On my last year of University, I decided I didn’t want to dedicate myself to the dull and monotonous life of the Graduate Londoner, who struggles through non-paid internship’s in some western cosmopolitan form of slave labour. With that in mind, I applied online for various job opportunities in East Asia, as it somewhere I had little knowledge and experience of. Many say I am damn crazy for choosing somewhere I have never been, or know nothing of, but that is part of the fun right:-)
So, I closed my eyes and chose out of a random number of destinations in China and found myself in Changzhou, China. So surreal that for once in my life, I felt homesick and when placed in my new home, I cried so hard. The shock of being somewhere new, it took me weeks to find the courage to attempt to shop or eat out. Everything was written in chinese, and I didn’t understand even the most basic ingredients in the stores.
AJISEN RAMEN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajisen_Ramen)
This was the restaurant closest to my home and easiest to eat at. Unlike local chinese restaurants, Ajisen Ramen had an english menu with photos, it was clean, quick– unfortunately Japanese. Nonetheless, I loved it, and where you struggle, you can find one in most chinese cities.
Another favourite for this area of china were the Muslim Noodle Places. One in every corner, filled to the brim with people as it is known for its hand pulled fresh noodles and its spicy and suculent meat and sauces. For those less brave people, A spaghetti Bolognese like dish is available, though most dishes are edible and tasty. Menus are not so easy to read so you just have to point and hope for the best:) thankfully the dishes are so cheap theres nothing to loose.
I loved the authenticity of Changzhou, the little known industrial city filled with factories also had alot of shopping and dining opportunities and if living there, gave you a rural insight into Chinese Culture.
When I think of chinese culture I think:
- Chaos: Good luck to the British queue system, this place is a survival of the fittest. Push and shove your way through the sea of people in grocery stores and do not await polite neat order. You can let the chaos drive you mad or you can take pleasure in the havoc of it all. Packed buses, floods of people in Tesco’s, and no system to the way you do your banking. Banking will be the beign of your life, try and breath, its just the way the Chinese Roll..
- Baby Madness: People having babies, Babies being looked after by grandparents, Baby has been born fire crackers every night, traditional and strange customs for babies (ie. the no nappy culture prepare to be shocked, and the open bottom pants), Chinese years dictating the amount of babies born.
- Food: Food on the streets, Food at home, Sharing food for dinner. Food is such a big part of chinese culture and the sharing of food is such a big part of socialising and family time for people. Time of food is the same for every chinese person with dinner at exactly 6-7pm (you will notice how quickly restaurants empty). And lets not forget the good old food coma nap that occurs for all following their lunch and dinner.