Thursday, April 29, 2010


More pictures from my stint in Chengdu. Beth and I spent a day at the panda refuge outside town. It was pretty awesome.


The red panda. Less famous, but equally cute.

We also spent 1,000 RMB each to take our pictures with pandas. I thought we'd get to hold a baby, but it was more like sitting next to an adolescent. Still worth it.

Candid conversation shot.

Family portrait.

This panda/child combo was way cuter. I'm also a little jealous that the kid didn't need to wear any protective clothing. Ageism? Racism? I say both.

The panda was clearly more interested in his apples than us, which was totally fine with me. No one tells you about the panda-claws and panda-fangs before the close-up. Also, his name is Huan Huan, like 欢迎. After we took pictures, I told Beth "欢迎你来到我的心" and she threw up a little in her mouth.

Tropic Thunder!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chinglish in Sichuan

One of the (only) great aspects of being a first-tour consular officer is the ability to do a consular exchange. A consular exchange is basically an agreement between two embassies or consulates to swap consular officers for a short period, usually two weeks. One consular officer from consulate A will go to consulate B for two weeks, and one consular officer from consulate B will go to consulate A. They live in each other's apartments and do each other's jobs. It's a testament to how interchangeable we are, unfortunately, but it's a great opportunity to see another consulate or embassy, and of course, be a tourist.

It's very difficult to find officers from other Posts who are willing to do an exchange with consular officers in Shenyang because, well, it's Shenyang, but luckily I found someone from Chengdu who got suckered into doing an exchange. While he trudged through the snow every day for two weeks, I ate delicious Sichuan food and enjoyed the 70-degree weather.

For the first weekend of the exchange, my friends Brandon and Beth, who are also consular officers in Shenyang, came to Chengdu with me to see the sights. On Saturday, we went to Dufu's Thatched Cottage, which was a really nice garden oasis in the middle of the city.

Brandon made friends with one of the men who was writing characters on the sidwalk and impressed the crowd with his character-writing skills.

There were a few goldfish ponds in the park outside the cottage, which meant that there were ample opportunities for some fabulous Chinglish.

Please do not feed the fishes with your private.

Fall into water carefully.

Later that night, we went to an amazing restaurant called Peter's Tex-Mex. It was the best tex-mex I've eaten outside of Texas, literally, and probably better than some tex-mex restaurants in Texas as well. We were so excited that, after a few mango margaritas, we took pictures with the staff. They loved us.

We even took pictures of the food. It was literally that good. They also do brunch, so when I left Chengdu two weeks later, I took cinnamon rolls and chimichangas back to Shenyang on the plane for Brandon and Beth. Well done, Peter, well done.