“Tofu Buildings”

Doufu Jianzhu or Doufu Zhengfu?

Doufu is the Chinese word for Tofu. It is sometimes used metaphorically to describe something that, like tofu, looks strong and hard on the outside, but is soft and weak on the inside. Following the huge earthquake in Sichuan and the subsequent collapse of so many shoddily built schools killing thousands of school children and students, the local press in China has been labelling the schools, Tofu buildings (doufuzha gongcheng). The actual meaning implies a complete botch job, combined with official graft.

With the expression doufuzha gongcheng flying all over the Chinese media, it now seems that the government has had enough of this open criticism and is reining in the local press, most likely because the truth hurts. In the people’s minds there is no doubt that official squeeze in collusion with business interests led to those poorly constructed state schools. The extent of the repercussions of local party corruption for the Chinese Communist Party as a whole will be known much further down the line. For now it is a case of damage limitation.

If you can read Chinese, here is an interesting link confirming what I have said above:南方周末 – 【学校之殇】建设部专家认定聚源中学是问题建筑——聚源中学倒塌悲剧调查

It now appears that the above article has been removed from the web. I wonder why????????????

Huanglongxi China’s Little Hollywood

Huanglongxi: Where Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon was Film

Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood: Close to Chengdu is the town of Huanglongxi. Though not on the foreign tourist map, it is definitely a must for domestic tourists. Huanglongxi has been the stage set for many of China’s most famous soap operas, TV series and historical dramas, as well as some of Hong Kong’s biggest Kung Fu blockbusters. More recently, the box office hit ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ was partly film in Huanglongxi.

Huanglongxi: China's Little Hollywood sweet-maker
Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood sweet-maker huanglongxi

Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood

Huanglongxi Old Street
Huanglongxi Old Street

It is a small town with a number of perfectly preserved streets and traditional Qing dynasty houses. Unfortunately, some of the streets have become slightly tacky, due to the proliferation of souvenir stalls.

Playing Board Games Huanglongxi
Playing Board Games Huanglongxi

Nonetheless, if you stroll a few hundred meters away from the main tourist drags, you will find yourself in equally beautiful, but quiet, back streets that even now preserve their artisan shops.

Quite Streets Huanglongxi
Quite Streets Huanglongxi

You’ll find places where they build paper spirit-houses, make bamboo fans, crush chillies and braid rope from straw. If you’re lucky, you may catch an opera performance in a side-street teahouse, or musicians rehearsing with traditional instruments in a back room.

Huanglongxi Impromptu Music and Tea
Huanglongxi Impromptu Music and Tea

While at weekends and lunchtimes the village can be a bit overrun, we found our afternoon visit rather relaxing. Next to the river are a host of teahouses, where snacking on spicy shrimps and fried fish and slurping gallons of tea are the order of the day.

Restaurant by the River: Huanglongxi
Restaurant by the River: Huanglongxi

Huanglongxi: A good place to Chill Out

A cold beer by the river Huanglongxi
A cold beer by the river Huanglongxi

Most of these places will also do a good cold beer, if you fancy a change. Besides the teahouses, traditional architecture and flagstone streets, Huanglongxi also has a few interesting temples that are definitely worth a visit.

The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

In fact, one of these temples boasts a real theatre in its courtyard, where you can partake of tea on the stage. This is also where they shot some scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Return to Sichuan Province

Excursion to Litang

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The journey to Litang takes about 7 or 8 hours and takes you through some pretty rural scenery. For the first two hours or so, the bus goes through farming land and past some gorgeous two-or three-storey Tibetan farmhouses; these are sturdy stone and wood dwellings with a courtyard and….

For more go to: HolaChina: Your Gateway to China

Nihao XiaoChi

The authentic Chinese Restaurant Nihao XiaoChi, located in Calle Silva Just off the Gran Via in Madrid, closed down a few months ago. It has since resurfaced as Nihao Huoguo in the same street. The food is still great with the added plus that real Sichuan dishes have been added to the menu.

The Chef is from Chongqing and will happily make the authentic fiery Sichuan Huoguo (Sichuan hot pot). See you there!

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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