Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

One thing I’ve discovered since coming to China is that a lot of how beauty is perceived is cultural. While many westerners like the glow of sun-kissed skin and straighten their hair for maximum shine and manageability, most Chinese prefer to avoid the sun to keep their skin as white as possible, and go to great lengths to get their hair to hold a curl. Beauty tips abound. Some of the ones I’ve been offered include, “Your skin is too dark; you’d better go take a shower,” (I had a bit of a suntan) “I think you paint your eyebrows too much,” (hmmmm, nope, that’s all-natural) and the very helpful “Your hair looks like an explosion,” (perhaps not quite the look I was going for; drat the humidity).

Whatever the beauty short-fall, there is almost surely a product or service you can buy to take care of it. Did you get a little too much sun? Try some…

…it’s sure to leave your epidermis the perfect color and, er, texture.

Feeling a little rough, unkempt and unloved? I’m sure some

is just what the doctor ordered. It comes only from the most warm-hearted cows.

Speaking of kind and warm-hearted, I think the ad campaign that indicated sunscreen was for losers was perhaps a tad harsh…

If they don’t use sunscreen now, might they not need White Slime later? I think it’s a conspiracy.

For those who caved to the pressure and didn’t use sunscreen, what to do with the resulting lines and wrinkles? A quick visit to

should do the trick. I have to say, I think the sign is ironically appropriate. My question is not how did they choose the name for their shop, but how could it have been so wildly popular as to be the second one opened?

Though artificial shortcuts to a more youthful you abound, some people desire to tone and tighten the old fashioned way. No needles, no fillers, just the-

If your arm keeps waving several seconds after you stop, try the Arm Shape Roller, by Little Devil Ver. No muss, no fuss, no pesky gym membership; just roll out a slimmer, sleeker you!

When your teeth get a little dingy and need some whitening, don’t reach for the Colgate- try

…the difference in your smile is dramatic (we just won’t say how)!

Unfortunately, some people’s smiles turns to frowns when they glimpse their cute little noses. They think that bigger is better (yet another cultural difference). For those who desire a more Romanesque sniffer, there is-

Simply roll the “US Nose Combo” up and down on either side of your schnoz to turn a button into a beak. Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be needing one of those!

Speaking of noses, for those of us with sensitive ones, our olfactory impression of someone could factor highly into our perception of their attractiveness. For men looking to set just the right tone, look no further than

If you thought you were just a bit TOO suave, debonair, polite, pressed and polished, spritz on a bit of this. Some have even chosen to drench themselves in it to avoid any ambiguity regarding their persona. One whiff of this screams “I am a turkey!” It’s actually pretty accurate.

On the other hand, the gentler gender might choose to make a softer statement…

I guess the perfume on the left would accomplish that goal, but not sure about the one on the right. Would you say it’s pwctically pwrfect in every way?

Personally, I believe that beauty comes from within. I guess these people do to…

…although I didn’t realize there was a “Mylike Aesthetic Medicine” you could take for that. Maybe our methods are a bit different…

Apparently so. However, after the “Initial Unusual Experience” in the “silence of time” that “touches your soul with five senses”, where can you possibly go from there? For all your beauty needs, look no further than-

Shopping here is truly a moving experience.

Next time you look in the mirror, remember that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. You could Slime or Crust your way to attractiveness, pay a lot of money and Gag, or work from the inside out with Mylike Aesthetic Medicine. But just remember, those products you’re shelling out big bucks for at the BM are just as likely to create a Turkey Impression. :)

 

 

Fun with Chinglish- Restroom Edition

Going to the restroom in China can be an adventure. During our 10 years of living and traveling here, we’ve just about seen it all. Squat pots are the least of our worries (in fact, I’d far rather use a squatty than a dirty western toilet). Many public restrooms are simply a shared trough separated by half walls…and no doors. A nice country rest stop has continuously running water through the channel. A more rustic version might have a clay pot that slowly fills with water and dumps occasionally through the trench, washing away most of the waste. Others just have a ditch that slopes slightly downhill into the pig pen in the back. It definitely makes one question their future pork consumption.

Two of my favorite restroom stories actually happened in one night, on a trip on a night bus from Shangrila to Dali. To start out with, the bus was one of the most malodorous places I’ve ever been trapped in my life. My friend told me that it was full of a particular people group who traditionally only bathed three times in their lives- when they were born, when they married, and when they died. Bless their hearts, apparently none of them were very near those desirable events. They crawled into their berths and kicked off their shoes, belched and aired themselves until it was truly a thrilling relief when they started smoking (and that is saying something, because I’m allergic to cigarette smoke).

I settled into my berth, comfortably stretched my six foot frame into the three feet of bed space, and determined to make the best of the 8-10 hour adventure. Imagine my relief when, four hours into our trip, the driver finally stopped at our first rest stop. Gulping great lungs full of fresh air, I staggered through the darkness towards what appeared to be rudimentary outhouses perched on an embankment. Strange, I thought I could hear water rushing somewhere. Fishing my penlight out of my backpack, I entered the rickety enclosure and stumbled to a stop before a hole in the floor. Shining my flashlight down, down, down through the opening, I could make out a raging river 30 feet below. Good thing I was prepared and packed that flashlight! Otherwise, in the darkness I could have easily fallen through that “toilet” into the frothing waters beneath…unless my western hips had saved me, in which case I would have certainly given my family something to talk about for years to come. “Remember that time we had to fish Joy out of the “toilet” on the way to Dali? She was stuck in it, tight as a cork. Ahhh, good times.”

Another four hours into our journey, we pulled into a small village in the middle of nowhere for our second and final rest stop (that driver must have had a bladder of steel). When I asked a local where the nearest W.C. was, he replied with a shrug “We don’t have toilets in this village. There’s an alley over there you could go in.”

Well okay then. That was definitely a new experience for me, but I was pretty desperate, so I was willing to give it a try. Using my trusty flashlight, I picked my way through the piles in the alley until I found a secluded corner. Trying to shut off my inhibitions, I prepared to do my business…until I heard skittering rats in the rubbish all around me. Nuh uh, no way was I foolhardy enough to go any further at that point! I grimly determined that I would wait until we reached a “proper” restroom (and by this point, my definition of that was extremely loose) if it killed me.

Perhaps you can understand now why I appreciate the following Chinglish restroom signs so much. They’re an indication that someone cares enough to make the business of using the necessary as pleasant and polite an experience as possible. For that, I’m truly grateful.

Here’s a clear, well-appointed sign showing the location of the latest facility…

…which on closer inspection is best used by people whose diets are a bit deficient in fiber.

Perhaps they should eat their Wheaties.

This attempt at political correctness falls just a tad bit flat, although I’m sure they didn’t mean to be insulting…

…but at least they’re equal opportunity.

Once you reach the restroom proper, it’s always good to know how to utilize the facilities. First, if you’re lucky enough to have a door, then you should…

I’ve never been all that mechanically inclined, so any explanation is appreciated.

For those used to using squatties instead of their western counterparts, this admonition might cramp their style…

…but I cannot imagine that even the most die-hard smoker would find it pleasant to take their cigarette break in the toilet.

Talk about a dirty habit.

The next sign I just find thoroughly confusing.

What does it mean? It wasn’t an electronic toilet. I find the idea of a “flush and run” or a “run and flush” for that matter, to be a bit disconcerting.

Finally, you know that you’ve come up from the world of alleys, troughs and squatties when you are invited to…

I can only surmise that this is a very luxurious experience. However, I personally am happy to settle for something with a light, no rats, and even (gasp) toilet paper.

So next time you take the opportunity to utilize one of your western restrooms, just remember the wise advice from your eastern counterparts- turn the little round lock, don’t step on the closestool or smoke in the toilet, and hurry to have flush. And for those days when you want to treat yourself a little special- have a spa for your rectum!

Fun with Chinglish- Food Edition

During my years in China, one hobby I’ve taken up is documenting the amusing Chinglish translations on signs and packaging. When I moved here, I decided my sense of humor was going to be an invaluable tool for the transition, and I haven’t regretted it. :) Menus, park signs, packaging, and clothing provide an almost endless source of fun. Over time, I’ve built up quite a collection of signs that have given me a chuckle. I intend to share them in installments in hopes that you will enjoy them, too.

Please be aware that I am not making fun of my Chinese neighbors. Goodness knows, I’ve made enough language mistakes of my own to leave no room for finger pointing. When I visit the States, I frequently find similar mistakes in Chinese (for instance, one man had a prominent tattoo which he thought said “wolf,” but which actually meant “pig”…oops!). I only hope they enjoy my occasional blunders or quaint phraseology as much as I do theirs.

You can tell a lot about a restaurant by its name.

Something tells me this food will be quite tasty.

East meets West in this one…

…and creates quite a funny mental image. Think the Chairman with a big, polka-dot bow.

This bakery is bending over backwards to bring us a beautiful appointment, coming song.

Let’s see some of the tasty treats we might find inside this accommodating eatery.

Mmmmm, that’s hard to resist…literally.

Smokin’.

On occasion, I stumble across that rare gem of a restaurant that doesn’t make me come inside to discover their specialty.

You had me at “frog eggs;” although the “sticky nice balls with tar” were a close second.

Unfortunately, most cafes aren’t so forthcoming, and I have to peruse their menu to see their offerings.

Good thing I can be “surrounded by the sweety feelings” here, because I still have no idea what they’re selling. If their fish are on dialysis, I’m definitely skipping the sushi.

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of eating in restaurants often. Grocery stores are where we buy our food, and we create delicious, well-rounded, healthy meals at home. I find when stir-frying it’s usually good to start with…

…that Inedible Blend Oil is just nasty.

Over in the refrigerated section, I like to search for all-natural ingredients, bursting with flavor, like…

…nothing says “farm fresh” like “Burger King Colored Burger Slice.” Yummmm!

I would say that Classy Kiss comes from classy cows, but that just sounds wrong.

When simple bacon just doesn’t make the cut, this bacon is a cut above.

For those people on a no-frills budget, try…

If disapproval, we will drawback; now how’s that for a guarantee?

There is also a wide assortment of appetizing snacks, for the “kitchen impaired.”

Or not so appetizing.

That’s more like it. Although, if I were the “Saying Plum,” I’m not sure it would be super smart to say, “Hey, so delicious, let us try it fast!”

I’m sorry, but as a Christian, I just wouldn’t feel right buying “temptable food.” How could I live with myself if I led it astray? I want my food to stay on the straight and narrow, even “while travelling.”

The more times I try this, the more “specious” I feel. This delicious snack really fit me.

So next time you’re in China, be sure to sample some of their culinary masterpieces. Whether you’re wowed by their frog eggs or lured into sampling the dialysis fish, we know that nowhere else can you get that same specious feeling as China. It is, indeed, a Delicious Place.

 

Tenth Year Reflections

Ten years ago this summer, we moved to China- 10 people, each with two seventy pound suitcases, a carry on bag, plus rather abundant “personal items”. We almost made “The Beverly Hillbillies” look classy! Our luggage contained everything from a frying pan, to bath towels, to spices, to silverware, to toys, to bleach. Yes, bleach. All of that goes to show that we really had no idea what was available in China and what was not. I admit to taking a lot of static for the bleach in the ten years between now and then. A confessed cleaning product freak, I couldn’t imagine living where my house wouldn’t smell clean! Neither did I imagine what a spilled bottle of bleach would do to my wardrobe, the spices, or the luggage.  Sigh. 

Doing the math on the above, we arrived in China carrying over a ton of “stuff”, schlepping it across the borders from Hong Kong into China through sheer muscle, determination, and stubbornness. Almost ten years later, we have enough “stuff” to fill an apartment and most of our muscle has either moved out or atrophied. (Why is it that stubbornness isn’t as easy to get rid of as muscle?) We have lost all three of our parents who were living when we moved, but we have added three daughters-in-love and four grandchildren, with a fifth on the way.

We’ve learned a lot of things since we’ve come to Guangzhou among which is that we can buy bleach in China. We’ve learned to find comfort in the smell of rice cooking in the rice cooker. We’ve learned to carry tissue packs in our purses at all times. We’ve learned to appreciate the melody of Mandarin Chinese spoken around us with its musical tonality. We’ve learned the economy and joys of public transportation. We’ve learned how to use squat toilets without sacrificing our footwear. We’ve learned that chopsticks can fix almost anything. Most importantly, we’ve learned much more about the sufficiency and beauty of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Since He is the preeminent One, we want to give Him glory in our first home page blog post.

We came to Guangzhou expecting that God would use us here- and we hope He has. But much more than that, we have seen Him use China in us. Leaving behind the things we know and moving someplace totally unfamiliar in language, culture, and living conditions is humbling. Gradually selling one’s house, then selling one’s business thereby losing one’s stable means of support is unsettling.  Having children living half a world away is heart wrenching.  Yes, and we praise God for all of those things! There is a lot to be said for having some of the props knocked out of our lives.  Is it easy? No. Is it comfortable? Nope. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no place else to go.” Peeling off comfort in layers, does cause us to recognize the frailty of our flesh and to appreciate our sovereign and powerful God who is the same yesterday, today, yes, and forever.

One of my favorite Scriptures passages is: 2 Corinthians 4: 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. … 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Unlike the early disciples, we are not being delivered up to death day by day! But in small measure, we have experienced some hardships we had not previously faced. These things have helped us focus our gaze on Christ, to meditate on the eternal rather than focus on the temporal, and to see the beauty of the Lord more clearly. And those are very good things.

Therefore, when people ask us what the most amazing thing God has done since we moved to China, we say that He has shown us that His grace is, indeed, sufficient, and that His power really is made perfect in our weaknesses. As many who have gone before us, we have found Jesus faithful, able, and enough.

We still have a lot to learn about God’s faithfulness and about China; there are certainly many things I’ll never understand about both. So far it’s been quite a journey! We’re very glad we came and are looking forward to seeing what God will teach us in the future. Who knows? Maybe He will even help us to understand why our neighbor yells like Tarzan every evening!