Day 20- Snacking on Dry Squid! My Favorite Things to Munch On

Since it is officially the 2/3 point of my Post a Day Challenge (as outlined HERE ), and the start of my Camp Nanowrimo journey today, I thought I’d write something a bit lighthearted and more straight forward, since I’ve done enough BS-ing for today.


Due to pretty international upbringing (Asian Parents, born and raised in Texas, moving over and currently living in HK) , I’ve got pretty different and diverse idea of what constitutes a snack in my mind.

In attempt to keep things organised , I will be splitting the snacks into two sections: Section 1 being the type of snacks buy straight of the shelf or make at home. Section 2 is more “Street snacks”, or special occasion type of food.

So here we go!

  • Dried Shredded Squid (魷魚絲) – Or literally translated “Squid Strands”. Yes I know, it sounds a bit odd (even revolting some would say), but think of it like the Asian beef jerky if it was a bazillion times better.
Squid
Image Source: Flickr

Don’t knock it til you try it! It’s not like calamari at all, more like a subtle sweet taste (like seafood crab/lobster/shrimp sweet, not watermelon/candy sweet) that turns to a strong salty with a hint of peppery taste (like jerky).

Also, there are really two types of strands in each bag: a fluffier, lighter colored type (think cotton candy texture if it didn’t dissolve in you mouth) and a stringier, tougher type (think somewhere between pulled pork and beef jerky in texture). Personally, I like the second type more but both are great! Try it out and you will see what I mean! (you can get it at pretty much any Asian major market State-side)

Chips
Image Source: Dania’s Delicacies
  • Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (+salsa & guac if I’m feelin’ fancy) – Texas roots showinghere! I really do prefer the Blue Corn type, but not sure if it’s due to nostalgia since mom would buy these instead of white/yellow corn since they are supposedly “healthier” (not sure if this is true though) or because I really can taste a difference even though they are supposed to be the same except for color (I feel like the Blue ones are… more substantial? like nuttier or something).

Or maybe it is just because I get a kick out of blue food due to Percy Jackson (10 bonus points to you if you got that reference)

Hold the cilantro/coriander on the salsa & guac though, I’m one of those “It-tastes-like-soap-what-the-heck-are-you-doing-putting-it-in-this-amazing-food” type of people (it isn’t so bad when cooked, like in Pho. But Raw? Why?!)

  • Guai Guai Corn Puffs (乖乖) – If you ask any kid in Taiwan or with a Taiwanese
    guai-guai.jpg
    Image source: Ibon Mart

    parent (like me!) about these, they will know. It’s like the unofficial snack of Taiwan. Why? Well it’s name directly translates to “Well-behaved, Well-behaved” and you usually get them when you do well in something (they usually have a spot where the parent writes the child’s name on it). I guess it is a bit like the Japanese with their Kitkat’s. Man the memories of wolfing these down…

They are pure amazing. Imagine a cheeto, if they removed the fake cheese dust, then made them sweet. Then, they added chocolate or coconut flavoring and that sweet condensed milk taste.  Basically, it is what astronaut ice cream should taste like, with all the amazing goodness there, but without the chalky aftertaste. A bit harder to find but well worth it if you do!

  • Fruit – This is a bit of a catch all, but a fresh bowl of fruit an awesome snack in all cases. Whether it is the more Western apple, pears, oranges and watermelon; the more Asian wax apples, persimmons, mulberries and lychees; or somewhere in between such as pineapples, mangoes, honeydews and cantaloupes, they are all great snacks. I’ve been mostly munching on blueberries and bananas in university (no washing and great with breakfast cereal or oatmeal)

 


This post has been inspired by the Daily Prompt from the Daily Post: Snack (30/6) (due to time zones it’s  the one from yesterday, see previous daily post prompts for explanation)


I’ve just realised it is 11:53pm here, so I need to post this soon or I won’t meet my Post a Day challenge requirement!

Guess this will become a two parter! See you tomorrow with more snacks!

Rebecca

Day 17 – Training Wheels OFF! Thoughts on Living in HK as a “Local”

Confession time.

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike without training wheels until I was 11.

Yup.  5th grade.

That revaluation isn’t too startling for my local Hong Kong friends, who live in an expansive concrete jungle with excellent public transport and everything else more or less in walking distance.

But I was living in the suburbs of Texas at the time, where public transport consisted of only the yellow school bus, and EVERYONE drove (or biked if they were too young to drive).

After all, how else are you supposed to get from point A to B. Spend hours walking? Fly? Teleport?

The idea that someone could make it to teenage hood without learning this vital skill of transportation was virtually unthinkable.

And yet there I was.

Why?

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the necessary tools (a few seconds with a wrench to take off those training wheels would suffice)

Nor was there a lack of teachers (any one of my friends could have taught me, if I had the courage to tell them I didn’t know that is)

No, it was something else more sinister. I convinced myself that it wasn’t such a big deal or even that I was better off without learning. After all:

  • I won’t like it… Who wants to spend all day in the hot sun instead of an AC-ed car?
  • It takes too long to learn and I have better things to do.
  • I’m too old to start do so anyways.
  • I’ll make a fool of myself failing to ride.

On and on the “reasons” could go, like the wheels of the bike in question.

Except they weren’t moving.

Because I wasn’t getting on that dang bike and learning.

Had I spent even a few second consciously thinking about it, those excuses would crumble away into dust. 

It took a “Ride your Bike to School” day and me not wanting to be the only one with training wheels to finally try to learn. And at the end? I wanted to kick myself for putting it off for so long.

In a round about way, that training-wheeled bike sums up my experience living in Hong Kong as an expat for almost 7 years now.

Why do I not consider myself (at least partially) a “local” Hong Konger?

Perhaps I feel the label is too strong, given I wasn’t born here. But considering that by the time I finish university, I will have lived here for a decade (almost as long as I’ve lived in Texas) it doesn’t really make sense.

And it still doesn’t explain away my actions.

  • I cling on to my “Local- Non Jupas” (i.e. international qualification) status, never just Local like some of my friends do.
  • I still default to English and Mandarin when speaking to others. My Cantonese, despite all my time living here, is pretty awful, just due to lack of use in my daily life.
  • I haven’t really joined any hall activities with the local students, really sticking with the international or Mainland hall mates. Well, I am in the social subcommittee, but that essentially is for the expats in the same situation I’m in.

I could try and redefine “local” to exclude me, but that feels like a cheap way out to avoid the question. Why don’t I at least act more local instead of clinging on to an expat label?

Its the same excuses as the bike. All over again.

I really should work on my Cantonese and connect more with people that have different backgrounds to me.

Yes, I will probably “speed out of control and crash into the bushes several times” (it would be odd-er if I didn’t at some point.)

But I still need to make more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone and just try being more local, rather than sticking to places that cater to English speakers.

Learning how to ride without training wheels gave me a type of freedom not found elsewhere. To speed along bike trails that don’t allow walkers (not the zombie kind, the normal people kind :P). To feel the wind whip past in my hair. To explore the world in a new way.

I wonder what exciting adventures living in Hong Kong as a local will bring me. Well no time like the present to find out! Its time to take those training wheels off and challenge myself to explore the city, not as an outsider, expat or “psudo-local” but as someone who can say in earnest: “I am a local Hong Konger”

See you tomorrow.

Rebecca

 


This post is the result of two Daily post prompts: <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/”>Local (26/6) </a> & <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wheel/”>Wheel (27/7) </a>

(Because of time zones, I don’t see today’s “official daily post prompts” until the next day, so these will always be slightly behind time wise, like with the Blossom one on Day 7)

Day 13 – On the MTR

This might be my most extreme version of this post a day challenge ever… 

Had a lazy morning and spent all may day hanging out with my secondary school friends who are back from their unis in the UK. 

On my way home and just remembered that I haven’t typed anything today, with it being almost 11pm and no topic at hand.

So here I am, posting on the go, with the shuddering and swaying of the car while it whisks under the streets of Hong Kong (and under Victoria Harbor), looping my arm around a hand rail and just typing away (glad its not rush hour, HK ones are crazy!)

MTR by the way is the Hong Kong equivalent of the Metro/Subway in New York or the Underground/Tube in London.

Its seen a lot of changes during my time here so far. Two new line extentions, a new line, with a combined 10 brand new stations, but always carrying people on time from place to place.

This is starting to sound like an ad…. it isn’t, more like I’m trying to think of something, anything, to talk about.

I’m curious as so whether there is a term for the subtle things that make a city’s transport unique. Aesthetic, I guess?

Here are some of the unique features to the MTR in my mind, that are hard to convey through only pictures (which I will add later):

  • The cheerful “doot” sound as you pat your octopus card on the reader
  • The “Please hold the hand rails, don’t keep your eyes only on your mobile phone” warning on the escalators in Mandarin, Cantonese and British English. 
  • The free wifi in the stations
  • The strict no food or drinks rule thay make it extremely clean (at least in my experience compared to other ones around the world)
  • Quick transfers between trains, just a stream of people walking from one line to another
  • The vibrantly colored station walls, with subtle meanings (red are big interchange stations, some are hint to station names like 鑽石山 (Diamond Hill) being black with silver specks etc)
  • HK rush hours. They are really something special XP
  • The silent tutting of people behind you when you hold up the line at the ticket barrier

    Also uniquely it is the only subway system in the world that makes a profit without government subsadies (since they own the land around the stations, they can make money from store rent of the nearby shops)

    So yeah, a quick peek into this small part of HK life today. See you tomorrow (hopefully with fixed wifi)!

    Rebecca 

    Day 8 – Filler post: Why is it so hard to get rid of textbooks in HK?

    Because no one likes to here excuses about why the promised speed cubing post isn’t out yet, quick fire round of the excuses reasons why there is a filler post today:

    • The speed cubing post started to get longer and longer to the point where it really was better off if I split it up into different posts, which requires some editing
    • Posts with photos of things just take longer to do and I was out all day at Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden (yup, combined with the LBJ garden reference from the last post and your assumption that I am a massive biology geek is 100% accurate)
    • Considering it is 10:30pm right now, there would be no way I would finish it in time, and I’d rather not lose my streak on day 8, especially since I posted a few days ago about how easy it was so far

    So instead, you are going to get a filler post of sorts, where I ponder something quite pointless in the hopes of giving “future me” enough time tomorrow to finish it up (or come up with another post on why I’ve delayed it again)

    So on to the question…


    Why is it so hard to get rid of used textbooks in Hong Kong compared to in the USA?

    And I don’t mean that rhetorically either, I am genuinely curious about this, and if any of you have the answer or any theories, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

    All the normal places you would think to sell textbooks turn out to be dead ends:

    • Websites like Slugbooks or Chegg are USA + Canada based only, and even if they weren’t you run into shipping cost problems
    • Amazon forces you to either sell on the Mainland China market (where the demand for English language textbooks is extremely low) or find a way to sell on the USA/Canada one (which while I get past some issues since I’m an American, customs, shipping time problems, and extremely negative opinions on things sold from Asia by some Amazon users make it not worth it). Oh and currency exchange issues as well
    • All second hand book stores I’ve checked explicitly ban textbooks (don’t blame them, otherwise there would be no room for anything else)
    • Public libraries won’t accept them (same issue as above)
    • The various other charities are want textbooks for younger kids, not the Year 12 & 13 books that make up most of the clutter in my room
    • No luck with my school’s second hand books facebook page either, everyone already seems to have bought their books new already

    So right now I’m flogging them off on Carousell (the Asian equivalent of Cragslist but an app). Several weeks in so far, and still no bites, but we will see…

    But I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s so difficult compared to the US.

    (Or at least my experience spending a summer selling textbooks online or donating them to the numerous second hand books stores before moving to HK)

    Tons of people are selling their books for half the cost of new books in perfect condition, yet no one is buying second hand books for some reason.

    Is it just that Hong Kong has more of a throwaway culture compared to Austin?

    I’m not so sure. While it is the argument often given time and time again by newspaper opinion pieces, to me it seems unconvincing, as the recent phenomenon of replacing rather than fixing isn’t exclusive to one place.

    Perhaps new textbooks are cheaper here, thus there is less of an incentive to buy used?

    Possibly, though again, since pretty much all of my textbooks are in English with a international curriculum, the cost should be more or less the same and a quick Amazon scan confirms that theory. While some are indeed cheaper (I’m guessing because the textbook industry here isn’t as powerful as it is in the US, though don’t quote me on that), its still a huge amount of savings buying used compared to buying new.

    A question of storage space and convenience?

    This is my leading theory, that expensive land prices mean that there is an incentive:

    • not to take up space with big bulky second hand textbooks that might never get sold/ get sold for far less than other books that could take up the same
    • to just order and have them shipped to the school then placed in a locker, where they never have to take up space at home (until the end of the school year where you fall into the same situation I’m in with a tiny room overflowing with textbooks and no way to get rid of them

    Or maybe HKer’s just like new textbooks 😛

    I mean you should see how carefully some people wrap their books in plastic and use only sticky notes that won’t mark the pages, being careful not to crease the cover…

    then again is an equal amount of people who highlight, annotate, make up and dog ear pages to the point where the book is unrecognizable ala “Half Blood Prince Potions Book” (minus all the magic, then again chemistry might as well be potions considering how little of it I understand at times )

    But yeah..

    Makes you wonder why there are thousands of books about how to buy things in different places or organise them in your home, but no books on how to get rid of stuff in different cities… maybe increased consumerism is the right answer all along?

    Who knows? All I can tell you is that my old textbooks have staged a coup d’etat and invaded large parts of my room, so if anyone has advice on how to fight back against the hoard , I’d love to here it!

    Rebecca

     

    Day 7- Blossom: A rose by any other name

    Originally I had planned to carry on from yesterday’s post with a post about the world of speed cubing but this prompt was so good I couldn’t pass it up (due to timezone it is technically the June 17 one but whatever). Indulge a novice blogger will you?

    Daily Post Prompt Here


    Blossom.

    Such a simple word that evokes such differing thoughts depending on how it is interpreted by an outside observer.

    As a floral emblem or symbol of location?

    It reminds me of bluebonnets, Texas’s state flower, that dotted the Austin highways in numbers that seemed magical to the little eyes of a young girl and the LBJ wildflower center alongside the red Indian paintbrushes, pink-purple cone flowers and bright yellow sunflowers at a place lovingly nicknamed “ 我們家第二個後花園”(our home’s second back garden)

    Or perhaps the Bauhinia orchid tree with its pink blossoms, the emblem of Hong Kong, where I moved to and currently live, that lovingly adorns the city’s flag and coins. Its the name of the hotel we first stayed at when we moved and one stood guard near the bus stop I got off at to go to school every morning in secondary.

    Blossom 1
    Image Source (Clockwise from left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 56

    How about in creating nostalgia?

    I remember my childhood home’s garden, with its the sweet smell of jasmine flowers planted near the trash can and recycle bin to mask any foul odors.

    Or the tiger lillys, whose dried stalks made for excellent sword fighting material against my little brother ( they snap more easily then twigs or sticks so they ).

    The dandilions that I used to mess with on my walk home from elementary school with my brother (before our mother scolded us for it, since it meant more weeding work in the hot sun for someone).

    The tiny orchid that my mom gave me for my birthday when we first moved to Hong Kong (which I accidentally killed, because unlike my mom, I do not have a green thumb at all)

    Blossom 2
    Image source (Anti-clockwise from top): 12, 34

    What about as metaphor for historic moments of protest?

    More recently, with the yellow umbrella’s blossoming in the face of adversary as thousands of people (including myself) gathered on the streets of Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution/ Occupy Central with Love and Peace (sounds better in Chinese: 和平佔中) to call for true universal suffrage and protest Beijing’s influence in Hong Kong elections

    And in the past, with Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campagin which called for a hundred flowers to blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend. (You know, right before he cracked down on anyone who was outspoken against the regieme with the Anti-rightist Campaign)

    How about blossom in the purest form the biological and botanical?

    With the study of different phylums of plants, and how even though flowering plants may all fall under Angiosperms, they are still incredibly diverse with over several hundred thousand species of monocots, eudicots, basal plants etc, with many not just being important for their looks, but for their medicinal, ecological, economic, nutritional etc uses as well

    Blossom 3
    Image source (Anticlockwise starting from top left):123

    So..

    What’s in a name?

    Does it matter if we call a blossom 茉莉花, Jasminum officinale or its by common name, Jasmine? 蘭花, Orchidaceae or Orchids?

    No.

    We are the ones who give the blossom’s their meaning, not an arbitrary number of character strokes or squiggles placed in a specific order. A flower holds in itself a certain beuty that we ourselves associate with a story, a message, a tale.

    Why?

    Because “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

    Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II [1]


    And with that final quote from Shakespeare, I leave you dear readers – all 9 of you guys at time of writing

    (thanks by the way, really appreciate it, though not really sure why you are following a blog that has neither rhyme nor reason to the content it posts).

    Until tomorrow!

    Rebecca