Chinese Street Venders

30 Sep

There are so many things I want to post, but I literally have no time with Chinese classes 3 days a week and work 2 days a week – every day I leave the house at 7:40 (dropping Roya at school on the way) and get back at 5:30.  Then dinner, time with the family, a little time for marking or homework and bed.  It’s crazy.  But since tomorrow our “one week-long” holiday is starting (not really a week since there is a weekend and the following weekend we are working to make up for this “holiday”), and I have finished my marking and have not yet started working on my article which I only have time to work on during this holiday so it can be submitted by the Oct. 31 deadline, I have a little time for downloading pix on facebook and blogging.

A lady walking around selling fruits in front of our big supermarket “RT Mart” near Southeast University (where I used to work and study but this year only study).

So today, having an unusual few hours free before earning a little extra money recording some English tests (a little more about that experience later), I went around on this beautiful sunny day taking pictures I have wanted to take for a long time – pictures of interesting people along the streets.  I love how in Nanjing, you can feel like you are in a big city and a village at the same time.  For example, there are plenty of cars but also so many people commuting by bicycle; there are big stores but also small shops along alleys.

Bike repair station in the alley by Southeast University.

One of the things I love living here is how easy (and cheap) it is to fix many things.  One of the most common are bike repair stations.  In one quick stop, they will do anything from putting air in your tires (for free) to doing major fixing (for a low price).  For some reason, I have had a problem with every lock I have bought for my bike while Peiman has had one which works great.  A few months ago I bought the “best and most expensive” (35 yuan or 5 dollar) lock from this guy and by this week, it was completely dead.  Well, I told him, I wanted him to replace it, which he did but only after telling me that he was only doing it cause we were friends and I was a foreigner – I thanked him, not having enough Chinese to say that that was not fair (he thought he was complimenting me no doubt).  He also pointed out that the back of the lock package said it would only last 3 months – I did not have enough Chinese to ask how a 3 month lock was his best one.

Shoe repair station next to the bike repair.

Another place, next to this one is the shoe repair that I used a few times while living at Southeast University last year.  The funny thing was that once I was walking by in my annoying sandals (I bought these leather sandals shortly after arriving in China on our trip to Hainan Island where we had to buy a bunch of summer things because our shipment from Canada had not yet arrived).  These sandals were men’s but they were one size too big because they did not have any smaller ones (the women’s ones were all plastic and horrible – still I did better than Peiman who couldn’t get them in his size at all, having feet one size too big for China).  Well, they’ve been falling off my feet ever since.  But I digress… so I was walking and annoyed with my sandals as usual when I decided that I would get them fixed.  So I gave one sandal to the lady.

Tailor that made Helen’s and my clothes (blazer for me and blazer and pants for her).

To my surprise, she handed me a pair of slippers that I could apparently borrow so I could walk around and do my errands while she fixed my shoes (for one yuan – less than 20 cents)!  So I went to take my clothes to the tailor place to get them fixed while waiting on my shoes.  Helen and I also had a few things made by this tailor.  We first went to the fabric shop area and Helen bargained (she is amazing – she is so good once I just couldn’t take it anymore and told her ok, take it! and ruined her bargaining – I couldn’t help myself, it is so against my nature…after that, I made sure I walked away during her bargaining so as not to disrupt her 🙂 for our fabric.  Then we basically gave the tailor our clothes we liked and asked him to redo them with our new fabric – if our Chinese was better, maybe we could have explained how to make something original but it was just not worth the risk.  Anyway, he also adjusted my pants and other things and it was really helpful.

Xinjiang bread – our most prized food item in China!

We cannot talk about Chinese street venders without talking about food!  The most amazing thing we found, albeit several long and painful months after our arrival, is Xinjiang bread.  Xinjiang is a province in the northwest of China where many Uygurs live.  In many parts of Nanjing (and probably most other cities) they set up bread and kabob making shops.  Before discovering this delicious bread cooked in a huge round oven and covered in (my favourite) sesame seeds, we had been eating spongy bread or oatmeal (I am not a big oatmeal fan) for breakfast.  We love this bread so much that whenever we move, it is one of the first places we try to find in our new neighbourhood.  I have to say that the one near our new home is probably the best we have found yet (and last year’s was the worst – and they were not there half the time which made it really hard to come and buy).

Xinjiang bread-making oven.

We literally buy 4 to 8 breads every few days and quickly become the best customers of our new neighbourhood Xinjiani bread-making place.

While we remain faithful to our Xinjiani bread, last year, we discovered a new street food that is available during morning hours.  At that time, many food people wheel their food carts out to cater to commuters picking up a breakfast on the way to work or school.  This year, I seldom have time (or appetite) to eat a big enough breakfast before leaving home in the morning –  I spend most of the time, hurrying Roya along to get ready since I have to take her on my way while Peiman and Milad can take their sweet time 🙂  So at the end of my half hour workout commute (a topic for an upcoming post), I happily buy one of these “Chinese pancakes”.

Chinese pancake stall one block from my classes.

Basically, they crack an egg on top of a hot element and fry it, then they put a thin layer of dough over it, cook it and scrape it off and flip it over.  Then they put various items on top from seaweed to potatoes, pickled vegetables, other vegetables and optional soya sauce and hot sauce.  It is quite delicious and each vender has their own unique ingredients.  This one that I now regularly visit adds cut-up cucumbers I really like and one near our home adds peanuts.  Yum!

Another food vender.

There are of course numerous other food places to choose from from this one selling little breads similar (but not as delicious) as Xinjiani bread to places with baozi (a bun steamed bun stuffed with meat or vegetables) but these are what I prefer. Still other items are fried and oily and I avoid those altogether.  So that is it for this little introduction to street venders in China – I really appreciate having them around!!!


4 Responses to “Chinese Street Venders”

  1. mudspice October 1, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Hey crazy girl! You mentioned that you were starting a blog, but never forwarded me the address until I just saw it when you left a comment on my blog! I can’t wait to read about all of your adventures! I’m going to add you to my google reader right now.

    I miss you so much and have been thinking all week how impossibly hard it has been to find another friend like you since you moved. You are truly irreplaceable!

    Lots of love,

    • klarasadventures October 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

      I love you, Erika! You really warmed my heart and put tears in my eyes with your comment. And I really needed it at that moment too!

      I am sorry I didn’t email you the link – I completely forgot you had asked for it. I just put in on my facebook page and figured everyone would see it there…(which I guess is not the really the case).

      I am waiting to see you!!! (I know you will visit me here one day 🙂


  2. mudspice October 12, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    So right after I found your blog then my computer got all wonky. That same day and it was so messed up that I had to stop using it and am just now getting back to my computer. It was really weird. So now I finally get to write back to you!

    I forgot to mention that I stopped using facebook last June because I found it was getting too addictive and time consuming and was making me feel bad about myself after looking at it (like: hey, look at all those parties that I DIDN’t get invited to.)

    Anyways, it’s so cool you’re doing a blog and I love the stories and photos. You are just the best!

  3. klarasadventures October 13, 2010 at 3:48 am #

    Hey girl!!! I was wondering what happened to you – I am glad it was just a technical difficulty 🙂

    I know what you mean about facebook – it was also making me feel bad so I stopped for a while too but now I just look at stuff my close friends are doing and don’t read about the (seemingly) “wonderful and amazing” lives of others 🙂

    Happy to have you back!!!

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