Sunday, May 27

We're Not Brazil

Japanese Nationalism is Alive and Well...

Trawling the pirate DVD wagons that skulk Shanghai's streets, I came across this gem of a movie. Presenting...

Wednesday, May 23

Noisy Neighbours

For almost a year we have lived a comforable life in our 23rd storey apartment. Large, bright and breezy, it was relatively quiet for Shanghai standards (although Shanghai's standard resembles Heathrow airport's front runway). The reason was our block had quite a few apartments as yet unsold, which went some way in proving the hypothesis: less people = less noisy neighbours.

A couple of months ago, however, there was a big sell-off as the developers wanted to fill the emptiness (had something to do with the Chinese government - possibly induced by Kellogs - threatening to stabilise house prices). All vacant apartments were duly snapped up.

I have since learned that the 10 empty places in our block were bought by the same company. Which is fair enough. It's a buyers market and if they want to spend untold millions on Shanghai apartments and sell them on at a profit, then fair play to them. What I do NOT like, is they are taking the approach of renovating all the residences AT THE SAME BLOODY TIME. Meaning power drills and hammers shrill and bang from early morning to evening.

The soon-to-be infamous Guangming Chenshi building massacre is not so far away....

Our New Rat - or - Worst. Haicut. Ever.

Poor Rambo. Not built for the stifling Shanghai heat that permeates even the shadiest of retreats all summer long, we sent him for his seasonal haircut. That was yesterday, but I'm not yet 100% sure it is he who came back to us. The debate rages on - We are currently in the possession of a very bald Rambo2, or a very big rat.

before: hairy rambo

after: rambo the rat

Tuesday, May 22

The Great Cereal Conspiracy

As the post communist China* embraces wanton globalisation, an influx of western concepts are gradually filtering into daily life, the best of which, of course, is western food.

Don't get me wrong, I do love Chinese cuisine (except cantonese food which is manky). I could happily gorge on pork and celery dumplings until the end of time, but always there remains a deep yearning at the pit of my soul for even half a slice of decent bread with some nice irish butter.

As the big cities in China grow more and more cosmopolitan, and as the newly established middle class - and also the newly established filthy stinking rich class - get out more, western food is growing ever popular. In Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, foreign restaurants and deli's are popping up like nobody's business.

And so it comes to pass that western cereal is finally moving out of the uber expensive foreign food stores - 70 kuai for some coco pops? I think not! - and into the more mundane Chinese supermarkets.

It may only be a few brands for now, but Kellog's is moving its flagship cereals into a supermarket aisle that until recently housed but a few bland nestle samples and a selection of oats. Cornflakes and Frosties, together again!

However, no silver lining comes without a cloud, and Kellog's are being very shrewd concerning the way their product is packaged; in true asian tradition, the cereal comes in individually packaged portions. Call me a fat bastard if you will, but I like my cereal shovelled into a bowl and then drowned in a sea of ice cold milk.

From the face of it, it would seem Kellog's are bent on saving money. "5 sachets" one reads. Surely a handsome amount of cereal for such little money? But NO. The only thing 5 sachets does is to multiply the air inside 5 times, detracting actual cereal room and keeping cereal levels at a depressingly low level. If these bright boxes of cereal weren't so damned cheap to begin with, we would have a problem.

As the price is not so high, we are faced with a more disturbing reality. What these individual packages equate to is yet another form of consumer control. They, 'the man', are saying to us, 'the consumer', how much we are allowed to eat at any given time. "You can have but one 30 gram portion of cereal. You can't have two, because that's just too much, and there is no point having one and a half because who's going to eat that other half. 30 grams it is."

One can only guess how high this goes in the Chinese government. Once the nation is hooked on cheap western styled breakfast cereals, there is no telling how far the mind manipulation and plebian control will go. World domination, surely, can not be that far away.

I will continue to eat these cereals. For now. But at the same time I will be refusing to conform to the 30g sachets, and squinting with determined defiance at all attempts the Kellog-PSB super alliance. Together we can fight the beast.

When they come, hide the spoons.

(*let's face it, there ain't nothing communist about China save for the repressive leanings of the red tape loving senile government)

Wednesday, May 16

New Best Drink Ever

Drinking a can of Gina Mango Nectar and noticed a handy piece of advice on the side.

"Serving Size: 1 can." No kidding.
Mango Nectar rules!

Friday, May 4

Roberto's research

Roberto Pedros Heanici, that eminent sports scientist, has spent a great many months looking at the staggering irregularities abundant in the FIFA World Football Rankings in regards to Northern Ireland. His data proves both informative and shocking as he dissects the league and walks his readers step by step through the many reasons why Northern Ireland is hard done by.

Roberto's findings.

Thursday, May 3

I just don't like your face(book)

As that lovable little ruffian Roberto Henis likes to point out, my blogs updates have been few and far between recently. I can no longer claim Chinese government interference as eblogger has been unblocked again.

What I can blame though is Facebook. Far be it for me to do some inadvertant advertising for another one of those friends-keep-in-touch website, but it's really good! Been talking with some people I haven't seen in years. The whole world and their dog is on it! I never joined the whole myspace movement, and I'm not sure why it was such a huge hit, but I can say that facebook is way better!

mum comes to china

Me mam was over the other week!

My time in Asia has seen a variety of visitors tramp in and out, but not once did mum ever look like leaving the shores of Northern Ireland. Leave it she did however, and came over for a tour around China's big two, Shanghai and Beijing. The cynic in me would point out that it could have been a guilt ridden hastily tacked on trip as she was going to Korea to see number one daughter anyway, but I like to think she always intended to come see me!

The major driving force to this holiday was food; we ate a ridiculous amount of food as I tried to cram as much international cuisine into mum as humanly possible during her seven day visit. We got through a staggering array of Chinese meals (sichuan, hotpot, Peking Duck, Dong Bei, Hunnan), Japanese food (sushi, tempura, ramen - no teppanyaki though...), snacks, ice cream, coffees, and even time for a Beijing Hard Rock Cafe meal after walking the Great Wall. Great holiday, great food.

Oh yeah we saw a bunch of old buildings and stuff too.

Monday, April 9

Escaping the Wall

Blocked again, but I've managed to procure the use of Seamus's dirty Mac while he runs half way around the world home in search of a Chinese work visa. It has some fancy programme thing to get around the Great Firewall of China that I don't rightly understand, but well, it's not for the likes of us to question how things work, is it?

Apparently it's Easter weekend, a fact that has sadly passed me by due, for the most part, to China's shocking lack of interest in chocolate eggs. When will this country learn? Choosing to celebrate the death (and consequent rebirth) of your spiritual leader by consuming large chocolate eggs is the way of the future! Wouldn't work for Ganesh though - all the eggs would melt in India. I do like the elephant head motif though.... perhaps we could work something out that includes both.

Monday, April 2

back to blog basics

After more than two weeks, I am once again able to post! Due to the increasing power of bloggers in China, the government periodically gets cold feet about their nationals talking openly about taboo subjects and blocks various blogging sites. Like eblogger. Right so, for fear of further shut downs, I'll make a quick update, in point form:

  • Happy birthday to Jeni, whose birthday was last week. My present is, as always, in the post.

  • Fabulous few days of international football saw the mighty Northern Ireland (the best little team in the world) win away to Liechtenstein (1-4) and at home to Sweden (2-1)! Silencing all critics, St. David Healy was scorer of all bar one of Norn Irun's goals. Classic stuff.

  • Saw the amazing 300. It's great. I wanted to hurt things for days afterwards, but all Persian hunts I tried to organize did not materialize due to lack of interest. But I'll get them, mark my words.

  • We got a government! The cloud of idiocy has temporarily left our borders and the Reverend Ian is sitting down with Gerry in order to form a real live government for Northern Ireland! May 8th is the date, so here's to hoping we get there with no hiccups/Stormont fisticuffs/Michael Stone rampages. Just in time for marching season.

  • Finally bought a new cap. I'm very particular about my caps, and it takes me ages to find one I like. Last one was eaten by Rambo, the one before that was stolen by monkeys in Vietnam. Damn monkeys.

  • I'm struggling finding things to fill this list. Haven't done all that much. Poker night, lots of eating out, gym visits..... The weather was pretty nice though, until the other day when thunderstorms came.

  • Two TV Splitters. Oh yes.

Monday, March 19


this week's quote, actor (actress?) and movie please.

Why are they messing with me? Do they think I'm doing this for fun?

Sunday, March 18

Too many French people

What can I say? If we hadn't allowed that last ditch try from the Italians, if O'Gara had kicked clear and true, if the Scots had held out for one more minute, today would have been so much sunnier. But the fact is France retained the Six Nations trophy, and gutted though I am it was a brilliant tournament this year and came down to the very very last minute. One momentary lapse of concentration a few weeks back lost us our first grand slam in aeons, but at least we can say, we smashed the English.

I hate the french.