Tuesday, July 24, 2012

High and Guangzhou

And just when I thought I was skilled in the art of communication, a trip to China brought this so-called proficiency to shame where my non verbal gestures deemed useless and my well enunciated English, inept.

 Illiterate in the land of international cuisine, Renminbi and hoisin, it can be quite embarrassing to succumb to the global goods (in short, Mcdonald’s and Starbucks) and English speaking retailers, or what sounds like English. Hear me though; once the locals start serving you hot water to drink and almost send a vacuum to your hotel room (itwas just a voltage inquiry, for the love of Lao Tse), it’s best to stay safe, sound and IBS-free. ate

Good thing Peko and Poko are spelled in English. And Glico. And Lotte. Saved by 7-11!

In the territory where the Watson’s lady couldn’t tell Bi-o-re from Ni-ve-a and nearly tore my arm off trying to whiten my wrist, it’s best to stay silent. Keep quiet, look, click a bit and eat what was ordered in English.

So don’t look for photos of snakes, chicken feet and rabbit heads. I never said I was the adventurous kind.

For heaven’s sake, I couldn’t even order a decent milk tea without getting a line to form behind me. In real life, it's Lost in Translation, sans the enjoyment, Bill Murray and all the fun in between.

But of course, a girl's gotta eat.



Starbucks was an imperial haven for the foreigners with English speaking baristas who obligingly heated your food and perfectly understood the necessity of non fat and NO whipped cream. The Smoked Chicken Salad was Asian inspired and very filling, it was like dining near home.

I never thought I'd call Starbucks a second home but I'm loving that green logo.






McDonald’s Guangzhou has subtitled menus beside the cashier (not the one in front). Bring a magnifying glass though as it can be a tough debacle with the photos, text and cashier. The Chicken Wrap is worth the wait despite attempts at failed gestures. Spicy, flavorful with cabbage and spinach wrap, I’d swap our local Mcdo for this Chinese counterpart anytime!

The Lamington Cakes were rather popular, and while I never got the chance to research their history, content and cultural significance, the McCafe version (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavored) was rather endearing and for once, I found myself enjoying coconut. The coconut shavings provide the texture for the smooth cake within. Hail Lamington!

The Spaghetti House mayhem caused me to spend 80 Yuan for dinner. Turns out they had a menu for the middle class variety but no, they decided to feed me baked lobster pasta for dinner despite my pauper get-up.

Ah yes, it must’ve been my royal English, especially when I inquired, “Do you have OR?”

Very queenly indeed.

The Dakasi milk tea fiasco caused a line so long I was glad I couldn’t understand swear words in Chinese. And I had the gall to order the longest and most peculiar drink in fine print. Now that’s taking my sweet time and sweet my green tea with brown rice milk was. Sweet yet utterly memorable.

After all saying “50% sugar” would certainly take another 10 minutes and a line 10x long!

Bruce Lee Logo-bearing Kung-Fu is a fastfood place frequented by local kids. Cheap, convenient and serves hefty meals, I understand why a lot of folks coop up in this joint. Congee, rice meals and noodles are common menu items but they do have that curious looking almond jelly that could make local giant Chow King shudder with its lack of Chinese authenticity. Boo-yah!

Guangzhou Sheraton's Breakfast Buffet wasn't that bad either. With fresh tomato juice, smoked salmon and fried noodles as part of the morning roster, what's not to love about this place? Oh yeah, just that they forget what water is. H2o? Agua?

Chaa ("tea") then.

Delightful cheese selection and cereals, soy milk, the crunchiest melon I have tasted in the East - if I could live on breakfast alone, it would be here!

Of course nothing ever goes according to plan, there's lunch, dinner and that obligatory midnight snack. Too many to mention, here's a smorgasbord of stuff I may have eaten, sniffed or clicked by accident.

Don't ask for details, or all you'll just get is a "Meow!"


Though I never got to say it back then, here's my chance, despite the opposite placement.

Nihao, Guangzhou!

It was good while it lasted. Now I'm back to teabags and local ramen. Ah well, the price to hear decent English once again.


  1. I had a similar experience when I was buying Neutrogena in Beijing. The saleslady can barely understand what I was saying and saying it slowly doesnt even help. Thank God for my sister who learned a bit of Chinese -- survival Chinese as how she would put it. It was a nice learning experience to go to China, and I would like to go to Guangzhou next time. :)

  2. And I would like to visit Beijing! That's tough, Neutrogena has way more syllables, it'd surely drive any saleslady insane! Even monosyllabic brands like Pond's and Kao are met with blank stares. Good thing you have your sister!