Japanese Food In My Hometown

If I ever moved to Japan, I know I would definitely struggle with the food! As they love everything got to do with fish flavour, I honestly wouldn’t really know what I could eat if I ever went there!

So anyway, in my hometown a new Japanese restaurant has opened up. Apparently it has rave reviews, and being the only Japanese restaurant (that I know of) in the area, I wanted to try it out and see what it offered!

Of course they had sushi, but they had other dishes like ramen and teriyaki, so I thought one of those may do me! I met my long time friend and we headed there for lunch, and I must say the chicken teriyaki was lovely!

Haha I did notice that throughout our meal I did hear 1 or 2 Chinese songs being played in it! The opposite would absolutely NEVER happen in a Chinese restaurant in China!

They gave us chopsticks and although I’m now good at using the Chinese style ones, the Japanese chopsticks are a little more difficult!

The Japanese style ones are shorter and taper to a fine point , so it’s harder to pick up the food, whereas Chinese ones are thicker and they have a blunt tip. They are also longer. The Korean chopsticks are the same as the Japanese, but I think (but not sure) they usually use chopsticks that are made of silver… so obviously even harder to use!

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So I was a little slower than usual eating my food! But it was delicious and I would definitely come back again!

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While we were there, two Japanese girls came in to eat and then a single man came in, most likely on his work break. So it really does cater for the every kind of person. In my hometown, most Chinese restaurants cater only for takeaways or as a posh restaurant, but I feel this Japanese place can be for people wanting a casual lunch or even dining out with friends.

I think another reason why this place is successful is because it’s the only Japanese restaurant around; we have plenty of Chinese/ Indian places, but I must say my small town is lacking in places to try more international food. I suppose the older generation are just used to eating the same stuff over and over again, so trying new food might be a bit daunting for them!

This definitely applies to my Dad… he doesn’t even like spaghetti!

But I hope the next time I come back there will be many more restaurants offering more ‘exotic’ dishes!

But anyway, it was a nice experience trying out some Japanese food…. my first time trying sushi ( and forever hating it) was a different story!

再见

爱玲

Why are you always looking at me?

Why are you always looking at me?

The longer I have lived in China, I’ve noticed that less and less Chinese people stare at me here. When I first arrived, everyone on the subway would gawk at me, some might even take photos! Now however, with the influx of more foreigners, this (thankfully) is disappearing!

But not completely!

So yesterday, myself and my fiancé decided to go to Walmart to pick up some things for home. We were looking at some flasks and I turn and see a worker down the bottom of the aisle looking at me. So anyway, I continue browsing.

I look around and he’s still there. Staring.

So I say to my fiancé “That worker over there keeps looking at me, we’ll go to the next aisle and see if he follows”.

We go to the next aisle and low and behold he appears!

I’m getting a bit annoyed at this stage. So back I go to the flask section, waiting to see the worker.

What a surprise, he appears again….but this time at the other end of the aisle.

That’s it, I decide to walk over to him. At this point he’s looking at me while talking to another lady, but I don’t care. I go up to him and ask him in Chinese “Why are you always looking at me?”… He replies he’s not. Haha the face of him when he realised this foreigner was coming over to him!

I think he was shocked that I actually confronted him. But it worked! I didn’t see him lurking around again!  haha well maybe he was but did it with a bit more stealth this time! When someone is standing right in the middle of the aisle gawking at you, it’s not very conspicuous!

For me, it drives me mad when people do this. I just want to go and browse… and not have someone staring at me thinking I’m going to steal something. I hate that feeling. I’m not going to take anything. Just leave me alone and let me shop.

Did he think I was going to steal something? Was he just curious at what I was looking at? Was he just looking at me?? Do I even look like a thief????

Usually this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me, but when someone is constantly staring at me and making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, then that needs to stop. If he thought I was stealing, then keep an eye on me through the security cameras. Just don’t make it obvious!

That’s why I never go to markets here; every time I pick up something I feel as if the worker is thinking “Oh… oh she’s going to steal that!!!” Haha plus they would most likely rip me off with their hiked up price.

So anyway, that was my shopping experience in Walmart. Usually there’s no problem, but maybe yesterday I looked more a thief than other days!

Check out my other (not so nice) Walmart (yes, the same Walmart) experience here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl

再见

爱玲

Spur Of The Moment Decision

Spur Of The Moment Decision

After a spur of the moment, I’ve decided to book flights home to Ireland. Being away for 2 months, I will definitely miss my fiancé while I’m away. Unfortunately he’ll be staying in Chengdu for that time.

I think it’ll be a nice break from each other though. The only time we’ve been apart was when he went travelling with his sister for a week. It’s not that we need a break or we are getting fed up of each other. We have a great relationship.  Just a little time with my family without him will be nice! Plus it’ll make us appreciate each other more while I’m away!

As I still have no job, my thought was ‘well I’m not tied to work or anything at the moment, so this would be the best time to go and visit.’ Plus, If I don’t go home now,  god knows when I’ll be back. I miss my nephews and my sister a lot, and I know they can’t come here to visit.

I’m looking forward to visiting home; enjoying Mums food, catching up with friends, my sister, playing with my nephews. Even sleeping in my old room!

I would have booked flights just for a month, but because it was such late notice, the cheapest flights back to Chengdu aren’t until the end of August. And the cheapest leaving are only at the end of June. At least I won’t miss out on my last few weeks of studying. Only 3 weeks!

Another reason why I think it’s a good time to go home is because I have a few things to sort out at home, eg wedding info, bank things….. so I can sort all that out while there!

I don’t really have the money for visiting, but I suppose my family outweighs my financial concerns. When you’re away, you realise how important your family is, and how much you miss them… so I don’t mind paying for the flights to visit.

So as I’ll be away for 2 months, I will expect my Chinese level to go down… but…. I will definitely try and keep on studying! I know it’s all well and good saying that, but I really need to concentrate on my Chinese this summer. As I plan on moving up to Level 7, I need to make sure my level is up to par.

So that’s what my summer will entail!

再见

爱玲

Chengdu is becoming more expensive

Chengdu is becoming more expensive

Having lived in Chengdu for nearly 4 years now, we’ve been noticing that Chengdu is sadly becoming more expensive. Of course it’s still incredibly cheap to live here, with regards to food and that… but I’ve definitely noticed that the cost of living is gradually becoming higher and higher.

One thing that I’m sure every expat in Chengdu is aware of is how rent has increased in price. With the new metros popping up everywhere, that of course means that the rent nearby these metro stations will go up. Our rent has increased by 200yuan a month, and this is only because of the new metro that has opened up nearby us.

Also, today we visited a jiaozi (dumpling) restaurant for lunch, and we saw that they have upped the cost of their portions by 2元 (€0.26). I know it’s not by much, but it’s still an increase… every little counts!

Here in Chengdu, if you want to buy some foreign products, most foreigners head to Metro. This is a huge supermarket which sells a lot of foreign products in bulk.. like milk, cheese, Chinese products and so on. We haven’t been there in ages so we decided to go and have a look around!

And of course the prices have went up there too!

Since coming here, foreign teachers salary has been getting higher and higher, but I wonder is this the same for Chinese workers? Have their salaries increased I wonder?

But anyway, that’s the reality of living in a constantly growing city like Chengdu! I wonder is the rest of China getting more and more expensive or if it’s just here?

What will the cost of living here be like in 5 years time… Will there be anymore expats living here, or will they have all decided to move on to somewhere cheaper? China is an attractive place for foreigners to live because of it’s low cost of living… but if it increases, I’m pretty sure many will leave!

So we’ll have to keep an eye on what else has gotten more expensive!

再见

爱玲

How China has outpaced Europe

I’ve read recently that McDonalds is now introducing a delivery service for it’s customers in the UK. Wow!!

Actually in China…. this has been happening for quite a while now! When myself and my fiancé just started dating, we would sometimes order a McDonalds. It was so easy! Log on, order your food… and bam, it should be on the way to yours pretty soon! The delivery people are usually on electric bikes; so they can whizz past all the traffic.

But anyway, China has certainly outpaced Europe with some things! We have found a Chinese phone app called 饿了吗?Hungry? and we are so happy we have figured out how to use it! As the app is all in Chinese, you do need to know some characters before you start using this.

When you open the app, restaurants nearby will pop up. Each restaurant has pictures of the food, so even if you don’t know the Chinese characters, you can easily find out what dish it is. So you click the food you want, and then you pay. My fiancés bank account is linked to his Wechat account, so the money is taken directly from that. Wechat is Chinas equivalent of WhatApp.

Then it’s done! With some restaurants, we can actually see the delivery driver on our map driving in real time. He picks the food up, and then we can see him (the blue dot)  driving to our community, parking the bike, and then we know he will be here pretty soon! It’s so easy and cheap! And we have become so lazy!

Usually we get discounts for ordering online. Plus, the food at most takes 45 minutes to arrive. Sometimes even half an hour!

I know in Ireland at least they have started delivering food, but in China it’s been here around for quite a while! China may be backwards with some things, but with technology it really is advancing!

再见

爱玲

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

Hearing things like “The wifi is bad in El Nido”…”Electricity goes on and off all the time”….”There’s an ATM but a lot of times it has no money in it”…. I wasn’t exactly sure what to prepare for El NIdo!

But thankfully we needn’t have worried!

Backpacks

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We were so so happy that we brought our 30L backpacks to the Philippines. All through our travels in China, we never had to check them in. We were thankful that for the Philippines we also didn’t have to, even when we were flying with AirSwift. (and their luggage restrictions was about 7Kg).

We bought these in Decathlon (Chengdu) and they are super useful, can hold quite a lot of things, has a waist belt for extra support, and we don’t have to worry that they will be too big as carry on luggage. I think if we bought the 40L ones, they would have been a tad too large, so these are perfect if you want to travel light.

Water Shoes

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This was the first time that I bought water shoes, as I’ve never really been to a place where I needed to use them, but for some of the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly recommend you buy or rent a pair. In some places there are lots of rocks and it’s incredibly hard to walk on them, especially if the water is a little rough!

Again, we bought these in Decathlon and they were perfect for the trip. They are comfortable and the soles are thick, so you have good grip on the rocks. When we were on the tours, I noticed the people who had no shoes on them were struggling to walk on the sharp rocks.

If you don’t want to buy a pair, you can easily rent them in the town.

Money: 

As we heard that the ATM there hardly ever works, we decided to bring more money than we actually needed…. about 25,000 pesos each. Our hotel was already paid for so we just needed money for food and the excursions. We definitely brought too much, but the scams that we heard about and if either of us happened to loose some money or anything, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about our funds.

Thankfully with the leftover money that we had, we were able to change it at the airport for both Dollars and Euro before we left.

Flight Details:

I usually never print out flight details, but this time we had a few layovers so we wanted to be prepared with everything. At Manila airport we needed to show our flight details. Then when we were at El Nido airport, at the entrance the security man wanted to see our details for that flight too. So in the end we were thankful that we had everything at hand! To be prepared, I suggest you print out all of these things.

GoPro/Underwater Camera:

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A few years ago, one of our friends also visited El Nido, so she lent us her camera to bring. It was great! Because you can use it underwater, we didn’t need to bring our cameras, so we didn’t need to worry about if they get wet!

In El Nido town we bought a stick that can be used underwater, making it easier to use the camera under the water as it’s lighter. The normal stick was just too heavy.

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Waterproof Bag

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Again, our friend lent us this waterproof bag to bring with us. But of course, in the town  you can easily buy one at every corner. They come in a range of different sizes and colours, and it was very reassuring to know that our phones and money and what not were safe in it.

So these are the items which we brought and were really useful for us, and these are the items that I recommend you bring along with you. If you forget some necessities you can just buy pretty much everything else in the town. You could easily just bring an empty bag and buy what you need when you arrive! T-shirts, shorts, dresses, sun glasses, bikinis, flip-flops, there is a hairdressers (my fiancé got his hair cut there) a pharmacy, an opticians (fiancé got his glasses there) massage parlours, oh and plenty of restaurants.

In a place called Art Cafe they have shampoo, conditioner, lady sanitary things, aloe vera gel, sun cream, deodorant, phone chargers…. you definitely won’t be stuck for anything!

So if you do happen to forget something… don’t worry… El Nido town has you pretty much covered!

再见

爱玲

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

Still having 2 more tours to do, we next opted to do Tour A. This tour consists mainly of visiting lovely beaches and lagoons, and some of the lagoons were breathtaking! For me, I thought this was the best tour!

But I can tell you, we were both exhausted by the time we got home at 4pm… definitely in need of a nice shower to wash all that sand away… then a good nap!

Another day arrived, and taking a rest from the water, we headed to try out the zip line! I’ve never done this before, and It was great fun! Unfortunately I was too busy looking at the wire and making sure my head didn’t go near it,  that I missed catching a glimpse of  most of the scenery around me!

To get to the zip line from El Nido town, you should get a tricycle for  about 150pesos and they will drop you to the small mountain that you should walk up. It only takes about 7-8 minutes but it is a little steep. After you have finished the zip line, you need to take a rickety ladder made of bamboo down to the bottom, and then walk back. During low tide the sea will be out so you can walk across the beach.

After the zip line, we got lunch and relaxed on bean bags at Las Cabanas beach.  It had such a relaxed vibe there I could have stayed all day. There is also a bar where you can order drinks or food.

On our last day before we left El Nido, we went on Tour C. We were told the day before that it may not happen, as in and around the area of Tour C the sea was a little rough. We had to wait until the morning of the trip to confirm if it was happening, and it was!

This tour consists mostly of swimming, and I tell you… this was the most difficult tour of them all! Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy… and at one point, we had to swim to a small island with a beautiful beach. But the waves were that high and strong… swimming over to it was extremely scary! Because there were boats already there, our boat was behind them, meaning we had to swim around these to get to shore.

Our tour guide told us to swim as a group, and I tried my hardest to swim along and keep up… the current was so strong. Then we got near the shore… but the waves were huge! The problem was that there were loads of jagged rocks at the bottom… you could stand up ok… but then a big wave would come and sweep you off your feet. Because my shins were still quite tender, I was so afraid that I would hit them off the rocks.

Oh my god I was so scared. I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to get to the shore, and I would get injured by the rocks. Thankfully I made it, but I was really shook up. I really didn’t want to have to get back into the water… and worse… swim AGAINST the current. Swimming with the current wasn’t exactly easy!

So during our 15 minutes at this pretty beach, all I was thinking about was how the hell am I going to get back onto the boat. I told my fiancee “I don’t think I’ll be able to swim to the boat… the water’s too strong”. He said he’ll help me and not to worry.

The time came to risk my life again. Thankfully I was wearing my life jacket which helped a lot! I started panicking. How am I going to do this??? The rocks are too sharp… I can either try and walk it to the deeper parts, but risk falling…. or try and swim and risk cutting my legs because of the rocks… 

In my group there was another lady  and she was holding on to the tour guide…. she was on her back floating and the man was swimming while holding onto her. So I reached her and I started floating backwards while holding her legs. Making sure I didn’t let go!

So there was our tour guide pulling two women behind him, while all the men were battling against the waves! Life and Death!

My fiancee was behind me trying to walk on the rocks and every few seconds he would should “Ok Aisling, there is a another wave coming!” and I would have to take a deep breathe and prepare myself for it! Because I was floating I couldn’t see any waves coming. I even had my snorkel goggles on me!

Before I knew it we were by the boat…. I was DEFINITELY done with the water by then! That was an experience I won’t forget in a long long time.

We picked a bad day to go on Tour C, and I’m pretty sure normally the water is much calmer than when we went.

Unfortunately the ocean became more and more choppy, so we couldn’t visit one beach. We would have had to go through a hole in the rock, and our tour guide said it was just too dangerous. He explained to us that one time he went through it and the water was that rough that he was hitting the rock wall. No thank you! I honestly didn’t mind at all… I had enough of the water for a while!

So our last trip was…. adventurous to say the least… so to calm us down we had a lovely meal and cocktails at a place called Mezzanine. The food is really good, and the cocktails are great too!

So our holiday had finally come to an end… leaving such paradise was hard…. and I was so depressed when we arrived back in China. . . . no more cheap cocktails, delicious meals or swimming in the sea.

But you can’t forget about the real world forever!

*TIP: If you want to try out the zip line, I suggest you go in the morning. If you go later in the day time they may not accept you as they may be too busy with people. This is what happened to us.

**TIP: For the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly advise you to bring water shoes. Tour B you don’t need them as much. But for A and C, there are a lot of rocks and it is much much easier to walk while in the shallow water. You can rent them in the town or you can bring your own. But I strongly recommend them!

Click here to check out part 1: What We Did In El Nido Part 1