A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about chinese food

Back to China :)

After a summer holiday in the UK...

sunny 28 °C

So... after having been in China for 10 months, and then spending 5 weeks in the UK to catch up with old friends over the summer, I find myself back on my home soil - China.

It's strange to go from living somewhere so familiar for a such a long time, to move to somewhere so different in so many ways, only to feel more at home and at peace with yourself in your new surroundings rather than your old ones.

China is so incredible and has been the best decision I think I've ever made. Asia is so beautiful and so are the people, their cultures and how they treat people. I feel so at home here and welcome. When I finally returned, people welcomed me with love and open arms and I've never been so happy to be anywhere in the world.

Obviously the proximity to other Asian countries is ideal for travelling and allowing me to see other wonderful cultures on this side of the world, but more so than that, it allows me to continue soaking up the atmosphere and really emerge myself in the culture and customs and especially the language of this amazing country.

Ay, there's the rub! The language! It still eludes me but everyday I feel as though another word or the correct pronunciation sticks in my brain a little longer. It's so unfamiliar having to use tones and intonation to change a word rather than provide emphasis as we do in the English language. However, I welcome the challenge and will hopefully reap the rewards in due time.

People tell me I am an inspiration - I enjoy this idea but don't believe it. I feel very blessed to have found the strength to do what I have done but it was inspiration that drew me to this place; I can only hope that my story helps others find the inspiration to do something they will truly love with their whole heart as I do now.

At the minute however, I feel very disconnected from myself which is making me feel disconnected from China so this needs to be rectified immediately! I think my brief time in the UK has reset me somehow, so I feel like I have to re-tune myself to my surroundings and rejoice in them once again. A brief moment in time showed me that although I love it here, and I do, when something happens and I cannot find a friend here to console me, I still have people in my life, albeit in a different country, that can still bestow good wishes and vibes on me which is reassuring and gives me hope that even though rivers and oceans separate me from the most important people in my life, they are never truly that far away.

This new school year promises to be a fruitful one - my kids from last year are my kids this year so I get to enjoy their growth from the beginning until the end, which will be very rewarding. The plan for Chinese New Year is Cambodia, Vietnam and possibly Malaysia so watch this space for another look at the Asian world through the eyes of a soon to be once again optimistic western traveller :)

Posted by Lady Mantle 05:52 Archived in China Tagged cambodia malaysia vietnam work chinese_food travelling students teaching teachers foreigners tefl new_beginnings chinese_games starting_again Comments (0)

Train Stations, the Zoo, old China town and a stupid cold!

sunny 27 °C

Today has been long but eventful! Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long one!

I got the subway (again - I'm a pro now!) to meet up with Mish and we headed to Beijing North Train Station to get my ticket to go to the school on Saturday in XinXiang.

This would be fine accept we got out of the subway and couldn't find the main train station, so we're stood there looking at a map when a friendly Chinese face pops over the map and says, with a slightly American twang "You guys need some help?" - THANK GOODNESS!

So she directs us to the train station and advises us that we need to actually get there which is daunting as there is an assortment of highways twisting and looping about themselves right between us and the train station. I almost wanted us to be in a movie and as the camera pans out to show the mass of road we needed to cross there would be a kind of "duh, duh, duuuuuuuuh!" musical moment as our task was laid before us!

However, we eventually found an underground root which cut out the overpass completely - very useful!

The next 2 hours were border line psychotic...!

We waited in not one, not two, but four queues, upstairs, downstairs, outside, inside, everywhere, only to end up at the same window we started at, frazzled and confused and no further in our quest to get me a train ticket.
I noticed a Chinese girl in front of us, probably no older than 15, maybe 16 who had hand written English on her backpack - I tapped her on the shoulder, refusing to be beaten by a sodding train station and showed her a simple message I had translated on my phone simply saying, in Chinese, "Do you speak English?".
By some glory of Darwin, she replied, "Yes, a little" - we showed her Mish's ticket and explained, as simply as possible and with a lot of non-verbal communication (AKA, a lot of hand motions and raised eyebrows) that we needed another ticket, like hers only for me, but it needed to be the same day, same time, same train!
A few quick words of Chinese later, my passport and the equivalent of £18, I had my ticket for the 5 hour train journey to the school and mine and Mish's home for the next year.

It's now 1pm.

We go to the subway to head back into town, then decide to go the zoo as it's the next stop on the subway anyway.
The Beijing Zoo subway stop was between where we were and the National Library. However, the Beijing Zoo subway stop was out of service, so we ended up on the other side of it at the National Library - we then walked. And walked. And walked some more. Found a park with an elaborate entrance, but no zoo.
We showed a passer-by the map and pointed to the zoo, they directed us around the corner; we walked some more.
Eventually, after several offers of Rikshaw rides and some of the most pungent street foods ever created, we found the zoo!
So for what was essentially £13 we got a ticket for the main zoo, the Panda enclosure and the aquarium.
Beijing Zoo is bloody enormous.
They had lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and a giraffe and birds and eagles and reptiles, you name it, they had it.
They also had this little guy:
I hand-fed him bamboo and when I noticed there wasn't any water for him, at all, I took out my bottle of water and covered the bamboo leaves with water, next thing I know there is a huge trunk snuffling it's way towards me, and in one curl of its muscular nose, the wet bamboo was swept straight out of my hand!
Then he starts sniffing around the bottle, so I pour some water into my hand, and there he goes again, sucking up the water through his nose with a force that can give a Dyson a run for it's money on suction power.
Well needless to say, that entire water bottle went to that little guy and then everyone around me started joining in - there were people with their hands thrust through the gate pouring water, tea, anything they had on them onto the floor and the leaves and apparently elephants like Starbucks.... but they don't very much enjoy eating the cups!

My good deed done for the day helping the animals, we ventured into the Aquarium.
Oh. My. Jeeves.
Best Aquarium ever. The zoo was ok, about from some of the animals were clearly distressed and were beating their heads against their enclosures which was really upsetting. But the aquarium. Wowzers.
We were greeted by the obvious choice for a Chinese Zoo:
Koi fish!
We then walked across a little bridge over the Koi pond to find this beast!
Holy Hell-Fish, Batman!

We continue on through the aquarium and find these exquisite Jellyfish, dancing through the water (safely behind a thick wall of glass!)

Then we moved on to these:

Back in the zoo, and this angry little fella LAUNCHED himself at me:
Almost embarrassed myself in public - luckily, I'd used the toilet in the aquarium!
I say toilet....:

Yep - that's the toilet, a hole in the floor with foot grips so you don't fall in your own wee!

Then we went to see the Pandas!

When we couldn't walk around the zoo anymore, we got a taxi back to Mish's hostel so she could change her shoes that had begun eating into her feet :( then headed to the older part of town that has the best food and shops!
After gorging on some amazing dumplings and undisclosed meat on a stick:
we met these guys: IMG_2253.jpg then ended the evening ordering bottles of booze through Mr. Wong, a wholesaler who spoke brilliant English and discussed our futures here in China whilst his colleague whipped me up a hot tea with honey and lemon for my increasingly annoying cold and apparent cough now as well.
Walked Mish to her hostel then on my way back to the subway to head home I noticed a Chinese Medicine store and popped in to see if there was anything I recognised to help with fix my broken body.
The woman behind the counter had a book with symptoms written in Chinese and English - I pointed out cough and sore throat and she put some elixirs and potions on the counter:
Best stuff I've ever bought, within an hour the cough syrup had sorted me right out!

I think that will do, don't you!?

  • Sleeps*

Posted by Lady Mantle 08:18 Archived in China Tagged trains chinese_food subways language_barrier questionable_meat beijing_zoo Comments (5)

Stepping out into the land of Chinese Cuisine...

sunny 18 °C

This evening I went to a Chinese restaurant around the corner from my hotel...

I've never eaten so much chicken in my life!

For the equivalent of £4.70 I was offered a smorgasbord of treats ranging from meat on sticks to vegetable dishes, noodles and rice, various multi-coloured sauces and of course, pizza!

I tried pretty much everything without wanting to seem like the ravenous westerner ;)

There were these little triangle things that had some kind of fish (I think!) and vegetables, almost like a samosa... with fish?!

I also tried what looked like a mozzarella dipper stick from MacDonalds, only it was shorter and fatter like a potato croquette.... it was not potato or cheese. it was sweet and there was an almost soft, translucent paste inside. it was nice, but I don't think it will become a staple food source....!

There was a selection of fruits etc but I've been warned off eating fruit here unless I buy it and cook it/clean it myself, so I had cake instead!

The sponge here is so soft and light, I had to double check I'd actually eaten it afterwards! There was also slices of what looked like roly poly cake but with green jelly in it instead of jam...

All in all, I feel my first attempt in a Chinese restaurant was a success, considering nothing was in English and the only way I know how much stuff is is because people keep showing me on a calculator - never thought I would say this, but thank goodness Maths is a universal language!

And to top off the evening, considering I'm still riddled with this bloody cold, I got this in a little biscuit packet they gave me:


I am now the proud owner of what appears to be a magical, Chinese Unicorn :D

That, and I totally caught up on last night's Doctor Who on my laptop - thank the Baby Jeeves for the (if somewhat restricted) Internet!:


Now for a film and then bed as I'm braving the subway tomorrow!

Night Blog Family xxx

Posted by Lady Mantle 05:56 Archived in China Tagged chinese_food sweets questionable_meat Comments (1)

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