Huoguo

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Huo Guo, the fiery hot pot from Sichuan and Chongqing, is undoubtedly one of those great culinary experiences you should try when you visit China. It’s not a meal to have on your own, but something to share and savour in the company of friends. I’ve found that between 4 – 6 diners is about the perfect number, but on many occasions it’s simply a case of ‘the more the merrier’.

What exactly is a Huoguo?

A Huoguo is a giant pot of boiling broth….

For more got to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

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The Great Firewall of China cannot stop freedom of speech

[Via Boing Boing] Oliver August, a freelance investigative journalist living in China, describes the incompetence and bungling of the bureaucrats who run China’s storied — and expensive — Great Firewall of China. In the fight between Chinese people and the Firewall, the people are winning. There’s even a group of active entrepreneurs who’ll give you Firewall-busting lessons.

Chinese Vegetarian Food

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It may look like Pork, taste like Pork, but it sure isn’t! In a country where nearly every part of an animal is eaten and where nearly any animal is seen as edible, it comes as a surprise to find so much good quality vegetarian food.

For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

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Shaoxing & Huangjiu

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The smell of the wine hung heavy in the bar and impregnated the old wooden tables, chairs, floor and beams. Old and young took large gulps and slurped the wine from ceramic bowls. Mah-jong blocks crashed on the table, and chopsticks raced with each other to pick up the last piece of stinky tofu. The owner smiled and exposed his blackened teeth, more bowls of wine were ordered as new customers replaced departing ones. Welcome to Shaoxing and it’s wine….

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For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

Guiyang-Chishui-Zigong-Bamboo Sea

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This triangle linking the south of Sichuan province with the north of Guizhou is a great combination of lush subtropical scenery, traditional villages and impressive architectural monuments. Yet, in spite of its attractions, the area has not been put on the tourist map, which only contributes to its charm.

This route is equally feasible from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, or from Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, given that the bus connections are good both ways. If you start from Guiyang, like we did, you may find the first part between Guiyang and Chishui, a bit long and tiring, though you could always break up the journey in the historical city of Zunyi….

For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

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Langzhong

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This small town, with a big history, is situated on the banks of the Jialing River, some 225 kilometres from Chengdu. It is all at once the burial place of the Three Kingdoms general, Zhang Fei, birthplace of the Han dynasty inventor of the Chinese Calendar, Luo Xiahong, and home to a wealth of traditional Sichuan architecture. In short, Langzhong has plenty of things to see and do to keep a visitor busy for two days.

Your first priority on arrival, is to find accommodation in one of the many traditional family mansions that…..

For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

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Finding Fenghuang

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It was one of those early evenings in small-town China in 2001; we’d already eaten and the after dinner entertainment options were conspicuous by their absence. The only fall-back was to retire to our room with a few beers and watch CCTV9, the mildly interesting English Language Channel. We tuned in to “Around China”, a cultural and travel programme dedicated to the promotion of traditional and/or exotic aspects of Chinese culture. On the programme, they were discussing a type of opera that was only found in a remote town in Hunan Province whose name I hadn’t caught. We were immediately drawn to the screen, wondering: “where is this stunning place with covered bridges, ancient houses on stilts and pagodas?” At the end of the clip I managed to catch its name, ‘Fenghuang’. Grabbing the guidebook I tried to find it, but there was no such town. We decided to look for more information about this elusive Fenghuang, so that if one day the opportunity arose, we could visit it.

This opportunity eventually came in 2003……

For More go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

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Sichuan Teahouses 四川茶馆

Sichuan Teahouses 四川茶馆

There are few pleasures more enjoyable in China, than reclining in a bamboo chair sipping freshly brewed tea from a porcelain cup in an traditional, old teahouse. Whether you are just people-watching, reading a book, planning your next destination or chatting with friends, it’s one of those memories that will stay with you, long after you have left China. Teahouses are commonplace throughout China; Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities all have their own, and many are extremely fashionable, but it is in Sichuan where you will find the genuine article. Many Sichuan teahouses have managed to retain the timeless atmosphere we associate with Ancient China and continue to form part of people’s daily lives.

Teahouses in Sichuan can range from the humblest hovel to a restored Qing mansion, a converted old theatre or a Buddhist or Taoist temple. The simplest teahouses are often set in rickety, old, wooden buildings on the verge of collapse, they…

For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

Beijing: Evictions, Hutong Demolition and the 2008 Olympics

COHRE ( COHRE – Centre On Housing Rights and Evictions) claims that the Beijing Municipality has forcefully evicted more than a one and a quarter million Beijing residents to make way for the Olympic Games in 2008.

“The Beijing Municipality and BOCOG have violated the housing rights of over 1.25 million residents of Beijing in pursuit of relentless economic growth, including the hosting of international showpieces such as the Olympic Games. The mass displacements and evictions implemented in Beijing are a clear case of the illegitimate use of evictions as a tool of development by the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG, in a bid to transform the city into a ‘world-class metropolis’ fit to host the ‘best Olympic Games ever.’ Despite courageous protests inside China, and condemnation by many international human rights organisations, the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG have persisted with these evictions and displacements. COHRE’s research has shown how the awarding of the Olympic bid to Beijing by the IOC has been used as a pretext to ride roughshod over rights of affected residents,”.

COHRE – Centre On Housing Rights and Evictions

Some are fighting eviction in Beijing
Apart from the forced evictions it should also be noted that hundreds, if not thousands of Beijing’s historic hutongs (old streets and home to the traditional courtyard houses), palaces and temples that have been reduced to rubble in order to be replaced by wide featureless avenues, souless shopping centres and a an opera house that locals call the Rotten Egg.

The Destruction of beijing's historic Hutongs continues apace before the Olympic Games in 2008

Enjoy The Games!

BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Viewing China From the West and From Within – New York Times

New Material

In the next few weeks we will be putting up the following  new material.

There will be a 3 part special section on the province of Guizhou.

A review of our trip to Tibet.

A trip around Wuyuan in Jiangxi. Famous for having the most beautiful scenery in China.

What to do if Stuck in Shijiazhuang.

Two new gems will include Dazu near Chongqing and Yangmei near Nanning in Guangxi province.