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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

N. China - Day 7, Part 2 - Pingyao: City Tower, Match Shop, Baichuantong and Exotic Food

"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact." - Edmund Burke

***

N. China
Day 7 - 5th November - Pingyao: City Tower, Match Shop, Baichuantong and Exotic Food
(Part 2)

We then walked in the streets.

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"Sakura Cafe Bar", with "pizza, chicken burger, cheese macaroni, spaghetti carbonara, salmon steak, meat & vegetable lasagna, chef salad, fried broccoli with mushrooms, apple pie and fried chicken with peanuts & chili"

I was suspicious.

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Road leading to 市楼 (City tower)

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This was called 香草肉 (fragrant grass meat). It was very dry and had no flavour (perhaps because it'd been steaming all day - and probably the previous day too, at least).

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Supposedly this chair brings you luck if you sit in it

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市楼 (City tower), rebuilt in 1688. The view of the city is advertised as great, but we didn't mount it.

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The other side of the tower

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Juxtaposition of Communist songs with NBA albums, 1980s music and "sexy football"

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Another buy who dressed us his monkey as Sun Wukong (The Monkey God)

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"Pingyao local diet
Pingyao beef
The cao family's smoked ham
Fried noodle (moodle like fish)
Kao laolao(made of oat flour)
Long yam balanze
Pingyao fnied shredded pork
Pingyao wantu (a kind of special cool noodle)
Oil fried cake with sweet rice flour
Oat moodle (noodle like fish)"

I love how they have both "Fried noodle (moodle like fish)" and "Oat moodle (noodle like fish)"

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Bear belt in shop

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Chairman Mao - in 3 languages! All were 30¥, so I got a French edition (at 20¥, though Charis said I could've gotten 15¥). Yet, the thing about bargaining is you need to have an idea what price you can get the item for - so tourists are at a disadvantage.

That said, the Little Red Book I got was of Chinese quality - besides the paper being of questionable quality, some letters was missing, and some accents missing. Grr.

There was a very interesting match shop which sold stuff (mostly matchboxes) with amusing designs.

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"火柴天堂
卖男孩的小火柴, 卖火柴的小女孩"

("Match Heaven
The small matches which sell boys, the girl who sells matches")

Hanging over the doorway, there is:
- "我不是随便的人" ("I'm not easy" - said by a Revolutionary figure)
- "救一夜情,管饭" (I think this translates as "Will give you a night of romance for food")

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Two on the bottom row: "Actions forbidden in the restroom", "Get rid of the Panda, I am a National Treasure"

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"The beauty of a woman is in *something* sans regrets
The beauty of a man is in lying until you see ghosts in the day"

Addendum:
Translation by PPBI: "the beauty of a woman is that her stupidity knows no regret
the beauty of a man is that he can lie until one sees ghosts in the day"

"Do you think I'll watch you go to your doom?
I will push you!"

Addendum:
Translation by PPBI: do you think I'll watch you go to your doom?
i will close my eyes!

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"Why does a kid have to have the same surname as his father?
Because the money an ATM vomits out is *something*"

Addendum:
Translation by PPBI: "because the money an atm spits out belongs to the cardholder (person who put in the card)"

Also, ones I didn't translate:

"buddha said, sex (or lust) is emptiness, emptiness is sex, so sometime tonight i would like emptiness"

"i remember, one day not long after i graduated
my girlfriend sent me an sms
'it's better for us to break up!'
before i could even feel sad
she sent another one
'sorry, sent to the wrong person!'
now i was devastated"

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From left to right: "I'm not easy", "Pig Brothers Sexual Attention", "Award: Outstanding Pervert", "Year's biggest handsome man", *something*, "No farting"

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"Taiwan: Your mother is asking you to go home to eat"

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"The life of a man is hard"

Next we went to 百川通 (Baichuantong), an early Chinese financial institution. I was a bit disappointed that it dated from about 1860, and not older. This is what despising merchants did for China.

The name of the institution means that the river flows to the sea - so the bank became rich.

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More propaganda. That it's translated into English is great. Among other gems:

"Learn from Lei Feng" (He was a Mythical Model Soldier)
"Respect Science, transform outmoded habit and custom" (I'm sure they said that before the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution)
"Support the army and provide favor of their dependents, support government"

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"Big Opium House"
Customers got to smoke opium, but not employees

This place also performed the first cable transfer in China in 1895.

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More rules: "Speak proper mandarin and standard civilized language... Never use un-civilized language
Publicize traditional Chinese culture, provides fully comprehensive and accirate, not low-grade, introduction contents."

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Letters room: "The main interior organs of the bank... The employees in this organs must have high quality"

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Cupboard

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Account room

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Some vases

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Types of Chinese furniture

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"Buddha Hall"

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Furniture in the North Study

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Toilet rules. This was not translated, probably because it'd be too ridiculous:

"The toilet is an indispensable part of the tourism scene, to provide tourists with a clean, tidy toilet is a *something* duty of ours... we follow the following rules:

1) The toilet attendants are led by someone senior
2) If the toilet attendant is on holiday, someone will cover him
3) Before and after work, the toilet attendant will clean the toilet, and in between he will make sure there're no creepy-crawlies, rubbish and strange odours.
4) If anything is broken in the toilet, even if *something*, it shouldn't affect tourists' normal use of the facilities...

Essential Toilet Knowledge
Everyone is responsible for a clean toilet
Be motivated to maintain the facilities for public hygiene
Your piss should enter the pool, your shit should enter the pit
Your toilet paper should enter the bin, and flush when you're done"

The last is so amusing I typed it out:

"厕所清洁,人人有责
自觉维护,公共卫生
小便入池,大便入坑
便纸入篓,自觉冲洗"

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Curiously this was not marked in English

We then adjourned for lunch, amusing ourselves with food signs.

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"Stir fried cats ear shaped noodles
oil meat
Cao Jia bacon
You-fried fish rubbing surface
Steamed regetables with flour
Froth spongecake made with lard
Steam fried pork buns
chicken"

This place also advertises itself as clearly displaying its prices and being as guitless as a child (i.e. they won't try to cheat you, like most PRCs)

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"Salad bowl bald
Fungus long yam
Cao smoked elbow
The oil meat
Su Chao Orecchiette
Bubble 油糕 (somehow "oil cake" was untranslatable)
Naked Oats surface kaolao lao
Youmiancuoyu
Laver bowl of soup"

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Sauce bowl bald
Fungus the oil meat
Red-faced gooey
Vinegar foam peanuts
Fish-flavored shredded pork
Slip Fei Chang (this is intestines)
Gongbaojiding (this is such a common Chinese dish perhaps it doesn't need to be translated)
Marked cattle tendons
Bullwhip mushroom stew
Cereal package
Fish-flavoured eggplant"

I think "Red-faced gooey" takes the cake.

While I was very happy to see all these strange dishes, I was regretful that I did not get to see (and didn't, in China) "Fuck the dry river noodle", or its variants (like "Fuck the cow river").

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I was very excited to see this, a poster for 眼保健操 (眼灭害操), an eye exercise my Communist Primary School, Nanyang Primary School (NYPS), made me do for 2 years (and which probably worsened my eyesight). Evidently the exercised had evolved since 1995, as steps 5 and 6 were new to me.

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The swill they gave us. It was supposed to be 茶 (tea) but was actually 茶水 (tea water)

However amusing the English menu was, it could not make me more excited than:

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DOG MEAT HOTPOT!!!

There were a lot of dogs in Pingyao. After seeing this on the menu (wisely, they had not put it on the English menu), I knew why.

Dog was not as nice as I had been led to believe (a friend of mine swears by Dog Claypot, and has offered to give me the address of a joint in Guangzhou which serves a mean version of the dish). It was very fatty and tender (but not at the luncheon meat level), and had a very strong taste - in sum, my rule holds: exotic meats remain exotic for a reason. It was served with potato noodles, which was not specified in the menu, so I cancelled my rice order.

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Pepper-fried potato. It was a bit numbing - I find Szechuan Numbing Spiciness (麻) more agreeable than normal Chili's Spiciness. The more I ate the more numbingly spicy it was - it seems to be additive.

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Beef Soup

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A piece of Dog Meat


"咪咪" is Chinese slang for boobs. I learnt this from dice where one die displays a body part and the other an action.

In the Beijing subway, one advertising company boasted of having Facebook as a client. How ironic.

Travelling in China reminds me that what I hate about Mandarin is not speaking and reading it (though the latter is somewhat painful), but writing it.
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