Oops, like nine months later...

Hey folks! I know it’s been awhile, but I thought I’d say hi; I’d been thinking about Kupop lately and thinking we should get this cart moving. I’d gotten hit by two rough semesters in a row (but almost done…!). How have people been?

Yeah I’m totally on board with this plan.

Also: I’m in China!

I forgot to ask in the email: how’s the food there?

Really good – probably my favorite part of living here! The locals always get a kick out of the white dude who likes their food. (They seemed shocked I can use chopsticks.) Sichuan-style huigurou (twice-cooked pork) is probably my favorite, though baodzi (steamed buns) are good for when I’m on the go.

Though, I could really go for a burrito.

Oh, man, that sounds incredible. I’ve head the steamed buns before. Austin has a pretty nice Chinatown, but I can’t tell the extent to which the Chinese food is Americanized. (It’s not quite chop suey.)

How spicy is the stuff?

Well, a lot of Chinese food in the states is not only Americanized, it’s also mostly from Cantonese food, because most overseas Chinese are Cantonese.

Sichuan and Hainan style food is quite spicy, and sometimes the street food guys go way overboard. (The word for “medium spicy” and “the spiciest you can make it” are almost the same, because tones matter in Chinese.)

Oh, yeah! I never realized where it came from in China originally. That makes sense, though.

I don’t mind spicy stuff but yeah, I can see it being overdone. Is that pork spicy? (I’m thinking of trying to find some or, failing that, attempting to cook it myself because that shit sounds good.)

Huigorou has a little kick to it, but no more than say, medium salsa.

It’s like bacon for the Asian century – if you can find a place in the states that’s Sichuan style (or Sechuan style or Szechuan style, depending on what pinyin you use) it should have it.

Oh yeah, I imagine I can; Austin has a sizeable Chinatown. It’s more Vietnamese, but there’s definitely a sizeable Chinese and Korean cohort.

(I’ve had some rocking bulgogi.)

I always wonder when I’m eating Korean food here in China…is it more authentic than what I’ve had in America, or is it just more Chinese?

(Surely a trip to Seoul is in order to sort this out.)

You can’t go wrong with a trip to Seoul!

And Korean food is tasty. I’ve had some very good Korean food in Austin, and I can say I can spot, at least, food cooked by Korean families and food not. I can’t say for sure about food in China.

How long have you been over there, by the by?

I have been in China about five months. I have a one-year contract. I am still working on my Chinese, so I will probably sign another contract. I am, however, considering English teaching in other countries. The economics of ESL are kind of strange. In Asia there is quite high demand and decent jobs, but in Latin America it’s basically a volunteer position. The Middle East has excellent pay, but it sounds like you basically live in a foreigner compound with no women and no alcohol, which sucks.

Oh, that makes sense. I heard that Middle East pays well, but yeah – you essentially don’t get to go out and see the country much? Which feels like it’d shred most of the fun of traveling.

Besides, learning Chinese. How cool is that?

If you speak Chinese and English, you can communicate with over half of the people on the planet.

…which is pretty fucking awesome.

For real! How hard is it to learn?

Well, pronunciation is very hard because of the tones. So, the same phrase with a rising tone means something different than a falling tone. To use my favorite example, Xuexi can mean either “to study” or “to flood a place with blood - massacre the inhabitants”, depending on the tones you use.

Reading is hard. You need like 3000 characters. In Arabic it took me about a week to learn the alphabet and then I could read it (phonetically). Chinese that’s a long way off.

Chiense grammar is quite simple, though.

Yeah, I’d heard that Chinese was tonal and thus pretty hard because… I mean… Western languages just don’t really do it like that.

And yeah, that makes sense; that’s a lot of characters, to say the least. Good thing on the grammar, though!

Do you live in an apartment complex with locals, or do they keep y’all living together?