Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Stoned Again (8th Time Around)

Liuzhou government have confirmed that the 8th Fantastic Stone Festival will be held in the city from November 1st to 10th.

Liuzhou Stone Market

Liuzhou Stone Market

For more information (and pictures) on Liuzhou’s stone culture, click on the picture above.

Sick Fish and Zombie Cars

A couple of stories from Liuzhou’s press.

Carp - Liuhou Park, Liuzhou

Carp – Liuhou Park, Liuzhou

I’ve often wondered why it is that the Koi carp in Liuzhou parks don’t get stolen. After all, they are expensive to buy and the stock of the pool at Liuhou Park would be worth thousands of dollars. Of course, very few city dwellers have gardens in which to keep them.

But the main reason that they aren’t stolen is that they are regarded as inedible by the locals. Which is odd when you consider that carp are on sale in every supermarket and market and in every restaurant. Over 2 million tonnes are farmed each year in China. Koi are just selectively bred regular carp.

Liuhou Park’s head of security has explained that the carp in the pool (koi, grass carp, silver carp, bullhead carp and blue saury) suffer from parasites* and the water has been treated to minimise fish losses due to disease. This, he claims,  differs from the keeping methods on fish farms. He also says that the fish taste muddy and unpleasant due to their bottom feeding habits, which again is controlled in fish farms.

Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy

I’d be even more worried by the shit that people throw into the pool. With hundreds of people feeding the fish every day and then chucking the bags they brought the food in into the pool, along with god knows what, the park has to employ a full time worker to attempt to clear it.

Pool Cleaner

Pool Cleaner

Of course, it is possible that the park authorities are just spreading this story to protect the fish from theft. I’m not volunteering to test this theory, though.

The fish pool is at the north gate to the park, near the traditional Chinese medicine hospital. There is also a fish pool in Yufeng park.

* Many fish carry parasites, but they are destroyed in cooking. Fish for sushi, sashimi etc. has by law to be frozen before being served. Freezing also kills parasites.

There is an interesting New York Times article on carp in America and China here.

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dark-blue_5The owner of a vehicle parked in the car park of Liuzhou Arts and Culture Centre on the People’s Square has run up a parking bill of 78,000元**.

The car, believed to be a Nissan four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle was parked on May 23rd 2000 and the owner has never returned. At the standard parking rate, 14 years of parking comes to the figure above.

The car is covered by a tarpaulin, but the tires have shrivelled and there is a lot of rust damage.

The local press have dubbed it a “Zombie Car” (僵尸车).

The Arts Centre management have issued an appeal for the owner to come forward and is looking into its legal position.

** £8,995; $12,780; €10,100

Friday Food 138 – Yupai

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week 鱼排.

鱼排 comes from Beihai (北海) on Guangxi’s south coast. In fact, most of the sea fish in Liuzhou does. It literally translates as ‘fish steak’, but it isn’t.

What is sold as Beihai Yupai (北海鱼排) is a snack food for nibbling. It makes a reasonable beer food, too. It consists of slivers or flakes of 马面鱼, or ‘leather jacket fish’. (The Chinese name translates as ‘horse face fish). The fish meat is cured with a sugar and salt mix, then dried. Finally the pieces of fish are coated in white sesame seeds.

It tastes quite sweet and is rather chewy. Sharpen your dentures before tackling. There is only a slight fishiness and I would prefer them a bit more salty.

Beihai Yupai

Beihai Yupai

The lot in the picture cost ¥17 for 150 grams in Lianhua supermarket.

Beihai Yupai

Beihai Yupai

Foreign Competitors Sexually Assault Liuzhou Girl

I am so tired of the endless stream of selfish, immature, racist, moronic foreigners who turn up to take part in the water festival events and shit all over Liuzhou and its people.

Four French men were arrested at 4 pm on September 30th for touching up a girl in the pedestrian street near McDonalds. One man, said to be a French ‘athlete’ (read ‘rich idiot here to play with his expensive toys’), started patting the girl on her upper thigh as she walked through the street. At the same time, his three accomplices were filming him on their cell phones and laughing.

The girl complained to the police and the idiots were arrested. They admitted what they had done but said they only did it for fun. Sexual assault is not fun, you cretins!

They offered to pay compensation which the girl, in my opinion rightly, refused. These tossers think they can buy their way out of everything.

The four were reprimanded and required to write apologies. Now their visa status in under review. In other words, the police will do nothing.

The scum should spend time in a Liuzhou prison, then be deported in chains.

Dickheads like this make it so much more difficult for people like me who actually live here and have the good manners to actually respect the locals.

If I sound angry, it’s because I am.

Escalating Mystery.

I know there are better things to worry about, but this has been bugging me. Why have all the escalators in the huge underground shopping mall been turned off for the last week or so?

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The signs say that each escalator is closed for maintenance. But no one is working on them. How did they all break down on the same day? Why turn them all off just in time for one of the biggest shopping weeks in the year?

My theory is that they are just trying to save money. The whole shopping area is full of cheap, shoddy goods guaranteed to last a week at most. The average age of the “shoppers” is about 14. I’m sure they are struggling.

But the entrances and exits are pretty much the only way to safely cross 龙城路 or 五一路

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Water Opening

National Day. As China celebrates its 65th year under the communist party’s rule, Liuzhou starts its now annual International Water Festival. Once again, I disguised myself as a respectable citizen and got myself invited to the opening ceremony. A VIP pass ensured I got there on the official bus and onto the stage for the ceremony.

VIP Pass

VIP Pass

In a break with convention, the specially invited guests, instead of sitting facing the city party leaders, we were sitting with them. I was immediately behind the mayor, 肖文荪. Things kicked off with him making a thankfully, relatively short speech on how great Liuzhou is thanks to the party. As usual. Then the real boss, Liuzhou Party Secretary, 鄭俊康 managed the shortest speech of his political life by declaring the opening the festival in just one sentence. Unheard of.

My view of the back of the Party Secretary's head as he opened the Festival

My view of the back of the Party Secretary’s head as he opened the Festival

 We were then treated to some entertainment.  There were dancing kids and bicycling kids and accordion kids (pretending to play).

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Accordion kids

Some floats went past.

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For reasons probably lost to human memory when they sobered up, The Bank of Liuzhou decided to represent themselves by a float depicting Thomas the Tank Engine.

Thomas the Bank Engine

Thomas the Bank Engine

To be sure to emphasise the international nature of the water festival, some foreigners also paraded past us. Who they were no one knows. Certainly not Liuzhou residents.

We had some young women trying to look like characters from a lost Jane Austen novel.

Nonsense and Nonsensibility

Nonsense and Nonsensibility

They contrasted clashed well with the classical Chinese look behind them.

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We had a display of women whose only discernible talent was the ability to stand up while holding umbrellas. An odd choice when you consider what is happening in a nearby former British colony.

Umbrella

Umbrella

A mixed group of drummers and dancers came by.

Drummers and Dancers

Drummers and Dancers

Some more westerners who managed to forget to put most of their clothes on but have wings. Some of them, anyway.

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Finally some fake Confucians arrived, at which point the party secretary and the mayor stood up and left. Our cue to head back home.

Confusions

Confusions

Oddly, for the opening ceremony for a Water Festival, there was nothing aquatic about the even at all, apart from one fishy balloon.

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Liujiang Poisoned Again

Liujiang in Central Liuzhou

Liujiang in Central Liuzhou

A day before the opening of the now traditional, annual Liuzhou International Water Festival, comes news that the company which dumped cadmium in the river in 2012, leading to a 1 million yuan fine and three managers being imprisoned, have been at it again.

It seems Guangxi Jinhe Mining Co Ltd in Hechi to Liuzhou’s north-west were caught dumping cadmium and zinc into the Longjiang, a tributary of Liuzhou’s beloved Liujiang, back in July of this year. The company was fined a further 300,000元. They have since been ordered to stop operations.

Why it has taken over two months to release this information is not explained.

Liuzhou Wets Itself Again

Once again, Liuzhou is holding its annual celebration of all things wet. The International Water Carnival runs from October 1st to 5th, with the usual aquatic sports events for rich kids with expensive toys.

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The events kicked off yesterday, somewhat ahead of schedule, with dragon boat races on the river near the Liujiang Bridge.

dragon boats

Meanwhile preparations for the week long holiday are continuing. The recessed space in the People’s Square has been turned into a pool, over-imaginatively dubbed 沙滩水世界, “Sandy Beach Water World”.

 

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沙滩水世界, “Sandy Beach Water World”

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Later in the month, we are promised a River Regatta – someone has learned a new world. Different rich kids with different toys.

regatta

As ever, no tickets are on sale for these events. Guanxi is what you need.

Seedy Sidewalks

Back in the days when I lived in London, public coin-operated telephone boxes were decorated top to bottom, east to west with what were named “tart cards”. These were small advertisements for prostitution services, usually featuring a photograph (not necessarily of the person offering the service), a phone number and sometimes indications of ‘specialist’ services. In 2001, posting these in telephone boxes was made illegal, but I’m told it continues.

Tart Cards in UK Phone Box

Tart Cards in UK Phone Box

Of course, no such thing happens in China. Because they don’t have phone boxes.

Just recently, in my perambulations, I have noticed a rash of ‘tart stickers’ stuck to the sidewalks around town. There are three of four on the street where I live, but I’ve also seen them further afield. Here is one:

Tart Sticker - Liuzhou sidewalk September 26, 2014

Tart Sticker – Liuzhou sidewalk September 26, 2014

It reads “包小姐“. 包, in this context means “hire” and, although 小姐’s literal meaning is simply “young woman”, it has become a colloquial name for a prostitute. So the sticker is saying “Hire Prostitute”. It includes a cell phone number which I have pixellated. I ain’t no pimp.

It is highly likely that the women pictured have no connection with this trade. I’m told the stickers often portray Japanese or Korean models.

While prostitution is widely practised, the authorities do have frequent crackdowns and raids. Foreigners involved are likely to be deported.

Comments on this post have been disabled due to the huge number of idiots barraging me with juvenile or obscene comments. Sorry, if your comment was non-idiotic, but believe me, you were in the minority.

Friday Food 137 – Radishes

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week Radishes/Daikon/Mooli etc.

Nothing particularly unusual about radishes, I hear you think. I’m not so sure. The Chinese for radish – 萝卜 covers a multitude of vegetation.

Even the humble carrot is a radish in Chinese thinking – 红萝卜, literally ‘red radish’ or 胡萝卜, literally ‘foreign radish’.

Many years ago, I conned my young son into eating parsnips, which he claimed to hate, by telling him that they were Chinese white carrots, a rare vegetable which he turned out to love. Sadly, Chinese etymology disagrees and has no radish or carrot connection. They are 欧防风, meaning European Saposhnikovia via divaricata, a similar looking root used in Chinese medicine. I’ve never come across parsnips here.

But I digress.

The small round peppery radishes with red skin and white flesh commonly found in the west are rarely available (Bubugao Hypermarket sometimes has them.)

radishes (1)

In China, the mention of radish automatically associates itself with the large white elongated objects known by their Japanese name daikon (ダイコン) in most places, although also by the Indian name mooli (मूली) in the UK.

This variety doesn’t have the peppery taste of the small ones. In fact, it is very low on flavour, at all. But it does add a crispness to salads and to hotpots and soups.

Daikon  ダイコン

Daikon ダイコン

But what prompted me to include this in Friday Food was the appearance of this in the markets. It’s a Chinese heirloom variety of radish, Wikipedia (fount of all knowledge errors) claims that the Chinese name is 心里美萝卜 or Beautiful Heart Radish, but the locals are more prosaic and simply call it 青萝卜 or Green Radish. In English they are often referred to as Watermelon Radishes, for obvious reasons. The exterior is a white to light green, whereas the interior is red. They are round but much larger than the small radishes pictured above. This one is 10cm / 4 inches in diameter.

waternelon radish

The texture is as the small radishes, but they are less peppery in taste.


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