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Curiosities & General Strange & Weird Stuff in China

Thursday, 25 May 2017

▲ We had a wonderfully loud and raucous restaurant evening in the village of Duoyishu, in the rice terrace area of Yuanyang. The Chinese group at the next table were ripping in to the alcohol, toasting us, generally getting more and more in to the party spirit, culminating with singing including this one exuberant woman who performed an energetic song and dance routine to loud applause, including from our tables.

◄ At our hotel in Lupoing you were confronted by these scales as you entered the restaurant for breakfast. Presumably you could weigh yourself on arrival and departure and if the story wasn’t too bad return for another bowl of noodles.

▲ In the Communist era it would have been consciousness raising and driving in to Wushan at the end of the day these restaurant staff were going through a bit of communal dance routine before the evening kicked off.

▲ Chinese packaged ice creams were very good and available everywhere, often for 3 or 4 RMB – 40 or 50 cents US – sometimes as much as 10 RMB in touristy spots. Usually they were carefully arranged and packed on display, this Wushan shop just hurled them all into the freezer.

◄ Repeatedly there were reminders of the style and affluence of modern China. Near our hotel in Shanghai this fruit shop displayed their wares beautifully packaged and arranged, rivalling Japanese fruit shops I thought. The apples all the way across China were delicious.

▲ Just another very stylish café/restaurant, this time in the French Concession area of Shanghai. Another reminder of China’s large middle class and their large disposable incomes.

▲ It was the same story looking down from my bicycle ride around the Xian City Wall, a classy looking café offering ‘gelato & waffles’ in English and two shiny new cars parked outside. This is not a developing world nation was the thought over and over again.

◄ There are some great T-shirts to be seen, sometimes just interesting translations, sometimes interestingly thoughtful, like this one.

▲ Walking the city wall at Pingyao I come across a movie shoot set in China in 1938, the Japanese are being nasty. The scene I see being set up features, as I interpret it, assorted people fleeing the city and as they emerge from the gate encounter a number of people being shot. The victims are having blood daubed on by makeup artists and at ‘action’ everybody races out, stumbling and stepping over the bodies.

▲ Just before the ‘action’ call three of the actors – the better off ones, toting suitcases rather than straw carriers – see me (I’m the only spectator looking down from the wall) and wave.

▲ I wasn’t sure when the story was set and who the good and bad guys were, but when I came down to ground level and encountered this actor, between takes making a phone call in an ‘army motorcycle’ sporting Rising Sun flags it was clear the Japanese were the bad guys As they indeed were.

▲ I’d only been at our hotel in Xian for 10 minutes when I wandered outside and encountered War Horse, from the West End London hit. Indeed it as War Horse, I came upon costume boxes in the hotel’s car park.

▲ Tasty sheeps’ heads lined up at a food stall in the Lanzhou night market.

▲ I passed, but I did have an excellent rice porridge at Old Merk’s Lao Zao stand. It’s a curious blend of rice porridge, eggs, nuts, sultanas and other secret ingredients and Old Merk seems to have the secret recipe, the line to his stand was far longer than any other and while you were waiting you could study the smooth production line process.

▲ I ate on the 6th floor of a deparment store in Jiayuguan, and as we descended after our meal we came to this children’s floor where kids could move sand around with these mini-excavators. OK, kids like sand pits anywhere, but these excavators were mini-life size. And perhaps it’s training up kids to really build the new China?

▲ Really we didn’t see that much really interesting truck traffic, but this truck-load of chickens certainly did the job.

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Curiosities & General Strange & Weird Stuff in China

25 May 2017 | The rest

▲ We had a wonderfully loud and raucous restaurant evening in the village of Duoyishu, in the rice terrace area of Yuanyang. The Chinese group at the next table were ripping in to the alcohol, toasting us, generally getting more and more in to the party spirit, culmin...

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Silk Road by MGB – China Stops Day 30 to Day 46

24 May 2017 | Places

We’re at Day 53 and almost across China in our long trek from Bangkok to London (well to Abingdon, where they once made MGs). Here are a few more of our China stops en route: ▲ On Day 30 we were at Huangshan, one of China’s best known mountain sites and the view fr...

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Silk Road by MGB – China Stops Day 19 to Day 29

22 May 2017 | Places

We’re now at Day 52 of our Silk Road journey and en route through China we made some intriguing stops, here are a few from our arrival in China through to Day 29 of the trip. ◄ On Day 19, between Mengla near the Laotian border and Pu’er, famous for its tea, we visi...

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Xining to Zhangye on the G227 – Day 47 on the Silk Road by MGB

19 May 2017 | Transport

Most of the way across China we’ve followed the ‘highways,’ toll roads where you can cover lots of kms without interruption. About 40km out of Xining heading towards Zhangye the highway ends and we follow the often twisting and turning G227 for most of the day’s 336km...

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Xian in China – cycling the city wall

18 May 2017 | Transport

◄ It may not be totally original, like the Pingyao City Walls, but the City Walls of Xian stretch for 14km and you can rent bicycles and ride a circuit. They cost 200 RMB (about US$30) refundable deposit and 45 RMB (about US$6.50) for two hours     ...

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Maijishan & La Shao – Days 44 & 45 on the Silk Road by MGB

16 May 2017 | Places

It’s wonderful that you can still find places that a. amaze you and b. you’ve never heard of before. Both of these Buddhist sites in Gansu Province in China amazed me, La Shao I had never heard of until a day before my visit ▲ Maijishan I had heard of, although onl...

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Xian – Day 43 on the Silk Road by MGB

15 May 2017 | Places

▲ I visited Xian back in 1995, with Maureen, Tashi and Kieran when our children were indeed children. Well the Terracotta Warriors, Xian’s big attraction, are still a big attraction. They’ve got a much flashier and more permanent display home and the car park and asso...

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Share Bicycles in China

10 May 2017 | Transport

I’ve been riding bikes in Shanghai and Beijing, on my MGB Silk Road trip across Asia. On my first visits to China there were lots of bicycles. Over the years the numbers went down and down, part fashion (people wanted cars) and part government policy (cars were tomorr...

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32 Days along the Silk Road by MGB – On the Road – Part 2

5 May 2017 | Transport

◄ Most of our driving in China has been on ‘Highways’, the extensive network of toll roads which have popped up in the last couple of decades. They’re fast, generally well maintained and for the first week or so after we crossed the border from Laos often remarkably e...

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32 Days along the Silk Road by MGB – On the Road – Part 1

4 May 2017 | Transport

Of course a lot of our Silk Road travel – and we don’t even really start on the Silk Road until we get to Xian – is actually on the road. Part 1 of some ‘on the road’ shots. The trip has featured in an Australian Financial Review article. ▲ We can pack out a petrol...

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