In these times of Coronavirus, travelling around China in the way we used to, has become virtually impossible. Although the situation in China is gradually improving, it’s still far from stable. At any moment, a new outbreak could take everything back to square one and put the country back into lockdown mode. It’s hard to say when we’ll be able to go back and resume our travels. However, that won’t stop us from continuing to post at holachina.com!
Coming next: Datong: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Our next article will be a quick look at China’s coal town, Datong, a rapidly transforming city trying to give itself an image makeover; from soot city to tourist city with varying degrees of aesthetic success.
The best of Guangzhou: still to come
We still have loads of unpublished material, as well as updates and great photos to upload. Maybe this quarantine we are undergoing at the moment in Madrid will enable us to be more productive!
Wanzhou Kaoyu 万州烤鱼 the Chongqing dish that is hot in Madrid’s Chinatown
A local specialty from Chongqing, China called Wanzhou Grilled Fish (Wanzhou Kaoyu 万州烤鱼 ) is now all the rage in many restaurants in Madrid’s Chinatown neighbourhood of Usera.
What is Wanzhou Grilled Fish / Wanzhou Kaoyu 万州烤鱼
It is a grilled /roasted whole fish covered in a dry dressing of Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilies and and served in a big pan filled with a soup like sauce that is not to dissimilar to the stock used in Sichuan hot pots 火锅 (huoguo).
The dish originates from Wanzhou (formerly WanXiang) in Chongqing municipality: It’s now popular all over Mainland China.
The original way of making this dish is to first grill a freshwater fish (Carp 鲤鱼 is popular) over charcoal and then cover it with various condiments that you order from the menu.
Some of these condiments might include lotus roots, potatoes, bamboo shoots, glass noodles, edible fungus, and beansprouts.
In Madrid the fish is usually Sea Bass (Lubina in Spanish)鲈鱼.
During the One Child Policy (一胎政策) which finished in 2015, the Chinese government tried to persuade the population not to discriminate against having female children. Unfortunately, the campaign was not successful and has resulted in there being far more males than females in China. Traditional families, especially in the countryside chose to have a male child over a female child.
This is a government propaganda sign in Rural China (Bakai, Rongjiang, Guizhou Province) reminding the local population that males and females are equal.
Hidden away up an eroded valley a few kilometers from a remote stretch of the Yellow River is Lijiashan 李家山. It is one of Shanxi Province’s hidden gems. A village almost exclusively made up of traditional cave dwellings 窑洞. It’s a place to spend a few days disconnected from the modern world, read a good book on one of the sunny terraces of the local home-stays and sip a cold (or lukewarm) beer. All the home-stays are cave dwellings built into the side of the mountain. If the sky is clear, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular starry nights(full article coming soon).
This summer we travelled with a friend who had never been to China before. So to give him a good introduction we made a route from Beijing to Xian passing through the province of Shanxi. Its a route that took in some magnificent Buddhist cave art, wonderful old towns and castles, the Great Wall and included some of the most beautiful temples in China. Finally finishing up with the Terracotta Army in Xian.
Getting train tickets in China has always been a hit and miss operation, especially if you want sleeper berths for long distance trains. At Chinese New Year, getting a ticket becomes something akin to winning the lottery.
This BBC clip sums the situation up quite well, and shows the growing divide between the haves and have nots in modern China, where just having access to a computer is an advantage。
Memories of Zhongdian
Our first attempt to visit the town in 1991 was thwarted when the police pulled us of the bus just after Tiger Leap Gorge and sent us back to Lijiang. Zhongdian/ Dukezong was still apparently closed to Foreigners then. Eventually, we got there in 2007 on our way to Tibet.
Guangdong Province is our destination this year and a much shorter visit than normal. We plan to base ourselves for almost a week in Guangzhou taking time to enjoy the Dim Sum and making various excursions. High on our list are the Diaolou near Kaiping; the river side temples near Qingyuan and the Bagua Villages near Zhaoqing. If there is time we would like to pop into the little known Hakka area of southern Jiangxi province and visit the Tulou (Hakka earth buildings) near Longnan. Finally,
we’ll finish our trip visiting friends in Beijing after taking the bullet train from Guangzhou.