Wednesday, January 10, 2007
What Am I Thankful For This New Year?
Well, today I am thankful for but two small pieces of American pie: the export of obesity and Sizzler.

They would seem to go hand in hand. But I am thankful for two completely unrelated - albeit equally important - reasons. First, let's knock off the obesity one. If not for McDonald's on every corner, the rise in Chinese standard of living, and the formation in China's major cities of a middle class economy leading to an increase in the consumption of just about everything, there would be no Bally's Fitness Centers. So really, I am thankful for Bally's. All ten of them. They cast their net like a cobweb over the city and as such, I managed to find one just up the street. They have kickboxing and spinning, a heated indoor pool and a spa. And they have some really cool instructors, including several that are North American (a couple Canadians and a USA-er). I am thankful for them because the gymming industry in China is slow. It exists but it is far behind the fitness craze in the United States. I cannot go to any other Beijing gym and do five different kinds of yoga. And if I don't have choices, it ain't worth my time.

Now, prong number two. The existence of Sizzler in Beijing may support my previous statement, but I am thankful for it in a completely different capacity. Do you all remember Sizzler? It's like a cross between an Applebee's and a Chili's. I know they're not that different, but there is a subtle distinction - fajitas. Anyway, the Sizzler here in Beijing made like the Statue of Liberty this past Tuesday night - except the cold, huddled masses yearning to breathe free were replaced by mildly drunk, distressed, quiz-failing nerds (see post below) who were hungry at 2 a.m. just as every restaurant in the city was refusing further patronage. But the kind people at Sizzler took pity on our pathetic, cold expat behinds and ushered us out of the biting Pacific winter winds and into the smell of freshly spiced chicken and kitchen grease.

So we salute you, Bally's and Sizzler. For leaping out of the box of American ingenuity and onto the international stage. May all our bad habits spread throughout the world so that anywhere I go, I may enjoy a bit of home.
posted by Rachel @ 4:00 PM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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