa making it bursting with flavour.

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There are not many places where you can buy pork skins like these above. Or at least I have not paid much attention to it until recently.

What really excites me is that it is really cheap. It is just $2.99 a pound. Not knowing how much is a pound, I told the shop that I wanted $5.00 and they ended up giving me $7.00 worth of it. That makes it well over 2 pounds. Actually it is not really what it is weigh because it also holds some clear jhup which I figure makes up the bulk of the weight.

The owner of the shop told me that not many places will “bow” (translated as explode in English), these pork skin but they do make it themselves. I am wondering if any of you knows of other places who also “bow” pork skins in Vancouver.

With this important ingredient, I am all set to … (more…)

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