A whole new geography….and FOOD.

China, or as they call it here- PRC (People’s Republic of China) was never on my list of places to go. I mean really, how many Americans go to China for vacay? Can you think of any? Thing is, China is just right above us in Australia…..Beijing is 5500 miles from here, about twice what it is from Atlanta to Seattle, say. But remember, Australia is a vast continent, about 80% of the size of the US (with only a 10th of the population.) It’s a completely different geography than what I’ve been around and what I am used to.

In the last 6 months, I’ve been to China TWICE.

To Tokyo, Japan.  To Singapore.  Honestly, for a person with (what used to be) little to no interest in Asia, I sure have spent a lot of time there.

I’ll never again think that all Asians are the same, or look alike. Their personalities are as different as a Bostonian is from a Texan. Or a Canadian is from a Georgia Peach.

This last trip to China was to Chengdu (still quite non-Westernized, in North central China) to Beijing (the capitol of the country, and one of the most populous cities in the world- and  Interestingly the Beijing airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic. It falls right after- you guessed it- ATLANTA! ) Also, Hong Kong. (HK has completely different rules than mainland China -MC-, even though they are both a part of the same country.) If you’re from MC, you must obtain a Visa to go to Hong Kong. This would be like an Australian having to get a visa to go to Tazzie or an American having to get a visa to go to Florida.

I am BEYOND fortunate in that when I travel to some of these far flung places, I travel with a good friend who speaks Mandarin. (THis woman is an amazing negotiator at the silk market, just sayin’) She works for an international luxury hotel and these are her sales trips. I tag along and we stay in some pretty sweet digs. She works during the day, I walk around, or go on tours or whatever and at night we find things to do and restaurants that are enticing. To tell you the truth, we are both quite adventurous and we  eat a lot of street food in Asia. We kind of dare each other to consume certain things. This last trip, we had the most amazing tofu noodle soup for 3 RMB or about 50 cents from a sidewalk vendor. I even ate a whole quail- pressed flat and smoked- crunchy bones and all (although I could not bear to eat that little head with the beak still attached.)

A true delicacy, and a delicious snack. It costs 10RMB, which is about US$1.60.

A true delicacy, and a delicious snack. It costs 10RMB, which is about US$1.60.

This typically comes on a skewer and costs about 5 RMB or .75 cents.

This typically comes on a skewer and costs about 5 RMB or .75 cents.

Served simply, in a leaf. Talk about bio-degradable.

Served simply, in a leaf. Talk about bio-degradable.

IMG_3448

The Chinese typically don’t partake in very sweet things. Many of their deserts have beans or taro. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Noodles- rice / buckwheat / glass / wheat.......

Noodles- rice / buckwheat / glass / wheat…….

China is a communist country. It lacks the, shall we say, gloss and glaze of a European destination. There are places I would be loathe to go within the country primarily because of the beliefs I have about the humane treatment of animals. If you decide to visit Asia, do your homework. You don’t want to find yourself in a wet market in a rural Chinese community if you’re precious about your animals like I am. That being said, there is a rawness and a uniqueness to the place. The beauty there  is not what WE would necessarily define as beauty, but it’s there nonetheless.

Just an ordinary passageway through an ancient walled garden.

Just an ordinary passageway through an ancient walled garden.

This boy was delighted when he saw first a blonde, and second a camera. Those pink cheeks!

This boy was delighted when he saw first a blonde, and second a camera. Those pink cheeks!

A traditional hutong, or Chinese alleyway, where people live, eat, conduct business.

A traditional hutong, or Chinese alleyway, where people live, eat, conduct business.

China is an experience, and certainly can’t be pinned down into one blog post. Wait until you hear about this eco-resort we stayed at up in the rural mountains by the Great Wall. That will come soon…..

Thanks for sticking with me-

Cheers!

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