When Spice Isn’t

After living in Kunming China for eight years, I have built up a tolerance for what’s spicy. Not just the far-side foods, either, but the spice of life.

The nine-year-old selling liquor in his parent’s store? At least he can see over the counter. Old women recylcers with huge bundles strapped to their backs? Walk faster! Freshly slaughtered carcasses hanging in the wet market, men smoking in elevators, families of four on e-bikes, high heels with hard hats, morning walnut rattlers, fines for not following toilet etiquette, and Chenglish T-shirts that used to make my inner Grammar Police cringe are now nothing but a yawn.


Yes, being an expat in China is different than being on the tourist track. What was once weird is now normal, and what is normal –I don’t know.
But there are a few things that catch my eye as I run errands around the city–  which are probably not the same things that would grab yours.


First off, the Electric Bronco.

I’m sure it will end up with your bread machine and panini maker, but this bucking workout caught my eye in Parksons—Kunming’s frou-frou department store. I’d rather saddle up on Sandy the penny pony at a Meijer’s in Michigan.

Cheaters to Borrow
Okay, all of my marketing peeps—this idea is cool. Most banks in China supply free cheaters to borrow when you’re filling out the form that will take the banker two hours to process. Of course, you can’t take them with you, but they come in handy.


The Rice Guys
If you ever wondered if Chinese restaurants have rice cookers—yes, they do, and they deliver.


The Knife Guy
Right across from a freshly slaughtered goat, I found the man I was looking for. A butcher with a whetting stone. He sharpened my Wustoff German high carbon stainless steel knives to the point that I could split an atom.

The Leather Guy
This guy will restitch the straps of your favorite bag for just a few bucks. His shop reminded me of my Grandpa’s garage, every nook and cranny full of oil and dust, a few cats wandering around.


Made In China Blueberries
Along with the bumper crop of local dates and jackfruit, you can now get blueberries all year long. I don’t want to know how they grow them but they do. Since I’m from the blueberry capital of the world–South Western Michigan–I pass them up.

Directions in English

I got an electric toothbrush and was thankful that the instructions were in dual language. However, do I really need this much information to tell me how to brush my teeth?

Finally, a glimpse of home.
Chinese fashion gets lost in translation. This Fashionista reminded me of the 36 Broadway bus in Chicago.

Now I want deep dish pizza.

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