Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Crossbar Bicycle Walk in Hengyang

As I crossed an intersection on Chuanshan Avenue in Hengyang yesterday, I saw another person crossing the intersection in a far more interesting manner.

small girl walking a bike while siting on the crossbar

At first I assumed the bike was too large or not set up properly for the girl to pedal. But perhaps she was under orders to walk her bike across busy intersections. When I later looked back, I saw her riding the bike in a more typical fashion on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Unexpected End to a Long Day in Hengyang

Towards the end of an especially thought-provoking day in Hengyang:

older man making shooting gestures

A crowd had gathered in the road due to an apparently minor accident. I had a brief chat with this friendly man. He made some hand gestures. Instead of trying to better understand what was going on, in this case I just I asked if I could take a photograph.

And down the street I continued with one more thing to ponder . . .

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Cupping Alternative

In response to the post about some outdoor Chinese cupping therapy in Hengyang, an Asian American reader mentioned a related treatment also common in China — gua sha:
Cupping freaks me out I'll stick to gua sha, thank you.

Gua sha is becoming a "new thing" here in the US with therapy clinics offering it in places like NYC. I feel sorry for these people who have to go and pay for it because they don't have a Chinese for Vietnamese grandma who will pin them down at the first sign of illness and force it on them for free.

I have to say, I don't know why it works better than a standard deep massage, but it is still the only thing that can get rid of my migraines after a megadose of ibuprofen fails.
It seems I am missing out. Another person has raised the possibility that the practice is like a grandmother offering matzah ball soup, though, so perhaps I have made out OK.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Bit of Bamboo Cupping from Hengyang

I worried I might not have time for a post today. But instead of me copping out, how about some cupping — bamboo style?

back of man receiving cupping therapy using bamboo cups

back of man receiving cupping therapy with some bamboo cups removed

The therapeutic event captured above took place today in front of the northern entrance to Yanfeng Park in Hengyang, Hunan. If the technique of this particular practitioner didn't suit you, at least two other options were available nearby.

outdoor cupping therapy in Hengyang, Hunan

outdoor cupping therapy in Hengyang, Hunan

One woman did her best to convince me I was in dire need of some cupping. I passed even though the prices appeared to be hard to beat.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Strong Drink of Hengyang

No responses correctly identified the city captured in photos of a riverside path, a dish of eel, and riverside dancing. I'm not surprised since the city isn't well known and none of the photos captured anything particularly iconic. I had considered sharing just one more photo as a clue — one of a locally produced alcohol.

Bottle of Yanfeng Baijiu (雁峰酒(小调)) for sale in Hengyang

However, this felt like too easy of a clue for those familiar with Chinese, though a quick internet search might be required. Yanfeng Liquor (Xiaodiao)* is a straightforward giveaway, since Yanfeng is a central urban district in Hengyang, Hunan. The 128 ml bottle sells for 15 yuan (about US $2.20), and like the peppers in the eel dish the contents have a good kick. The baijiu is made from a variety of grains and at 46% alcohol goes down a bit more smoothly than many other inexpensive baijius. It is one of the ways I found in Hengyang to have a local experience — one that fortunately didn't leave me with a headache the next day.

This is my fourth visit to Hengyang, something I wouldn't have predicted after my first brief visit over five years ago. As with intervening visits, I have seen much that has changed. I have also seen much that has not. More about both later.

*The official name listed on the back of the bottle is 雁峰酒(小调). I don't know whether "xiaodiao" is intended to refer to the minor key in music or the genre of folk music, though I lean towards the latter.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Riverside Solo Dancing

There have been some good guesses on the city captured in food and in paths but still no correct answer. So I will share one more photo before the big reveal. The evening scene is at a location similar to some others I have shared from the city in the past, so perhaps it will awaken some memories for readers who have been around for a bit.

woman exercising at night next to the Xiang River in Hengyang

Update: The answer

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Spicy Clue

I haven't received any correct guesses of the city captured in the previous photo. So for another clue — one which significantly narrows the possibilities —I will share a photo of a local-style dish I enjoyed in the same city the other day for lunch.

spicy eel dish in Hengyang

On this note, with the exception of occasional forays into non-Chinese foods, I mostly eat local-style dishes wherever I happen to be in China. Unintentionally, it has been a while since I have been in any regions known for spicy foods. As can be pretty clearly seen in this photo, I have now rectified this issue. Those peppers had a solid kick. And the eel was good too.

Update: The answer

Friday, April 14, 2017

Different Paths

brick path alongside a river and a person walking on a bridge crossing a river in Hengyang

Today. Not in Guangzhou . . .

Bonus points to anyone who can identify the Chinese city — one which has been featured here before.

Update: The answer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Heavy Dose of Core Socialist Values Signage at an Intersection in Guangzhou

Earlier I shared a photo taken of a sign promoting China's 12 "core socialist values" at Guangzhou's Shangxiajiu Square. An easy walk from there along the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street takes one to the intersection where Wenchang South Road heads northward and Shibafu North Road heads southward. On the southeast corner of the intersection another sign displays the values.

sign with China's 12 "core socialist values" in Guangzhou

And a smaller sign promotes the values on the northwest corner.

sign with China's 12 "core socialist values" in Guangzhou

The northeast corner also sports a similarly themed sign.

sign with China's 12 "core socialist values" in Guangzhou

And so does the southeast corner.

sign with China's 12 "core socialist values" in Guangzhou

If there were a fifth corner, it too might have a patriotic sign. I don't recall seeing any other intersections in China with such a high density of core socialist values signs.

On most of the signs it isn't hard to see earlier advertisements which had been displayed on the billboards. For example, if you look closely at the sign in the last photo, you may be able to spot the iconic image of Colonel Harland David Sanders in an ad for KFC. Like baijiu, which was promoted near the earlier sign, KFC is popular in China but not explicitly mentioned in the core values.

I don't know whether the current signs more reflect fulfilling requirements, their owners' patriotism, or an inability to find interested buyers for the advertising space. Whatever the case, if you are a connoisseur of core socialist values signs, you may want to get here quickly before things possibly change. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Useful Sign in Macau

Several high-speed rail trips, trouble-shooting a problematic camera and lens, and other such fun have been keeping me unusually occupied. But things should be relatively sane for a bit, so, more . . .
closed store with "COMMING SOON" storefront sign
Seen in Macau

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou During the Qingming Festival

Many people in China remembered deceased family members during the recent Qingming Festival. Highlighting another side of how some spent the day, which for many was part of a three day holiday, a series of photos taken at the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou appears below. One of the popular destinations for tourists visiting Guangzhou, the area was much more crowded than usual for a weekday though there were few signs of the holiday itself. The photos include both people who didn't have to work during that afternoon and people who did.

crowded day at the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (上下九) in Guangzhou
One of the wider portions of the street

girl carrying an opened coconut to drink at the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (上下九)
Carrying a coconut to drink

people standing in line for Mango Big Mac drinks and stuffed chicken wings
Standing in line for Mango Big Mac drinks and stuffed chicken wings

people standing in line for fish balls
Standing in line for fish balls

two young women preparing fish balls
Preparing the fish balls

sanitation working pulling five trash bins
Keeping things clean

woman selling fruit from a bike
Selling fruit

bus with advertisement featuring Yao Ming
Driving the bus on a portion of the pedestrian street which isn't as pedestrian-friendly as others

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street security guard standing with a large black staff
Providing security (and stopping people from riding bikes)

little girl riding on a man's shoulder's
Riding high

boy riding on a wheeled suitcase
Riding low

many carrying a baby
Riding somewhere in between

people, including a few wearing face masks, at the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street
A few wore face masks

two people wearing more distinctive clothing styles

young woman holding up a mobile phone to take a photo of the crowded Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street during the Qingming Festival

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Burning with Spirit During Qingming in Guangzhou

Today on an old street in Guangzhou some iPhones, watches, and shoes burned.

paper watches, shoes, and iPhones burn

New clothing was added to the fire.

boxes with paper shirts, ties, and suits jacket burn

And more items, such as money and cigarettes, were added.

family burning paper replicas of items during Qingming

And the fire burned on.

paper replicas of various items burning

Eventually, all that was left of the items was a pile of ash.

ash on road

Water fully put out the burning.

boy throwing water onto smoking ash

And there was a quick cleanup of what remained.

woman cleaning up ashes with broom and dustbin

Had the family needed more to burn, a shop just a short walk away offered plenty of options.

shop selling paper replicas of various items

shop selling paper replicas of various items

paper clothing for sale

paper spirit money for sale

paper replicas of various items for sale

All of the items were paper replicas — part of a tradition of sending needed items to ancestors in the afterlife. Today was Qingming, Tomb-Sweeping Day, and many similar offering were made elsewhere in Guangzhou and the rest of China. Even if your beliefs differ, watching the burnings can feel cathartic.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Soda for April 1st

April Fool's Day was unusually quiet for me. I had an idea lined up for here, but shortly after starting the post I wondered if it took things too far for my tastes. I didn't have a clear answer, which I figured was enough of an answer. I won't reveal the post, because my tastes may change in the future. I had other ideas, but then the internet slowed to a near halt. Seemed like a sign.

Instead I will pass on something I shared with my brother on that day. I wouldn't call it an April Fool's Day joke, though. We could have an interaction like this any day.

I told him I had found a great shirt for his young kid at a children's clothing market in Guangzhou but wanted to check something with him before buying it.

"He likes soda, right?"

I then shared a photo of the child-sized shirt.

children clothing with the words "BEER CIGARETTES CANDY SODA"

And now onto April 3rd matters . . .