Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

LuoSiFen Museum Humbug

This saddens me beyond words.

Xinhua, China’s official news agency has announced the opening of a Luosifen (螺蛳粉) Museum last weekend. In the last couple of years around thirty “museums” chronicling everything from a Deer Museum to a Tooth Paste Museum have popped up. These inevitably turn out to merely promotional outlets for some Liuzhou company or other. The Toothpaste Museum is “coincidentally” owned by LiangMianzhen (两面针) toothpaste factory, for example.

And so with the Luosifen Museum.

The museum was set up by a local manufacturer… …Visitors can see an automated production line. Every day, around 100,000 packets of river snail rice noodles are made there.

Despite the story press release describing the dish as street food, the museum is, in fact merely promoting packets of instant noodles, a pale, insipid, industrial version of the real thing.

I don’t know if the brand shown above is the one which has set up the museum and have no desire to find out. There are now 79 companies making the things and nearly 9000 online vendors selling the stuff.

After the dish featured in the first episode of the award winning “A Bite of China” back in 2016, Liuzhou Government sank millions into subsidies and tax breaks for these manufacturers.

Me, I’m sticking with the real thing.

The Xinhua story is here. (In English). Luosifen has it’s own Facebook group here.

China Holidays 2018

I know it’s still 2017, but if you are like me you’ll already be thinking about next year’s holidays. Here, courtesy of Josh Summers of, is a full list of China’s national public holidays for 2018 along with any relevant “make-up” days.

In addition to these, Guangxi also has a holiday for the San-Yue-San (三月三)festival, which, in 2018, falls on April 18th. Full details of that holiday have not yet been published.

I will update as soon as possible.

Christmas Cacophony

Things are bad. My local supermarket has taken to playing the deliberately awful version of “Love is All Around” sung by Bill Nighy as the character Billy Mack in the movie “Love, Actually“. I’m boycotting the place until they realise Christmas is over, which may be around next August, if things go as usual.

Just so I don’t have to suffer alone, here is what I mean for those who don’t know it. Play at your own peril. (VPN required in China. Perhaps this is why China has blocked YouTube.)

I’m looking forward to going back to saccharine Canto-pop while I pick up my supplies.

Friday Food 186 – Insect Shit Tea

chopsticksFriday 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 shitty.

A recent trip to the Dong ethnic minority (侗族) lands in Sanjiang Autonomous County (三江侗族自治縣) in the far north of Liuzhou prefecture, where Guangxi, Guizhou and Hunan meet. turned up this curiosity.

虫宝茶 chóng bǎo chá (literally ‘insect treasure tea’) is the excrement of a type of moth caterpillar which eats tea leaves. When the tea exits at the other end, it is collected and dried.

The insect tea is added to regular tea and is considered to have medicinal properties, particularly for stomach ailments. It tastes vaguely fungal to me, like mushrooms.

Tea Field in Buyang Village (布央村), Sanjiang

Official Statement on Kindergartens

Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency issued the following statement on Friday.

Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, November

In light of the recent infringement of young children in kindergartens, the Office of Education Steering Committee of the State Council issued an urgent circular on the 24th and immediately deployed a special supervision and inspection of the normative behavior of kindergartens in the whole country. It demands effective reduction of the incidence of similar incidents, to ensure the majority of children’s physical and mental health.

“In the recent past, many infants have been abused  in kindergartens, causing bad effects and causing serious harm to the infants and their families.” The circular pointed out: “The occurrence of these incidents shows that some places and kindergartens still have mismanaging systems

According to the circular, all localities should immediately organize special supervision and inspection of the performance of kindergartens in accordance with the requirements of the “Law on the Protection of Juveniles”, the “Teachers’ Law”, the Regulations on the Administration of Kindergartens, the Procedures for the Administration of Kindergartens and the Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Parks and Homes Conducted by Kindergartens, focusing on examining the building of ethics and morality and timely detection of problems and rectification. Kindergartens hurting young children and other malignant events, must be resolutely found, investigated and dealt with, and must resolutely prevent the occurrence of kindergarten child injury, and effectively protect the safety and health of children.

The circular stressed that education administrations and kindergartens throughout the country should further strengthen risk management and control of kindergartens, strengthen access control, and strengthen supervision over technical means to form a normalized regulatory mechanism, establish and improve the accountability mechanism for handling emergencies in kindergartens, clarify the relevant responsibilities, and hold responsible persons responsible for serious accidents or adverse social impacts caused by inadequate management.

The circular also requires that all localities should establish a routine monitoring system for behavior of kindergartens and parks, keep abreast of the behavior and basic operation of kindergartens and parks, and submit relevant data and information as required. Especially significant events must be properly handled, timely reported, and protection of kindergarten should have standardized management and healthy development.

The original Chinese follows,







Kindergarten Cretins

It has been reported that Chinese censors have issued orders preventing reporting or commenting on reports of the recent child abuse scandal in Beijing.

The story which broke a few days ago alleged that RYB (Red Yellow Blue) New World Kindergarten in Xintiandi, in eastern Beijing had been drugging children and forcing them to stand naked or be locked up as punishment for disobedience. Worries have also been expressed that the children may have been sexually abused. The kindergarten is adjacent to a military base and its director is married to a former military official. The military has denied any involvement

Parents gather outside the kindergarten in Beijing

“For two days my daughter has been crying: ‘I’m not sick, so why give me shots?’” one mother told China Women’s News, a party-run newspaper.

Another parent claimed children had been told to take two white tablets each day after lunch, for reasons that are unclear.

“Disobedient students were also forced to stand naked or were locked up in a dark room at the kindergarten,” a third parent told the magazine Caixin.

Police and education authorities said they were investigating and would seek harsh punishment if the allegations proved true.

For two or three days, Chinese social media was awash with denunciations of the NASDAQ listed operators PYB, but on Thursday government sources issued the following statement to the media.


Don’t report or comment on the matter of the Red Yellow Blue New World Kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.

Presumably concerned about a middle-class backlash and fury, the Chinese authorities have again reacted in their usual cretinous way by banning all discussion. They are more interested in protecting themselves than protecting children.


November 25th It has now been reported that one teacher has been arrested and placed in criminal detention for suspected abuse.

November 28th Here is a summary and update on the scandal from SupChina.

Note: Comments on this (and the next) article have been closed due to an overnight deluge of dishonest, abusive, racist and personal comments. This includes morons claiming that it is a fundamental human right for people to sexually abuse children and people making up what I “said” then arguing with that instead of what I actually said. Oh and the Trump chumps yelling “Fake News!” without  specifying what news is fake – the scandal, the ban or that the scandal and/or ban has been reported. An unsurprisingly high number of these comments come with different names and fake email addresses, but from the same ISP. Idiots.
November 26th, 2017


Shopping in Liuzhou is a lot better than it used to be, especially for what might be considered “western” requirements, but is still very limited. An improvement on impossible, but only just.

Things changed a few years back as online shopping hit China in a big way, especially through Taobao and Tmall. Most things you can imagine wanting or cannot imagine at all are available – from books and music to electronics, food, clothes (including western sizes) etc.

However, the site is nearly all in Chinese and this limits its usefulness for those who can’t read Chinese and have to seek assistance from Chinese friends.

Now however, a newish website, Baopals is offering a portal to Taobao and Tmall in English. Based in Shanghai and started by three American expats, the site offers access to what they claim to be over 800 million items.

The site also offers full instructions, details of payment and refund methods, and additional information on things like Chinese clothing sizes etc.

To visit the site click on the logo above. (Note: You may have to disable any VPNs or proxies to gain access.)

Don’t spend all your money!

Friday Food 185 – Liangfen

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

Liagfen (凉粉) is a type of noodle made from starch and water. It is sometimes referred to as ‘starch jelly’ and is usually made from mung bean starch although other starches can be used.

The Chinese name literally means ‘cold powder’ and although the dish made from these noodles is served cold, the second character, , pronounced ‘fun’, is a funny one. Although the primary meaning is indeed ‘powder’ it is also used to denote certain products made from the powder, giving it the secondary meaning of ‘noodles’. But only certain noodles – mainly rice noodles and starch noodles. 米粉 means both rice flour and rice noodles and is often abbreviated to just . Wheat noodles (面粉) are instead abbreviated to just the first character, .

Imagine my amusement when I recently came across this.

These are packets of mung bean starch labelled as 凉粉粉 (liáng fěn fěn) meaning it’s the powder used to make the noodles which are named after the powder from which they are made!

We have here two types labelled white or black. In fact white and brown would be more accurate. The starch is boiled with water until it congeals and is spread out, then cut into noodles by hand.

Of course, the starch can also be used as with any other food starch to thicken sauces etc.

Trusty Vegetables

Having alluded to this in my last post, I  suppose I ought to explain more. I guessed a local had set it up. A few weeks back, as I was returning home from work (the curse of the drinking classes*) I spotted this at the entrance to the neighbourhood semi-compound where I live. I guessed  it must have been set up one of the locals, but I was wrong.

The Leaning Tower of Greens

Basically, it’s an unmanned vegetable stall which operates on a trust system. Pick your greenery of choice and pay by one of the telephone payment methods or drop your pictures of the Chairman in the box. Every thing is the same price – ¥3 a bunch.

It turns out that these have been springing up in residential areas for around a year and have mostly been set up by one man, a Mr Yu. Of course, it being China, there have been many copycats and soon there will be many more.

Yu says that 85% of customers are honest and Liuzhou government are holding this up as an example of how civilised the people are now, under their glorious leadership..

I only have two problems. There is a supermarket only 20 metres from that stall which has fresher looking and cheaper greenery. Every time I walk past the stall, which is most days, there is a sad selection of veg wilting in the sun, My pet rabbit would probably turn it down, if I hadn’t stir-fried her.

* ascribed to Oscar Wilde.

Vegetables and Death

I don’t know what to make of this. Yet, it’s something I’ve seen often. From Liuzhou’s media, yesterday.

Obviously, I don’t know where you are or come from, but, despicable as the Daily Mail and anything Murdoch breaths on are, there is no way the media in the UK would publish this. Yet in China, it’s OK.

Culture difference, I know, but it seems to me there is so little value on life here. This image obviously shows no respect to the deceased and must be upsetting for family and friends.

On Tuesday afternoon, an unidentified 70-year-old woman was crossing a marked zebra crossing when she was hit by a truck and instantly killed.

Now, I realise that it is probably very hypocritical of me to post the image, but I do so to make a point. It seems to me that a society which lauds a system selling vegetables on a trust basis and calling it an example of how much more civilised the city is becoming thanks to the efforts of the communist party, but shows no respect whatsoever for the dignity that the dead deserve and the compassion the mourners merit, has a very long way to go.

By the way, the vegetables story was on page 2 and the dead woman story on page 6. Priorities. Self praising propaganda must come first.

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