Culture Bridge: A way of Life

A Small interaction with a 67 year old Zhang: A migrant worker in Beijing who migrated from a small village near Chengde, Hebei province.Beijing

Q1.When did you first come to Beijing? Why did you decide to become a beggar?

A.Many men from my village moved to bigger cities for better jobs and pay. They moved all over the country. The men went to the cities as laborers, while the women went to work in factories. I decided to pursue the trend, though I was too old & frail to continue doing manual labor. I decided to go to Beijing and become a beggar. That was 5 years ago. I feel this is the only job I can do at this point in my life.

Q2.Tell me about your early life?

A.I am a farmer & I’ve a son & 2 grand children.We have a three room own house now. Due to ill health my wife passed away few years ago.

Q3. Did you attend school?

A. I attended 1 year of elementary school, but then dropped out to work on the farm. I can’t read & write.

Q4. Can you describe a regular day in your life? Where do you “live”?

A. I sleep on the ground under the bridge near Liangmaqiao. I wake up at 5 or 6 am and then begin wandering throughout the city. I make it back in the late evening and sleep.

Q5. How much money do you usually make per day?

A. On average, I make 1,500 RMB ($220) per month in total.

Q6. What do you do with your money?

A. I spend very little, no more than 5 to 10 RMB per day on meals. I actually go home each month to visit my family.

Q7. How do you go back home?

A. I sneak onto a train and sleep between the railway cars. It’s a 7 hour train ride.

Q8. Have you ever been caught?

A.Yes, I’ve been caught several times, but the train staff pitied me. Only once have I been required to pay for a ticket, after being caught.

Q9. Do you ever dream at night?

A. My best dream is that a blowing wind carrying tons of money towards me.

Q10. If you won 100,000RMB what will you do with that money?

A. I will go back to my village & start a small business & also solve my health problems.

Q11. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would u go?

A. I would go to America. Heard that It is beautiful.

Q12. Do you have any plans for the future?

A. I will work here for 2 or 3 more years, then will retire for good.

Culture Bridge: Chinese La-ba Festival

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.
Elderly having their laba porridge on the laba festival

Elderly women eating laba rice porridge on Laba festival

Customs:

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.
Ancestor worship

Ancestor worship

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 porridge is mostly made of rice and sticky rice, but can also include sugar, red dates, lotus seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, longans, hazelnuts, raisins, red beans, peanuts, water caltrops, roseleaf and other “treasures” (hence its other name, “eight treasure porridge”).

Laba porridge is mostly made of rice and sticky rice, but can also include sugar, red dates, lotus seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, longans, hazelnuts, raisins, red beans, peanuts, water caltrops, roseleaf and other “treasures” (hence its other name, “eight treasure porridge”).

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.

Vinegar with the aroma of garlic is the best seasoning for dumplings.

Vinegar with the aroma of garlic is the best seasoning for dumplings.

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.

Officials  using a colorful club to beat an earthen ox after worshiping the God of Grain; this was the so-called “Scourging Spring”.

Officials using a colorful club to beat an earthen ox after worshiping the God of Grain; this was the so-called “Scourging Spring”. Even today, people in some places name Spring Begins as Beating Spring.

Info-bits:

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.

Travel Diaries: Hongkong ~ My First Backpacking Trip – II

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.

You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.

You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.

The Hong Kong Star Ferry is one of the most unique things to do while traveling in Hong Kong. It is basically a short 10 minute ferry ride that takes you across the Victoria Harbour between Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island side.

The Hong Kong Star Ferry is one of the most unique things to do while traveling in Hong Kong. It is basically a short 10 minute ferry ride that takes you across the Victoria Harbour between Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island side.

Take the Star Ferry atleast once, do it from the Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon side to get to Hong Kong Island at night around 8PM. This way you will see the magnificent view of the skyscrapers in Central and Wanchai. Every night at 8PM there is also a light show called “A Symphony of Lights”. It is a show of dancing lights and music coming from buildings and skyscrapers. You will get a close up look of the light show on the Star Ferry plus a unique boating experience at night.

Take the Star Ferry atleast once, do it from the Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon side to get to Hong Kong Island at night around 8PM. This way you will see the magnificent view of the skyscrapers in Central and Wanchai. Every night at 8PM there is also a light show called “A Symphony of Lights”. It is a show of dancing lights and music coming from buildings and skyscrapers. You will get a close up look of the light show on the Star Ferry plus a unique boating experience at night.

The cost of the Star Ferry ride from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central is only HKD $2 during weekdays and HKD $3.40 for weekends and holidays. The Star Ferry runs from 7:20 AM to 10:30 PM daily. We did it in the day time. It looks more spectacular during night time.

The cost of the Star Ferry ride from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central is only HKD $2 during weekdays and HKD $3.40 for weekends and holidays. The Star Ferry runs from 7:20 AM to 10:30 PM daily.
We did it in the day time. It looks more spectacular during night time.

Skyscrapers! Unhealthy ugly giants! To live and work as close as to the land is a blessing! Remember, you are not a cloud! Come down and live on the ground! -Mehmet Murat ildan.

Skyscrapers! Unhealthy ugly giants! To live and work as close as to the land is a blessing! Remember, you are not a cloud! Come down and live on the ground! -Mehmet Murat ildan.

Hongkong travel (9)

This enigmatic city of skyscrapers, ancient traditions and heavenly food will fascinate, whether it’s your first visit or your 50th.

Hong kong MTR system is very efficient and is the best way to go around in Hong Kong as this is a subway and there is no traffic. MTR is a good way around Hong kong especially for tourists like us since most public bus drivers in hong kong don't speak english. and the Taxi's charge high rates of HKD $ 18.50 for the first two kilometers and HKD $ 1 for each 1 minute in traffic or every 200 meter increments. Taking an MTR helps us in time and money management(especially for budget travellers)

Hong kong MTR system is very efficient and is the best way to go around in Hong Kong as this is a subway and there is no traffic. MTR is a good way around Hong kong especially for tourists like us since most public bus drivers in hong kong don’t speak english. and the Taxi’s charge high rates of HKD $ 18.50 for the first two kilometers and HKD $ 1 for each 1 minute in traffic or every 200 meter increments. Taking an MTR helps us in time and money management(especially for budget travellers)

Hongkong travel (26)

Graffiti Competitions… Was impressed by their dedication. They were even doing it in Rain.

 

In order to save some money, we vacated our room and spent a whole night on the Victoria harbor while walking and talking. Luckily we met a bunch of travellers who are just like us. Our conversations  killed the night. Meeting new people is the best part of travelling. Do you agree with me?

In order to save some money, we vacated our room and spent a whole night on the Victoria harbor while walking and talking. Luckily we met a bunch of travellers who are just like us. Our conversations killed the night. Meeting new people is the best part of travelling. Do you agree with me?

Avenue of stars is located on Victoria Harbor waterfront in Tsim sha tsui. It honours celebrities of Hongkong. This is a Bruce Lee Statue.

Avenue of stars is located on Victoria Harbor waterfront in Tsim sha tsui. It honours celebrities of Hongkong. This is a Statue of Bruce Lee.

Hongkong travel (6)

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. -Mary Ritter Beard

 

Top 7 Tips from my perspective:

    1. 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.
    2. Budget Hotels: If you are looking for budget hotels go to chungking mansions and mirador mansions in near Tsimsha Tsui in Kowloon.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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 .
    6. 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.
    7. 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

Beijing Diaries: Life in Monochrome-II

Incense sticks also called agarbattis dispels bad odor and keeps the environment in and around the temple pure and unblemished. A person feels happy entering the premises because of the smell of camphor and incense. On a human plane it means that we should sacrifice ourselves to serve society, in the process spread the perfume of love and happiness to all.

Incense sticks also called agarbattis dispels bad odor and keeps the environment in and around the temple pure and unblemished. A person feels happy entering the premises because of the smell of camphor and incense. On a human plane it means that we should sacrifice ourselves to serve society, in the process spread the perfume of love and happiness to all.

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”  ― Mother Teresa

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”― Mother Teresa
People Praying at Yongheguan temple

Beijing is referred to as an ancient capital of 5 dynasties五朝古都 (The Yuan, Ming, Qing, Liao and Jin). It had an extensive fortification system, consisting of the Forbidden City, the Imperial city, the Inner city, and the Outer city. Fortifications included gate towers, gates, archways, watchtowers, barbicans etc., It had the most extensive defense system in Imperial China.

Beijing is referred to as an ancient capital of 5 dynasties五朝古都 (The Yuan, Ming, Qing, Liao and Jin). It had an extensive fortification system, consisting of the Forbidden City, the Imperial city, the Inner city, and the Outer city. Fortifications included gate towers, gates, archways, watchtowers, barbicans etc., It had the most extensive defense system in Imperial China.

Women feeding the street: Spotted at Liang ma qiao Bei street

Women feeding the street: Spotted at Liang ma qiao Bei street

Man making street food: 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.

Man making street food: 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.

“It is a beggar's pride that he is not a thief” -Japanese proverb

“It is a beggar’s pride that he is not a thief” -Japanese proverb

An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation -Enrique Penalosa

An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation -Enrique Penalosa

Beijing Diaries: Life in Monochrome- I

Beijing Diaries (4)

Qianmen Avenue: Time runs too fast at this place.. One of the most happening places in Beijing..

Paifang is a traditional Chinese architectural gating style as an arch. This have been derived from the torana temple-gate in ancient India, though it has taken on traditional Chinese architectural characteristics such as multi-tiered roofs, various supporting posts, and archway-shapes of traditional gates and towers. Source: Wikipedia

Paifang is a traditional Chinese architectural gating style as an arch.
This have been derived from the torana temple-gate in ancient India, though it has taken on traditional Chinese architectural characteristics such as multi-tiered roofs, various supporting posts, and archway-shapes of traditional gates and towers. Source: Wikipedia

Beijing local Motor Vehicle transport: Very accessible, cost effective and illegal transport..

Beijing local Motor Vehicle transport: Very accessible,quick &  cost effective for small distance travels..

Korean local foods on Beijing streets.. fish cakes  may be?

Korean local Foods on Beijing Streets.. Fish cakes ?

A man checking the map whether he is lost or not.. :P One of the best part of this city is that every bus stop and subway has a city map.. Very useful for travellers..

A man checking the map whether he is lost or not…
One of the best part of this city is that every bus stop and subway has a city map.. which is useful for travellers & Beijingers..

Panjiayuan Antique Market: Best place to explore in Beijing to know the Chinese history and arts.

Panjiayuan Antique Market: Best place to explore to know the Chinese history and arts.

Bali with a delightful twist..Day-02

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.

Its inner temple is surrounded by a moat. Taman Ayun literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’.

This is a royal temple of Mengwi empire. This literally means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’ because its inner temple is surrounded by a moat.

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.

This eleven-tiered meru (at your right-hand corner  of the complex) is dedicated to the Rice Goddess Dewi Sri.

This eleven-tiered meru is dedicated to the Rice Goddess Dewi Sri.

Pic on the steps of Taman Ayun

The reason for the happiness on our faces is for having such a large, loving & caring family together .

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.

Candikuning Fruit market- A place where you can get fresh fruits and vegetables..

Candikuning Fruit market- A place where you can get fresh fruits and vegetables..

A visit to a local market always provides a fascinating insight into the culture of the “Real Bali.”

A visit to this market provided us a fascinating insight into the culture of the “Real Bali.”

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.

Everything in this place is scenic..

Everything in this place is scenic..

Perfect colors and perfect composition...made this picture perfect

Perfect colors and perfect composition…made this picture perfect

Blue water with clear blue skies made this place an unforgettable scenic place

Blue water with clear blue skies made this place an unforgettable one

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 ..

Boating here was just amazing...

Boating here was just amazing…

View from the boat.. Villas on the other side of lake,,

View from the boat.. Villas on the other side of lake,,

Pura ulundanu

Pura ulundanu- Built in 1663

I just love this pic.. I call it as a Powerpack performance..

I just love this pic.. Powerpack performance it was..

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.

Having Lunch while seeing the natural beauty of pacung rice terraces, a valley and mountains, a way to really gain a feeling of being escape from the pressures of everyday life and relax...

Having Lunch while seeing the natural beauty of pacung rice terraces, a valley and mountains, a way to really gain a feeling of being escape from the pressures of everyday life and relax…

Pacung Rice terraces..A view from the restaurant.

Pacung Rice terraces..A view from the restaurant.

Having Lunch while seeing the natural beauty of pacung rice terraces, a valley and mountains, a way to really gain a feeling of being escape from the pressures of everyday life and relax..

Post Lunch relaxation…..

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.

This is one of the seven sea temples around Balinese sea Coast. And it has significant Hindu influence ..

This is one of the seven sea temples around Balinese sea Coast. And it has significant Hindu influence ..

It was very crowdy when we arrived at the site but still the view was breathtaking. We went there before an hour to the sunset.

It was very crowdy when we arrived at the site but still the view was breathtaking. We went there before an hour of sunset.

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.

Tanah lot temple (2)

Sunset is a wonderful opportunity for us to appreciate all the great things the sun gives us..

Tanah lot temple (5)

Sunset turns everything into gold color. Just enjoy the sunset and sunrise where ever you are…

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.

Tanah lot temple (4)

Looks like a painting..

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.

Tanah lot temple (7)

Pura Tanah lot temple shrine- People worshipping Balinese sea gods

This is one of the poisonous sea snakes which is believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders..I am lucky that I got an opportunity to touch it. :P

This is one of the poisonous sea snakes which is believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders..I am lucky that I got an opportunity to touch it. 😛

My pictures speak better than I do…

Slide show:

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Tips:

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.

Last touch in China

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.

Xi’an foods:

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

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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.

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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.Pineapple Rice in Chengdu, Sichuan (1) Pineapple Rice in Chengdu, Sichuan (3)

 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.

Chengdu People’s Park -Spreading Joy & Happiness everywhere..

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.

Historical Significance:

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._MG_3056

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 chess players are in the southeast corner

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.

This tea was a twist for my taste buds..Anyways I am gonna write a separate post on this. Stay tuned..

This tea was a twist for my taste buds..  I will be writing a separate post on the taste of the tea.. stay tuned guys!!

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.

They have serenity in their face filled with pure happiness while dancing

They have serenity in their face filled with pure happiness while dancing

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._MG_3065Children 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._MG_3045

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

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:

1.health-protection cuisine,

2.prevention cuisine,

3.healing cuisine and

4.therapeutic cuisine.

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!

courtesy: travelchina.com

Dragonboat festival (Duanwu jie)

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

Zongzi

Zongzi

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.

Origin:

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.

An ink painting depicting Qu Yuan with writing brush and chain

An ink painting depicting Qu Yuan with writing brush and chain

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.

Activities:

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.

Zhongkui

Zhongkui

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.

Making Zongzi

Making Zongzi

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.

Participants compete in a boat race held to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province.

Participants compete in a boat race held to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Shantou, south China’s Guangdong Province.

Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province

Participants compete in a boat race held to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Shantou, south China’s Guangdong Province.

Participants compete in a boat race held to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Mochou Lake, Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province.

Participants compete in a boat race held to mark the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Mochou Lake, Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province.

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.