The Laba Festival 臘八節/腊八节) is celebrated on the eighth (ba 八) day of the 12th month (la yue 腊月) and is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese culture. It is also a prelude to the Chinese Lunar New Year. This year the La Ba Festival falls on Jan 27.
The festival was originally a day of thanks for a good harvest and sacrifice to ancestors. The festival was used as commemoration of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment at the age of 35. Therefore, many customs of the Laba Festival are related to Buddhism. In the Qing dynasty, ceremonies for the Laba festival would have been held in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.
Ancestor worship (祭祖jì zǔ):
The reason lunar December is called La Yue has a lot to do with the custom of sacrifice. First, the worship of ancestors and the sacrifice for the gods both frequently took place in the twelfth month, which led to the traditional name of the month: La Yue（腊月). Second, winter is the slack season for farmers so they have time to find things to burn in the sacrifice.
Laba Rice Porridge (腊八粥 là bā zhōu): There are several legends about the origin of porridge eating on Laba:
Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha) once attempted to find the right path to awakening by starving himself. One day, when he was starved and weakened, he met a village girl who gave him milk and rice pudding (congee) after mistaking him for a spirit who granted her a wish. He attained enlightenment not long after that incident. Some say the porridge, made of red beans, has the power to exorcise evil from little kids.
Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, used to live in poverty before he rose to power. He ate congee during those hard times. After becoming the emperor, he asked the people to eat congee as well. The custom of porridge eating has been well-known throughout history, from the royal court to common people. Almost every region in China has its own local recipe for Laba porridge. Eating hot porridge is great in cold winter, and the grain and nuts are considered healthy winter fare.
Laba garlic (腊八蒜 là bā suàn): It is an old Beijing custom to soak purple-peel garlic with vinegar and a little sugar for twenty days starting from the Laba festival. When the whole family gets together for the dumpling feast on Spring Festival Eve, they take out the Laba garlic which will be crisp, with a vinegary flavor and a green color.
Beating Spring Ox:
On the first day of spring the government would hold a ceremony called “Beating Spring Ox” with the purpose of encouraging farming. After the ritual of “Beating Spring”, people would compete in grabbing the scattered pieces of the earthen ox, which would dispel pests or ants, and bring them good harvest in farming and abundant production of silk and livestock.
1. The most authentic porridge is made in Northern China, especially Beiping (北平).
2. Customs of having La-ba porridge is preserved in Northeast China, Northwest China and Jiangnan but it has become rarer in Southern parts of China.
3. During the rule of Qing dynasty, ceremonies for the Laba festival would have been held in the Yonghe Temple in Beijing.
Source: Wikipedia & hujiang; Pic source: hujiang and google search.
Hongkong is praised as ‘A bright pearl in the orient’. As a tourist destination in the world it is acclaimed as ‘shoppers paradise’ and ‘gourmets city’. And is one of the most densely inhabited regions on the earth.
The transport system is great and very systematic too. This City’s transport system offers very safe and comfortable rides. You’ll never miss your destination as there are markers and pointers everywhere and all exits are duly marked to guide your travel. It is an expensive city but it is worth it. Food is cheap but hotels are expensive. There are so many good places to go and even if we stay there for a couple of weeks there, we can’t visit all those places which we wanted to visit. At night there is always life at the harbor.
Top 7 Tips from my perspective:
- Star Ferry: Take the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui because there is not much to see facing the Kowloon side if you begin the trip from Central or Wanchai.
- Budget Hotels: If you are looking for budget hotels go to chungking mansions and mirador mansions in near Tsimsha Tsui in Kowloon.
- Get an ‘Octopus Card’: For a $50HKD deposit and an initial $100 HKD load, you are all set to ride the rails on a comprehensive public transport system that includes ferries, buses and trains. At the end of your trip, you return the card and get back the $50 HKD deposit and any unused money loaded on the card.
- Foods: Don’t miss ‘Dimsum’. There’s a chain of restaurants called “DimDimSum” where it is cheap and tasty.Don’t miss Blooming teas & Tibetan Vegetarian meals near the Ngong Ping tourist village on Lantau Island.
- Visa on Arrival: For all those Indian Citizens there’s a free 14days visa on arrival. If you have your passport with minimum of Six months validity and the most important is your original confirmed return Air ticket showing exit from Hongkong , within fourteen days .
- Don’t miss these attractions Victoria peak, Tiantan Buddha statue, Disneyland, Ocean park, Arts & science museum, Stanley Market(High-quality souvenirs), Temple street Night market, Ladies market(cheap souvenirs), Ozone bar (Ritz-Carlton hotel), on the 118th floor is the highest bar in the world and has spectacular views and the most important is Symphony of lights which is held at 8:00pm every night.
- Learning Cantonese: Last but not least learning the local dialect might help you especially when speaking with taxi drivers because they don’t speak much English. As with any country you go to, the people really appreciate it when you speak a little of the local language. Let’s Learn 3 words here 1.Hello=Nei ho 1. How are you?= Nei hou ma? Thank you=M̀h’gōi
We started at 9:15am after having a lavish breakfast. Though we were 15mins behind of our planned schedule but still it wasn’t too late. Our first destination is Taman ayun temple which is a 2 hour drive from our resort. We arrived Taman ayun at 11:00AM.
This is a beautiful temple building with multistoried rood and architecture.There is a pretty scenic landscape garden in front of the temple which was impressive.
We spent an hour at this place and then started to Candikuning, a local fruit and vegetable market which was on the way to Bedugul. There is a wide spread of fruits and vegetables like Fresh strawberries, mango, banana, salak (snake fruit), papaya, green apple, avocado, strawberry, sweet corn, peanut, coffee powder, and many kind of herbs and Vegetables. After a small shopping here we started from this place to Lake Beratan.
At 1:30 we arrived Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Bratan, is a major Shivaite and water temple on Bali, This temple is built in 1663, and is used for offering ceremony to the Balinese river goddess Dewi Danu.It is located on the shores of a Magical Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul.
My first impression about this place was awesome. I was speechless after seeing the beauty of this place. I can’t explain enough of this place, my pictures says it all..Don’t forget to Check the slideshow ..
At 3:45 started to Pacung to kill our hunger…
One of the greatest views ever, With ordinary food & unfriendly staff. May be they wanted us to eat less. 😛 Though it was expensive (110000Rp/Pax). The view here is appreciable. Since the food was not so great and the spread was little we ordered Nasi goreng (Fried rice) which was good enough to kill our hunger.
It was a one hour drive from pacung to Tanah lot…We arrived tanah lot at 5:30 to view the most beautiful sunset in Bali,Indonesia. Tanah lot temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. This is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century janitor Baratha. During his travels along the south coast, he saw this rock-island’s and rested here.Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock which he felt to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.
Since the place was huge I thought of detaching from the group and going by myself to explore the place to the maximum. If I go in group I can’t cover the whole place so I started exploring by my own. This helped me to capture the beauty of sunset at Tanah lot temple and also the temple.
The place was so serene and pleasant, you cant stop yourself falling in love with this place. The view was spectacular despite the unfortunate fact that it was a bit cloudy that day, but i just loved the whole atmosphere there. The sunset there was still breath taking.
At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant snake purportedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirartha’s towel when he established the island.
My pictures speak better than I do…
1. Admission ticket of Taman ayun temple is Rp 20000. Not so special but if you are in city then don’t miss it.
2. I highly recommend you people to visit Ulundanu and try to spend more time there. Its an awesome place for photographers. Admission ticket is Rp30000.
3. Dont miss boating in Lake Beratan
4. Don’t go to Bali, If you don’t have Tanah lot temple in your itenary. 😛 Sunset at Tanah lot will be unforgettable in your life.
In this post I want to share the Foods which we tried in our last trip in China. Whenever I travel I put my special interest in trying local cuisines especially those foods which are sold on streets. I try street foods for a number of reasons, One is that they are reasonably priced and delicious than the foods which are sold in restaurants and other is to experience ethnic cuisines and also for nostalgia.
I personally liked Xi’an foods especially our first dinner in Xi’an was unforgettable. I have no words to explain my feelings on that meal. Every day in this city was a treat to our to tongues. I will never forget those foods which we tried in this beautiful historical city. You should also check this post where I’ve posted about the foods which we explored in muslim quarter near Bell tower and Drum tower
Foods which we tried in Sichuan :
This combines the cuisines from Chengdu,Emei shan, Leshan and chongqing.
Sichuan food has a great history that it has been originated in the Qing dynasty(1644-1911) books had systematically recorderd a total of 38 cooking methods like scald,wrap,bake,mix,stew and adhere,etc. it features pugent seasoning which were famed as 3 peppers (chinese prickly ash,pepper and hot pepper)3 aroma (shallot ginger and garlic). 7 tastes(sweet,sour,tingling,spicy bitter piquant, and salty)and 8 flavors(fish flavored sour with spice pepper-tingling odd flavor tingling with spice,red spicy oily,ginger sauce and home cooking..I got this info from my 1st year Introduction to china book.
I went to Sichuan with anxiety to try all the foods there. Because all the famous foods which represent China are from this Province. But I was kind of disappointed because I failed to try those foods which I planned to try.
Story behind the origin of Pineapple Rice:
There was once an elderly couple living in the city of Xishuangbann in the Yunnan Province. They tended the land for the feudal lord by gardening on a small island. One summer there came a severe storm that flooded the island. Even though the island had many fruits and vegetables, they were running out, and only had a small amount of rice as well. To stretch the rice, they decided to mix it with bananas, and mangoes. This didn’t taste very good, nor did they like the texture, so they decided to try pineapple. At first they chopped up the pineapple and mixed it with the rice.The pineapple tasted good, they had it several times. One day the old man carved out a pineapple first, and then filled it with rice. This was a perfect combination, so they continued with this preparation even after the floods subsided. These people called the Dai people were a hidden Chinese minority all the way up until the late 19th century. Today this has become a popular dish throughout China with only a few improvements.
Tips from my Trip :
1.Gong baoji ding-in chinese it is called gong bao ji ding; This is a tender chicken dish,tender as the meat is quickly fried flavored with peanuts,this is tasty and very popular.
2.Don’t forget to try foods in muslim quarter near the Bell tower and Drum tower especially Fomi zhongzi (sweet rice dumplings)
3. Yangrou paomo is one of the most delicious meal you should try it for sure.
4.Fried rice with pickled Chinese cabbage and little capsicum is extremely savoury.
Parks play an important role in China. People go to the parks to reduce the stress from their hustle bustle city life. Chengdu really takes hanging out in a park to a whole new level.People’s park(Renmin gongyuan) is the most popular park in Chengdu and is host to a colorful mix of chengdu residents who are always out enjoying themselves in the open air. The park is not only an enjoyable place to relax and mingle.
It also has great historical significance. It was the site of the 1911 protests against the Qing government’s policy of handling over railway construction to foreigners. These Chengdu protests and strikes set off a chain reaction that helped topple the Qing dynasty.
Today, People’s park provides a great public outlet for grand parents with their grandchildren, joggers and tai qi enthusiasts, gamers and musicians and even tea drinkers in need relaxation. The crowds tends to gather in a few parts of the park; the chess players are in the southeast corner,
The musicians hold court in the middle,the East side is the domain of Candy and Souvenir Hawkers,and the West end is where the Heming tea house sits peacefully in the middle of the Park lake.
Smiling faces dance and sing. And when I say dance and sing, I don’t mean singing to themselves all alone in a quiet corner.
Calligraphy in People’s Park:
Elderly people practice calligraphy with wet brushes while they write ancient poems on the sidewalk only to have their works of art evaporate into thin air.Children learn to draw as they sit quietly re-creating the parks monument and women even leave notes on trees with their stats and phone numbers in search of a husband.:P Every section of the park was alive with energy. Everyone was dancing to different music but with as much enthusiasm as the next. One place was filled with older people line dancing to traditional music.Loud house music played as people gyrated their hips and shook their booty’s to the music with no embarrassment or fear of being judged.
Busy all Week
This is where Chengdu residents come to let loose. With lot of curiosity I asked, if this only happens on a Saturday, but no was the answer.. It happens everyday itseems. The retired people spend all their time in the park and a dance can happen any day of the week.
Chengdu is one of the happiest City I’ve seen. There were joy and happiness everywhere. Hope we take Chengdu as an inspiration and put efforts to make our parks like this…
Chinese medicinal cuisine is a long standing tradition. Early records show that it was in use as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220). Through continual improvement during succeeding dynasties, it has developed into a practical science of nutrition. This is not a simple combination of food and traditional medicine, but it is a distinctive cuisine made from food and medicinal ingredients following the theory of Chinese medicine.
This not only became the means of health-preservation among the people of China, but also spread abroad, especially into Southeast Asia. There is now sufficient interest from people wishing to learn about alternative medicine that regular conventions are held to promote this branch of medical science.
There is a wide choice of foods that are used in many different ways to promote health and well-being. It is estimated that there are more than 600 different kinds of resource ranging from cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats and marine products. Many of these will be unfamiliar to foreigners who may be reluctant to try them; however all are quite precious and effective in the field of medicinal food. Many different ingredients are used to add to the appeal as well as to strengthen effects of the cuisine. Wine, sugar, oil, salt, vinegar and honey, and other commonly available items such as almonds, mandarin orange, or peanuts, all are utilized in the cooking process.
According to its respective functions, medicinal cuisine is classified under four categories:
3.healing cuisine and
Health-protection cuisine refers to reinforcement of required nutritional food correspondingly to maintain the organic health. A soup of pumpkin and almond can help lose weight; soup of angelica and carp can add beauty; and ginseng congee can give more strength.
Prevention cuisine builds resistance to potential ailments. Mung bean soup is considered helpful as a guard against heat stroke in summer. Lotus seeds, lily, yam, chestnuts, and pears can assist in the prevention of dryness in autumn and a strengthening of resistance to cold in winter.
Healing cuisine is the medicinal food for rehabilitation after severe illness. Broiled sheep’s heart with rose or braised mutton with angelica will help to rebuild a healthy constitution.
Therapeutic cuisine aims at the specific pathology. Fried potatoes with vinegar can adjust the organ and restrain hypertension and carp soup with Tuckahoe may enrich the strength of blood plasma albumen to help reduce swelling.
Have a try and you will enjoy the delicacy while benefiting a lot from the nourishment. 😉 A really amazing experience!
The Dragon Boat Festival, also called the Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar. For thousands of years, the festival has been marked by eating zong zi (glutinous rice（糯米）wrapped to form a pyramid using bamboo or reed leaves) and racing dragon boats
The festival is best known for its dragon-boat races, especially in the southern provinces where there are many rivers and lakes.This regatta（赛舟会）commemorates the death of Qu Yuan , an honest minister who is said to have committed suicide by drowning himself in a river.
Qu was a minister of the State of Chu situated in present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces, during the Warring States Period (475-221BC)（战国时期）. He was upright, loyal and highly esteemed for his wise counsel that brought peace and prosperity to the state. However, when a dishonest and corrupt prince vilified Qu, he was disgraced and dismissed from office. Realizing that the country was now in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu grabbed a large stone and leapt into the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth month. Nearby fishermen rushed over to try and save him but were unable to even recover his body. Thereafter, the state declined and was eventually conquered by the State of Qin.
The people of Chu who mourned the death of Qu threw rice into the river to feed his ghost every year on the fifth day of the fifth month. But one year, the spirit of Qu appeared and told the mourners that a huge reptile（爬行动物）in the river had stolen the rice. The spirit then advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different-colored threads before tossing it into the river.
Three of the most widespread activities for Duanwu Festival are eating (and preparing) Zongzi drinking Realgar wine, and racing Dragon boats.
Other common activities include hanging up icons of Zongkui (a mythic guardian figure), hanging Mugwort and Calamus taking long walks, and wearing perfumed medicine bags. Other traditional activities include a game of making an egg stand at noon (this “game” is one that if you make the egg stand at exactly 12.00 noon you will have luck for the next year), and writing Spells. All of these activities, together with the drinking of realgar wine, were regarded by the ancients as effective in preventing disease or evil and promoting health and well-being.
Making Zongzi(Bamboo Rice wraps):
During the Duanwu Festival, a glutinous rice pudding called zong zi is eaten to symbolize the rice offerings to Qu. Ingredients such as beans, lotus seeds（莲子）,chestnuts（栗子）, pork fat and the golden yolk of a salted duck egg are often added to the glutinous rice. The pudding is then wrapped with bamboo leaves, bound with a kind of raffia and boiled in salt water for hours.
The dragon-boat races symbolize the many attempts to rescue and recover Qu’s body. A typical dragon boat ranges from 50-100 feet in length, with a beam of about 5.5 feet, accommodating two paddlers seated side by side.
A wooden dragon head is attached at the bow, and a dragon tail at the stern（船尾）. A banner hoisted on a pole is also fastened at the stern and the hull is decorated with red, green and blue scales edged in gold. In the center of the boat is a canopied shrine behind which the drummers, gong（铜锣）beaters andcymbal（铙钹）players are seated to set the pace for the paddlers.
There are also men positioned at the bow to set off firecrackers, toss rice into the water and pretend to be looking for Qu. The races are held among different clans, villages and organizations, and the winners are awarded medals, banners, jugs of wine and festive meals.