Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

The best Chinese meal….ever

On Sunday, we started our morning with breakfast at the hotel and had “Cowboy Intestine (Beef)” ….yes that was the name for our breakfast sausage and no, it was NOT the best Chinese meal….that comes later!!

We were met at the hotel by Xue-Jun and his wife (whose name I never did know) and we headed out of town and into the mountains. After driving for about 30 minutes, we stopped for a rest…..


….and yes, the “rest stop” was just to pull off on the side of the road and step out for a look at the vegetation. This was actually better than most of the cars who just stopped in the right hand lane…..at least we were off of the road.

The next stop was in a small town to purchase some Longan fruit. This was our first vendor, but Xue-jun’s wife declared that they were not sweet enough….


So we moved down to the next vendor and bought two bags of the fruit. Here he is using a hand-held scale to weigh the fruit…..


You have to peel the hard case off of the fruit to eat it. The texture is much like grape but it had a large seed, similar to a cherry pit. Once again, the taste was similar to a grape but a bit sweeter.


The vendor was also selling cactus fruit….more about that in a minute.


As we drove further along, Xue-jun stopped at this tree so that we could see how the Longan fruit looks on the tree. It is interesting to me that it grows on a tree. I would have expected a vine.…..


The next stop was at the “village tree”. Xue-jun told us that when a small village was settled, the first thing that they did was plant a tree that would become the gathering place for the villagers. This specimen was magnificent…..


And just next to it was the local village gym, complete with all sorts of equipment….


I will admit that I had no idea how most of it was used, but Xue-jun’s wife happily demonstrated.


While she was mastering this equipment, Xue-jun was quietly intoning “please be careful!!!”

The wheels help with shoulder rotation but I think that it must also be where they practice their driving!!!!


Now back to the cacti fruit. We passed a Cactus plantation…..


…where each plant was happily attached to a concrete support. I bet that this place is gorgeous when all of the cacti are blooming.


The next stop offered some beautiful views out over the mountains……


As we walked past this motorcycle filled with bamboo stems and leaves, we asked what she used them for. She said that these materials are used to make the brooms that she then uses to sweep the roads and parking lots. Such a hard life…..


Along the road, Xue-jun pointed out a Wild Banana plant which is one of his research projects. You can see the flower in the middle of the photo. He told us that these bananas are completely inedible…..


As we climbed further into the mountains, the roads became more and more twisty and the speed slowed down to 15km per hour (about 10 mph)


Each turn had a convex mirror that allowed you to see around the bend to see if other cars were approaching. Even that detail didn’t help much as we came very close to having 2 wrecks on various corners.

We then stopped at a park area fairly high up in the mountains. There was a manmade lake and huge fields filled with perennial plants and filled in with gorgeous Cleome plants…… DSC05987

We were originally told that these workers were “weeding” but we soon realized that they were removing all of the Cleome plants. We were then told that they were getting the area ready for replanting so that it would look nice for “National Day” which is on October 1st. It seemed to me that they were removing the plants just when they looked the nicest!!!


Further down the lake, we hiked onto “Jiantang Ding” (White Cloud Mountain). The boardwalk was well tended and the walk was wonderful…..


We were astounded by the huge stands of bamboo that covered the mountain….


Apparently, much of the “Primary Forest” (first growth) was cut down in logging operations and now the Bamboo has taken over. Xue-jun also told us that most logging has been banned now in China unless it is from a cultivated forest. The problem is that, with so much building going on, there is a huge market for wood and most of it is now imported from other countries. He also said that he felt that the government had gone too far with the bans and that maybe a compromise could have been found.

I thought that this tree was interesting as it clung to this huge rock…..


At the end of the Boardwalk tour, there was a new conference center being built. It will be gorgeous, but I wonder exactly who will use it since this is so far away from anything.


There was an interesting sign at the edge of the boardwalk that described the area as an “International Bathing Area”……

“The trees in the Forest Breathing Place can emit a kind of volatile substance, which can clean up and sterilize the air. Moreover the trees here can eliminate the noises and have a regulation function to your body’s nervous system. In this forest bathing area, the oxygen content can reach 12 billion per cetraire, making it surely a “natural oxygen bar”. When it is sunny, walking in the forest and taking the deepest breath will have some therapeutic effect on a lot of respiratory system illnesses.”

….and I thought that I was just taking a walk!!!!

We climbed back in the car and drove down the mountain to stop at a roadside restaurant for lunch. As we were getting out of the car we could see a man to one side, killing a chicken….remember this as the story progresses…..


The roof of the building was metal and had water pouring over it to help cool off the room. I also saw a number of people use this water stream to wash their hands during the meal……


The other part to the air-conditioning system was a bank of oscillating fans that cooled the entire building…..DSC06034

Now before we go further, this is STILL not the best ever meal…it comes later!!

As we sat down our dishes were presented to us in plastic wrap…..


When the tea came, we first used it to rinse out all of the bowls and utensils that we would be eating with. That tea was discarded but we used more tea out of the same pot to drink with our meal.

This insect repellent coil was lit and placed under the table…..


…..and we were ready to eat.

More Longan fruit was brought out but was quickly sent away as ours was once again declared to be tastier.

First out were fern fronds which were very tasty but a little hard to eat with chopsticks…..


Next came tofu….a bit better consistency than yesterday, but still not very tasty…..


Next was a “weggie-table”(vegetable), steamed pumpkin, which was very nice and then….drum roll…. the piece de resistance……


Fresh chicken (remember the man out front) that had been roughly chopped into pieces, bones and all and then quickly cooked in this metal pot. It was not particularly tasty as it was fairly tough and I was a bit taken aback by this sight….


…..yes, that is a rooster head!!!! The feet were also present in the pot and Xue-jun’s wife quickly grabbed one and gnawed away!!! There was a lot left at the end of the meal so a “chicken bag” was brought out…….


As we were preparing to walk out, there were two young boys and it looked as if one had dared the other to say hello to us. He kept walking by us and trying to gain courage. I finally just smiled and said “hello”. He replied and smiled and there was much giggling as we left!!!

The drive back to Guangzhou was a lot of fun and came with even more experiences. We came to one new road that Xue-jun “thought” he knew where it went to. So, he paid the toll and off we went. A few miles later we exited the toll booth with no true idea of where we were. One of the toll gate keepers came over and gave directions so we were off again. Xue-jun laughed that “every road leads to Rome” …..Michael and I quietly hooted as we remembered our experience in Italy when every rode did NOT lead to Rome. (you can read about that adventure here)

Also, before I go any further, I have to tell you about the Coke episodes!!! On Saturday, as we were walking into the Botanic Garden, we passed a small store and I asked Michael if they might have a Coke Zero. We went in and finally found a Coke which was fine for me. Before we knew what they were doing, they had bought TWO cokes…one for me and one for Michael (who doesn’t really like Coke). On the way out of the garden, they ran back into the shop and came out with two MORE cokes. Then, this morning, when we got into the car, we were handed a bag that contained….you guessed it….. FOUR bottles of coke!!!! We were greatly reminded of the incident early in our marriage when Michael offhandedly mentioned to his Mama that he liked tomato juice. After we had accumulated over a dozen HUGE cans of tomato juice, he had to advise her that he liked a glass every so often and that we had plenty!!!!

Anyway, on with the trip…. while on the trip back, we did note a couple of interesting things…..firstly, the car tags all have Roman letters on them rather than Chinese characters…..have no idea why!!! Secondly, the city keeps adding more and more roads with many of them being overpasses so that two roads can run simultaneously. The amazing thing is that many of these elevated roads come within a few feet of apartment houses. I would think that it would be supremely uncomfortable to live there.

After arriving at the hotel, Xui-jun’s wife returned home and we hopped in a taxi to go to one more museum that he wanted to show us. This was the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. It was close to closing time so we had to hurry but it was a fascinating place.

The tomb was discovered in 1983 while excavating on a construction site for a hotel. The museum opened in 1988 and contains well organized and displayed artifacts from the tomb which was from the Han Dynasty. The tomb itself had seven chambers and you could wander into most of them….however, you had to mind your head…….


This is a reconstruction of the jade burial garment. They found the jade pieces, but obviously the silk ribbon had degraded so it was re-done.


This is the beautiful lacquered box that he was found in…….DSC06069

They found over 10,000 historical relics in the tomb and we particularly enjoyed see the many jade pieces.

We also noted that there were 15 sacrificial victims that were also laid to rest in the tomb, including concubines. These people were sacrificed so that they would be there to serve the King in eternity….now that’s loyalty!!

The museum also housed a collection of pillows. I found this one to be interesting…. DSC06046

but wondered just how comfortable these ceramic pillows would be (however they are cute)……


And I finally found a quilt pattern…..wouldn’t this be fun as a whole-cloth quilted piece…..


As we left, there was a woman making “pancakes” outside the museum. I would have loved to try one but would have needed butter and syrup!!!


And now, without further ado….here is our favorite meal. It was at a little “hole-in-the wall” place that specialized in the Hunan cuisine. The reason that we loved it was because it was SPICY!!!!

We had beef and peppers……


Green beans and peppers……


…..and grilled shrimp and (you guessed it) peppers…….


It was all wonderful and the shrimp were excellent….once you got them peeled of course……


At the end of the meal, only the peppers were left!!!!!!


We waddled our way across the street to our hotel, being happily filled with the fun of the day and the peppers of the evening!!!!!

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