Only in (Kim) Chi-na

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They say you are what you eat. And in this case you’d be a fermented cabbage chicken.
These eggs are actually a Korean import, but nothing in our stores is actually from Macau, it’s all imported which makes for a nice mix.

I find myself some days saying “I can’t find anything to eat in this grocery store!”, when you can actually find many things. Some things you never even thought were edible. (What the heck is all that sh!t in the dried bulk food section? I say this with zero sarcasm and very honestly: how could anybody eat something with texture of shriveled dried road kill that’s been roasting in the sun and the smell of dried road kill that’s been left roasting in the sun and then been microwaved? How? Some of that stuff would be on game shows like Fear Factor in the States.)

This post is really for my gluten free somewhat dairy free sister-friend who comes to visit and immediately stakes out the Kim Chee selection.

A: Can you have noodles!
J:Not really.
A:I know a good local pastry place!
J:No, buddy.
A:Pork Chop Sandwich?
J:I can have the inside.
A: Kim Chi aisle?
J: Right.

Having lived in a China town area or a city in the States, I’m embarrassed to say after living here almost three years, she knows way more about Asian food than I do, and she would definitely trust a chicken who ate Kim Chi.

SnoopsList

At home, and in many parts of the world, it’s called Craigslist.
Need a babysitter? Craigslist! Need to rehome your dog? Craigslist :( Need to sell your 1980s Starwars figurine to pay the power bill? You know where to go.

In Macau we have Facebook groups.
( This is the part where I actually give some real information on Macau that might help someone new, before I get to the part that will not help you adjust to life in Macau what so ever. Or maybe it will.)

They are:

ByeByeZaia
(named after a Cirque show that got the quick boot, it was meant to help performers and technical staff unload things quick, not all of Macau uses it.)

MacauBuyandSell

Macau Swap and Trade

If you want to go old school:

The lesser utilized 12×12 cork board at Cuppa Coffee

The soon to be very useful Community Corner at The Blissful Carrot

And the for the “no time to dilly dally” option:

Hong Kong Expat

On HongKong Expat if you’re willing to travel over by ferry you might be able to grab some more elusive scores. Antique furniture, a fancy coffee maker, a hedgehog. Really, exotic animals are hot! Or like our ever hustling friends, The Randles do, take a dolly with you and grab a few industrial stoves, cases of wine, or another better dolly to put on the dolly to later carry back more and bigger things from our hipster sibling country to the north.

On these delightful pages you can find concert tickets, helpers, or a lovely Philippino lady selling Angry Birds cupcakes that might or might not look like Pinterest fails.

Although we are close to mainland, the mother of all factories, we are separate from them in every way. Appliances specifically can go for two times the price here than in the States. Things get cleared off the shelves quickly when they come in. When winter approaches there’s serious scrapping for oil heaters. Summer brings squabbles over fans and dehumidifiers. If you have kids then you definitely watch these sites for Western imported items: strollers, cribs, that ridiculous bouncing thing that your little person is only going to use for a month. Why? Because let’s just say some of the materials and safety standards here are…debatable. But then so is the term “used”. My favorite disagreements are about how something can be “85% new!” Somebody’s going for the hard sell on that shoe rack.

While not all the postings on sites like Craigslist are always vanilla, but when they are, let’s say, chocolate , there is usually creative word play involved. Puns. Code words. Certainly There cannot be that many girls named Mary Jane and Molly Cyrus all wanting to meet up tonight?

So when this popped up in the middle of my Facebook feed between funny animal videos and breast feeding articles (how does Facebook know??), I completely cracked up.

SnoopsList
Really MacauBuySellRent?
There are moderators on these pages that crack down on the most trivial things like Facebook hall monitors. May lightening strike you for bargaining in a foreign language. You can be kicked off the list if the picture of your ikea end table is one from the catalogue and not your actual table. And sayonara to the barterer who tries to haggle with a private message and somehow, Danny Rex slipped through the cracks?

While I admire Danny Rex’s entrepreneurial spirit, and while Macau is not really the most conservative country, currently rebranding itself as Asia’s Sin City, it certainly isn’t this progressive. They most certainly have very strict drug laws above almost any other offense. Not Singapore strict, but I most certainly would not want to spend the night next to old Broken Tooth Koi of the Triads out in Coloane. ( I might have just risked assassination by just dropping the name of the Scarface of the East.)

Wondering if there was a punch line, I read on, and also thought, where was Facebook in college? No walking around campus looking for “some guy named Dan with a beard”.

I also thought it was pretty funny considering that when a post comes up for something as trivial as a bread maker, there can be an all out bidding war with twenty comments and on this post it was crickets. I know. I checked back because I was dying for someone to take the bait. Did people smell a trap? Did no one want to sleep under Broken Tooth’s bunk? Did they already have “a guy named Dan with a beard”?

How to Make an Expat Condiment

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Step One: Partner takes job in foreign locale.
Step Two: Leave your career, friends, homeland.
Step Three: Get creative about rehoming yourself under new governments silly rules.
Step Four: Dig deep into all skills that might enable you to also live and work in said foreign land.
Step Five: Enjoy life in WokCity.

Like I mentioned before, I started writing nonsense on FromWokCity because I could find virtually no account of personal experience living here before our move.

Because moving here, you should know one thing: you will miss your personal space.

Ok, two things: stock up on slogan t-shirts.

I’m here to send a lifeline out to any other *Expat Condiment in search of solidarity.

Expat what?

*def. Expat Condiment
A person who moves abroad with another person who has received a job offer in a foreign land. Said job allows them to legally stay in the country making that person the ham of the ham sandwich (or tofu for my veggie friends), whereas partner is mayonnaise. Because I don’t know about you, but the ham/tofu sandwich is nothing without mayonnaise. You shouldn’t even bother ordering the sandwich if they’re out of mayo. But the government is only really concerned about the ham/tofu.

ex. My husband/wife holds the job that brought us to Macau and allows us to sign a lease for an apartment that costs Uganda’s GDP in rent every month, while I am the expat condiment that cannot “legally” hold a job here but always has cash on hand for fun times from creative employment oppurtunities.

For those of you expat other-halves who are shaking your head and proclaiming “I am no one’s condiment!” (Insert finger snaps and sassy hand move), I say to you. that I am not implying a less than status, but rather one of supreme importance. In a land of noodle joints where the tables are overflowing with oils and fish sauces, peppers and pastes, you are essential and even glorified as a condiment. Trust me, I recently did some warrior s@!t pushing a tiny human into the world, I know my self worth. I could eat wasabi by the spoonful. Condiments are neccessary.

So here I sit in the coffee shop down the street in an awkward hunched over position with a pacifier in my mouth (Well. Not in it. But dangling out of it.) I am finally ready to revive the blog. (Cheers! Roars of the crowd! Shouts of encouragement!)

I’m in this very unergonomic position, because I have this very precious sleeping 8 week old baby in a carrier on my chest while I’m trying to type. He’s kind of half flopped out like a drunk monkey whose had a late night on Khao San Road because he seemed most comfortable this way. I probably look like mom of the year over here. He can’t even defend himself from the croissant flakes falling on his head.

His new presence in our lives seemed to be as good of a reason as any to start cataloging our triumphs and failures as Expat Condiments. See how I did that. Now there are two of us. It used to be a one expat condiment household and now we are doubled. Here’s my sage advice about starting over in a foreign land with no friends: procreate your own best friend. Voila! Fellow expat condiment! For life. For ever. Problem solved.

I’m not exactly blazing a trail starting a family abroad, but everybody does it differently. One thing becoming a familiy will get you anywhere is new friends and new opinions. For some families, the clock starts to immediately tick after the baby arrives. I call it the Educational Clause. It seems to be universally polarizing. You are either sticking around to school age to see your child learn a new language, be exposed to even more mysterious cafeteria food than might be at home or splitting just prior and high tailing it home to the familiarity of a homeland education of familiar holidays and organized sports.

Maybe we’ll ask Beckett when it’s time. Maybe the States will seem like just as much an adventure to him then because he didn’t grow up there.

But secretly we’ll be hoping he’ll want to live in a tropical yurt treehouse with us somewhere. At least until he wants to go to college.

Tropical Treehouse Yurt..somewhere. :)

Tropical Treehouse Yurt..somewhere. :)

My Blog is Rolling It’s Eyes

Where to start.

This is where my orphaned blog rolls it’s eyes.
It’s judgey impatient eyes.
Afterall, it’s not as if I’ve not had any quiet moments to log on and give her a little attention. If not a nice long descriptive tale of life in this strange and mostly beautiful place of Macau, then maybe just a little picture love? Was there nothing to report back about of life in Macau in all of 2013?

There was this; a trip to Bali in the Spring…
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…where we might have paused a bit too long at this Linnga-Yoni Shrine of fertility.
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During the summer we made trips through Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand with friends…
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Bangkok

In the Fall we traveled to Thailand with my parents (notice that I continue to blow up in the abdomen region)…

baby thailand

lantern rawai

There was more of this..

belly 9 months

And finally this!

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The arrival of Beckett Kai has opened up a whole new chapter of FromWokCity blog opportunities! Missed blog titles so far: “Very Merry Labor on the Ferry” and “Putting This Three Step Snuggle Wrap On Beckett is Worse Than Putting Together An Ikea Bookshelf”

So we have some catching up to do there.

Truth is, we’ve had so many meaningful moments in 2013 and now, especially in the beginning of 2014, that I wanted to make whatever I put on here meaningful. To me. To my sweet husband, who is so encouraging about me leaving stories of our life on here.

As long as I don’t embarrass him.

I love hearing: “You’re not going to put that on the blog, are you?” Secretly he loves the blog. The unposted blogs about us as unpolished visitors in a foreign land are the best. And maybe for a book someday.

FromWokCityWithLove was actually started to keep me entertained more than anyone else.

I started writing about our experiences on here while I was just a newly arrived, unemployed expat in Macau, waiting for life to begin anew and….happen at all.

The blog quickly became a flashy way to talk to all of our friends and family at once, and also to fill a void in information about immigrating to Macau. Such responsibility representing the Expat Condiments here in Macau. (see following blog)

And then, as it does, life happened. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have the time report the day to day foreigner happenings down fast enough and 2013 got away from me.

Keeping in the autobiographical spirit of the blog here is a quick summary of the time lost between now and the last post.

Sometime in the midst of the blog petering out in early 2013, I began teaching full time teaching in English and Culture at the local Montessori school where I was the only foreign speaking teacher. They plied me with local treats and customs, and I in turn cleared up the difference between “passing wind” and “farting”. Cultural exchange at it’s finest.

I also trudged through a few months of Cantonese classes in those months and was finally able to say a few things to my friends at work. Mostly directional; left, right, next to, etc. because that was on the spoken test. And as long as I could pull things from the three page conversation I memorized about “Dinner at Lam’s House”, I could also have a conversation with someone in the context of passing food around the table.

I sometimes worried that I might offend my new friends with what I found…”curious” about local culture. In actuality, I found that my new friends liked to laugh at my misconceptions of life in an Asian culture as much I enjoyed reporting on them here on the blog. Although, I was never able to fully explain to one of my friends why “you don’t look so fat today!” was not so much of a compliment in my culture, as something that would send a pregnant lady crying to the bathroom. Because shortly after our last carefree and crazy trip to Bali in the Spring, I popped up preggers.

After a day of teaching kindergartener and doing my best to keep up with their parents I would go teach the afternoon class at Montessori and then come home, eat a whole box of Kraft Macaroni and collapse under the weight of 100 hippos, also known as my belly. 89 of those hippos were probably from the Mac and Cheese.

Why you so fat Miss. Alyson?

Why you so fat Miss. Alyson?

This fun routine went through December, when I decided to do the most humane thing for my sad excuses of swollen feet and park them on the couch. As one does when they have been bearing the weight of 100 hippos for 9 1/2 months and have no recognizable parts left to be seen- not a glimmer of an ankle, barely a discernable difference in where foot ends and toe starts at all. I rallied my last iota of clear thinking into writing letters to Beckett instead of the blog.

Finally in January, Sir Beckett came! The exclamation mark might indicate that he just popped in as one might just pop in for tea. No. He came into this world ever so casually taking 22 hours to decide if today was the day. And turned his parents into star struck baby-selfie picture taking fiends.

So in committing myself to start writing a little every week again, this is what I hope to accomplish:

~ To make a virtual footprint for Baby Beckett to trace back our footsteps from before he was born, to his beginnings as an American born in Hong Kong, residing in Macau, living as a circus baby.

~Write tales of new Mama incompetency while living on this other planet country.

~Report back on our travels. Now including a little guy who gets us a whole other checked bag.

~Redirect the eyerolls from all the people who complain about too many baby pictures on Facebook to here, as Becektt is literally FromWokCity. The pictures of him dressed as tiny Santa and tiny cupid and a tiny leprechaun can be found here now. Because the camera loves him. And I’m sure he’ll also want to share that with the world someday.

That about covers it. Until the next naptime break. xx

Where Were We?

Where Were We?

The last time I blogged was sometime in early 2013. Life was carefree! We meandered through the days and months, traveling, eating good food, entertaining a lovely endless parade of beautiful visiting friends….and then THIS happened. Chris hates it when I call him “this” or “it”. Only when I was pregnant. “This” has a passport now, so he is official. We shall call him Beckett Kai. Time to retune the blog…. xo