Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Song of the Sirens

Anyone who is in Liuzhou (and elsewhere in China) will have heard sirens wailing repeatedly, beginning at 10:30 this morning. Don’t worry! -Trump hasn’t tried to invade China just yet!

The sirens were marking the 48th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix, who left us on September 18th 1970.

One of the last pictures of Hendrix. 48 hours later he was dead.

Or perhaps not. There is an alternative theory.

Japanese troops in Shenyang, 1931

On September 18th, 1931, The so-called Mukden Incident took place in what is now Shenyang (沈阳), which signalled the full scale invasion of China by the Japanese. The occupation led to the horrors of the Nanjing massacre and much more. Liuzhou was also occupied for a short time in 1944 -1945.

This history has never been forgiven  and the sirens are sounded every year to remind everyone what happened.

Refuse To Eat

Over the weekend, some animal protection type people outside Bubugao shopping hell have been urging people not to eat!

I’m guessing they mean dogs and cats. While over the last few years, the new middle classes’ desire for status symbol pets has increased exponentially and the consumption of “pet meat” has declined, they seem to me to be  somewhat selective in their objection list. Presumably, all other animals are fair game.

Whatever, this is the first time I’ve seen even such mild active resistance in Liuzhou, although it has been common elsewhere. PETA types have succeeded in giving what was a tiny, much ignored event in Yulin world wide publicity. Well done.

For the record, I have eaten dog, but wouldn’t recommend it. Not for emotional reasons – it just doesn’t taste very good. I haven’t eaten cat to my knowledge, but I do know where to buy it. The meat of carnivores (other than seafood) is seldom very good.

Pass me another snakeburger!

Typhoon Mangkhut – Trains Cancelled

If things go as normal, the fierce tropical storm/typhoon which has so far killed dozens in the Philippines and has now made landfall in Hong Kong and Guangdong, will slow down as it crosses southern China. However, while we usually escape the devastation seen on the coast, it can get a bit rough here, too. Expect strong winds and heavy rain. It has been windy all day. My hat blew off twice! But it will probably get worse tomorrow, Monday.

Also, all high-speed trains to and from Guangzhou, Shenzhen etc have been cancelled for the interim. I haven’t seen any info, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the same with flights.

In Guangdong, 6 people have been reported dead and 2.4 million people have already evacuated.

Be safe!

Model Ts?

Well, actually no model-Ts, but plenty of other models. This morning,I dragged myself off to Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre (柳州国际会展中心) for the 8th China-ASEAN (Liuzhou) Automotive Industry Exposition (第八届中国-东盟(柳州)汽 车工业博览会).

Among the many models were these examples:

Astonishingly, they also had cars. Most of the well know international brands were in attendance alongside China’s own.

Jaguar

BMW

To my surprise, they also had a small second-hand car section. China doesn’t really have a second-hand sales culture. I’ve never seen a used books or clothes or anything else type store.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 16th and is open from 09:00 to 17:00. The exhibition site is on the BRT 快1 route. ¥1 Get off at 會展中心.

Friday Food 189 – Chinese Vinegar

chopsticks

Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we are getting sour.

China has been brewing vinegar for thousands of years and the choice in the supermarkets and other stores can be bewildering. There are three basic types, defined by colour – white, black and red. Examples of all three are found easily in Liuzhou.

White rice vinegar (白米醋) actually varies from crystal clear to lightish brown-yellow. This is made from fermented glutinous rice and is the most available and cheapest – around ¥7 or ¥8 for a 500ml bottle..

White Rice Vinegar

This is also sold in bags. Very cheap. ¥1 for this 400ml bag.

Black vinegar (黑米醋) is made from rice, but may also contain wheat or sorghum as well. Generic black vinegar is easily available at round the same price as the white vinegar above, although I haven’t seen that one in bags.

Black Rice Vinegar

However, two of the more prized vinegars in China are also, black. Shanxi Aged Vinegar (山西老陈醋), as the name suggests is from the northern province of Shanxi (山西), where it is used in noodles dishes, sauces and as a dip for jiaozi dumplings.

8-year aged Shanxi Black Vinegar (Excuse the Chinglish!)

This is only slightly more expensive than the ordinary vinegars.

However,  the most prized is considerably more expensive

Zhenjiang Fragrant Vinegar (镇江香醋) (once transliterated as Chinkiang) is a deeply flavoured, smoky, fruity vinegar with umami notes, leaving a rich aftertaste. It is often compared to the Italian balsamic vinegar, but is less sweet. The vinegar originates from the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu (江苏) province, east China. This 6 year-old version cost ¥28.80 for 580ml – three times the price of the other vinegars (Bubugao supermarket is up to its usual tricks and selling the exact same bottle for a criminal ¥38.80).

6-year old Zhenjiang Fragrant Vinegar

Finally we have red vinegar (红浙醋) from Zhejiang (浙江) province, also in east China bordering Jiangsu and Shanghai. It is particularly suitable with seafood dishes, but also as a dip.

Traditionally, the vinegar is made from rice with the addition of a yeast (Monascus purpureus) which gives the red colour, but today red food colouring often extracted from red radish is often used to colour standard white rice vinegar.

Pen-and-Ink

Liuzhou museum is holding yet another of their occasional temporary exhibitions. This time we have a large number of pen-and-ink images depicting the city, drawn by local artist, 赵继东. The exhibition runs until September 9th.

Random Photograph 98 – Superstition

Random Picture No. 98 is one in a series of pictures, taken in Liuzhou, which amuse, baffle or otherwise interest me.

As most of you will know, 4 is considered to be the most unlucky number in Chinese minds. The character for ‘four’ is 四 and the character for die is 死, both pronounced si* but with different tones- sì and sǐ respectively.

Someone in Liuzhou is obviously not superstitious.

Vehicles with 8s in the registration plate are, on the other hand, highly prized. There is a 桂B 88888 in Liuzhou, but I’ve never managed to catch a shot of it. Here is an inferior version!

The most desirable plate in China is probably this from Beijing which cost more than the vehicle it adorns.

* ‘si’ is pronounced as in ‘sister’ not like the Italian or French ‘si’ pronounced ‘see’.

Friday Food 188 – Chinese Artichoke

chopsticks

Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we are choked in Chinese.

宝塔菜, literally ‘pagoda vegetable’, also know as Chinese artichoke, Japanese artichoke, crosne, knotroot, and artichoke betony is the rhizome of the plant Stachys affinis and is eaten as a root vegetable.

The small tubers are notoriously knobbly and difficult to clean so it  is rare to see these in the local markets.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

However, they are industrially pickled and sold in jars. This lot costs ¥8.50 for 375g. The taste is delicate, but refreshing.

Mass Murder and Mayhem

I’m confused as usual.

Yesterday, I passed on a report about an SUV hitting a number of e-bikes on Wenchang bridge at 11 am yesterday morning.

Later in the day, I read in the local rag about an SUV hitting a number of e-bikes in Rongjun Road at 11pm on Saturday evening.

Images from both reports indeed show two different events, but there are a number of confusing coincidences. Both incidents happened at 11 o’clock (albeit am and pm) and both involved black Toyota SUVs. It is possible that journalists are confusing the two separate incidents.

Rongjun Road

So, the first incident at 11pm on Saturday (18th) seems to have been a case of drunken driving. The driver hit 8 e-bikes and escaped. However a passer-by followed him to where he abandoned his car and reported its whereabouts to the police, who traced the driver, said to  be a 36 year old by the name of Mo, and arrested him at home. The report says he said he had been drinking, but had no recollection of any accident. He was taken into custody, tested for alcohol levels and enquiries are continuing.

Suspect Undergoing Alcohol Blood Test

The second, more serious incident, also involving a black Toyota SUV took place as I described yesterday and the 54 year-old driver, identified only by the surname Huang, was arrested nearby.

It is reported that the incident was deliberate and two e-bike riders were killed and 12 others injured at the scene on the bridge. It has also been reported  that prior to the attack on the bridge, the SUV driver had already killed his girlfriend, her mother and two other relatives after being spurned.

No doubt, I’ll be getting back to this.

Note: This has been updated to reflect latest reports Aug 24 2018, 8:30 pm

“Out of Control” Liuzhou Traffic Accident

At 11 am this morning, a serious road “accident” occurred on the westbound side of Wenchang Bridge near the Liuzhou Hotel. An out-of-control SUV ploughed into a number of e-bikes causing serious damage and injury, leaving broken people and bikes and parts littering the road. The bridge was completely closed for a short time, longer for westbound traffic, then opened in two directions using the eastbound lanes. Obviously this affected traffic all over the city centre..


It is reported (but not officially confirmed) that the driver then left his vehicle carrying a knife and started shouting and cursing at passers-by and his victims. Then he allegedly dropped the knife and attempted to escape.

The SUV driver was quickly apprehended by police and is now in custody while enquiries continue.

Several of the injured were treated on the bridge by staff from nearby hospitals. No information has been issued on their condition.

Source: Here including video of the aftermath and the arrest of the driver. (Chinese).

See update here


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