Supermarkets in China – Now

I’ve read that some people coming from Third World Countries are amazed by our U.S. supermarkets with their rows and rows of pet food, cereals, and all manner of consumable products.  Where can you find such aisles now?

P1030170 A full aisle of toothpastes, tooth brushes, and other dental aids.  Five years ago, we had a hard time finding dental floss in Lin’an, China.

P1030174                                                                       The Cereal Aisle

An Imported Products aisle

An Imported Products aisle

Packaged Food

Packaged Food


For your pets too.

For your pets too.

A wall of pet food.

A wall of pet food.

Some sections could be in a U.S. market:

Fresh lettuces

Fresh lettuces

Fresh breads

Fresh breads

Crisp fall apples!

Crisp fall apples!

Wines from Australia

Wines from Australia – and beyond

Budweiser - here an imported beer

Budweiser – here an imported beer

Local beer - under 50 cents a bottle

Local beer – under 50 cents U.S. a bottle

However, in some sections, we know we are in China.   Here’s Barry in the tea aisle.

Many choices of tea.

Many choices of tea.

More teas

More teas

The dried fish section.

The dried fish section.

Fresh fish

Fresh fish

The meats

The meats


The chickens



Prepared foods

Prepared foods

Prepared salads

Prepared salads

We recognized some “street food” in a prepared foods section.  Although we have never gotten sick by eating street food here, we figured it might be safer to buy in the supermarket than on the street.  So we picked out a few things.  Too late, Barry realized that one of the choices  – a pork stuffed wanton was – not cooked!  Yikes.  We’re back to the streets.

Many, many aisles of packaged foods

Many, many aisles of packaged foods

Packaged foods galore!

Packaged foods galore!

The abundant packaged foods and the ubiquitous fast-food restaurants are leading some Chinese to make unhealthy choices.

McDonald's in Shanghai

McDonald’s in Shanghai – and he’s smoking :(

And just so you don’t think that China just seems ordinary like another U.S. city, I’ll add this.  A day when Barry and I had just been in the Shanghai Carrefour Supermarket and were walking back to our hotel, we passed a hutong, an old traditional neighborhood.  We saw a crowd of people huddled over something on the ground across the street.  I had to go look.  I hoped it wasn’t a dog.

Goat on the street

Fresh meat on the street

It was a goat being cut up!  The U.S. Department would not approve of a curb-side butcher.

However, we learned on the news that night that Muslims were celebrating Eid Al-Adha, “The Festival of the Sacrifice.”   A part of that tradition is to give charity; they are to sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat among family, friends, and the poor.  So what we had seen was an act of giving; the people from the hutong who received the meat must have been happy and grateful.

So when you come to China, you won’t be very surprised by their supermarkets.  However, you are likely to find surprises on the streets.

Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée


Posted in China, Food, Health, Shanghai, Travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Barry’s Gleanings: Each Monday?


Ducks on Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali.

“A decade ago, the trailblazers at Meatless Monday asked Americans to go flesh-free 1 day a week. Now that people in 29 different countries have embraced the switch, it’s a movement with serious impact.

‘Eliminating a day of meat can cut your weekly saturated fat by about 15%,’ says Peggy Neu, president of the Monday Campaigns. It also saves fossil fuels: If all Americans avoided meat and cheese 1 day a week for a year, we’d save the same amount as taking 7.6 million cars off the road. That’s a lot of bang for your veggie burger buck.”


“Is It Monday Yet? Try Crispy Black Bean Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa — or one of the nine other delicious meatless recipes from Mario Batali and other premier chiefs–from <>”

From: “New Food Rules” by Mark Bittman in Prevention, March 2014, p. 91.

Aloha, Renée

Posted in Barry's Gleanings, Health, Let's Get Cooking, recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged | 4 Comments

Nyepi: Balinese Moon Calendar New Year – It’s 1936 (March 2014)

oomonsterupwBarry and I were back in Ubud this year and so again saw the Ogoh-ogoh monsters and experienced Nyepi Day – New Years – in Bali.

A Ogoh-ogoh monster paraded on the Ubud football field:oomonsterfieldw

The late afternoon before Nyepi Day, March 31 this year, is very important in ridding the community of evil.  K.C. and Dawn,  new Big Island friends Barry had met at Nick’s Pension pool, and I went to see the local Ubud banjar Ogoh-Ogoh’s, the huge demonic statues figures symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits.

K.C. and Dawn:

attachmentEveryone comes to watch the parade of the Ogoh-ogohs:


oowatcher2wHindus and non-Hindus come:

oowatchersmuswFor some, the parade was too noisy:


Most of the Ogoh-ogohs had bodies of witches with heavy, powerful heads, hands, feet,  and limbs.  Loud gongs and cymbals, yells from the carriers, and torches when it got dark accompanied the fantastic effigies in the parade.




Even the littlest boys were involved in carrying the smaller monsters to the parade ground.


A little girl was tied to the leg of a huge blue monster.  At night by yourself, you wouldn’t want to see any of those monsters, some with decapitated heads, some with forked tongues of snakes, huge clawed hands and feet, monstrous bodies, glowing eyes.


ooparadewAttendants with each big monster had huge poles to move the wires hanging over Monkey Forest Road so each float could proceed.

oomonsterwideew-1 oopolesw

However as part of a group with the mission of ridding Bali of evil and fear, the event seemed fun for everyone.

ootorcheswVendors sold drinks, noodles, and our choice – grilled sweet corn dipped in a chili/salt sauce – yummy.  Dawn, KC, and I watched for about three hours the arrival of the monsters, the judging (we think), and then the parade back toward their respective banjars, local areas.

After the floats had left, the three of us found one of the few restaurants still open and had a good dinner at Wayan Café – that also offered precooked meals for the next day when no one was to cook.  Then on our way back home, we passed the soccer field banjar temple and saw the hacking to pieces of the demons there.  Traditionally the images  have been burned, but now instead of just using bamboo and wood for their monsters, much of the body is of foam that would become  toxic fumes if burned.  Instead, the ones we saw were smashed, which is also effective!   Firecrackers also helped get rid of those evil spirits.

K.C. on top of a felled monster:


Then Nyepi Day was from 6 a.m. March 31 to 6 a.m. on April 1.  The Bali airport shut down for 24 hours as did the radio and T.V. stations, the ATMs, and all businesses.  No one was to go in the streets; even hotel guests were to stay in their rooms.  Vera House provided simple meals for us, but for the Balinese, the day is to be one of silence, fasting, and reflection.

I too tried being silent for the day and did pretty well except for a few slips of saying “uhh-hu” to Barry.    I didn’t really miss talking and seemed to listen better than usual.  On the morning of Nyepi Day, I woke to the chirps of cicadas and heard them at night too with the stars shining overhead.  I could hear the occasional plop of a  fish in Vera’s fishpond.  No one at Nick’s seemed to have on electric lights.    My day was peaceful.  It seems that  taking yourself away from the world diminishes your chances of being exposed to troubling things.

April 1, 2014, became the first day of the New Year in Bali’s lunar calendar.  In Bali, it is now 1936!    Nyepi is a chance to rebalance ourselves and a reminder that reflection and silence can be good for all of us.

Happy New Year.

Aloha and sampai jumpa (“see you soon”), Renée
P.S. Photos by RR

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Let’s Get Cooking: Balinese Gado Gado, cold vegetable salad

Gado gado, a  Balinese salad (served with peanut sauce) is a traditional vegetable dish.  What makes this healthy salad particularly delicious is, of course, the peanut sauce.

gadogadoKizmetwAt Dewa and Ayu’s family compound – a wonderful Balinese meal.

Gado gado is simple and healthy.

This recipe from Payuk Bali: Balinese Cooking Class serves four.

CSIngredwSpices ready for use at Payuk Bali -

Ingredients for the salad:

-       100 gr (3.53 oz) long beans, cut and blanched

-       1 cup (240 mL) bean sprouts, blanched

-       100 gram (3.53 oz) spinach, blanched

-       1 young carrot, thinly sliced

-       1/4 head of cabbage, chopped and blanched

-       1 piece tempe, deep fried, thinly sliced

-       1 hard boiled egg, cut in wedges (optional for vegetarians)

-       2 tsp. (10 gram)  shallots, sliced, fried

-       1/2 cup (120 mL) Balinese peanut sauce (see previous post).

The presentation varies.

gadogadoBollerow-1Gado gado at Bolleros on Jalan Dewasita in Ubud.

gadogadosomaw-1Gado gado at the new Soma’s on Jalan Gootama in Ubud.

Mix the ingredients together as you wish – and serve.

gadogadodewawGado gado at Dewa Warung on Jalan Gootama in Ubud.

See the previous post for the Balinese peanut sauce recipe.

I think you will love gado gado too.

“Selamat makan”  (enjoy your meal),


Posted in Bali, Food, Health, Let's Get Cooking, recipes, Vegan food, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get Cooking: Balinese Peanut Sauce

Balinese meals include wonderful sauces. Many are spicy; my favorite is the peanut sauce, often used for satays and for a tasty Indonesian salad, gado-gado.

csspicesw-1Ingredients ready for chopping -

gadogadoayuwBarry eating a gado-gado with Ayu’s spicy peanut sauce at Vera Accommodation in Ubud.

This peanut sauce recipe from Payuk Bali: Balinese Cooking Class in Ubud, Bali, serves four.


-       300 gram (10.58 oz.) peanuts

-       1 clove garlic

-       4 shallots

-       aromatic ginger – to taste

-       12.5 gram (.44 oz) brown sugar (or palm sugar in Bali)

-       fresh (or dried) chili pepper – to taste

-       fresh lime juice

-       1 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

-      coconut milk (or water)

Cooking -

Fry the peanuts until golden brown, remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Drain off all but a little of the excess oil.

Grind the peanuts to make a paste.

Add fresh chili pepper, garlic, salt, brown sugar, and aromatic ginger to the peanut paste, grind to mix.  Sample to adjust flavor.

Put peanut pate in a pan, add a little water to thin—use coconut milk for richer taste.

Add sweet soy sauce into the peanut sauce to taste and bring to a boil.

Simmer peanut sauce until thick and season with lemon or lime juice.

gadogadopswBalinese peanut sauce.
“Selamat makan” (enjoy your meal),  Renée

Posted in Bali, Food, Let's Get Cooking, recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia = Diversity

Kuala Lumpur National Muslim Temple

Kuala Lumpur National Muslim Temple.

Feeling as though we were visiting  India, China, and a big modern Asian city all in one, Barry and I recently flew to Kuala Lumpur (KL), so we could renew our tourist visas for Bali.   We love the variety and energy of this Malaysian capital. A city of  many peoples and religions, Kuala Lumpur has beautiful mosques, many Christian Methodist and Lutheran churches and schools, Chinese temples, Buddhist monasteries, ashrams, Hindu temples, and more.

Kuala Lumpur has many churches

Kuala Lumpur Christian churches


The Kuala Lumpur International Buddhist Temple


A Kuala Lumpur ashram that offers Kundalini meditation.

Mosques – some big, some small – are scattered  throughout the city. Islam is the national  Malaysian religion, but the city accommodates  other religions too. KLmuslimTw Streets pulsate with life and variety.  Stalls along Petaling Street,  Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, sell almost everything. LKChinatown3wAs  in Lin’an, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities, the KL Chinatown market offers much variety – including roasted chestnuts – see the bin on the right. KLChinatownwBargains are to be had in the KL Chinatown.

Tall turbaned Sikhs, Muslim women, with their scarves, smiling uniformed school children, sari clad women, dark Africans, young Chinese tourists, and Western business people in suits all mix on the KL streets and in the markets.

KLchinatown2wWe also loved KL’s “Little India,” especial the tasty (and cheap) food we could find there. KLindianfoodwThis delicious dinner included two Indian thali plates, a big bottle of water, and bananas for dessert; the cost = $4.00 for two.  :)

The Chapatti House, a favorite, was near our Hotel Sentral, nice and conveniently located  in “Little India, it serves buffet breakfasts on the rooftop.  We ate well.

KLchapattiw“Little India” also had beautiful saris, gold jewelry, and fragrant  spices for sale. KLlndiawModern buildings of interesting designs line some streets. KLmodbuildwMalaysians line up in a proper queue as they wait for the monorail – most  text as they wait.  :) KLquewKL is modern in many ways: the water from the tap is safe to drink; the toilets can take tissue; the stop lights have ticking noises and ribbed center tiles on the sidewalks, so the blind can cross the streets safely; the one-way roads are respected—you don’t have to look behind you to cross a street.  The city emphasizes education with many schools and universities, medical centers, and health clubs.

Highlights of our intense few days as tourists include:

- A night in the Bukit Bintang area of bright lights, modern high-end shops and restaurants.  I felt as though were  in a Shanghai high-rise modern mall with its  Cartier watches, Louis Vuitton luggage, $500.00 (U.S.) Furla handbags, and other expensive brands.

A memorable Furla handbag on display -

KLFurlawHot cars -


Barry with his smoothie, a young conservative Muslim couple, and hip youth amble along the Bukit Bintang streets.

KLburka1wIn this modern city, we  occasionally saw a woman in a burqa, a full-body cloak worn in some Muslim traditions.  The young woman above (we could tell by the way she walked) was completely enclosed in black except for the thin strip for her eyes.  The KL temperatures in March when we were there range from 82-93 degrees F (28-34 degrees C) although it felt much hotter since the  humidity is around 84%!  How could she keep from fainting?

We  did see a “Ladies Only” car on a train, but on the monorail and other places men and women seem to mingle freely.

KLwomanonlyw-1“Coach for ladies only” in the KL train station.

A  recent  New Yorker article report from Saudi Arabia tells about women now being allowed to work in some shops there.   These women must wear the full-body cloak, but most, although they don’t have to, choose also to wear the niqab, the face cloth that covers all but the eyes: “Various sales women told me that they wear it to protect themselves from harassment” (Zoepf, K. “Shopgirls” p. 63, 12/23 & 30/13).  I was told that the “Ladies Only” car is a preference for some women traveling without a man in Malaysia; it’s not mandatory.

At the top floors of the KL mall, as in China, we could choose from Japanese seafood and noodles, Korean BBQ, Western steaks, Vietnamese pho, or fresh juiced wheat grass and mango smoothies.

  High-end goods fill the  mall.


Another highlight, found in the The Lake Garden area that includes  the largest enclosed aviary, “best in the world” butterfly park, and National Mosque, is the Museum of Islamic Arts.  It has the largest and finest collection of Indian, Chinese, Malay, and SE Asia Muslim calligraphy, textiles, jewelry, silver, and paintings. We spent much of one day there.   Religion permeates much of  what we saw.

KLArt1w This  calligraphy piece by artist  Gholamreza Rahpeyma (born 1959) honors the “Holy Qur’an, the Names of Allah and Prophet Muhammad.” Chinese Islamic art is represented too. KLArt2wOf his piece, Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang (born 1963) says, “As a Chinese Muslim calligrapher, I have a deep sense of responsibility in promoting, propagating and carrying forward this intricate art form and precious cultural heritage.”

A few women had pieces in this notable Islamic Arts Museum.  Magic Carpet #3 is  such an example by a Muslim woman. KLwomartwThe painter, Ola Hejaziow, now lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  She  says, “The inspiration for my work comes from many years of travelling over the world, everyday life, and from some of my favourite artists.”

Another section of the museum features illustrated Qur’ans. KLArtQuranwWritten during the Qing Dynasty, this Chinese Qur’an above is decorated with Chinese motifs such as cloud bands and peonies.

Among many other examples of beautifully illustrated Qur’ans is the Dala’il al-Khayrat.  The museum describes it as the most celebrated prayer book.   Written by Muhammad Ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli (d. 1465 AD/869 AH in Morocco), it has been copied throughout the Islamic world from North Africa to the Malay Archipelago, Turkey, and China.  While most Islamic prayer books have  illustrations of the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, this copy  illustrates the minbar (a pulpit) and tombs of the Prophet and his companion. KLquaran3w A guilded leaf reveals beautiful intricacy. KLgoldwSuch guilded and pierced leaves reached the peak of their popularity during the 19th century AD in Ottoman Turkey.  To create this piece, “the leaf was completely dried and flaked leaving only the web of vein-like, skeletal membrane of the leaf to support the calligraphic composition. . . .  ‘He is the most Merciful of the Merciful,'” says the script.  The museum also includes  other  wonderful exhibits.    When  you go to KL, be sure to visit The Museum of Islamic Arts.

- Another good stop is The National Textile Museum in a marvelous heritage building. KLtextmuswInside, dioramas depict  various textiles and how to make them. KLtextmus2w- Throughout the city, the many buildings under construction contrast with the old KL shops: KLbuildw KLchinatownoldw The ethnic Chinese who live in Malaysia  have a reputation of being good business people.  Here in a laundry, for example, where besides getting your clothes clean, you can buy clean water and use the massage chair, the sign welcomes customers in three languages: KLchinatownentw

In KL, the main ethnic makeup is 43% Malay, 42% Chinese, and 10% Indian (   Although the motto for Malaysia is “Unity is strength,” there is racial tension I was told by a Westerner who has lived in KL; however, Barry and I didn’t see it.  In 1965, however, because of racial tensions and violence, Singapore was thrown out of  The Federation of Malaysia in part because the KL government was worried about the economic strength of Singapore and its ethnic Chinese majority.

KL too had race riots in 1969.  Estimates between 150 to  600 people, mostly ethnic Chinese, died in those KL riots.  Since then, many efforts including teaching the Malay language in all schools and promoting the Malay economy help unify this diverse population.  Malay’s are given preference in jobs and education  (which can’t make the Chinese or Indians who live there happy).  The Chinese are good business people, but so too are the Indians, but they usually don’t get the concessions in the modern buildings. For instance, in the Bukit Bintang mega-mall, we could choose from  Western, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and other restaurants, but we didn’t see any Indian restaurants.

Also influenced by U.S. news, Barry and I were a bit nervous about Syariah law, the Islamic religious rules.  The KL news told of a 30-year-old divorced woman politician who was caught by the religious police in a raid of a hotel at 1:30 a.m.  The woman was fully clothed, but the man with her was married and had on only a t-shirt and a towel.  The two were charged with “khalwat” (close proximity) with a married man.  They face a huge fine, up to three years in prison, or both if found guilty.   The story did not give names and was on page five of the newspaper,”The Star.”  In the U.S., no arrests would be made, but if something similar were to happen, it would be a front-page story with names and photos in  “The National Enquirer.”

Although Barry and I have been married for 26 years, we do have different last names.  Would they believe us? And although gambling is not allowed for Muslim citizens, KL has casinos, and we saw a very crowded lottery shop: “Dreams Come True.” KLlotterrywAlso Barry took a can of beer with us to the airport where  alcohol isn’t offered in the restaurants.  As we waited for our flight and ate lunch in the KL food court, Barry held his open beer under the table and took quick sips surreptitiously.   A neighboring table was full of Chinese men playing cards, so if the religious police had come, they might have been busy with all of us. KLcardswOf course, alcohol, gambling, drugs, . . . such habits are not good for individuals or society overall, but we are used to making our own decisions (and suffering our own personal consequences).  Actually, neither Barry nor I saw  religious police.  I’ve been told that the Malaysian religious police, unlike those in Saudi Arabia, don’t concern themselves with non-Muslims.  And the Muslim woman politician caught in the hotel room was probably set up.

There is much more I need to learn about this diverse, interesting  city–and the country.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and will certainly go back.  We haven’t seen some of the most famous KL sites like Petronas Twin Towers, and the beaches and towns outside KL are supposed to be wonderful. Come visit too.

Aloha and sampai jumpa (“see you soon”), Renée

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Thought for the Day – May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You

pathwOn this St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy an old Celtic folk song and Irish blessing:

May The Long Time Sun

May the longtime sun shine upon you

All love surround you

And the pure, pure light that’s within you

Guide your way home.


Poem from: <;

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Aloha, Renée


Posted in Religion, Thought for the Day | Tagged , | 1 Comment