lostnchina

…because not all of us have our Peking ducks in a row

A Very Chinese Home Remodel

hoarders

You know your elderly Chinese parents have redefined “home remodeling” when they spend the money they have scrimped and saved over the years on a home remodel that features a humungous desk with a see-through partition that comes up past my nose.  The desk is piled high with old newspapers, empty cookie tins and used shopping bags.  The desk has been recycled from my dad’s old desk, resurfaced with a grey veneer, then covered with pictures from a 2008 Windmills of the World calendar. The abomination announces itself with a big fart as soon as you open the front door of their condo, and in order to get to any other parts of their place you must walk past this piece of furniture.  To help the desk blend in with the rest of the living room, my mother has thumbtacked a 2013 Meadows on My Mind calendar to the wall, along with randomly-placed cut-out Chinese characters which say Success and Wealth.

To make space for the elephantine desk, my parents have jammed their six-foot sofa, the over-stuffed loveseat, and the broken La-Z-Boy – all covered with a patchwork of various towels and bedsheets – up against the tiny space between the wall and the desk, so that the furniture is huddled together, as if planning an escape to the junkyard.  Next to the chairs is my 2003 X’mas present to them – a broken treadmill.  The treadmill wasn’t broken when I’d first given it to them, but after years of doubling as a laundry rack, hat and umbrella holder, the self-respecting treadmill finally took the stairway to treadmill heaven and has been stuck on the highest incline setting for the last three years.  The only things on the treadmill now are half a dozen pairs of my dad’s old shoes and my pet Cockatiel’s cage which sits at a 45-degree angle.

As I watch my Cockatiel make her daily climb towards the food dish, her head bumping into the rope toy, the millet spray, a little bell, a set of keys that doesn’t open anything, and a large mirror – all of which hang like frozen carcasses in a meat locker – I wonder what the bird thinks when, after dreaming about flying free in the Australian outback with her Cockatiel buddies, she wakes up to the cold reality of my dad’s misshapen loafers and her own sorry self looking back at her in the mirror.  It’s one thing to flee your native country and become a refugee for fear of war or religious persecution.  It’s an entirely different thing to live like a refugee, because you somehow think it’s normal.

polly crack her

My parents’ house remodel seemed more like a house regurgitation.

The large desk, as it was explained to me, was part of my dad’s office and his work, which, as far as I can tell since his retirement, is trying to stay awake at the computer long enough to filter the massive amounts of useless emails from his friends.  The emails fall into several distinct categories – health, God, and cute animal pictures. Once in a while he’ll fall asleep waiting for a Powerpoint presentation on newborn pandas to download, only to awaken to a rebooted computer and some malware from God that keeps giving dad internet popup screens for discounted Chinese Bible stories.  Other times, I’ll receive forwarded email (chain letters) about diseases nobody’s ever heard of (cancer of the elbow) and cutting edge ways to cure them (drink your own urine).  And now, with a desk the size of three sumo wrestlers, my dad will have a professional platform on which to disseminate this important information to the masses, whether they want to be enlightened or not.

Hoarding, as defined by MayoClinic.com, is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.  As I repeat this definition to my mom, she tells me to relax on her child-sized dining chair, which was a 1968 wedding gift from her aunt.  Even at a little over five-feet tall I dwarf the chair, like an overgrown child having make-believe tea with her stuffed animals or her Chinese parents.  While I can understand the concept of portion control while eating, I’m sure I’d enjoy meals at my parents a lot more, if my ass didn’t seep over the edges of the dining chair even before I take the first bite.

Although a comprehensive study of Chinese hoarder parents has never been conducted, I have compiled a list of commonly observed traits:

1.  The need to cover everything of value with plastic, pieces of cloth, rags and towels, aluminum foil, doilies:

a/  Remote controls – with plastic wrap

b/  Sofas – with plastic wrap, towels, doilies, outgrown pieces of clothing (including cloth diapers), and dishrags

c/  Large appliances – with aluminum foil, plastic, or cloth*

d/  Household electronics – with doilies, plastic flowers, stickers, little Buddha figurines, and Chinese cut-out characters

*It’s recommended that the original plastic that covers the faceplate of the stove is removed prior to use, otherwise the plastic will cause all the numbers to burn off  during a grease fire, and you won’t know what temperature setting you’re cooking at and which dial is for what burner.  (Source: The Chang Household Grease Fires of 1994, 1998 and 2005 – February through May.)

2.  A need to purchase top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, have-no-clue-how-to-operate electronic goods.

Before your parent purchases that 50-inch Sony 5.1 surround sound system, please kindly let them know the following:

a/ That picture-in-picture option means nothing if they’re stuck on the Home Shopping Network, I Love Buddha, and the Chinese Medicine channels.

b/ The point of having a surround sound stereo system is to allow the multitude of speakers to to emit as much sound around you as possible.  Covering the speakers with doilies and pieces of cloth, then jamming them into the least conspicuous corner of the room run counter to this purpose.

c/ Fill in the blank:

If your 82-year old dad is still playing Mahjong on your old Nintendo knock off from the 1990s on that old no-remote TV set from the 1980s – the one without a knob – buying him an X-box for his big-screen TV is                                                       .

While most people view a remodel as an opportunity to increase the value of their home, or to improve the efficiency with which everyday tasks are performed, my parents used their home overhaul to remind themselves of the value of each item they have hoarded throughout the years – that plastic fork from McDonald’s that’s missing two tines, a spool of never-used hot pink colored thread to patch my 72-year old Chinese mother’s future Hurley boardshorts, for when she decides to overcome her massive fear of the water by taking up boogie boarding.  Empty and partially rusting Royal Dansk cookie tins, which contain rusty safety pins and coins so old you can’t tell if they’re coins or fillings that have fallen out of someone’s teeth.

In the early 90s my dad paid as much money as some people do for weddings and purchased a Japanese-made electric “horse”, which made you look like the ass you probably are, if you had spent a substantial portion of your life savings for the privilege of sitting on a gyrating mechanical contraption with stirrups.  The idea of the “horse” was to lower your blood pressure and increase your blood circulation in a low-impact, low-intelligence way by gyrating at different speeds, so that you’d have to flex all the muscles in your body to stay firmly on the horse.   I remembered visiting my parents at that time and trying to eat all of the sugar-covered Royal Dansk butter cookies straight from the tin while sitting on the “horse”, which was difficult to do when the machine was at its highest setting.  And I only mention this horse now, because that machine – now broken and covered with a pink floral towel – had replaced one of the dining chairs.

hoarders - japanese horse

Towards the end of our meal, my parents repeatedly urged me to go see the master bathroom.  This disturbed me greatly, since the last time my parents had encouraged me to do anything I ended up spending an afternoon on a blind date with a man whose greatest passion was to wear Hawaiian shirts and barbeque using different sauces.  Stashing a middle-aged man in the master bathroom of their condo as a homecoming present wasn’t something I’d put past my parents, but it’d been a while since I lived in Taiwan and I was no longer familiar with the universal healthcare benefits there.  Would the adult offspring of Taiwanese citizens also be eligible for intensive family therapy?  Because, as I cautiously approached my parents’ master bathroom, I wondered which was worse – having your Chinese parents hide a desperate Chinese man in their master bath, or half-expecting that your parents to do so.

“Now walk slowly and be quiet”, my mom whispered as I approached the door of the master bath.  “No sudden movements!”

“Why are we whispering?”

hoarders holy light

And then I saw it.  As it sensed my approach, it welcomed me with a series of glowing blue lights, a little chiming tune, and a barely audible flush.  The plastic seat cover then repositioned itself and the automatic toilet played one final happy tune, as if to say, I did a good job, I’m a good toilet, I go on break now!

My dad reasoned that, since he had worked hard all his life and now spends quite a bit of his time on the toilet (most of it spent falling asleep and not being  particularly productive) he deserves this Cadillac of Toilets – a top of the line, cream of the crop automatic flush toilet which features an alarm, heated seats, sensor lights that turn on in happy anticipation of being used, plastic seat covers, three different types of flushes, and an array of happy toilet tunes to choose from.

“Susan, you set a new tune on the toilet for me now, I’ve been listening to the old one for months.”

“A new tune?  Like what, When the Saints Go Marching In?”

The rest of my visit with the parents was spent watching my dad fawn over his new acquisition (Oh now that’s a good flush, wasn’t it?) and having intimate conversations with his new best friend (Now, where did that razor go?  I had it right here a minute ago.  Did you see the razor?).  Dad was very protective of his toilet.  I was not allowed to take pictures of the toilet, because the light from my camera would interfere with the toilet’s sensitive sensors.  The toilet also seemed to know who was its “daddy”.  Whenever mom or I approached the toilet, it would start flushing angrily, warning us to stay away.  The other day, I got an email from dad –

Dear suSaN;

How a re you..- your Mom and I are fine…/ I wrotE to Your Sis t er. annie but , dshe dint’ reply.  the toilet is OK , but yester da it did’tn sound good so yoUr Uncle Pe t er check it so it’s okay now — he SAid Ish ould buy Special Celaner fir ut , please check i  f cosco has that…///

Thats All  N ow…

Your Dad

*****

More Chinese parent posts –

Teaching My Elderly Chinese Parents the Computer

Hells Bell’s Palsy – the Symptoms of a Chinese Mother

Lies My Superstitious Chinese Mother Told Me and the Longevity Panty

Things My Elderly Chinese Parents Say to Me

Adventures in Absentmindedness

More toilet posts -

Toilet Tales

The Power of Poo and Other Cross-cultural Conundrums

90 comments on “A Very Chinese Home Remodel

  1. kimfrizt
    December 4, 2013

    Loved your post! Royal Dansk cookie tins! I just bought a tin of these cookies yesterday and was thinking as I was in the check out line ‘that tin will be perfect when it’s empty to keep the little tins of tropical fish food in one place”. I’m rapidly turning into my mother!

    • lostnchina
      December 5, 2013

      Thank you! But you have a point about the containers fitting into the Royal Dansk tins nicely!

  2. theodorous
    November 4, 2013

    Your Dad sounds cool…Where can I get one of those toilets?

    • lostnchina
      November 4, 2013

      I’m sure some toilet brands have a few top-end fancy schmancy models. But give it long enough and my dad might start a business distributing these things….

  3. elmer
    October 29, 2013

    Congratulations! Am i late for the party? My father is very much like your folks. I believe they call this disorder CLUTTER BLINDNESS? My father he hoards just about anything he finds and thinks would be of use in the future. From tiny spare parts to strange devices to gizmos to heavy pipelines. Stores them inside the house/around our yard. We have a pile of these scraps on our house so huge snakes have already squatted on them. And he says the same “these things don’t come cheap” thing. But now at 70++++++++ the hoarding stopped since he can no longer haul the weight of a machinery.

    • lostnchina
      October 29, 2013

      You are absolutely right it’s a kind of clutter blindness, except my parents have it with regards to expensive electronics and furniture. Like that big screen TV they got in the 90s which cost as much as their daughter, Susan. But unlike Susan the big TV is broken and taking up a lot of space and now worth nothing. It’s good to hear from you, Elmer. When will you visit us in China again? Do you still remember the smell and taste of Baijiu?

      • elmer
        October 30, 2013

        Ah the Chinese rice wine. I think you are right about it the first time we talked about it.

  4. maryangelis
    October 25, 2013

    Oh my land, that little cockatiel trudging uphill for her seed breakfast… That is when you won me over, and then I had to go read your stuff. A real insider with an outsider’s keen eye — clear and lucid and such choice of detail! And, and, best of all it is affectionate and warm, and you cherish your parents and culture and its sage non sequiturs and bunting and doilies. Did you finish those pastries from across town? Mm!
    Wishing you lots of extra chi,
    Mary

    • lostnchina
      October 25, 2013

      Thank you for your kind comments, Mary.

  5. mroberts1770
    October 25, 2013

    Beautifully written; genuine and for real. Thanks

    • lostnchina
      October 25, 2013

      Thank you for reading and for visiting!

      • mroberts
        October 26, 2013

        Any time. I’ll keep an eye out.

  6. glissandogrp
    October 23, 2013

    Reblogged this on Walking Sky High and commented:
    I think many of my family and friends can attest to this!

    • lostnchina
      October 23, 2013

      Thank you for the reblog! Yes, we should start some kind of support group for this.

  7. tracy fulks
    October 23, 2013

    Hilarious and eloquently written. *Please saran wrap those words.

    • lostnchina
      October 23, 2013

      Thank you! I’ll freeze dry them too, just to be on the safe side.

  8. glissandogrp
    October 22, 2013

    Being of Asian decent, this entire post sounds strangely familiar :) The need to purchase the state of the art electronics – then to hoard them for many years as they keep accumulating new electronics because that “3 megapixel camera was over $1,000 when it came out, so we can’t throw it away.”

    • lostnchina
      October 23, 2013

      You’re totally right. I think my parents got rid of the Betamax machine only within the last 10 years.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  9. Dymoon
    October 22, 2013

    Thanks for the laugh… I’m Canadian Chinese, thankfully I have not personally had to deal with much of what your wrote, but I have seen it and your candid chat about it had me LOL, have shared it with my sister

    • lostnchina
      October 23, 2013

      You and your sister are lucky you’ve escaped the cookie tins and plastic wrap. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. jaisoifmt
    October 22, 2013

    Reblogged this on jaisoifmt's Blog.

  11. Pingback: Freshly Riffed 53: What Am I Doing With My Life? | A VERY STRANGE PLACE

  12. dalo2013
    October 22, 2013

    Truly wonderful post…I laughed continually through-out this read. Beautiful, beautiful writing.

  13. herschelian
    October 22, 2013

    Love your piece – I am a Brit living in China, and whilst I recognise many of the descriptions you have (covering everything with plastic or cloth etc) you should be aware that this type of behaviour is not uniquely Chinese. My late mother-in-law had the worlds’ largest collection of plastic-bags-that-could-be-reused. If there had ever been a sudden shortage of such things, she could probably have re-stocked the entire Western world with bags. A friend used to joke about her aunt who had a tin labelled ‘string – pieces too short to be of use’, which she kept on the off-chance that one day they would come into their own.
    Now I’m in my 60s and am having to fight off tendencies to hoard stuff myself…its scary! Thanks for the laugh, I’ll be following your blog.

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Thank you for following and for your comments. You’re right that these quirks cross boundaries and are passed from generation to generation. It was brought to my attention the other day that I still hadn’t taken off the self-adhesive plastic on the base of my computer monitor – the one I’d bought over 2 years ago. My reasoning was that keeping the plastic ON would save me from having to clean the monitor (I could just rip the plastic off and it would be clean and as good as new underneath). Also think we should hold a World Plastic Bag conference and let all the plastic bag hoarders unite. Then, we’ll blog about them!

  14. furimmerlost
    October 22, 2013

    This is so true! The others have already mentioned it but when I lived with my grandparents in Xiamen, Fujian, the apartment you describe is pretty much the same as the one I lived in for two years. The butter cookie tins, the plastic, the covering, oh gosh this makes me nostalgic.

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      It’s uncanny how many people have drawn similarities between my parents and their relatives. But “nostalgic” wouldn’t be a term I’d think of right away. Did your grandparents try to constantly feed you when you lived with them? I can’t turn around without having food shoved in front of my face when visiting my parents.

      Thanks for reading!

      • furimmerlost
        October 23, 2013

        Well…I guess it would be accurate to say I’m not nostalgic for that kind of environment but it does make me remember that time when I was nine years old and a little overwhelmed. And I think I wasn’t getting food shoved down my throat as much simply because I was actually living there. It only happens now when I go visit for a few days. I think they just try to feed you lots of food to make up for the lack of time you have together.

  15. vnp1210
    October 22, 2013

    Haha! I think it is similar for Indian parents too. There is a Royal Dansk cookie tin in my mom’s dining room at this very moment. I also love the Chivas Royal box that has served as a sewing supplies container for my whole life. Thanks for this!

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Ohh.. the Chivas Royal, of course! Someone else had mentioned Ferrero Roche (sp?) chocolates. Those two and the Royal Dansk seem to be common in Asian households. It’s funny how these things cross cultures. Good luck to your parents and their Royal Dansk cookie tin!

  16. Midwestern Plant Girl
    October 22, 2013

    OMG too funny of a read!
    Congrats on getting pressed!!

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Thank you! Looking at your Gravatar has just reminded me I still have a bunch of hyacinth bulbs that need to go into the ground before the first frost! Thanks for reading and thanks for the (unintended) reminder.

  17. GoosBall
    October 22, 2013

    ROFL
    I can’t stop laughing.
    so all I can is Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  18. mondison
    October 21, 2013

    P

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      W

      • mondison
        November 5, 2013

        dont know what happened there, i know i read this post and loved it. read it on my phone maybe my kid picked it up, hes been known to leave some very interesting text messages and intriguing facebook statuses in what i can only assume is his own little language.

  19. shellahudaya
    October 21, 2013

    Oh my God this is so funny! But it’s so true. Even I remembered when I was a child and my dad bought a new car and the whole family sat inside the car which the seat and all was still in plastic wrap!! My mom and dad didn’t want to took off the plastic wrap at first! :D And of course, all remote all covered with plastic. And the dining chair too. The common joke about Chinese-tribe people in Indonesia is : if we have an old trousers, then we cut it so it become shorts. If it’s unwearable anymore, we use it as a cleaning cloth, then when it getting so so so old, then we use it as a mop cloth or a mat! Hehe I think Chinese don’t throw things so easily. Lol.

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      I understand exactly what you mean. Up till 10 years ago my mother still used my sister’s old cloth diapers as cleaning cloths (my sister is over 30 years old now, so the diapers are very old). So nice to know are are kindred spirits out there who have suffered the same!

  20. sueannporter1
    October 21, 2013

    I laughed so hard I have tears in my eyes, I am still snorting, and my nose is running.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I haven’t laughed so hard in years.
    This whole piece is brilliant.
    Sue

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Sue. My parents will be so happy that their new toilet brings others so much joy.

      • sueannporter1
        October 22, 2013

        You have such great stories to tell. These would make a great book. Just sayin’

  21. Anna
    October 21, 2013

    This is brilliant and gave me a reet good larf on my lunchbreak :)

    I have to confess that I am unashamedly intruiged by the musical toilet seat, though I’m not sure it would particularly suit my own bathroom. We live above a lingerie shop, and I don’t want them thinking I’m having a massive wee every time Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ floats through the ceiling.

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Ha, ha! Wait till they invent one that talks to you. Like, “you haven’t been eating your veggies recently, have you?” Thanks for enjoying the toilet humor.

  22. Digital Marketing Blog
    October 21, 2013

    Wonderful post!! loved reading it

  23. gallivance.net
    October 21, 2013

    Wonderful post Susan! And I thought your camping experiences were funny, but this tops it! I love the description of your Mother’s diminutive dining chair – James’ Mom had one just like it – always reserved for me! And congrats on another Freshly Pressed – you totally rocked it! :) All the best, Terri

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      HI Terri, Lucky you to get the diminutive dining chair from your dear mother-in-law. Thanks for stopping by!

  24. becominganeducator
    October 21, 2013

    I loved reading your post. I do not have any Chinese background but I can relate to most of the things you mentioned. I am of Indian descent and the habit of using plastic/ aluminum foil to cover/protect something is deep rooted in my family. While I was reading your post I realized how much of what I do is from my parents. For example, I still have original plastic covers on my dining room chairs, which I bought them about 2 years ago! Also, I almost bought something to cover my dresser. I also kind of belong to hoarders, it takes me lonnng time n lots of courage to discard something. Thanks for sharing.

    • lostnchina
      October 22, 2013

      Apparently, several other people of Indian descent have told me similar things. So nice to have a kindred spirit and thank you for reading!

  25. gregschina
    October 21, 2013

    Hahaha. Once I got on a bus in the middle of a Shanghai summer to find that all of the bus seats were still covered in plastic wrap. The air con was broken and it was a 3 hours journey, but I didn’t have the guts to just tear off the wrap. Suffice to say it was NOT a very comfortable bus ride…

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      …and don’t tell me – you were wearing shorts, of course.

      Thanks for reading!

  26. Britt
    October 21, 2013

    I have Taiwanese in-laws. This hits close to home. And I cannot stop laughing. I have received many a tin of Royal Dansk cookies. Really fancy guests bring Ferrero Roche. I am certain my mother-in-law owns Jams or Op shorts even though she’s never been anything but FULLY CLOTHED at the beach. I could go on and on and on… and have… but then had to take down all of those posts to maintain family harmony. But this is fantastic. FANTASTIC.

    • Britt
      October 21, 2013

      There’s also the electronic massaging gadget obsession, re-gifting as a competitive sport, the acupressure car seat inserts, and compulsive antiquing. I adore them.

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      Ferrero Roche – of course – how could I forget. That’s why they’re still produced – the Chinese are its major consumers. And Almond Roca, even before that (now I’m showing my age).

      …I’m also glad that, although my parents have iPads and a computer, they still don’t know how to get onto my blog, despite my having told them at least 10 times. Good to keep it that way. Thank you for reading, and have fun with your in-laws!

  27. itsfruitcakeweather
    October 21, 2013

    I can totally relate to this. The Royal Dansk cookie tins… I cannot begin to explain how the tins became more significant than the cookies themselves. :D

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      You are SO right. Can’t remember when I last had a Dansk cookie but I still see the tins every time I visit my parents. Thank you for stopping by!

  28. thelmanofmn
    October 21, 2013

    Come check out my zombie blog, its quite, entertaining…

  29. expatlingo
    October 21, 2013

    In Yunnan last week I think I saw your father’s long lost cousin: A farmer with a roto-tiller out in the middle of a mud covered field. The handle of the tiller, which was a foot deep in rice paddy, was still encased it’s original plastic wrapping.

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      How was Yunnan? That’s one place I really want to go. Which cities did you visit.

      I just realized the plastic self-adhesive wrap on my computer monitor was still on there after 2 years. It’s true what they say about genetics.

  30. ladysarahinlondon
    October 21, 2013

    Very funny article. Thank you for the post.- a little humour is always good….

  31. Just Me With . . .
    October 21, 2013

    My parents have their remote wrapped in plastic. This was so funny!

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      I’m so glad to be meeting kindred spirits on here. Thanks for reading!

  32. Susannah Ailene Martin
    October 21, 2013

    Haha! Very good. My grandma tends to hoard stuff too. I’ll ask her where something came from and she’ll just say she doesn’t know and she doesn’t know why it’s still in her house.

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      Your grandma sounds like the “non-confrontational hoarder”. My parents, when asked about their hoarding, will start rattling off about how much things cost and how wasteful “I” am. Thanks a lot for reading.

  33. triciatierney
    October 21, 2013

    My toilet doesn’t play any particular tune – but does have sort of dinging acknowledgement, and while I think the moving plastic seat cover is unnecessary in a private home, all of the other things it does in terms of hygiene, is fantastic! While the hoarding problem is certainly formidable, I think that this particular acquisition of your parents is fantastic. Really! (and this is indeed one hilarious post)

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      I’m so glad my dad’s found a supporter of his trendy toilet. I think the plastic is unnecessary and liable to “clog” the mechanism in the future. But all I can say is that my parents are moved so far from the days where they thought a bidet was for washing pantyhose. Nuff said.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  34. leewriter
    October 21, 2013

    Extremely humorous, expertly-crafted post brimming with relevant details that make you feel as if you’re right there in the remodeled condo. The desk reminds me of when my brother and I cleaned out our parents’ house after Dad died. I swear after 1980 he ceased to throw away anything except perishable food and used coffee grinds. We rented a take-away industrial-sized Dumpster but I underestimated my dad’s propensity to save so I had to have the company bring a 2nd one in. But I have to my dad credit. His antique Chevy truck (1948) fetched $20K, more than twice the book value, at the estate auction. Two men got into a bidding war in which my brother and I reaped the rewards.

    • lostnchina
      October 21, 2013

      Thank you for your compliment. You know, it’s hard to say what “gems” might be hidden in what we think is “junk”…though I highly doubt this in my parents’ case.

  35. awax1217
    October 21, 2013

    Each culture has pearls of wisdom in their backyard grown from the belly of an oyster which has never smelt salt water.

  36. gingerfightback
    October 18, 2013

    It is time I said it I LOVE DOILIES TOO! There, that’s better. As always wonderful stuff.

    • lostnchina
      October 19, 2013

      Thanks, Jim. One can never have too many doilies.

      • gingerfightback
        October 19, 2013

        It is a wonderful word and Ma Fightback is thoroughly fed up hearing it today!

  37. becomingcliche
    October 18, 2013

    Where can I buy a horse? MUST HAVE!

    • lostnchina
      October 19, 2013

      I’m waiting for the greased pig version of the Japanese “horse” machine. Now THAT would be a workout!

  38. WSW
    October 18, 2013

    Oh my God, I thought I’d seen the last of the Royal Dansk cookie tin — after throwing out approximately four hundred of them in the process of cleaning out my inlaws’ house, if you can call an operation that required three hazmat suits, a flamethrower, two sherpas and a forklift “cleaning.” If I’d only known, we could have packed them up on a pallet and shipped them over to your parents!

    • lostnchina
      October 18, 2013

      We only want those 400 tins if they have crap inside – with crap being half-broken buttons that don’t belong of any piece of clothing from the planet Earth, broken toothpicks, nuts, bolts and thumbtacks that are rusted out, a large twine ball (or rubber band ball is OK too), unused disposable chopsticks with only one chopstick, and an old BW picture of a three-year old nobody in my family recognizes.

  39. Pigeon Heart
    October 18, 2013

    Ha!
    Love it. I’m jealous of their toilet too

    • lostnchina
      October 18, 2013

      I see a biz opportunity selling admission tickets to this toilet.

  40. americantaitai
    October 18, 2013

    Hahahah! The Royal Dansk butter cookies! We had tons of those growing up too!… Thankfully I haven’t seen those large round canister tins at my folks’ house yet! :) Hilarious post, and hope the rest of your visit to Taiwan was equally entertaining.

    • lostnchina
      October 18, 2013

      What is with the Royal Dansk butter cookies and the older generation? I don’t even know where to buy them around here, but almost every elderly person I’ve visited over the age of 60 while growing up had these tins laying around and would inevitably would take them out and offer them to me.

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