Monthly Archives: March 2011

Cute & Kawaii, Extraordinary Eats /

Soy Sauce Kit Kats (and other awesome flavors)

I was a little confused about the Tokyo airport when I flew through there a few weeks ago. It seemed so… rundown. Ceiling tiles missing, chairs blocking entrances, stores closed. And then I saw this sign. Uh-oh. What had I missed during my media blockout?

Turns out the third reactor was about to go, so I did what any slightly-nervous very-jetlagged consumer might do. I bought Kit Kats. Lots of them.

You probably already know that Kit Kats are the lucky treat in Japan. The local name for them, kitto katto, sounds an awful lot like the pre-exam expression of goodwill, “kitto katsu,” which means “win without fail.” (Sweep the leg, Johnny!) So they’ve got a lot of them. Before every exam, everyone gives out kit kats. Woo tells me there are 80 200 different flavors.

Sadly, Narita only had six. But I bought them all.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 6 Comments
Historical Wonders, Modern Ruins /

Modern Day Cavemen of Shanxi

Recently, Woo and I were in rural Shanxi Province, and noticed a series of caves carved into the landscape, off in the distance.  They were just dark shadows, really, but they were clearly man-made.

“Before, did people live there?” we asked the cab driver, like the good tourists that we were.

“Yes, but they still live there today,” he laughed.  “They’re called 窑洞.”  Yaodong, a cave dwelling.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Theme Parks / ,

Outsider Art Kangaroos at the Beijing Zoo

I wasn’t much impressed with the Beijing zoo.  Quite the contrary…  I was absolutely horrified. We left depressed.  (See this story for a hint of the madness.)

But on the upside, while we saw no live kangaroos, we did happen on these lovely grazing sculptures, made from pieces of found wood. It felt more like something you’d see made from North Carolina driftwood…

My favorite’s the last one, so minimal, and so cute.


/ by Dean Pickles / 6 Comments
Chinglish / ,

Now that’s just rude…

(At the Beijing Zoo.)
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Offbeat Museums / , ,

The Best Stamps from Beijing’s Incredible Stamp Museum (including 3-D North Korean stamps!)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, here are my six top favorite collections from Beijing’s wonderful stamp and post museum…. Sorry for the spoiler above. But it’s just… too weird.

6. Table Tennis
What’s there not to love about table tennis?  Mao adored it, so did Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai.  Plus, there’s always the game to thank for opening those relations between east and west.  (Actually, I guess you could thank ping pong diplomacy for my even being here!)  You even occasionally find tables sitting hidden in the hutongs, the Chinese version of a basketball hoop in a car park, waiting for locals to walk up with their paddles and start a game.  Thus, a lovely trio of stamps dedicated to the popular sport.

1959 – 25th World Table Tennis Championships

1971 – Afro-Asian Table Tennis Friendship Invitational Tournament

1971 – Afro-Asian Table Tennis Friendship Invitational Tournament

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Offbeat Museums / ,

Incredible Chinese Stamp Museum (first of two)

I’m not a stamp geek.  My dad is, my nephew is… but to be perfectly honest, I had some low expectations for the Beijing Stamp Museum.  Even with free admission, four floors, over one million stamps, and “for rent” magnifying glasses, Michelle and I were the only visitors.

But I have to admit, this museum is insane.  Michelle literally had to drag me out of there.  I wished I had a tripod.  I wished I had a videocamera.  I could have spent all day in there.  Yes, there’s a lot of trash, but the history of China through stamps?  Unmissable!

So, to spread the philatelic love, here are my 13 favorites in order…. 

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Cute & Kawaii / , ,

And we’re back…

Sorry for the silence. China got wise to the VPN, and issues had to be resolved.  But we’re back.  Hopefully for a while, at least.

While we pop the bottles of silkworm baijiu and seahorse bourbon, here’s a photo from last night’s dinner at Beijing’s newest maid cafe.  (Sure, Japan had sexy 19th century French maids a decade ago, but in China? Well, they’re still an untapped welcome trend.)

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Chinglish / ,

The 100th Post? Miss Puke Massage, of course.

Could we resist? Central Bangkok.


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