Tag Archives: Week4

From Russia with….you know the drill

There are many Russians vacationing in Hainan, China. I know this because as I walk or relax on the beach, all of them have come up to me to ask me to pose for a photo. … The photomeister….Takin’ photos….makin’ friends…Papparuskies takin’ photos with the Jamaicameister….(Saturday night Live? Rob Schneider? Remember? Anyone?)

Russian vacation on hainan china
Jamaicans have all the fun!

Russian vacation on hainan china
The lady from Baikal

Russian vacation on hainan china
My new friends from Siberia

Russian vacation on hainan china
Finally, someone as skinny as I am!

Russian vacation on hainan china
But, of course, I’m still rebuilding from the fast…

Russian vacation on hainan china
Babushka has a daughter who visited Myrtle Beach, Florida, and fell in love with a Jamaican….Can you blame her?

Russian vacation on hainan china
What??? No new friends?? Give it a minute…

Sanku Bay Marsh

Learning the Language Mandarin sanku bay marsh

As we taxied towards the terminal after the flight from Kunming to Sanya, Hainan, I listened intently to the flight attendant make the standard arrival announcement. She was half-way through the announcement before I realized she was speaking English! It wasn’t just the usual rushed, slurred delivery that many flight announcers are guilty of after giving the same announcement flight after flight, day after day for many years. This was different. I didn’t get the impression that she was giving a hackneyed speech, at all. In fact, as I’m often the only visibly non-Chinese passenger on many of these inter-city flights, I often wonder if the announcement would even be made in English if I wasn’t on the plane!

Anyway, as I did my best to listen and decipher what the flight attendant was saying, I realized that even in the context of an airplane flight, where I have a good idea of what she SHOULD be saying, I was still having difficulty understanding her. Of course, there’s the “accent”, the intonations and the way the Chinese tongue, teeth and lips pronounce unfamiliar English consonants and vowels after a lifetime pronouncing more familiar Chinese sounds. But, I also got the sense that she might not have been speaking English at all, but merely reading the phonetic equivalent of the English words the same way I might read the phonetic equivalent (goo-roo EEE-Key) of my Chinese name, 顾瑞奇. It brings to mind a similar experience of just a few days ago.

The other day, I walked into a local restaurant here in Hainan to determine if, at some future point in time, I might be able to dine there given my vegan proclivities.  However, even in the context of being in a restaurant speaking about food, my attempts to communicate in Mandarin that I didn’t want MSG or seasoning powder (very simple sentences, mind you) were met with blank stares by the wait staff. They, too, had no idea what I was trying to say!

Just goes to show that there’s more to speaking the language than just mimicking the right sounds. Even in a familiar context, one’s meaning can be utterly lost or otherwise indecipherable without the right subtlety–a subtlety that comes only with time, practice and a basic foundation in the language.

If you’re just mimicking sounds, you really don’t know where one word ends and another begins. You don’t know when to make the correct pauses in your delivery to convey the right meaning. And you’re never really sure if the phonetics is an exact replica or just a “reasonable facsimile thereof.” And, particularly in Mandarin, using the wrong tone can skew everything altogether!

Which is not to say that context is irrelevant. If I, a non-native English speaker, were to say to you, “Sanku Bay Marsh” out of context, you might not really understand what I was trying to say. However, if, after you gave me a birthday present, I accepted it, nodded, smiled and then said, “Sanku Bay Marsh,” you might then get it, and reply, as any decent English-speaker would, “You’re very welcome!”

Recipes from the Coffeepot Cookbook!

Addendum March 5, 2011: Great news! There’s actually now a Real Coffeepot Cookbook, inspired by the blog post!

Okay, there’s something you need to know about me for when we hang out together for the Jamaican in Russia adventure: I take my diet very seriously. At the same time, I’m not ruled by my gut, at least not the same way other folks are.

So, when I say that I don’t eat meat, I don’t mean just for today. I mean yesterday, today, tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. I’m not suddenly going to forget and take the piece of pork you’re offering me because YOU forgot that I don’t eat meat. (I had a hard time explaining that on a date in Xishuangbanna.) I’ve been vegan since 1992, so I mean never. It also means I don’t eat fish, because last time I checked, fish aren’t vegetables.

When I say I’m fasting, I just don’t mean “just for right now,” and then proceed to take the rice you’re offering because it’s after 5pm. When I fast, it means I’m not eating.

And when I say I don’t eat MSG, or meat flavoring cubes or white sugar or table salt, that’s just what I mean.

So, today as I slowly resume eating from my fast, I felt like I wanted something warm rather than the fruits I’ve been eating for the past 2 days.

However, for reasons I’ve just stated, I won’t eat in a non-vegan restaurant, because I can’t be 100% sure that even though I request no MSG, no salt, no meat oil, no eggs, etc. I can’t be sure that the chef will honor those requests to my satisfaction.

So, even though there’s no kitchen in my hotel room I will still cook today, because I have…..wait for it….wait for it……The Coffee Pot Cookbook!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, The Coffee Pot Cookbook by Walt F.J. Goodridge, healthy meals you can make with just a coffee pot and a little creativity! I had the idea for this back in Kunming, but didn’t get around to blogging about it, so now it’s time.

Today’s dish is Walt’s Nomad Veggie Soup and noodles from Chapter 7 of the cookbook.

cooking in China, vegan in china, coffeepot cookbook

Electric Hotel Coffee pot (provided in most hotels)
Soup bowl (borrowed from the hotel front desk)
Empty water bottle

organic food in china, coffeepot cookbook, hainan
bok choy not shown

INGREDIENTS (purchased from local supermarket; grab some extra plastic bags while there)
4L bottled water
Rice noodles (optional)
Bok Choy
Sea salt (ordered from iherb before leaving Xishuangbanna)

Before beginning the process below, If you’ve only got one bowl, you can pour hot water over dried rice noodles, let soften, remove from bowl, place in hotel teacup, and enjoy as a side dish or include in soup.

Wash bok choy, tofu and scallion with your bottled water. If no basin or pot is available, cut the top off a smaller empty 1.5L water bottle (shown) you’ve been saving in your room for just this sort of thing, insert vegetables, pour in water, cover with palm of hand and shake vigorously.

Finely dice garlic, ginger and scallion. If no cutting board is available, spread a piece of plastic (the extras you got from the produce section of the supermarket) across the wooden desk of your hotel room. Dice gently, then discard the sheet when done.

Dice tofu into cubes

Chop bokchoy

Place diced ingredients, tofu and bokchoy into soup bowl.

Boil water in coffee pot.

Pour boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Cover with plastic sheet or plate if you have one. Let simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add sea salt to taste.

vegetable soup with tofu hainan china vegan



(Total preparation time: about 10 minutes
tofu: 1.50
garlic: 1.20
scallion: 1.70
bokchoy: 1.00
ginger: 0.60
water: 10.0
noodles: 4.70
Total cost: 20.70RMB = 3.18US

Next time, we’ll make brown rice in a coffee pot. This could get messy.

Addendum March 5, 2011: Great news! There’s actually now a Real Coffeepot Cookbook, inspired by the blog post!

From Harlem to Hainan!

What do the free Summer concerts in New York City for 2011 have to do with me in China???

So, here I sit on a beach on a tropical island off the coast of The People’s Republic of China. Meanwhile, 8,361 miles (13,455k) away on another island in the United States of America, people are looking forward to what they’ll do for their 2011 summer in New York. I know this because one of my websites, www.FreeSummerConcerts.com has started to receive a marked increase in visits starting a few days ago.

Back in the summer of 2005, shortly before I left Harlem, New York, for Saipan, I started the site to provide a compilation of all the free music events throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The site was an instant success (“free” always works online), and as you can see from the tracker snapshot below, the interest and sign-ups begin as early as January each year even though the site won’t actually resume until the first day of Summer, June 21, 2011.

So, every summer, from wherever I happen to be (last year I was on Saipan), I research and compile the free music events throughout the city, and (1)post them to the website, (2) email them twice weekly to a mailing list of tens of thousands. The site generates money if/when visitors click on the Google ads on the site.

I promote the site thusly:

Never miss a free concert
in NYC’s parks, piers, plazas and pathways!

Every summer, New York’s parks, piers, plazas and pathways host some of best musical entertainment in the world! From Rock, Reggae, Jazz, European Classical, R&B, Electronic, Hip Hop, Country, Salsa, Folk and more– it’s all absolutely free! Wouldn’t it be convenient to know what’s going on and when so you don’t miss out? Let FreeSummerConcerts.com notify you by email of practically every morning-time, lunch hour, after work and weekend concert well in advance to make your plans!

400+ free events each year!

A Partial List of Events We Cover:

Central Park Summerstage | City Parks Events | River to River Concert Series| Martin Luther King Concert Series at Wingate Field | Seaside Concert Series Summer in The (Union) Square | Music at the (Chelsea) Piers | Harlem Meer Events| Lincoln Center Out of Doors| Charlie Parker Jazz Festival | JazzMobile Celebrate Brooklyn | 47th Annual Washington Square Music Festival | JVC Jazz Festival Namburg Orchestral Concerts | Jones Beach Ampitheater | Madison Square Park | Siren Festival | World Financial Center Concerts | NBC Today Show

Here’s what happened over the past 20 days

Here is what happened over the past 20 weeks.

And what happened over the past 20 months.

I find these tracker details fascinating. have no idea what happened on January 14 to have visits jump from a daily average of about 5 or 6, to suddenly 32. Then, once the tipping point occurs, it continues and grows.

Just another secret lesson in “Nomadpreneuring 101!” From The Jamaican on the island of Hainan, China, to you wherever you are!

shhhh….Secret behind the Secret: This particular post also serves as a promotional tool. Once the search engines record this post, it will show up in people’s google alerts, and also higher in the google listings for searches.

You can check out the ever-changing stats of my site yourself by visiting the site, scrolling all the way down and clicking on this little icon: Free Summer Concerts