Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New name for the blog

As you might have noticed, Curious kinks has now changed it's name to... Which means the previous URL is now non-existent and will automatically be redirected to this website. So, please make sure to update the new address on your computer, phone, address book and other devices you may use.
A group of elementary school students I often take the bus with after school  at  around 5pm
In other news, you can expect my other blog to be launched by the end of this week. I was contemplating whether to go with Wordpress or just keep everything in Blogspot. But I think Blogspot takes the cake for now.

Also, my fact or myth series will be resumed shortly, though I might have to hold off on some controversial topics until after the Weeklong National Congress which is currently taking place in Beijing.

Blog you later!
再见 (Zai Jian)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A new blog is conceived!

Lately, I've been having a very STRONG desire to start a Black Hair/African hair/Black people empowerment blog. Like most people, it just ends there; a strong desire with endless research and planning but absolutely no action. So now i'm saying enough wishing and thinking, it's time to start DOING.

I know what you're thinking, "another natural hair blog, as if we don't have enough of those already". Well, first of all, I mentioned earlier that my blog will be about African hair, which covers all cohorts of African hair, whether it be virgin/natural hair, relaxed, weave, corn row, locs and everything under the umbrella of black hair.
One of my sisters who has Relaxed hair and whom I've educated about black hair care will be covering the relaxed hair part and since I've been relaxed more than I've been natural, I guess I can also throw in my two cents once in a while.
Also, I feel there aren't enough Canadian hair blogs for us Canucks to read, and so I've decided to create one. Besides, there is power in numbers, we have to be loud and be up in people's faces to effectively create a movement on black hair. We can already see gradual changes in Hollywood with celebrities coming out of the closet. So yay to us :)

And so what about the Black Empowerment part? I'll be sneaking in some posts on common Black issues. And hopefully provoke a reader or two or ten to do something out of the ordinary.
I'm just tired of black people limiting themselves because oh, "that's so white" and then we wonder why there aren't enough black people in leadership position. See, I'm usually the only black person in every organization I've been a part of, including many events I've attended. I'd like to see more black men and women in organized sports, organizations, leadership position, and be CEOs of multinational companies.

Mission: To educate readers of all ethnicity about black hair and motivate Black Men, Women, Youth and Children to strive for the best in all they do.

Plain and simple for now.

See you over at my second blog soon :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Notice: Upcoming Renovation

Curious Kinks will be undergoing some renovations in the next couple days, so please bear with me while I change up some things. I've been meaning to pretty up the website since I started it, but each time I tried to do this, I just get so overwhelmed by the task that I often give up. So now I'm saying NOW is the time!


So, why the change? Well, here are a few reasons
1. To fully reflect the content of the blog. My original intention was to blog about my experiences in China and everything else I happen to be curious about. But I've realized that I've only been blogging about China even 3 months after departing from the country.
2. To generate more traffic. I will also be changing the name of the blog to something like "black sista in china" or "Afro Gurl in China"? lol, any suggestions? I often get emails from new readers who happen to "stumble" upon my site, which have led me to think may be my website just isn't OUT THERE enough for people to be stumbling on it instead of easily finding it in their searches.
3. Pretty it up and make it competitive with other travel blogs out there :)
4. Go start another blog for my ramblings! I've had so many ideas for things to write about, but I've decided to strictly stay to the content of the blog.
5. And just because it needs a change!

So, what should we expect?
This blog will be mostly about Life in China from a black woman's perspective, its culture and other randomness. It will also cover topics on expat living, travelling and related topics.
Mission: To inspire more Black people to travel and possibly live in a foreign country. By foreign, I mean a country which is very different from the one you're currently living in, in terms of language, food and culture. Travelling and expat living isn't just for White people, students or the rich. Anyone can do it, because I did it and I don't even fit into any of these groups.
And oh by live in a foreign country, I mean as an expat, not as an immigrant or permanent resident ;)

Myth #4: With 5,000 years civilization history, The Chinese must be Highly civilized

Well, it depends on what your definition of a highly civilized person is.
And no, I'm not saying that they act like cave men and women, but sometimes I've been led to think this based on the way locals present themselves sometimes.

 I mean I don't think a country with 5,000 years civilization history need these posters posted across the city.

There are several reasons why I think the nation as a whole still needs a few more years, perhaps decades to fully reflect their highly claimed "Ancient" civilization. One of these reasons is the ubiquitous snorting and spitting in the bus, trains and public building. And don't even get me started on littering, especially when there's a garbage can just few meters away.
How about the pointing and name calling each time they see a foreigner, a black foreigner to be specific. Hello, I'm already aware of my skin color and my origin, I don't need you or your child pointing and calling me a black person (hei ren), African (fei zhou ren), foreigner (wai guo ren) or any other names you wish to call me. And oh, it's not necessary for you to get the attention of your child or friend, so you can both point and laugh together.
Me with a Tourist from I believe South West China

And last but not the least, I don't need your greetings, even if it's just an "innocent' way for you to show off your English skills. It's very common for Men to Scream "Hello" each time they see me walk by. And they will continue to scream it out loud until I reply with a Hello or just quickly walk out of their sight. Excuse me, I don't scream "Hello" at every Chinese person I see walking the streets of Toronto, so you have no reason to greet me, unless I know you.
I often excuse these "foreign" behavior when I think of what the country has gone through in the past few decades.

Personally, I was just completely shocked by local customs because I had gone into the country with an outdated and completely false preconception about the country. I had thought the Chinese would be the most highly-behaved people on the planet due to their history and a long list of superstition which are meant to encourage good living practices.

But then again, I guess this is why it's important to travel. Travelling definitely broadens our mind and opens our eyes to see the way the other part of the world REALLY is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fact #1: They eat with chopsticks in China

They sure do! Including kids, and they drink soups with spoons. The only time they will eat with forks and knives would be when they dine at western restaurants such as Pizza Hut, which by the way is a fancy, family restaurant in Beijing.

Will they ever merge with the rest of the world and use "regular" cutlery?
NOPE! Because this means they would have to change how they prepare their meal, the type of food and rice they eat as well as the small dishes they eat with. This also means that they will need to change their communal eating style where everyone eats from the same dish. In case you're wondering, chopsticks are lighter and easier to use than metal forks and knives.
although they can be annoying when eating noodles, I sometimes carry around a plastic fork and knife set for days when I don't feel like splashing soups all over my face trying to get my noodles to stay on my chopsticks.
*Green Noodles* don't know what it was particularly made out of to give its green color, but it was delish ;)

What if I can't eat with chopsticks? Can I ask for a fork and knife?
Well, I've never had to request for one neither have I seen any of my expat friends request for them, since most of us already knew how to use chopsticks before coming to China. However I've heard certain restaurants which are frequented by foreigners carry western cutlery so you can request for one if you're just not feeling cultural at the moment.

But I will advice you to practice your chopsticks skills because chances are most restaurants WON'T carry  the type of utensils you're used to eating with, unless you don't mind carrying a back up fork and knife set with you like I sometimes. Not only this, you will also impress locals with your attempt.
A  huge bowl of rice noodles (noodles made out of rice). It took me a few tries to master how to use Chinese spoons

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Myth #3: Chinese live in traditional homes, like the ones you see on Kung Fu Panda?

For most residents living in cities, small or large; this is far from the truth. Most are crammed in multi-story apartments, which allows the government to fit the most number of people in a small area.

So where were these people living before they were all stacked in apartment buildings?
They lived in Hutongs or other types of traditional homes which can house up to three generations. These are traditional homes you see in Kung Fu Panda and other traditional Chinese movies

What happens to the spaces after these homes have been demolished?
They are simply replaced with office buildings, shopping malls and what not
Sky piercing towers of Hong Kong. I call them sky-piercers instead of the commonly known name - skyscrapers because I've never seen such tall and skinny buildings in my entire life! And some of these buildings look like they are swords piercing into the sky

Are local citizens unhappy about their new living standard?
Personally, I'm not sure really. But I expect they'll be happy since newly built apartment buildings are equipped with modern home appliances, private bathrooms and better sewage systems. Hutong residents often have to use the public washroom which is share with the entire neighbourhood. Although I don't know how they shower since these public washrooms only have toilets and a sink, with no showering facilities. These multi-storey homes are also able to withstand a flood. Something traditional courtyard homes was lacking. Also, did I mention local residents are given a relocation compensation to go purchase a home elsewhere. 
Talk about maximizing space!. one of the many housing community in Beijing. This is why it can take up to an hour locating a building since there are sooo many of them in one tiny space!

Does everyone live in Apartment buildings?
Oh no! Some are still living in these traditional homes. However, it's only a matter of time until the urban planning "team" gets to them. the only exception would be homes located in protected areas, which means residents can have a peace of mind and be assured that their homes will still stand many years to come. 
                                    Downtown Xian, China's capital city before Beijing

So, they either live in old homes or more modern apartment buildings?
Oh no, some also live in villas, American or European style homes which are stand alone 2-3 storey homes with a basement, garage, drive way and all those good stuff. These homes are only occupied by Diplomats and wealthy locals. It's also common for these type of homes to be built OUTSIDE the city where there are more trees, fewer people, less noises and partially cleaner air. So depending on how far a purchased villa is from the city, a family might purchase an apartment in the city for conveniences purposes and choose to spend the weekend and holidays in their spacious homes. 

Taken from the "Centre" of the city, from the bell tower

So do Chinese people live in one-storey traditional homes or not?
Only very few of them do, at least in Beijing and other big cities. While most of the population live in apartment buildings.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Myth #2: They still practice foot binding

This is mostly a myth, mostly because I once read that such practice still exists in little isolated villages where villagers are uneducated and are still living in ancient times. I didn't see anyone personally with tiny feet while I was living there, neither did I hear someone talk about the topic.

Foot binding is an Illegal practice in Modern China as it is a painful beauty practice which limits the "victim's" mobility. And so this is why it was SERIOUSLY banned in the 1950s after the Communist came to power. They SERIOUSLY forbade the practice because it had been previously abolished few times in the past with no success.
But then I guess parents finally stopped crushing their daughters feet when they realized a full stomach was more important than a prized 3-inch golden lotuses. Huh? how does a full stomach relate to foot binding? Well you see when China was going through it's Economy Reform, people's lives were put on hold so they could 'build" the country. Both professional working class and lower income class ALL had to go work really hard on farms and factories, or else, no food! But when you have such tiny feet which limits you from doing such hard labor, then you're in BIG trouble! 

So what is the punishment if caught? I don't know really, I guess they get fined, but I don't know by how much.

For a quick history and more info on foot binding in China, please read this great npr article.