Sunday, April 5, 2009


Nick and I often stop at a local fruit stand on our way home from work, usually to buy some fresh delicious pineapple. They have a large variety of tropical fruit, and to be honest, I really have no idea what most of the fruit is.

Last night, the pineapple looked a bit off, so we started looking around for something else to buy. The vendors saw an opportunity and took it!

I was looking at a bin of small green fruit - they turned out to be Jujubes - wondering what it was when the fruit guy asked me if I wanted to buy some. (keep in mind only Chinese is spoken at this fruit stand). I said "wo bu yao" (I don't want) and began to walk away when he picked up a piece of the fruit and cut it open for me to try.

The fruit was crispy and refreshing... It had a mild taste that was something of a mix between an apple and a pear, so I thought I'd buy some.

The sign said 3 斤 $100, which I assumed meant three jujubes for $100NT, bit expensive but the dude told me he'd give me "san jin yi bai kuai" which I thought meant 4 for 100... so ok, maybe a little expensive still (its four little fruits for about $3US) but, what the hell, it's something new to eat!

He picked up a bag and began to skillfully select some of the choicest fruit for me... 1...2...3...4...5....6...

Now I became a bit confused because I thought I was only buying 4 jujubes for $100, and I didn't want to spend any more than $100, so I said, "wo bu yao! (I don't want) wo yao mai yi bai kuai (I want to buy $100)" and he said "san jin yi bai kuai" (san = 4) so i said, "yes, san ge, san ge" (which means, 4 pieces!)

Our conversation continued on this way for a couple of minutes. I'm trying to use the Chinese I have been learning to tell him I only want to buy 4 jujubes for $100 and he keeps telling me that "4 jin are $100).

In the mean time, Nick had walked up and was observing this entire exchange. While I was trying my best to understand and use a new language Nick, who knows absolutely no Chinese, was just absorbing all of the context clues (basically like watching TV on mute). So Nick, and not me, finally figured out that it's not 4 pieces of fruit for $100, its 4 pounds (or some other weight) for $100!! (I later found out that jin 斤 is a Chinese weight measure for 0.6 kg) I had been too absorbed in the Chinese language to pick up on it!!!

Well Hallelujah! We understood each other! Except now I was about to buy over 5 pounds of jujubes for just Nick and I to eat!!! They were good, but they weren't that good! So I tried to tell him, 'we are only two people, we can't eat all of that!' But with my limited Chinese, I could only manage to say, "women liang ge ren, women bu chi" (we two people, we don't eat)!

Finally, I just say, "ok ok, wo yao mai wu shi kuai qian" (I want to buy $50). There was a big sigh of relief that we all understood each other, and he proceeded to dump half of the jujubes out of the bag, and I made my way to the check-out. I still ended up going home with over 2 pounds of jujubes! But, at least it wasn't 5!


  1. Keep the updates coming. One quick question, do they use pounds or kilograms?

  2. stupid metric system.

    i always thought of "jujubes" as some kind of curse that a voodoo witch doctor put on his enemies. thinking specifically of the movie "major league," but that's not exactly sufficient to demonstrate the image. ah well.

    maybe i shouldn't have admitted that...

  3. kilograms and kilometers.... I'm still hoping that one day the US will wise up and do the same, the metric system just makes more sense!!