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Preview: Red Lantern Diary: Seattleite's Dispatches from China

Red Lantern Diary: Seattleite's Dispatches from China

After three years in Hong Kong, Seattleite Elizabeth Kain relocated to Beijing with her husband and five-year-old daughter. She is happy to share her fortunes and misfortunes as she immerses herself in Chinese culture, history and especially food!

Last Build Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2011 18:58:08 +0000


This blog has moved!

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 23:34:00 +0000

Going forward, please find my blog about living in Beijing, China at the following site:

Harbin: The Last Word

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 08:30:00 +0000

Please note that beginning on March 1, 2010, I will move my blog to the following web site: Please visit me at DimSum Diary to read about our adventures in Beijing, China.

Harbin Ice Festival

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 02:00:00 +0000

Iced beer? St. Paul's facade St. Basils Panorama It has been particularly cold in Harbin this year with winter temperatures reaching 30 degrees below zero. Our guide told us that Harbin maintains more than 190 days each year at below freezing temperatures, enabling the city's festival of ice. We felt lucky that it was only 10 below F when we visited the ice sculptures at 4:30 in the afternoon. It was dark and the lights were brilliant. We appreciated our hand and foot warms and were able to spend ...

The Snow Sculptures of Harbin

Thu, 14 Jan 2010 12:44:00 +0000

Sculpture in progress I had heard about Harbin's famed ice festival for years, but I had never realized that snow sculptures were also part of this annual event. While the ice structures were best viewed at night to enjoy the colorful lights, those of snow made a wonderful, if cold, afternoon activity. Hand and foot warmers helped stave off the freezing cold temperatures: – 4 F the afternoon we visited the snow carvings.

Eating in Harbin, China

Wed, 13 Jan 2010 08:15:00 +0000

When foreigners talk about "Chinese food," as if it is the same across all of China, it is, understandably, confusing to locals. After all, each province – or sometimes even city – has its own unique eating culture. And when I tell my Chinese friends that I'm visiting a new city, their first recommendations are always focused first on what food I should try, rather than what sights I should see. Such was the case with Harbin, where I was told to try the local sausages and dumplings.

Harbin’s Russian past

Mon, 11 Jan 2010 17:24:00 +0000

St. Sophia Inside St. Sophia Zhong Yang Street Russian Style building And another And another Harbin Cafe We spent last weekend in Harbin, a city located in China's northern Manchuria region. We went there to attend the city's renowned ice festival, but in the process, signed up for the full weekend package, which included trips to see the area's snow sculptures, tiger reserve, indoor arctic-themed park, polar swimmers, and lovely Russian architecture.

Our new pet

Tue, 05 Jan 2010 00:20:00 +0000

Cicada Photo by Bruce Marlin found on Wikipedia Cicada in him home And again Surely one of the best things about living in Beijing has been meeting our driver, Stephen. Although I mostly get around via bicycle (one my other favorite things about living here), I enjoy our encounters and I always learn something new.

Dining in Bangkok

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 19:10:00 +0000

The Moon Bar, Banyan Tree, Bangkok, Thailand Je Ngor Kitchen Eating at the market Can't beat the price thai coffee Like many big cities, Bangkok offers the full spectrum of dining – from the very expensive to the very cheap. In the last twenty four hours, we have taken advantage of both. It reminded me of when I lived in New York City. I worked at American Express, and it was not unusual for me to entertain foreign visitors at the city's finest steak houses and pay upwards of US$150 per person. ...

The Tsunami: Five years later

Fri, 25 Dec 2009 14:30:00 +0000

Five years ago, my husband and I were in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit. A last minute change in our itinerary literally saved our lives. On December 26, 2004, my husband and I had originally planned be at a small lodge in Yala National Park on the southern coast of the country. We later learned that there had been no survivors at this particular hotel.

Christmas in the Andaman Sea, Thailand

Thu, 24 Dec 2009 23:40:00 +0000

Merry Christmas! Maya Bay Hong Island First snorkel Bamboo Island For the holidays, we left frigid Beijing and headed south to Krabi, Thailand, located on the lovely Andaman Sea. We spent Christmas day island hopping, with each destination more amazing than the one before. We had anticipated trading off looking after our five-year-old daughter on the boat and enjoying the snorkeling - but much to our delight, Elisa was as excited as we were to give the water a try. A few minutes (and many tropical ...

A taste of snobby Hong Kong

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 22:47:00 +0000

Luk Yu Tea House Luk Yu Dim Sum Last weekend, I wanted to share a meal with some good friends before departing Hong Kong to return to Beijing. We had an early flight, and our favorite dim sum spots did not open until 11. My friend, Souhon, suggested Luk Yu, one of the older and better known tea houses in the city. "The food is not as good as the others', but at least it opens early," she explained. I was secretly pleased at her suggestion. I had walked by this lovely little restaurant, whose door ...

Steamed fish – Beijing Style

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 00:05:00 +0000

Since moving to Asia, I have been determined to learn to cook some of my favorite Chinese foods - with steamed fish ranking high on my list of yet to be learned dishes. As a westerner, I have only cooked fish on a barbeque and in an oven. I had just started looking into cooking classes when I went to the market a couple of weeks ago. As I stared at the fish tanks at our local market – not for the first time - my driver seemed to read my mind and asked if I knew how to steam a fish.

Sri Lankan Christmas

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 18:00:00 +0000

Five years ago, my husband and I spent Christmas in Sri Lanka. Our idyllic vacation was interrupted by the tsunami, which killed tens of thousands in this lovely little country and wreaked havoc on its economy. Luckily, we were in the center of the country when it struck and our only exposure was the chaos of survivors that poured into Colombo in the aftermath of this catastrophic event. I don't think a holiday season will pass where we don't think about that Christmas and the many who suffered from the fateful earthquake of 2004.

Dumplings make the world go ’round

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 15:32:00 +0000

Dim sum Server at Din Tai Fung vegetarian dumplings at Din Tai Fung Shanghai dumplings with hairy crab When living in Hong Kong, we enjoyed going out for dim sum, a Cantonese specialty, on Sunday mornings. Dim sum, my friends tell me, literally means, "A little piece of heart," and is a name for the small dishes of food served with tea for breakfast or lunch. The tradition began hundreds of years ago when people stopped along the silk route to rest at tea houses and indulge in China's favorite hot ...

The Forbidden City versus The Temple of Heaven

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 07:51:00 +0000

My husband and I have a ridiculous argument about whether the Temple of Heaven or Forbidden City is more beautiful. He favors the former and I the latter. This ranks right up there with our debate about whether Washington or Lincoln was the better president. Either way, they are both impressive.