Feb 27, 2019

Back away from the expensive pants

A shopping adventure

The search for a decent, but cheap, pair of pants.

Baseline: I hate clothes shopping, so it’s even worse in a country where I regularly max out the size of what’s available. But, that can turn into a handy excuse when I’ve accidentally tried on a pair of pants that is too expensive.

Also, stick around after the story for a recent Taobao purchase, a complaint, and a viewer comment of the week!

Feb 26, 2019

Podcast: YouTube is not TV

How video structure affects our views

Keep up with our behind-the-scenes podcast by subscribing to Hello Uncle Foreigner YouTube channel.

This week’s podcast addresses the structural differences between a TV show and a YouTube video — the big ones being that theme songs and end credits get the boot. We also talk about how Peter and I try to push our artistic boundaries, and how we celebrate Chinese New Year. Also, watch “Corporate.” That show is funny.

Feb 25, 2019

A McCheese of noble and delicate stature

Chinese McDonald’s has different stuff

Sometimes it’s time for McDonald’s

I saw this cheese-filled monstrosity on the McDonald’s menu and I had to try it. It wasn’t that great, but it came with a surprise lesson in Chinese language and literature. I’m always learning!

Feb 24, 2019

Authentic Experiences

The sounds of turnips

“Authentic Experiences” by Western Toilet. You can always listen to us on SoundCloud as well.

This little shorty features footage from a very small town outside of Lijiang in Yunnan province. Among ourselves, we called the town Turnip Mountain, because it was up on a mountain and the way there was covered in turnip fields. A friend told us that a decade or so earlier, before the transportation infrastructure around Lijiang was so good, turnips were really the only fresh vegetable they could get in the winter time. Now, of course, they can get most foods at most times — like most places.

These kids were on their way to the local hardware store to get a hammer. That’s really all there was to that interaction. But they were quite cute.

Feb 23, 2019

Pork or Chicken for Chinese New Years

A giraffe decides

For the year of the Pig, we have hot dogs!

For a more traditional Chinese New Year experience, a big family dinner would be in order. But because it’s just us, Peter and I had a Foreigners’ Spring Festival — which still entailed staying in and eating, but our meal was 100% macaroni & cheese and hot dogs. We bought some green beans, for health, but we forgot to cook them. 新年快乐!

Feb 22, 2019

Hello Foreigner: A one month look-back

How’s the new channel doing? Will you be a travel vlog?

The numbers are in!

In late December, we moved our YouTube channel to a new home: Hello Foreigner. And then, about a month into the experiment, we devoted an episode of our podcast (above) to a deep dive into the analytics of the new channel. It’s more fun than it sounds, I promise!

In our discussion, we address how we are defining success, and what factors — in addition to the change of address — led to the new channel’s taking off. Also, towards the end, we share some stories of weird hostels we’ve stayed in; and why we’re not ever going to be a travel blog.

Feb 21, 2019

“Fu” — official music video

The Music of Hello Uncle Foreigner

Subscribe to Western Toilet on YouTube, or give Hello Uncle Foreigner a listen on SoundCloud.

The footage in this video comes from Jiangyang Park, which is about half a kilometer from our apartment. People really do all kinds of things in the park, from martial arts and dancing to painting calligraphy and hanging out with their birds. There’s a reservoir down the hill that I like to go running around.

Feb 20, 2019

Getting ready for Chinese New Year 2019

It’s the Year of the Pig!

Here comes the Year of the Pig.

Though we appreciate the time off, we’re not big into celebrating Chinese New Year … mostly because we don’t have a family in China to go see. But one aspect of the holiday that I really appreciate is the little door guardians. I think the pigs this year are very cute. I bought them at the supermarket!

Feb 19, 2019

Podcast: Why aren’t you live anymore?

Because the internet is weird

The new-improved live-to-tape stream

Peter and I really enjoy talking about the work that we do in these kind of free-form sessions, but live streaming from China has proven to be a problem. Maybe one or two weeks we’ll get lucky, and be able to maintain a decent upload speed, but we’ve had so many connectivity issues that we decided were not fixable at present. (The actual solution is leaving China, and we don’t want to do that.)

But, as I said, we like the discussion, and feel like it’s something that might appeal to others. So for this week, we did everything the same, except, instead of streaming live, we just made a live recording. This way we still get the immediate feel of an un-edited discussion, without freezing every two minutes. We’re pretty happy with how it turned out.

Feb 17, 2019

You have got to live somewhere

We chose China

The place you live is always somewhere.

We continue to consider the fact that we are not leaving China, for now. It’s a tricky business, choosing where to live. Every society has its flaws. But I think that puts on us the responsibility to to the good we can, where we can. When we can. How we can … How do I get out of this loop?!