Monday, February 2, 2009

Guiyang, translation: "Precious Sun"

In front of Tanque's apartment

Street scenes in Guiyang

So now I'm chillin' in weather that compares to Nepal, only here it doesn't even get warm during the day, and it drizzles. Hence the name Precious Sun. It gets down below 10C at night, and luckily there are heaters in Tanque's apartment. It's very nice here. I have my own room, and my own heater! I got to wash clothes. (Yes, laundry is KEY sometimes!!! Especially because I sent back the majority of my clothes because I wanted to lighten up my pack. I left my clothes to wash in Xishuangbanna at the hostel, and they just threw everything in the washer, sprinkled some soap on top and turned it on- half the clothes stayed dry, the other half turned pink! I do a much better job with a bucket and some body wash soap!)

So I've been staying inside on the computer all day, hibernating until I go to HK and start my tour. The cold slows down every process and makes me completely content to just sit in one spot, huddled up in all my jackets.

I did get out a little bit though. We met up with some other expats over dinner the other night. They made Mexican food, using tortillas brought fresh from Orange County, USA by another visitor- let me tell you, after weeks of just Chinese food, the different flavors really make a world of difference! And there were brownies for dessert- so good! The flavors in food here in China are really different, for lack of a better word. Starkly different. Shockingly different. My mouth has been numbed like at the dentist by a little berry that shows up quite often in sauces unexpectedly. I have spent minutes at a time chewing on awkwardly textured "meat". I have eaten stomach lining and intestine, tendons and cartilage. I have not eaten chicken feet! The Chinese believe that whatever parts of the animal you eat will be beneficial to those parts of your body. There was a restaurant in a little village in Xishuangbanna... we ordered a meat dish, a fish dish, and a vegetable. The meat was some kind of intestine- I had a couple of pieces but didn't really fill up on it. The fish was all right, I didn't really like the sauce though. The vegetable was really good though, and we ordered more. Anyways, I go to the restroom after eating, and the outhouse is just a little hut built over a pond with a hole in the floor! Yeah, you go right in the water! No smell- amazing. Well anyways, upon closer inspection you may notice all the fish in the water... Uh, the fish?! Yeah, we ordered fish. Anyways...! Oh, and Guiyang is known for it's dog meat dishes. No, I haven't eaten dog. And somehow there are lots of oysters available here at the night food stands- even though we are miles and miles from the nearest ocean!

There is a plethora of delicious baked goods though. Papparoti's is a little storefront chain that just produces fresh hot baked buns with a crusty coffee-flavored crust, filled inside with melted butter. We bought buns that were filled with a beef mixture, with a salty crispy crunchy coating. The supermarket sells lots of baked goods, and I bought a bunch to try- some were better than others...

Los Angeles is amazing for the variety of foods that are available at the most fickle whim. Except for dog...

Here is a picture of the expat crew and the apple pie that we made- quite a feat here in Guiyang!

I went with Tanque to do a demo capoeira class at this break-dance studio...

It was a beautiful studio, with wood floors and floor to ceiling mirrors- there were classes for popping, and locking, breaking and now, maybe, capoeira!!! About 5 people actually participated in the class, the rest were giggling. It was really fun, and the kids loved it.
Of course we went to eat afterwards- Guiyang style hot pot!

I just also wanted to mention the supermarkets here- I don't usually love them in the US, or even in India. But here I can spend hours wandering the aisles, of even the smallest liquor store. The goods are all cleanly aligned on the shelves, sparkling and well-lit. They look familiar, brand names and colors with only a couple letters off. I fantasize about the houses within which they eventually end up. Is this what they call retail therapy? I have found bins of flour, raisins and green tea. Shampoo and face lotion. Buckets of squirming eels and hanging dried animal carcasses. Rows and rows of toothpaste. Apples, oranges, loquats, dragonfruit and asian pears. Nescafe. Toilet paper. Cookies. Slippers, socks and underwear. I just don't understand what bringing the AM back means for China though.

K, I'm going to try to attach some photos to this blog now. Peace.
It's nice to just rest a bit without traveling frenetically every single day!

This is the coffeeshop run by Susu- the modest rock climber...
She took us to the little tiny rock climbing studio, recently built, with funds pooled by this little rock climbing crew, in a room barely bigger than my bedroom at home. It's geared for bouldering- tough bouldering- all walls were vertically inclined or less!

Notice my hiking boots- they weren't equipped with rentals, so I borrowed some shoes for a minute, but they were really too small.

All those little particles in the air are the reflection of the flash off the chalk particles...

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