Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Another Encounter with a Territorial Duck in Xiapu

There has been a goose carried in a bag, baskets of chickens and ducks, a cage of ducks, a roaming chicken on an ancient street, and a chicken on a far more recently built sidewalk. To conclude this recent series of fowl posts, I couldn't do any better than a return to the duck with an inscrutable stare.

Three days after first encountering the duck, I returned to the same location. I didn't see it around the same store as before, so I walked to a neighboring area where several people were shelling a large amount of oysters. There amongst the empty oyster shells I spotted the formidable duck.

Like before, the duck saw me. Unlike the timid chicken nearby, the duck was ready for confrontation. Immediately following us making eye contact, the duck marched straight towards me with the determination only a mad duck on a mission can have.

duck walking towards me from an area with many oyster shells

In other words, it did briefly stop midway to check out something of interest on the ground.

Now much closer, the duck hissed at me and then settled into position just a few feet away where it ruffled its feathers.

duck with ruffled feathers standing on nets

Then it moved to another nearby location, and I dared to get a little closer. The duck gave me a look indicating I was lucky it wasn't more like some of its dinosaur relatives.

duck giving me the evil eye

A powerful display of wing flapping followed.

duck flapping its wings

My expertise in duck identification and behavior, based upon skimming a few webpages, leads me to conclude the duck, likely of a non-quacking variety, was defending its territory.

Fortunate for my physical well-being, things did not escalate further. In fact, after the displays of might, the duck switched to the seemingly nonthreatening act of preening itself, even when I was close enough to touch it.

duck preening

I felt like a barrier had fallen. Perhaps I had gained the duck's acceptance. Or maybe the duck felt it had sufficiently made its point.

Since I didn't expect to return to this location in the near future, if ever, I assumed this would be my last opportunity to spend time with the impressive duck — now my favorite in Xiapu. I wished the moment could last longer, but, alas, I soon had to bid farewell.

The duck didn't shed a single tear.

victorious duck

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Chicken's Interrupted Meal in Xiapu

While looking for a duck I had encountered before, in the same area I saw a chicken enjoying a fine meal.

chicken next to a bowl of rice

After the chicken noticed me noticing it, which happened quickly, it made some odd clucks and then decided to leave. The situation had a "chicken just wanted to enjoy a nice meal and then a human had to ruin it by watching" sort of feeling.

To the dismay of some and the joy of others, the recent series of posts about chicken, ducks, and geese will come to an end soon with the next post: the story of my second and likely last encounter with a special duck in Xiapu.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chicken Walking on an Old Street in Dajing

On an ancient street in Dajing Village I saw another example of freely roaming fowl in Xiapu County, this time a chicken.

chicken on Zhongjie in Dajing, Xiapu

No staredowns were involved, but the chicken still displayed some bravery. Soon it was walking towards me.

chicken walking towards me in Dajing

Why did the chicken walk right by me? Perhaps the answer is the same as the one for a more popular chicken-related question.

Not far from here, I heard what sounded like a person saying "Hello!" repeatedly in a peculiar voice. I discovered it was a freely roaming rooster with a rather unusual crow. After we made eye contact and I started recording, he became quiet and shyly walked away. So, sad to say, I have no video to share of the incredible event.

Someday I will share more about Dajing, an often beautiful 80 minute bus ride from Xiapu's most urban area. Lately I have been more focused on thinking through and writing another piece, which partly explains my recent penchant for short, simple posts about fowl. Plus, birds are dinosaurs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cross Stitch on a Small Bridge in Xiapu

vendors on bridge in Xiapu, China

Today I crossed a small bridge in Xiapu where a few vendors sold a variety of items. One of them sold knitted slippers.

knitted slippers for sale

While I observed activity on the bridge, the woman selling the slippers asked me if I would photograph her holding something special. People don't often make such requests, but it happens from time to time.

I said I would happy to photograph her and soon she was unfurling* something.

woman unfurling cross stitch design

With the help of another vendor, she displayed what she wanted photographed.

two woman holding a large Chinese traditional-style cross stitch design

Admittedly, I didn't see this coming. Although I presumed she used a guide, as far as I could tell she hadn't used a preprinted pattern. She said the large cross stitch work was the result of more than one year of effort.

*Photo is her folding up the piece since I missed capturing the actual unfurling moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Peaceful Staredown with a Duck in Xiapu

Not all fowl I have seen in Xiapu were constrained, whether by bags, baskets, or cages. I saw one lucky duck as night fell while I walked past a convenience store. The location struck me as unusual for a duck, so I stopped for a more extended look.

And the duck stopped to look at me.

duck standing in front of the entrance to a convenience store in Xiapu, Fujian, China

We both seemed to be unsure as to what would happen next. After about a minute, the duck took a few steps and then stopped again.

It kept looking at me. And I kept looking at it.

Concerned this might turn out like a Wallace and Gromit horror scene, I decided to continue onward in my original direction. But it was quickly getting darker, so I soon decided to head back. I crossed paths with the duck again and risked a closer look.

Of course, the duck looked at me.

duck in Xiapu, China

Thus concludes the dramatic story of my encounter with an unruffled duck.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Choosing a Duck in Xiapu

In addition to bags and baskets, while walking the streets of Xiapu I have seen fowl contained in cages as well. One photo of a relevant example involving ducks came out blurrier than I expected, because just as I was about to take it a woman reached into the cage.

woman reaching into a cage with ducks

The ducks did their best to avoid her grasp, but there wasn't much they could do. They were sitting ducks, even if not literally.

Very soon the woman was examining the duck of her choice.

woman examining a live duck

After the inspection, she took the duck elsewhere. Although leaving a cage sounds like a good thing in general, I assumed this was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. Perhaps I should have stuck around to learn its fate, but I ducked out, which seems a bit ironic now.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Baskets of Chickens and Ducks in Xiapu

They say don't put all your eggs in one basket. They don't say what to do after they hatch, other than that it is OK to count your chickens then.

baskets full of live chicken and ducks on a street in Xiapu, China.
On Hewei Street (河尾街) in Xiapu, Fujian

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Goose to Go in Xiapu

Today near a narrow alley leading towards the entrance and exit of one of Xiapu's bus stations I heard a familiar but unexpected honking sound. I looked around trying to locate the source. Fortunately I wasn't on a wild goose chase, and I quickly found it. For a short period of time I was able to have a gander. Soon the honker, now much quieter, was carried away, and I wondered about its fate. As with some of its kind I saw at a live bird market far away in Yueyang, Hunan, I would guess its goose is cooked.

woman carrying a bag with a love goose sticking out its head

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Homemade Mijiu in Xiapu

Last night in Xiapu, I stopped by a small independent convenience store to pick up some bottled water. I have been there several times and am familiar with the people who run the store. While chatting I asked if they sold any locally produced alcohol. I am a fan of trying any local foods or drinks wherever I go. They showed me one bottle of baijiu which costs only 3 yuan. Even a smaller (though stronger) bottle of imitation BOMB erguotou costs more than that.

After I looked at the bottle skeptically for a few moments, they suddenly announced they had something else for me and I wouldn't be paying for it. The woman said they were treating me to her parent's homemade mijiu, a type of Chinese rice wine. Soon glasses were poured for all three of us. This was definitely not something I would (or could) refuse. I was reminded of when just over a year ago I was similarly treated to homemade mijiu in Xiamen, also in Fujian province.

man pouring mijiu from a large plastic jug into a plastic cup held by a woman at a store in Xiapu, China
Now that is a jug of mijiu

They gave me a seat, and the glasses never stayed empty long. The mijiu tasted stronger than usual but went down smoothly. At one point the woman said she had to get something and insisted I didn't leave. Not long afterwards, she returned with a bag which made me think of duck heads. But there weren't any duck heads inside . . .

Soon we were all eating rather spicy duck feet. And the special drink continued to flow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Xiangqi in Xiapu

What better way is there to get things rolling here this new year than an addition to the series of people playing xiangqi? The latest example comes from Xiapu in Fujian province.

men playing and watching a game of xiangqi on Zhi Street (直街) in Xiapu County, Ningde, Fujian Province, China
On Zhi Street (直街)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year Holiday in Xiapu

I spent the last day of 2016 in a more urban area of Xiapu, a county with many fishing villages in Fujian, China. Not only did I think a bit about the past year, but I was also reminded of 2015 and the Year of the Yang.

2015 and Year of the Yang celebration arch in Xiapu, Fujian.

I walked through the historical arch and down a semi-pedestrian street. Soon I walked through a similar, though more faded, arch.

2015 and Year of the Yang celebration arch in Xiapu, Fujian.

No matter how great and arch-worthy 2015 or the Year of the Yang may have been, 2017 was coming regardless. After 11 p.m. I went out again to see a bit of what was happening in Xiapu.

During my walk, I saw a music club with a New Year celebration.

music club in Xiapu, Fujian

I walked in and saw a typical Chinese club scene packed with younger people.

After a couple of minutes, I was back out on the street. Soon, I heard fireworks exploding not too far away. I wondered if more time had passed than I had thought, but I saw it was still 10 minutes before midnight. Perhaps some people were really eager to put 2016 behind them.

More fireworks exploded around midnight. To my surprise, some launched just a few feet away from me. After retreating to a slightly safer distance, I enjoyed the scene.

fireworks launching from a street in Xiapu, Fujian

fireworks exploding in Xiapu, Fujian

Good times and I didn't nearly lose an eye (a Shanghai Lunar New Year story there for another day).

Soon things were much quieter, and only a few signs remained of the festivities.

The area I had wandered to had a number of late night seafood restaurants, most with outdoor tent areas. I figured I would take advantage of the situation, and chose a place based on being a bit busier and having a charming Pabst Blue Ribbon sign.

seafood restaurant in Xiapu, Fujian

After looking at a long table of various uncooked items, I chose two, one of which I had not eaten before.

Before sitting down, I noticed the kitchen was mostly open to view, so I checked it out.

kitchen at Xinmeiweiyuan Restaurant in Xiapu, China

They looked like they had everything under control. I sat down and while waiting for my food drank not a Pabst Blue Ribbon but a Chinese beer I don't so often come across: Dry & Dry.

tall can of Dry & Dry beer

Soon, my dishes had arrived. One was a lot of tiny snails.

snail dish in Xiapu, China

They were all in tiny shells which slow down the eating process. But the snails came out easily, and the sauce was delicious.

The other dish was worms, of course.

a dish of worms — 土強 (tuqiang) — at a restaurant in Xiapu, Fujian

When I first asked I was told they were sand worms (沙虫). But they didn't look like the sand worms I had eaten before, most often in Guangxi. I was then told they weren't really sand worms, but there was only a local word for them that they insisted would not be familiar to people elsewhere in China, even if said in Standard Mandarin and not the local dialect. I was told this unfamiliar-to-most name is 土強 (tuqiang). I have no idea if they have a name in English.

They were surprisingly crunchy and tough on the outside and slightly gooey inside. I far prefer the less crunchier sand worms or the mud worms I have only seen in Zhanjiang to the south. Still, it was fun to try something new to start the new year.

Happy New Year to all, whether worms are involved or not.