Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A trip to Jiangyou

A friend of mine from work invited me to their hometown of Jiangyou this last weekend. It is a few hours drive to the north of Chengdu, and was the hometown of Li Bai, a leading Tang Dynasty poet. Jiangyou is a medium-sized town (by Chinese standards) with a population af about 800,000 people. (Chengdu is a medium-sized city of 11 million, in case you are wondering)

We drove to Jiangyou after work on Friday evening, and after we arrived in town we visited a little restaurant that had seats out by the river. For dinner we had a variety of BBQ dishes... lamb kabobs, pork kabobs, spicy chicken skin, spicy pigs intestines, spicy duck intestines, little quail/pheasant eggs, some shredded cucumber, and some freshly made potato chips. It was really delicious, but we couldn't finish it all.

After dinner I checked into my hotel... the MingHua Hotel. They don't have any 4 or 5 star hotels in Jiangyou, and it turned out to be nicer than I thought it would be. I got a suite and it only cost me about 270 Yuan (about $42) per night. The only complaint I had about the room was that the shower didn't have a shower curtain. It had the rod for it, but no curtain.

Tina called me on Saturday morning and asked if I would like to go to a birthday party. We hadn't really planned anything for the weekend, so I said ok. The birthday turned out to be another one of those 100 day birthday parties for a child, and there were a lot of relatives in attendance. Lots and lots of relatives.

Guests start heading to their seats for lunch.

Tina and I, along with her parents, aunts, and uncles

Anyhow, it was a lot of fun, and I tried not to eat too much or smoke too much during the lunch. I asked Tina to tell her relatives that I didn't drink that early in the day, and no one really minded that I did my toasts with tea. The food was pretty good, and there was lots of it!

Some hot peppers growing outside the restaurant

After lunch we went to do a little shopping, and after that I went back to my hotel for a nap. Tina went to visit some more friends and relatives. We met up in the evening for dinner, and we went to a place that Tina liked and we had rabbit hotpot. Yum!

Rabbit hotpot!

After dinner we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (in 3D) at a theater near my hotel. Tina had not seen this one, and I had only seen a bad copy that was filmed by someone in a Russian theater. There a lot of little things I noticed that I had missed while watching my bad copy that made the movie more enjoyable. (Did you notice his son's initials? Slytherin maybe?)

On Sunday we had planned to go a nearby mountain that had some temples, and had some places that had to do with Li Bai, but the weather was really windy and rainy so we decided not to go. Instead I went over to Tina's place for a little while and we watched some TV, and then we went to her grandmother's house for lunch. Oof! I think I gained a few pounds during this weekend trip. So much good food!

Heading out of Jiangyou on a cloudy/rainy day

After lunch we headed back to Chengdu. Since Tina's mother, father, and aunt were coming along for the ride I decided to snooze through the trip (since I couldn't understand much of what everyone was saying). When I woke up we were about 50km outside of Chengdu, and noticed that the first billboard I saw was for a Chevy Camaro. I don't think I've ever seen a Camaro in Chengdu. Chevrolet seems to sell a lot of these little compact 4-door cars that a lot of Chinese like.

After I got home I cooked a small dinner and tried to stay up late, since I was going to be starting on a late shift at work the next day and I'm use to going to bed early. I watched the movie How to Train Your Dragon, and then did some reading before bed. Monday will come too soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some time with friends

The weekend before last Jackie came to Chengdu to visit me. She had taken off some time from work and was on her way to her hometown of YiBin to visit her parents. We spent one day visiting Kuan Zhai Xiang Zi (wide and narrow alleys), which is sort of like JinLi Street with lots of shops, restaurants, and teahouses in an old Chinese style setting.

A room in one of the teahouses

Phyllis and her boyfriend joined us, and we went to a little restaurant nearby for lunch that had DaPanJi. After lunch we stopped by a little art gallery to see some Chinese paintings and calligraphy.

Some calligraphy

Another beautiful painting

After visiting the art gallery we went to visit all the little shops in Kuan Zhai Xiang Zi. It was getting a little hot in the afternoon, so Jackie and I went back to my apartment and had a nap before going out to dinner. For dinner we joined our friend Kitty and had some hotpot. It was very good, and I tried not to eat too much (which I do too often when I eat hotpot).

On Sunday morning Jackie met up with a friend of hers and went shopping, and I was going to meet them for lunch but they ended up shopping through lunch time. After their shopping trip Jackie left for YiBin. I was very happy I got to see her.

Since I am in between projects I took last week off. I didn't travel anywhere, and stayed home most of the time. On Monday night I found out that I got a new project at work, and will be able to stay in Chengdu (yeah!). The rest of the week I spent most of the days at home avoiding the heat outdoors, and going out for dinner in the evenings with friends.

On Saturday evening I took my friend Cindy out for a birthday dinner. We went to Fiesta Thai, and had a lot of really good Thai food. Afterwards we went back to my apartment and watched a movie. My landlady got me a new DVD player and it has a USB port, so I can see the movies that I have on my computer on my TV now, without having to run cables all over the place.

On Sunday I went to Peter's Tex-Mix Grill for lunch with my friends Reese, She Wen, and her friend Clelsea. Reese is going to be on an assignment in Japan for a half a year, and since the others had lived there before I thought they could meet and talk about Japan. It was a really good lunch and everyone had a great time chatting.

After lunch Reese and I went to do a little grocery shopping and then we went back to my apartment and took a little nap. Then we watched some TV, and in the evening we cooked some spaghetti with Italian sausage, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Reese helped to clean and cut up some of the vegetables, and we ended up having a very nice dinner.

After dinner we watched the movie Soul Surfer. Jackie had watched it when she came over the week before, and Cindy watched it the evening before, so I ended up watching it three times in a week. It is one of those enjoyable movies that is based on a true story that even the kids can watch. I won't tell you much about the movie except that it is about a girl in Hawaii who wants to be a surfer. The surfing scenes and Hawaiian scenery in the movie are wonderful, and the story is very inspirational. Jackie, Cindy, and Reese liked it very much.