The long overdue post about China and Food!

China, one of the most food obsessed nations in the entire world; a place where the congee itself has had to have been floating wild and free before it’s devoured before a hard day of work: So what has stopped me writing about it? I’ve choked down breakfast dumplings filled with red bean, dined like a gentlemen on Beijing duck. I’ve even been unfortunate enough to try Yunnan food on occasion.

I’ll never forget my first exposure to stinky tofu, even the locals laughed at me; I love stinky  cheese, but stinky tofu reminded me in both texture and taste of eating excramant; nevertheless; stirred on by the memories of Gong Bao Chicken, Pork Slice and Dumplings; I soldiered my palate forwards to Guangzhou: If that seems a little pretentious and frankly a bit ham tongued; It’s cause I’ve got my mouth full;

So today; snacking on Dim Sum and enjoying a pijiu: I realized it was now time to reflect upon the nations culinary obsessions and my own judgements upon such a foreign landscape as Guangzhou;

  1. Dim Sum? I’d love some!

Dim Sum is the first archetype of Chinese cuisine; hyped up for its aesthetic quality and it’s ability to make you feel classy, while eating what can sometimes seem like a chopped up Greggs Sausage roll: Nevertheless: Dim sum is what Guangzhou is known for; It even saved me in deepest Kowloon in Hong Kong; when all the restaurants seemed like congee flophouses; Most noticeable are the shrimp dumplings: beautiful to look at and a proof of the Asian cultures fascination with not only taste, but with texture.

 

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2. 7/11 Store Snacks

Okay, lets admit it; sometimes; you come home and a bag of crisps followed by an equally  crisp Asahi is heaven…I’d probably be dead in work without occasionally shoving dubious shit into my facehole…In 7/11 in China; you can basically get a full meal; plus I’m sure their vaguely stale KInder Buenos once saved me from a dreadful hangover.  Top tip: Don’t eat the M&M’s…They suck here.

 

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3. Toast and other normal stuff.

Admittedly, it’s taken me a while to learn to truly enjoy myself here; Okay I went out and tried a lot of weird shit: but did I have toast?  No! I hadn’t had toast in months; Is there anything more humble than…TOAST! Is there anything that seems to represent daily British life than tea and toast? I doubt it…Also; Smelly cheese…Come at me…

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4, The fruit of the gods

Jackfruit

You crafty bulbous bastard;

How you look like Durian

But taste so much better;

I devour your expense arse;

In seconds flat;

Like a fruit bat;

Enough poetry:

You just grow on a tree

and that’s enough for me…

5. Okay…Noodles or rice?

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Noodles or Rice? That’s what they’ll ask you at the pearly gates…For me, I’m a man of wealth and taste who prefers boiled rice over fried and thinks noodles these days may as well be bootlaces; Another interesting thing about China is the obsession with noodle houses; I love me some Wonton and believe me, I’ve tried them all: but those stringy things floating in my admittedly poor soup? Stop shoving them in everything; They don’t really taste of anything. At least spaghetti has the kind of decency to mix all it’s flavorings in-between what would otherwise be bland.

6. EEEEEEL

Some of the best 4am conversations I’ve ever had…(I blame the beer)

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I’m only sleeping.

‘I don’t know where the weird ends and I begin’

The phrase kept flipping over in his mind like a pancake, as he went through the typical bar talk, he couldn’t think of a single thing to say that wouldn’t alter his reputation in a negative way; he was starting afresh, though it was already after a few months beginning to turn stale; he originally wanted to just leave his home, tired of the same four walls, the same four friends; trudging the beach and using alcohol as a general anesthetic ; but in typical fashion, the grass now seemed greener in neighboring isles;

The great divided Hong Kong; with the toy town streets of Central, the smell of sea and the dreaded Kowloon, where fishballs were the order of the day; he had literally sailed and began to snack upon the culture; though the taste was good; it was rich, besides; there was no market there for his profession; a uniquely trivial position; he had began researching Taiwan; a sort of crossover between Chinese and Hong Kong culture; where he could be prosperous or at least give it a shot.

He was an intensely trivial man really, the hair was sometimes unkempt, but he always made an effort to dress and eat only what was fashionable in a new city, he’d had his fair share of people; he’d found a way to connect with the world; sometimes the line was bad; sometimes; he found that with uptight people; they may as well be sending coded messages sewn on the inside of his underpants; wasn’t it strange to get on with completely strangers; meet people in bus stops and change direction; like a spinning top.

What did he miss about Wales? Nothing intensely pressing beyond the sea and libations; the great amalgamation of British life; run down measly pubs and big chains; talkative shopkeepers; London and the hipster crowd; puffing on an electric cigarette for no real reason; being incarcerated into No Sign Wine Bar as everywhere else had closed down.

Now he’d emigrated, there was a certain poetic element to everything remotely British or local; even a pork pie would be a welcome sight; This is probably the curse of traveling; you are giving up security, people that have known you and yet even things you didn’t particularly find memorable or cherished at the time have grown in their meaning and resonance; while in the last months, the trip had dangled like a sword of damocles, like the sunny morning after a few flutes of champagne in the previous evening.

Maybe things had cracked slightly and his brain had considered and touched every seam; from the sleepy dumpling sellers; the drunken belt man in the neighborhood; the late night fruit sellers; it was an interesting journey; full to the brim of culture really: all mostly an iceberg yes, submerged; but at the same time, he’d also laid incense with the local people; but the pang of faces he knew, visiting then leaving was a stronger feeling; he’d considered religion; hokey relaxation techniques and what he was going to put on his toast in this strange region.

——

The turnstiles still turn, the trains always run and the people always rush; they’re crazy: but that very morning after considering his entire future: with shadows on the walls; he couldn’t really analyze in-depth; so he listened to his Beatles and proceeded to eat an entire small islands worth of fruit; these were his hobbies now;

He wanted to pick all the fruits in all the gardens of the world as Wilde wrote; but he needed to work out what routine to fit this ambition into; maybe he just really wanted a cup of tea and a lie down sometimes; he didn’t really know; isn’t the whole world all really about consuming things anyway? or is there really some type of consciousness that is only touched upon through some magic trick, some man in the sky; something to put some faith into?

When you envision a perfect day; What do you see? Do you wake up after sleeping well? Immediately consume a Bloody Mary, scratch your privates and have your favorite breakfast? Does it start like this and end up with friends in the pub by around midday?  Every perfect day has a little bit of blue cheese in it somewhere; and a decent wash; every perfect day has sand and sea in it also, but not at the same moment as the blue cheese: sandy blue cheese is associated with the worst day in the world.

When you envision your worst day; What do you see? Is your hair greasy? Did you break a tooth? Are they coming to arrest you? Did you get a bad sandwich on the way to Hong Kong? Is the world shitting on you on an hourly basis?

What is the history behind these loosely connected, possibly irrational and ill-informed meanderings framed vaguely around some kind of narrative? Is writing for the sake of writing important; or a reckless waste of time; Just know I’m a Sagittarius… I apologize for posting this; Most of the notes were found rung together inside a garbage can.

The Happy Valley Chronicles: First Glimpse

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Figure 1: Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark…

He’d developed a keen ear for the supermarket jingle; he could distinguish each piano key and would likely have been able to reproduce it, had he had the money to keep such an elegant object as a piano in his shoebox of an apartment.

The truth was that the only instrument Sam could now play was a checkout counter; gazing up at the shelves; full of sleeping products; waiting for the oncoming hoard; full of slumber himself; Sam couldn’t recall how he had reached a point where he’d been promoted, falling deep into the life of a duty night manager at Happy Valley.

It was this day he was greeted for the first time in a year; by something unexpected; hurtling towards him was a shopping cart; as black and shimmering as oil…it moved almost organically: First it started shoving into him and then Sam saw something which made him regret every minute spent listening to the dreaded jingle…then the jingle stopped and it was all over.

01: The beginning…

Pickles, he’d flunked out of school to dole out pickles: if life has circles of hell, Tom thought to himself; checking-in each morning to hand out samples at Happy Valley had to be one of them; probably a step above dressing as a giant hotdog and a few steps below cleaning the elderly; As he took each little cocktail stick, skewering each green and slippery piece; it felt as painful as picking oakum in a Victorian workhouse.

Tom hadn’t had to take a history major to work out that maybe it wasn’t all that bad working here; but his junior manager, a history major with hair on his knuckles at 25, had began to compare each daily task Tom undertook at the store with some historic event.

It wasn’t enough to allow Tom to simply load up a supply of cinnamon whirls; it had to be equated with the precision in-which the pyramids were built; Dealing with a customer, who had insisted that his bill was wrong had been turned into a melodrama comparable to the Watergate scandal; When the Self-Service checkout’s came into force; lectures on Mao’s Great Leap Forward soon followed.

Increasingly; this junior manager was just one of the pieces in the vast gallery of the store’s staff; that began to irk Tom; he was increasingly aware that his ‘Happy Valley Family’ were each a brutal reminder, that not everyone can achieve their dreams; just each with their own particular flavour of disappointment and regret;

During a team building; in-which Tom found himself passing a balloon through the thighs of  ‘Fat Ali’ as she was sometimes referred to; Tom swore that he would not be condemned to such a life; acting as a warning to Happy Valley customers, until he dropped dead in the Dairy section…But there he was; still handing out pickles; until one day; for no good reason he was promoted to night duty manager. An offer he couldn’t refuse, but hardly up there with The Godfather in-terms of a proposition.

02:  Happy Valley Nightfall.

So disappeared the pickles and Tom as night manager was allowed to grow his beard back; given that he was now dealing with graveyard customers and only had to answer to the unseen figure of Mr.Waters; high emperor of Happy Valley, who didn’t seem to sleep or eat anything; just gaze blissfully at the shelves below, as if he was seeing something powerful behind each of the packaged item. 

A small ceremony, where Tom cut a sickly looking frosted chocolate cake and a pimped out name tag and he was back on the beat; disturbing the frozen fish; keeping busy in the cracker section; Nightshifts meant weirder customers; college kids and smack heads mostly; or at least people who seemed to be on something; but tonight it was strange; one old lady; who seemed to vanish as she left the baked beans aisle then no customers for over one hour.

That’s when the jingle began to malfunction; something must have been up with the loop; it didn’t happen all at once; but gradually; the tune slowed down enough as to stop a staff member picking at his zits; as duty manager; this presented Tom with his first challenge, but each time he reset it; it unglued almost immediately; like a whining child determined to get their own way.

Eventually; they had to replace it with a 90’s pop soundtrack; a few generic Britney Spears tracks that Fat Ali had saved to her iPod; Mr.Waters profile hung like a dark shadow above the office; a warning sign that these kind of decisions should likely have been ran past him; but before Tom was able to inform the old fucker; a tall and strange man in a suit appeared…

What was strange about him?  Maybe if it had been 9am, he wouldn’t have sent a chill through Tom, but at 5am,this man, idly inspecting lamb chops, this man, who didn’t appear to be remotely inebriated somehow disturbed Tom;

– ‘You know, the way to tell if lamb is fresh is to look for traces of blood; if there’s blood it means it’s fresh..Do you have anything else out back?‘ the stranger purred with a hint of Southern drawl;

So this was weirdo hour once again, thought Tom but most of the cases that turned up usually bought hardcore porno or party hats; sometimes both.  It’s hard to feel menace when ‘Hit me baby one more time’ is softly taking over the loudspeaker, but today, Tom felt it in droves;

– ‘You know; it’s a strange time to be thinking of cooking…What’s the occasion?’

‘Just a little party we might be having in the valley…do you know I used to work here for a time… pride and joy was keeping that jingle ticking along nicely; I see you’ve been having trouble…but with god we should fix it for ya’

With that, the jingle sprang back to life; but turning around to see if anyone had entered the control room; Tom found the door remained closed; as he turned around the man was gone; but a strange pool had begun to form on the office window of Mr.Waters…

 

 

‘Tales from a Suitcase’ by Charlie Trotman

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Can you list traveling as something which you are passionate about? 

 

Does this merely categorize and stick together a wealth of varied experiences into one descriptive word? These are the pretentious thoughts that fill my head; mainly whilst wandering pointlessly through malls supermarkets, in-search of the next salted snack or sweet to fuel my China journey.

These journeys have mainly consisted of wandering about, from the moment I landed in Guangzhou, China; I find myself staring into KTV karaoke booths, trying to decipher the ‘noodlese’ Chinese writing in dumpling restaurants and being laughed at by the locals.

Granted, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to eat and being bemused by the locals back in my hometown Swansea, Wales; but then, they do say that the Welsh are a little ‘weirder’ than majority of the United Kingdom; those last few months of bemusement were also charged with another feeling; the voice in the back of my head telling me;  ‘Soon you’ll miss this experience..it will be impossible’ to feel like this for a long while, if ever again.’  

As I stood on that last day, staring at the skyline of Port Eynon beach; taking the last significant photos with my girlfriend; I didn’t want to say goodbye, for what felt like the 50th time; we had a typical British ‘fish and chips’; making a secret pact not to mention the fact that I’d soon be disappearing from the U.K for 15 months.

So I got a little something in my eye at the airport…

 

I hauled my suitcase to check-in and said goodbye; leaving behind everything including an incontinent Jack Russell terrier; I’d worked as a supply teacher steadily for seven months in high schools, now it was time to prove I could also stand up and teach younger children, by waving my hands wildly around a classroom and jumping around a great deal.

Have I changed, or have only my surroundings changed?

 

Firstly: I’ve learnt to use sign language to explain say; the need for  a prophylactic, as I have used to teach phonics in the classroom.

When you first move abroad; you loose the ability to communicate, you cannot eavesdrop into other people’s lives the same way; something that was always thrilling for me; your window into the world is reduced to a mere keyhole and even then;  you have to squint to really get what’s going on.

To counterbalance this; you can learn the local language; maybe turn that keyhole into a slightly foggy window; I know how to ask for things; yet I don’t always get them; because ‘fin gallu siarad mewn Cymraeg’ (I can speak Welsh) my proficiency in Chinese is coming along okay and I’d be seeking to either do an intensive Chinese course at the end of my teaching position or gradually; take on lessons as the academic year goes on.

 

The thirst for adventure is greater here:

 

At home; I am always looking to meet with my friends; walk somewhere, climb something and try some new experience; so long as it doesn’t involve dentists or unclogging a toilet. In Guangzhou, one of the most crucial lessons I could learn is that not every weekend has to feature traveling to Hong Kong or even Beijing.

As great as it would be; I’d soon be so broke that I couldn’t pay attention: So instead; I sometimes bury myself in books and think about my lessons; dull right? Maybe…but this makes the trip to Hong Kong so much more valuable; I’m going to see the world; but I’m going to hold out for the big climax; You don’t start a love affair with a city, by getting it totally naked on your first date.

Not all those that wander are lost:

Thirdly; I am never nervous; even if I’m lost,  what seems like six-hundred miles away; where people are selling extremely dehydrated seahorses and markets which should come with zookeepers; and why should I be? It’s part of the adventure!  A frustrating; random adventure which will soon feature a visit from my mother; or what I’m referring to as ‘the day I make sure to clean the toilet’  It’ll soon be highly amusing to experience all of the things in Guangzhou with a partner-in-crime once again.

 

It’s made me full of whimsy: I should go to a hospital:

Oh foggy London town; how I miss you with your spires, your hipster bars and louche attitude towards…Pop…Up…Cocktail…Laundrettes?  Hang on a moment; I’m from Wales; why on earth did I choose to spend a day in my final month wandering through London with a stupid grin on my boat race? Because I’ve gone soft for all things British! This is what I miss about Britain in no particular order;

Radio 4

Pubs

Good salmon

Decent bread

Bristol

Wine

Sweeties

Music in Pubs

Good Blue Cheese.

Beaches!!!

Sea!!!

Stars

A Steak Pie

Craft Beer

Britpop

Dancing like your dad.

 

Finally…

If someone were to ask you what single thing would improve the quality of your life; what would it be? For me; I’ve got an irrational desire to buy a push scooter and whizz through a few courtyards while I’m at it: That’s going to be my ‘one year in China’ gift; when I first arrived; while I had practice wielding a chopstick; it wouldn’t have been a crime to hang me a fork sometime: So I’ve put together an ‘Expat‘  quiz,  which might help you think about your experiences abroad;

What do you most miss about home and why?

What do you really love about the country you are living in?

Do you keep a diary? Why?

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced abroad?

What do you least miss about your own country?

When’s the last time you spoke to someone back home?

If you had to eat only one dish for the rest of your time in your adventure abroad;  What would it be?

Describe your perfect day in your homeland

Who has moved you the most in your adventure?

How’s the weather outside?

China Ramblings: Reflections and some vague insights…(I just wanted to write something…anything…)

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For me, I’ve found that I feel more peaceful in a vast spacious hall; perhaps that’s why the temples of Thailand have left such a deep impression upon me; temples in China tend to be scattered; almost cluttered places.

To my mind; I’ve only had one moment where I had the same feeling from temples in China; way back in Lijiang, Yunnan. I spent a slightly hungover morning deep in the mist; the locals were making rice wine and there was all sorts of statues of strange creatures; perhaps once you’ve cemented a moment like that in your mind; this becomes your main reference point, marring all further experience beyond ‘having a look around’ a temple.

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Despite this; seeing a new temple or building is still worth a train journey; off I went to Sun-Yat Sen Memorial hall; basically like some kind of asian theatre where no show was on display; commemorating the legacy of Sun-Yat Sen; a key figure in the communist revolution; this was besides the point for me; I merely wanted to look at his hall; poke around and feel the gubbins…

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I’m trying to drink more water lately; so checking out the bathroom was a definite feature of this trip; anyway…; yes, my greatest observation that day was how a big hall can make you feel more peaceful; more solemn and even a bit idle;

I had vowed to climb a mountain that day; but somehow; the journey over had sapped me of the feeling; there’s a vast amount of smog that seems to have taken over at the moment; so I just walked again…then I swam; perhaps too late in the day; but looking up at the skyscrapers;  I thought about all the experiences that I’ll soon have with a partner in crime; following 2 brews and a disappointing burger at Bravo; maybe it was time to get my act together;  though their lychee ale is superb in taste; it was all beginning to blend into one.

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Hipster Brew Bars…The vibe at Bravo.

The next day; I spent looking for a book; nothing particular; a bit of obituary reading on Vincent Poklewski’s picaresque life and I was developing a thirst for a book and a sit down: I can throughly recommend Guangzhou’s Books centre for all of your needs; not only was I able to get a superb ice coffee; I was able to purchase and begin Dave Eggers ‘Hologram for a King’ then my hunger for street food took over; yet all I could find was an average Thai meal; another bit of cash spent pointlessly alongside toiletries;

Therefore; what’s the conclusion here? Who is this for?  Perhaps it’s important to remember that despite the vast array on offer in Guangzhou; having fun all the time is unrealistic; work may be all encompassing; but on hindsight; saving is the new spending; lets see how we get on…

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More time in coffee shops please…

 

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Less time buying papercraft stuff when the instructions are in Chinese…Doh!

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This week…

…I’ll be making a crab papaya salad; leftovers from an average Thai; yet I’ve not gained any weight; coffee is the winner!…

On the horizon…Someone will visit soon…worryingly it could even be my mother…

Watching…American Horror Story:Cult is proving to be a return to form…I need more suggestions of things to watch! Gotta save… save… save…. 

Listening to: Lennon, The Stones; All the dead people

Quote of the week: ‘My neck, my back…my crippling anxiety attack’

 

Baby Driver: Rambling about cinemas in GZ

Seeing a movie alone can sometimes be a great way to refresh yourself; books can offer some catharsis; but after a long day at work; sometimes all you need to do is sit in the dark and watch something exhilarating; I’m sometimes a little reluctant to watching a movie while traveling usually; seeing it as time away from the brave new world you should be experiencing;  This was proof that Guangzhou was finally becoming home;

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Baby Driver’  offered all the catharsis I needed on a Saturday night; I’d just discovered a missing filling; the result of too many White Rabbit candies and thinking about phonics; Is there anything more damaging than a sweet tooth? Backed by great insurance; I decided not to allow these kind of troubles to spoil my evening; When I was younger; I might have allowed this kind of thing to really trouble me; maybe I was becoming a sensible adult after all!

Anyway; onto ‘Baby Driver’ Edgar Wright’s new vehicle to twist the action genre and bring us a awesomely musical story about a getaway driver named Baby; It’s far away from Shaun of the Dead and the massively underrated Spaced;  But yet it’s just as entertaining; if not in the same gear of humor that the director is known for; this is not a story in which humans the size of houses deliver killer lines while putting holes in a dozen bad guys; though the marketing could throw you off;

I’m not going to spoil such a refreshingly simple movie; all you need to know is that it has Kevin Spacey, T-Rex on the soundtrack and enough to keep you going back in hope to a dodgy Chinese cinema at the very least;

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The next day, motivated by an approaching typhoon; I paid 100 RMB to see Valerian; practically one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life;  I won’t even mention the director by name; I’ve forgotten his name; the same man who made Fifth Element is nowhere to be seen in this feature; Okay I admit; I nearly had to google it; Luc Besson…robbing me of my time with cheap rubbish…

So I walked out; I had an unhappy happy hour at The Happy Monk; Wishing I’d dropped the money on having the finest lego known to mankind delivered on my doorstep; so I could drink a beer and watch old Robin Williams stand-up; So Go and see ‘Baby Driver’ China interesting only shows around 1-2 English movies per month by law; so take any great movie you can!

So what have I learnt this week: firstly; don’t rely upon any entertainment apart from two men beating the crap out of each other during a typhoon; I wandered the streets; hoping to find some kind of bar; but finding only the rain and mediocre experiences in hellish shopping malls;

From now on; it’s boxing games every time over wandering sullenly in the rain; secondly; God I suddenly miss cooking! So with this weekend fast approaching; my goals are to cook a damn fine steak and to finally buy all the model kits that I’ve started to build a relationship with; I love my job and I love the weekend: So it’s a win-win situation Just don’t ever mention Luc Besson to me ever again…

My next plan is Beijing; I’ll be visiting during the biggest migration; but I’m thinking I can handle it; I don’t have an aversion to crowds; it doesn’t find me in a state of ferment; We’ll just have to get up earlier; So bring on the crowds; the company will be good and we can pretend it’s all just lego anyway!

So as I type this up; I know it’s going to be a good one; with much more to write about; the next post will hopefully have model kits and rooftop views; See ya on the other side! Let’s put the blocks together; pose like James Bond and hope every drink is shaken, not stirred over the next 2 days;

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That;s what happens when you’ve just walked around all day; dumb joke hunting is essential for posts;

Shawan and Huangpu: Random ramblings in temples and villages as usual.

There’s an element of risk that comes with travel: One minute; you could be idly enjoying a particular scrumptious plate at some quaintly run-down noodle shop, the next you could be rushed to hospital with so many tapeworms they need name tags.

So when I lumbered onto the metro line followed by some rather dubious bus journeys on my way to Shawan and Huangpu this Wednesday and Thursday, I counted the places I had been in my head once more, maybe to remind myself that despite moments of uncertainty: I’d seen some pretty curious things in my time in Guangzhou so far.

I’ve never been very good at keeping a diary; I keep ticket stubs; I like to write about my experiences online…talking to…someone…I suppose…maybe myself…who knows?…anyway, first off: I set my sights on Shawan Ancient Village in Panyu;

 

Shawan: Sleepy old ghost town

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About an hour away from central Guangzhou: Shawan seemed another opportunity to see how the other side of China lives: You won’t find KTV booths here; there’s not even a 7/11; you get a sense of what China was like before it was thrust into the modern age of selfies, social media and hundreds upon hundreds of types of Hong Kong style waffles. 

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At first, it really seemed like the locals had given up on the village; there was certainly this overriding sense that I was the only tourist in town; therefore nobody had bothered to set up shop: There’s no official entrance; I just stumbled in; and bought a dusty old ticket; luckily, some city dwellers soon appeared to join me in a pre-amble around the historical Buddhist flecked surroundings of sites such as Wenfang Tower;

 

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Prayer ribbons abound; I’d first come across these little red ribbons of luck back in Lijiang; who leaves them there is a slight mystery; you don’t see many of the locals comign to pay their respects to the tower; 

Nevertheless, I spent a good half hour just trying to make a video blog; something I’d like to personally achieve in the next few entries; once I’ve gained enough experience my to wax lyrical, poetical and fantastical language on old stuff and golden gods of Buddha;

I am into the Buddhist faith from a strictly cultural and historical perspective; yet there is a small glimmer of faith in the power of Buddhism to change lives for the better; particularly with meditation; particularly Transcendental Meditation; a technique unconnected to to spiritual world of the Buddhism; but still a glimpse into something beyond ourselves.

 

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Anyway; the fact I rambled proves that perhaps; while Shawan may have once been a great place for a day out with the family; it’s now a very peaceful; non-touristic tourist attraction; don’t come for a glass of wine and a bit of lunch however; the shops are closed; the locals are asleep; “Everything is broken and no one speaks English” as Tom Waits once quipped.

Some people have mentioned to me that Thailand and it’s temples have lost their edge in the grip of tourism; yet, I must admit; I feel more wowed by their golden pagodas than I have felt in a temple in China so far; the most spiritual element here has to be the ‘Tobleroneesque’ incense burning all around the main temple of Shawan; You know it’s a spiritual experience when you want to frantically order the temple awnings on Amazon:

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Ancient Huangpu Port and Village

So after a long day; I lay in bed after an evening of misadventure to take on the dizzying heights of Ancient Huangpu Port and Village; an old fisherman’s town; where the fisherman have resorted to jobs in cafes or dumpling stalls; as a result of the lack of anything going on in the lake or the village itself; another long metro journey; so close to some random Chinese people it was like we were dating.

 

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IMG_2874.JPGThe most interesting part of Huangpu has to be the maritime museum and it gets worse from there; needless to say; after the quick jog around Shawan the previous day; I was at least hoping for some seafood; but nevertheless; the history of trade in China is vast and ongoing; you get the sense that it’s a nation which never stops; it may have a cup of tea and a bowl of dumplings; but still; trade is everywhere…

Yet I don’t regret each experience of this weekend;  it’s better than relaxing by a pool; though sometimes, maybe a relax by a pool; the simple taste of fresh fruit and music is all you need; I will keep this in mind for my next experience: I’m not done with temples of the villages; but it’s time to find my mojo; buy a few quilts and seek out the next experience.

I ate…This weekend, I’ve been to Social and Co to find they had something resembling a Taiwanese Bao; to be honest; it wasn’t so good; but the cocktail was photogenic:

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Secondly; I stumbled into NoodleBar in Zhujiang for a slightly overpriced Shrimp Laksa in a hipster restaurant; admittedly; I was starving after my day at Huangpu and should have walked out when the price upgrade was due to 3 more shrimps being placed in the bowl. Still good to try and I may go back for something a little cheaper sometime.

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Cocktail of the Week: Happy Monk at The Happy Monk(Zhujiang New Town)

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 A medicinal medical hit with Pineapple and odd sauces…lovely…. which during Happy Hour is worth the three quid; otherwise, stick to a beer.