Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Cheese Tea?

The hopeless, so-called “Italian Pizza” place which had no Italian pizzas, as I mentioned in July, lasted even less long than the average Italian government.  It has gone – unmourned – after just two months.

In its place, has arisen a branch of the chain of “royaltea” shops which seem to be all the rage. (I hope the pun was deliberate but I expect not.)


They seem more confused than the non-Italians. They are suffering from the delusion that cheese is a drink. Alongside their offerings of milk tea and lemon tea, they will also sell you a variety of drinks from sections of their menu entitled “Royal Tea Cheese”, “Cheese Tea” and for the non-tea drinkers (tea-totallers?), “Cheese Drink”.

I haven’t sampled these wonders and probably never will, but they seem to be tea, something they imagine to be cheese and matcha powder (more tea).


There is also a clone called “Royal Style” in the basement of Bubugao (near the supermarket entrance) selling the same thing.

Whatever next?

If The Old Doesn’t Go

There is a Chinese idiom 旧的不去,新的不来 which can be translated as “If the old doesn’t go, the new can’t come.”


Zheng Junkang

Yesterday, Liuzhou announced the results of its elections for the new city leaders. Chances are you didn’t know there was an election. Few people ever do. The party just vote for themselves. The People’s Republic doesn’t let the People choose!

Surprise of the day was the news that we have a “new” Party Secretary taking his place the top of the tree.  The new secretary is Zheng Junkang (鄭俊康) who replaces Zheng Junkang (鄭俊康) who was first elected Party Secretary in February 2013 after six years as city mayor. No, I haven’t made a mistake. They are the same man. Nothing has changed. But we are being told he is “new”.

Other announcements list the names and responsibilities of those appointed to various committee, while adding notes as to which gender and ethnic minority they belong to – unless of course they are male or Han or both. The party secretary and deputy are, of course, Han males. They always are.

If you are really interested,here is a list in Chinese. I can’t be bothered to translate it. It
won’t make a bit of difference to anything. Yesterday Once More.

中共柳州市委书记 – 郑俊康

中共柳州市委副书记 –  吴炜 刘友谊


郑俊康 吴炜 刘友谊 徐斌 杨义 焦耀光 陈鸿宁 钟山(壮族) 黄丽娟(女)
向军(壮族) 袁东升(土家族)




副书记:覃应霜(壮族) 韦冠武(壮族) 苏学常(壮族)


钟山(壮族) 覃应霜(壮族) 韦冠武(壮族) 苏学常(壮族) 梁东强 罗庆
锋(壮族) 覃莉(女,回族) 覃家茂 戚纯(壮族)



Random Photograph No. 90 – Blue Sky

Random Picture No. 90 is one in a series of pictures, taken in Liuzhou, which amuse, baffle or otherwise interest me.

Liuzhou - San Zhong Road - Saturday 20th August 2016 - 13:22

Liuzhou – San Zhong Road – Saturday 20th August 2016 – 13:22

Crayfish Warning


Nanning Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning regarding crayfish aka crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters or mudbugs. Whatever you call them, you may want to take heed.

They have said that there is a possibility that “eating [crayfish] may lead to rhabdomyolysis”, a muscle disease which, in extreme cases,  can lead to liver failure. This follows cases reported in Nanjing and Beijing, which the relevant authorities are claiming to be Haff disease, a development of rhabdomyolysis.  The connection between Haff disease and crayfish remains unproven. No cases have been reported in Guangxi.

Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscular pain and darkened urine. The symptoms may not appear for between 12 to 24 hours after consuming crayfish. They advise that anyone suffering such symptoms be immediately “rushed to hospital”.

In the meantime, they advise against eating the heads (which some consider the best part) and internal organs. It is believed that the crustaceans are infested with heavy metals, pesticide residues, antibiotic residues, hormones, parasites, etc.l

Crayfish (小龙虾)  have become very popular in China in recent years, usually in a spicy “má là” sauce. This is basically Sichuan pepper and chilli. Look out for 麻辣小龙虾. Alternatively, they are sometimes served simply boiled.


4th Liuzhou Arts And Crafts Masters’ Exhibition

Stuck for something to do over the weekend?

Liuzhou museum is hosting the 4th annual arts and crafts masters’ exhibition until Sunday. And an odd affair it is, too.

“Arts and crafts” covers a wide spectrum and this is reflected in the exhibits. Everything from ethnic minority dresses and jewellery, through paintings, lampshades, wooden models and er, a motorcycle. And much more. Well worth a look though.







The exhibition is in the temporary exhibits gallery on the first (ground) floor and entry is free.

The museum, on the People’s Square,  is open from 9 am to 5 pm (last entry 4 pm).

Not The Ticket

Ticket Office 2005

Ticket Office 2005

I guess it was inevitable.

In 2005, this tiny ticket office, more of a ticket kiosk really, opened at the gate of Liuzhou Library on 三中路. For those of us in the north of the city, this was a godsend. No longer did we have to descend into what was, and despite some improvements, remains the hell on earth of the main railway station ticket office.

Womanned by one friendly young lady who was helpful and polite, even to stupid foreigners who weren’t sure where they wanted to go or when, this was a place I frequented a lot recently as I had some travelling to do. Well worth the ¥5 per ticket service fee.

Sadly, this week, it closed. Shut up shop. Gone.

The vast majority of people buy their tickets on-line now, so physical ticket offices are likely to die completely some day soon.

The nearest ticket office I know of now is the travel centre in Zhong Jiao Hotel (中交大酒店 – 交通局). That office does train, coach, plane, boat tickets. For a fee. For how much longer?


Friday Food 169 – Burdock

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This time, we are going underground. Roots, mon.

When I was a kid, aeons ago, we used to drink dandelion and burdock. This was traditionally a slightly alcoholic beverage, but the soft drink companies sold a non-alcoholic version. It went out of fashion, but I’m told sales have increased recently.


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

I knew what dandelions were. A ubiquitous weed, only useful for blowing off the white seeds and chanting “She love me; she loves me not” until they were all gone, thereby announcing your likelihood of consummation with the object of your desires. It is also a well-known diuretic to the point that the French for dandelion is “pissenlit” which literally means “piss in bed”.

But I had no real idea what burdock might be. Not that I particularly cared. Turns out it is the root of another, botanically related, weed, and in addition to its appearance in my childhood brews, is used in a number of other ways. It is NOT recommended that you go dig it up yourself. The roots are very similar to other roots which can be fatally poisonous.

It is used as a popular vegetable in Japan (ゴボウ; gobō) where it is often added to stews and soups, or served in salads. According to Wikipedia, “The root is very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavor“. Mild and pungent? Contradiction, surely.

In China, burdock (Arctium lappa) is known as 牛蒡 is less often used as a food but is mainly used in herbal teas and traditional medicines. It is most commonly sold dried and pre-sliced.

Burdock - 牛蒡

Burdock – 牛蒡

It is also a diuretic and is noted for helping shift “gas and other blockages”.

It costs around ¥36/kg. The amount in the picture above is about one-third of a bunch I bought for ¥5.70. Available from any traditional medicine store.

There is more information and a recipe for the fermented dandelion and burdock drink here. Dandelion in Chinese is 蒲公英. Have fun, but don’t stray too far from the nearest 厕所.

Whole Lotta Shakin’

Typical. I leave Guangxi for a few days and the place starts falling apart. I spent last weekend back in my old haunts in Hunan, where I lived 20 years ago. Almost as soon as I crossed the border, Guangxi has an earthquake!


The magnitude-5.4 quake, centred on Wuzhou city to the east of Liuzhou, is estimated to have displaced 1200 people and damaged 200 homes, but there have been no recorded injuries.

The tremors were felt by some people in Liuzhou and even as far away as Hong Kong. Minor earthquakes aren’t that uncommon here, but it has been over 400 years since anything major.

Anyway, I had a great time in Hunan: great company, great food. And I didn’t suffer the shakes.

Friday Food 168 – Longan

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This time, we are looking at dragons looking at us.

It is longan season! One of the best.


Longan (龙眼 or 桂圆 – the latter being more common for the dried fruit) is a relation of the lychee, but smaller, less juicy and more sweet. The name 龙眼 literally means “dragon eyes” referring to the fruit’s appearance when shelled. It has a solid black seed which can be seen through the translucent white fruit, supposedly resembling a dragon’s ocular device.


The season is relatively short for fresh fruit, but they are also dried and, in this form, available year round. Usually known as 桂圆, these are used in some dessert-type preparations, but also added to soups or “sweet and sour” dishes. They come in two forms: the whole fruit can be dried as is, or the fruits are peeled and de-seeded then dried, Of course, they are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. What isn’t?

Dried Longan

Dried Longan Pulp

Drying the fruit also darkens it in colour. Some can be near black.

Fresh fruit is available now from all markets and supermarkets, but be quick. Around ¥20/kg. The dried whole fruit is around ¥30/500g, where as the dried flesh costs ¥100 and up/500g.

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