First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


UPDATE (June 19): Thanks to KatieCW and alpha particle for identifying this as Dragon Fruit and passing along many interesting facts. We've put it in the fridge and will try some on Thursday. Remember, kids: Dragon fruit is an excellent source of dragon!

OK, so I make a big whoop-dee-do about how I won't have time to blog now that Shannon is here, and we immediately encounter something that we both agree needs to go in the blog.

We were in a grocery store (where and how we came upon this store is the second half of the story) and my wife, through no fault of her own, accidentally purchased this:


So you know, my vote is that IT is going to eat US.


Perhaps those of you who have been reading this blog remember that when I first arrived, I was having a hard time getting settled. The only grocery stores I could find were wholly Chinese, meaning I wasn't sure how to eat half of what I saw, and I couldn't read the labels on the other half, so I ended up buying food based on texture and color of packaging.

You might also recall the frustrations I experienced for a full week trying to buy bananas.

In the end, it's all good. I've learned to adjust to new ways of doing things, had to problem-solve all kinds of unexpected obstacles, and ended up living very much as the Chinese in this area do - shop at the same stores, eat the same food, adjust my diet based on what was fresh or available.

So early this afternoon, Shannon and I are going out, and I invite her to look at the four-story shopping mall my building adjoins. I had explored it my first weekend and seen little reason to return; it was also the scene of a frustrating and embarrassing cell-phone transaction my first week (not documented here.)

Anyway, I wanted her to see it in case there was anything she wanted, and also to show her the AMAZINGLY low traffic there is in some of these new shopping centers; today, on a Sunday afternoon, most stores had far more staff than customers.

So we're looking around and I see a down escalator. Haven't been there... Let's check it out!

In the basement of the building where I have lived and scraped for more than a month, there is a big, beautiful, gleaming, hardwood-floored, fully stocked, foreign-oriented grocery store. Premium cuts of fresh meat in sanitary shrink-wrapped perfection laid out like jewels. Far and away the best, freshest, cleanest, most varied produce department I've seen in China. Imported cheese, German beer, American packaged goods, even European dairy.

And to make a final mockery of BeijingBananaQuest07, when I paused to look at the huge table of perfect, almost-ripe bananas, one of the dozen idle staffers (there were I'd say 8 customers in the store including us, tops) ran over, took the bunch from my hand, ran to the weighing station, weighed it, tagged it, then handed it back with a smile.

Unreal. Anyway, to bring this full circle, Shannon was stopped by the sight of these bizarre pink and green fruits about the size of a small cantaloupe and made the mistake of picking one up. Bang! Zip! Boom! It's tagged and in our basket.

Ah well. I guess Beijing just got easier. But it's a good thing I didn't find it earlier - what would I have blogged about?