Chinese Tuesdays: National Day Bargains


Happy National Day (国庆日 guóqìngrì) all, which is tomorrow, starting the "golden week" (黄金周 huángjīn zhōu) holidays. For our friends in Hong Kong, here's a translation of a topical joke I stumbled across online:


How to Get Great Value for 7 Days of National Day Festival!

1. Use a rock to smash up one police car, and win seven days free lodging in a guarded dormitory, everything included, amazing value


Alec Ash, Tue 30 September 2014 - 13:14

Friday Night Fug

Our summer shorts season ends – by Christian Shepherd


They never stop here this time of night.

Her deadweight numbs my shoulder as I stand in the middle of the street recycling gestures: dog-pat wave, five finger swipe, one finger salute.

An orange blink registers and we're in motion. I launch her into the cab before our predecessor leaves. She lies where she lands, splayed across the backseat like roadkill, indecently exposed skinny limbs jutting at improbable angles. As the passenger door slams shut, I resolutely take my place by her side.

“Xiāng Jiāng. Huā Yuán.”


Christian Shepherd, Sun 28 September 2014 - 05:03

The Kwan Family Chronicles

A diary of old Hong Kong – translated by Rosalyn Shih


From the translator:

A few months ago, an old newspaper article about my great-grandfather resurfaced, leading to a huge family discussion. To make sure the family record wouldn’t slip from memory, my grandmother, Kwan Yuek Laan, began writing our family history at the ripe age of 93. She was born and grew up in Hong Kong but currently lives in Toronto with her daughters, who immigrated decades before Hong Kong’s handover. I’m delighted to share my grandmother’s writing with the Anthill, and here is a translated, fact-checked and edited excerpt.



Rosalyn S, Thu 25 September 2014 - 01:29

Chengyu Tuesdays: Marking the Boat

刻舟求剑 kèzhōuqiújiàn – Not adapting to circumstance


刻舟求剑 (kèzhōuqiújiàn) literally means "marking the boat to find the sword", and is used to chide someone who is being foolish, stubborn and generally not considering changing circumstances in their pursuit of something. It's not the most often used chengyu – what is? – but it's one of the ones with a classical Chinese story behind it, albeit of a remarkably stupid person. You can find the original here, and here's a translation from

In the State of Chu, there was a man who loved his sword very much. One day, he accidentally dropped it into the water while crossing a river by boat. He quickly took out his knife and carved a mark in his boat take note of the spot and come back later.


Chinese Tuesdays, Tue 23 September 2014 - 07:25

Understanding the Chinese

A short short story by Aaron Fox Lerner


I never understood why Derek disappeared until I got the business card. Before that it was a mystery. One day he was there, the next he wasn't. I didn't see him at the nice hutong bars he normally haunted, or at his favorite burger place in Sanlitun, or at the indie rock shows he used to attend regularly. He was nowhere.

After asking around, I discovered he wasn't the only person to have vanished. Everyone else shrugged the phenomenon off. It's Beijing. Going away parties are more common than birthdays. Foreigners leave all the time.


Aaron Fox-Lerner, Sun 21 September 2014 - 03:28

Dude, where are my socks?

The anatomy of a door-to-door Taobao delivery – by Alec Ash


If you live in China and are anything like me, you order a lot from Taobao. The last dozen items I purchased from the online shopping site are: foam ear plugs, a wooden moxibustion set, USB speakers shaped like a panda head, a hemp cushion with a union jack design (vote no, Scots!), a laptop stand, a wireless keyboard and mouse, a piano stand clip-on light, a fridge magnet that you can snap open bottle caps against, a bottle of Bruichladdich whisky, a portable iPhone battery charger, and a tai chi sword. I have just revealed too much about myself.

If you have lived outside of China and are anything like me, you are in awe of Taobao. First, there's the old saw that Taobao has everything.


Alec Ash, Fri 19 September 2014 - 05:06