Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Fly Me To The River

The locals have gone one step further in their quest to include every possible type of transport in Liuzhou’s traffic scheme. We have had BRT, the so-called “rapid” buses which take as long as regular buses and spend as much time trying to get out of the constant traffic jams.

We have had the rather useless boat buses which chug up and down the river, except when the river gets too wet!

Now they have introduced aquaplanes.


I’m not sure yet where they go or how much they cost, but if it ever stops raining, I’ll go find out and update.

Like the river buses, these are more targeted at tourists than any sensible effort to improve transport for residents.


BBG Rip-off


 I have recently developed a liking for these snack things. Perfect with a beer or six. They come in all sorts of weird flavours. – spicy shrimp flavour, tomato flavour, pizza flavour, salad flavour, butter flavour and matcha flavour. They even have strawberry flavour and blueberry flavour. The company website also claims to have spicy chicken flavour and nori flavour – I’ve never seen those two. The only one I really like is the spicy prawn flavour, although I guess the nori ones would be good, too.


Anyway, I found myself in BuBuGao hypermart yesterday and thought I’d pick up a few packs. Never bought them there before.

When I located them, this is what I found.

bbg pretz

¥7.50 a packet! What!? ¥7.50 per packet. That is more than double the normal cost.

lh pretz

Even the local rip-off Lianhua corner shop only charges ¥4.30

s lh pretz

Now I could think that this is just an honest error, but I have seen this sort of thing in BBG time and time again (their butter is also double the price I pay elsewhere, for example). And be very careful if buying product which has to be weighed – more than once they have entered the wrong code and ended up attempting to charge me for the most expensive item on the shelves rather than for what I am actually buying.

I am convinced that this has happened too often to be coincidence. A plague on them.

Internet Inactivity

I don’t know what’s going on, but today my internet connection has been abysmally slow. It went pear shaped around noon and has been shit ever since.

It was intermittently bad over the weekend, but today it has been next to useless. And I have work to do.

Never mind, China Telecom are still able to send out their spam messages to my phone. That’s all that matters.

Murderous Mugs

BuBuGao, the Hunanese* supermarket chain which has the customer-less shopping mall on the north side of Liuzhou’s People’s Square, is apparently marking the 50th anniversary of the start of Mao’s cultural revolution in which millions were tortured, murdered or driven to suicide, by selling commemorative mugs.


The enamel mugs (as would have been available in 1960s China) carry revolutionary slogans (thoughts of Mao) or his portrait and are priced at ¥9.90 including lid.


The cultural revolution is yet another of those things which the communist party more or less refuses to discuss, despite Deng Xiao Ping labelling it as a “mistake” on Mao’s part.

Just a week ago, the Great Hall of the People in Beijing controversially hosted a concert of cultural revolution songs (红歌). The government are now denying having authorised it – something highly implausible.

There has been a distinct attempt to re-legitimise Mao’s legacy in recent years. How convenient to forget he was responsible for more deaths than Stalin and Hitler combined.

I still know people who keep his portrait on the wall at home and have their little red books ready, just in case.

There is also the notorious Shaoshan restaurant on Gongyuan Lu where you can enjoy excellent Hunan cuisine while the chairman gazes down at you.

*Mao was Hunanese, too.

Menu Misconception

I couldn’t have been paying attention. I was walking down town yesterday when somebody thrust a leaflet at me and, breaking my usual habit, I took it. I’m glad I did. I learned a lot.

Here it is.

leaflet 1

And the reverse

leaflet 2

Yes, it’s for a new restaurant specialising in what passes in their fevered imaginations for western food. Usually, we get restaurants serving up dishes which the ‘chefs’ have only ever seen pictures of and try to guess the ingredients and cooking methods. They nearly always fail.

This time they have gone back to ingredients and are serving up the sort of food we westerners would eat every day if we had the chance.

Let’s look a little closer.

leaflet 3

First thing is that we only ever eat steaks. With fried eggs And un-sauced penne pasta. The only vegetable we ever eat, and that reluctantly, is broccoli. We don’t apparently do plates either.

What is this crap?

Second up is this:

leaflet 4

As everyone knows, sirloin steak must be served with fried egg, broccoli and un-sauced pasta. Er, haven’t we been here before. Well, at least they they used a different pasta for this one – fusilli.

Of course, a western restaurant in China isn’t complete without a few mistranslations.

“The Cowboy Done” should be “The Cowboy Bone” but I’ve no idea what that means, either.

“American steak to the naked eye” sounds great but is “American style* rib-eye steak”. How disappointing.

I don’t even want to think about what “Yeti signs steak” is.

*Note when they say “American steak” they mean “American style” which is what the Chinese says.

Another place serving up shit food prepared by ignorant cooks to ignorant customers who then complain that western food is shit. They have never eaten western food.

Liuzhou Wildlife Restaurant Raids

Two unidentified restaurants in Liuzhou have been raided by law enforcement officials after they received information that illegal wildlife was being offered for sale. Pangolin is on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species

In particular, they heard that pangolin meat was being sold. To order this dish the customer had to know the password and ask for “cordyceps” instead. They also had to use the local dialect rather than Putonghua (Mandarin) or Cantonese.



Frozen pangolin meat sells for between 700 and 800 Yuan /500g (£75-86  $108-123). Fresh meat costs up to 1200 (£129  $185)*

No pangolin was found in the raids, but a number of other forbidden off-menu wild meats were, including snakes. turtles and game birds.

The fine is only 4000元, so I don’t think the restaurants will be too worried, although the authorities, as ever, say that investigations are continuing.

Random Photograph No. 84 – Hats

Tweet Random Picture No. 84 is one in a series of pictures, taken in Liuzhou, which amuse, baffle or otherwise interest me.


Odd Shop Move

After decades in the same place the odd food shop near Dong Men (East Gate) has moved. What used to be this

Old Shop

Old Shop

has become this


New Shop

They are now calling the shop 望旺, as its sister shop on Yuejin Road has been known for ages. The new place is brighter and better laid out, but the stock remains the same. All kinds of oddities and random western foodstuffs. Strong on nuts and beans. Always worth a look.

The new shop is on 曙光东路,same as before, but about 150 metres east of the old shop (towards the East Gate) and at the junction with 罗池路

Guangxi Goes Global – Again

??GX Airlines (北部湾航空) is a relatively new operation (started February 2015) with flights from Nanning to various Chinese cities.

They have now announced that they are about to launch international services. In June, they plan to inaugurate flights to Cambodia and Vietnam. Specific destinations are expected to be Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh.

(Note: Nanning Airport is so far from the city that you are already half way to Vietnam before you get on the plane!)

In fact, GX air is 70% owned by Tianjin Airlines which is owned by the government. The remaining 30% is owned by a consortium of investors who are the government, too.

They are also promising flights to Thailand at some stage. in the “near future”.


I flew from Nanning to Bangkok and back in January/February 1999. Another government owned airline. Forget which.

They do this all the time. Every year or so, they announce that due to the selfless dedication of the party and the wisdom of the leadership, they are now going to introduce something we had all along. Orwell couldn’t have got it more right.

GX Airlines doesn’t actually have any planes but “leases” them from themselves. Their fleet of 10 Embraer E190 jets is owned by the parent company. The government.


Random Photograph 83 – Haircut Academy

Haircut Academy

Haircut Academy

Trainee hairdressers give free haircuts most weekends (weather permitting) just to the south of Liujiang Bridge.

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