And then.....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

( Parenthetical Post)

( went shopping in this colorful shop for H's special, but as yet unnamed in English, seasoning. Surprisingly T also found much needed AA batteries. most happy fellas)

Our Friends

Monday, June 28, 2010

Special Chinese Fried Rice

As mentioned, our friend H. is famous for his version of Chinese Fried Rice.

Here is his recipe~

Vegetables, all carefully julienned:

leeks, green part, or green part of green onion

Meat, both finely chopped:

lean pork
hard sausage, small amount

Rice ( he uses a rice cooker )

H uses a seasoning powder, spicy, available only in China. I think you could try Chinese 5 spice powder or
a bit of soy and/ or oyster sauce..anything really to your taste


have all of the ingredients prepared and close by.
Heat a small amount of oil
Stir fry pork and sausage in hot oil
Add veggies
Add rice
Add seasoning

Hint ~ Stir fry goes rather quickly. You can use the amount of each ingredient as per your preference, however go light on the oil and on the seasoning. You can always add seasoning but too much oil in the beginning will just make a soggy mess. It is also important that the oil NOT be to smoking point when you add the meat.

Very simple and very very good.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 4 -Lijang Market

Judging by the number of photos above you could think I am a sucker for SE Asian markets...and you could be correct. This large Old Town market was rocking. There were vast tables of chilies, great fresh greens, noodles, ummm and uh... duck heads ( and other fowl parts), the expected and unexpected vegetables and stalls of prepared food. From time to time we ran into heavy congestion made up of merchants, shoppers and trolleys ( see above) but this is China and negotiating jammed aisles is to be expected.

I suppose also to be expected - although we were not prepared - was the killer pen section seen in part in the last image directly above. If it looks evil I must say it felt that way too. When I saw the caged dogs, about 5 to each small wooden cage - all, we were told, raised for slaughter, I had to leave. Travel broadens one's thinking, however, in this case I choose to stick with western narrow.

We went to the market to shop for the day's lunch which would be the fabulous result of a cooking lesson from our friend H. Our friend, a native of Lijang, was at one time the chef and owner of a local restaurant known for it's special fried rice. At the market shops he shops judicially, deliberately choosing perfect vegetables and seeking out his favorite meat vendor. " She always has the best quality" he says of the vendor in the first image.

The fried rice was amazing AND the recipe with his instructions and demo photos will follow.

Day 3 Lijang

The pagoda at the Banyon Tree Hotel and the end of day 3.

A shopping trip to the Lijang Market and a GREAT cooking lesson will follow.

day 3 Lijang Old Town

Lijang's Old Town is truly charming. It appears to contain hundreds of shops, many with the same merchandize ...fake antique items, clothing, leather goods, charms....and a good number of restaurants and quaint little inns hidden behind painted garden gates.

The sign, first in Chinese, then English, Japanese, and French says:Dont forget to keep civilized behavior during outing, and also shopping should be reasonable.

Perhaps the tired tourist in the above image did neither.

Day 3 Lijang

A 4-5 hour drive took us up to Lijang at 8,000 ft. ( see link at bottom of below post )
Although a good bit higher than Jackson, the view of the mountains sure looked like home.

Day 2 Dali ~Buddhist Temple

We visited this temple late in the day. There was no one around except a couple of elderly attendants at the Guang Yin shrine and later on a couple of domestic fellow travelers who were seriously fascinated by us.
We were told that this temple was exclusive for nuns but I saw none.

At the end of our wanderings the dinner bell chimed and the old couple gathered their things and headed toward the dining area. They turned to us and motioned that we should follow.

Once in the large and simple room we were invited to join the few others gathered there for the simple meal. Having other plans, we did not join them nor did I take pictures other than the one above. Some sense of decorum in this very quiet and, in it's way, lovely place precluded picture taking intrusion. Now in retrospect I remember the open faces and think in fact they would have liked a picture taken. It is always a fine line and where people are concerned I always err on the dont take it side.

Next Lijang

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 2 Dali ~ taxi

Can you make out the snoozing driver in the back seat?
He is leaning against a couple of upended twin size mattresses.
I am sure there is some sort of story here but only he knows it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2 - Indigo

Had lunch in a small village that was something of a magnet for tour buses. Our guide, however, took us not only to a small, very quiet and good restaurant but also, by weaving through the back streets of the village, to a beautiful indigo shop.
The shop was owned and worked by one family, who could well have lived there as well. The wares, all made with natural plant based indigo and in the ancient tradition, were gorgeous. This stop was early on in the trip and, sensitive to travel weight restrictions that would be coming up, we refrained from buying anything. In retrospect that was an error. In looking for gifts to bring home and despite the fact that everything seems to be made in China we never saw anything of real quality again.

The last image is a bit abstract. It is the fabric resting on the vat of dye as seen in the 2nd image. I seem to have fallen in love with the little bit of red in the picture so indulged in posting it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

day 2 - "go figure?"

This are said to be tele nos of drug dealers. They were not an uncommon sight in the rural villages that we saw. We asked why the police do not simply call those numbers. Apparently it is not that simple.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 2 - "storytelling village"

Outside of Dali and close to the rice fields pictured below is a small village known for it's architecture, very large homes with several courtyards. These homes are sadly representative of a time long forgotten, a time of prosperity and elegance ~ for some at least.
The time would be right the period before Mao and The Cultural Revolution.

The owners of this three courtyard home made their money in India. If you look closely at the 2nd and 3rd images you will see the spaces where elegant and possibly imported ceramic paintings had been. These would have all been destroyed along with all other indications of personal wealth*.

The dwelling today is a commune dwell and, though I cant remember exactly, it seems that 7 families live there. The red thermos in the tiny kitchen indicate to me that potable water would have to be carried. I doubt there was any running water. While there were visible broken windows and quite likely the worst imaginable sanitary conditions in the loo ( imagined only from a distance ), the place was swept, there were plants growing, lunch was being prepared and a small family was gathering for the noon meal. One friendly faced elderly man smiled in our direction. These little things helped me consider life in this once exclusive estate a bit more tolerably.

The 6th image above, the Chinese writing, is a remnant of Mao's time, perhaps a quote, perhaps an edict. Some people ( some ethnic group - but I cannot recall which) , while in a significant minority, still hold Mao in high esteem.

* i dont know what became of the original owners of the house during The Cultural Revolution. We stopped by another house and were told " this family was alright because they were related to a farmer".

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trip Day 2 - Dali - Rice Workers

There are many rice fields around Dali. I have searched the internet for a good link about Chinese farmers and rice workers but without success. I dont trust the bits of information floating around in my notes but will pass this tidbit of what I believe to be reliable information.
Rice workers , from the day they enter the fields never have a single day off, furthermore there is no concept of retirement. Rice workers work until they can no longer work.

I have read that the government is now giving these workers more attention, perhaps more aid or benefits, still the long, hot days bent double in deep muddy water is beyond most westerners imagination...surely beyond mine. *

* although i have seen migrant workers in the fields of Imperial Valley - this country - in the same hot sun and same posture, albeit without the mud, for the same long hours. The difference was that the Imperial Valley migrant worker very often was did not have work on an income the next day.

A storytelling town follows.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Interrupt This Travelog for...

...Jackson Wy June 15, 2010 as Suzanne, Sammy and I set out for a snow spitting walk on the levee.
Temps in the upper 20s tonight but the promise is highs in the 70s to follow. I am reminded by old timers that this is just Jackson June and no big thing.

Back to China tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trip Day 2 - Dali

Other than the tourist street pictured below, Dali's Old Town was devoted to the locals needs. Above, a little market with local produce, a shop that featured clay pot cooking and....well, I am not really sure what the shop represented in the last image is about. What the couple is doing is blow torching a duck's leg.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trip Day 2 - Dali

The link will tell you about Dali, it's history, Old Town and New Town.

We took a 30 min flight from Kumming to Dali and were met by our guide, H., who drove us straight to Old Town and our hotel, The Landscape Hotel.
The hotel was close to the main street of Old Town as well as a very very popular tourist street called Foreigners Street. We were told that the street, several blocks of tourist shops and restaurants, was given it's name because of the impact of a few western backpackers who hung out there for a while when that part of China was first opened to westerners. Seems these backpackers longed for some spaghetti and hamburger, omelettes and other culinary memories of home. They opened a few restaurants and taught the locals how to cook western style.
Above you will see the effect in Clare's Cafe featuring all of the above.

It seemed to me a greater attraction to the street was the presence of busloads of Chinese domestic who come regularly to Dali's Old Town to see the foreigners on Foreigners Street. And, of course, have your picture taken there.
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