Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

One Hand Unclasping?

320571B500000578-0-image-m-36_1457523418314I missed this at the time, but it appears that some unidentified shopping mall in Liuzhou celebrated Women’s Day on March 8th by staging an extremely sexist ‘bra undoing’ competition.

A bunch of masked but possibly not too unattractive young women pranced about in their underwear for a bit then lined up with their backs to the audience. Spectators were then invited to compete to see see who could undo their bras the quickest using just one hand.

Surprisingly only one man volunteered to have a go, but seven women did. The winner, a woman, managed to undo six bras in fourteen seconds.

Sadly, this total misunderstanding of the entire point of Women’s Day is normal round here. Last year, they celebrated by getting a bunch of men to organise the women to cook their dinner!

Here, purely for the historic record, are some pictures

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Anyone know which shopping mall this was?

Ne’er Cast a Clout

Till May be out Ne’er cast a clout.

The old proverb, still current in Scotland, is almost equally apt here in Liuzhou. After a long warm spell, the temperatures plummeted again on Wednesday, catching many people out. Thursday was even lower.

Until recently, I would see people don their winter woolies and thermal underwear on October 1st irrespective of the actual weather and keep wearing them until May 1st irrespective of the actual weather.

Several teachers remarked to me that it seemed their students had lost a lot of weight over the May holiday or gained a lot during the National Day Holiday (October 1st) No. They had all just changed their clothes on the same day!

Today, people tend to be more sensible and adjust their clothing to the real conditions prevailing, although I guess some of the older generation stick to the old practice.

The lesson to be learned – check the weather forecast and be prepared.

P.S. I find this to be the most reliable of the forecasts. The one you get on your cell phone is hilariously inept.

weather

Random Photograph 82 – Pickled Panties

pickled panties

Need some panties? Try the pickle shop.

Fancy some pickles? Try the panty shop.

Luosifen Legislation

Over the last year, there has been a huge rise in the number of companies offering instant luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn), Liuzhou’s iconic snail noodle dish.

Personally, I don’t think they are a patch on the real thing, but they are proving popular with people who are away from Liuzhou and missing their fix. I know of several mamas sending them to their Liuzhou offspring studying away from home, whether they are elsewhere in China or in Europe or the USA.

Now, the government are getting involved. Liuzhou Food and Drug Administration has announced that mandatory standards are to be introduced in May 1st, 2016 regulating the production of pre-packaged luosifen. The standards are being issued now in order to allow companies to digest the details before the start date and take steps to meet the requirements. Following May 1st, law enforcement officers will carry out inspections and tests to ensure compliance.

No Fires!

Today is one of my favourite days of the year. Everyone else (almost) stays home and I get Liuzhou (almost) all to myself. The second day of the Chinese New Year.

Yesterday was quite busy down town. The parks and squares were packed, but, this morning, I went for a long walk and town was nearly deserted. It reminded me of Liuzhou twenty years ago, when there were few private cars and no e-donkeys cluttering up the side walks. Most shops, usually open around 12 to 13 hours a day (10am until 11pm is common), were closed, apart from those in the Wuxing pedestrian area. Many restaurants are closed – especially the smaller ones which can’t afford to stay open as they have to pay staff enhanced holiday rates. Or so they say.

It came as no surprise to see rows of closed up shops and signs detailing when they’ll be back.

Closed

Closed

Most will re-open at the weekend.

SWee you soon!

See you soon!

One thing did concern me, though.

I passed by the fire station on Beizhan Road (北站路), my nearest and the one covering the city centre. It too is closed for the duration!

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I must remember not to go on fire during the holiday!

 

Merry Monkeys

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Three Months?

20160107082814614The driver of a Wuling van who, at the end of November, hit and killed a couple in their seventies, on a pedestrian crossing in the south of the city, sparking the campaign to have drivers stop at crossings, has been tried and sentenced.

Tests were carried out and it was discovered that he had been drinking and that his vehicle had defective lights among other safety issues.

The drunken idiot, owner of this dangerous vehicle, was sentenced to a mere three months in prison. It is also reported that he has made a financial settlement with his victims’ family in compensation. No details of this settlement have been released.

Meanwhile, since the end of the campaign, fewer and fewer drivers are now stopping to let pedestrians cross. As soon as the barrage of media reminders ended, drivers mostly went back to their old ways.

Also, some still think crossings are car parks, blissfully unaware that they are forcing pedestrians to cross in less safe ways.

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Road safety will never improve unless they properly enforce the rules and dish out real, severe punishment to violators.

Too Much Monkey Business

Well, is seems we are almost ready.

The city has been duly decorated.

Liuzhou People's Square

Liuzhou People’s Square

Most of my friends have disappeared home to their families, The shops are selling the last of the festive crap they always sell. My neighbours have slaughtered their chicken for tomorrow’s “big dinner”. The fireworks have been readied.

By noon tomorrow, most of the city will start to close down. Bubugao Plaza and some of the larger stores will hang on until 5pm, instead if its usual 11pm. Then there will be a brief period of silence as all the locals tuck into their festive food.

Then mayhem, as the fireworks go off at midnight to frighten away the ghost of this year and make way for the Year of the Monkey.

All I have to say is

Friday Food 162 – New Year Cake

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

This may not look like much. That is because it isn’t much.

niangao

This is 年糕 or New Year Cake from Liuzhou’s Sanjiang county and people are going to getting stuck into it over the next couple of weeks to celebrate the Year of the Monkey which starts on Monday, 8th February.

The ingredients are glutinous (sticky rice) , white sugar, vegetable oil and water. And that’s it. And that is what they taste like. Rice and sugar.

Slightly more attractive perhaps is this version – until you realise that the red colouring and the eye is all in the packaging

fish niangao

Stripped of its packaging it looks like this.

fish niangao 2

Still a bit more interesting to look at I suppose, but the same (lack of) taste. The ingredients are very similar, but this one from Wuzhou city gets its yellow hue from corn meal which is mixed with the glutinous rice. I’ve also seen versions using millet.

If you like your teeth falling out, go ahead and get some of either version. Most supermarkets have them on sale for around ¥15 – ¥20 for a 600g cake.

Horrible, pointless things.

Bank and Bouncy Castle Time

It appears that Liuzhou’s jumpers may have found a new venue for their stunts. For the second time in the past year, someone was apparently threatening to jump from a fifth floor window in the ridiculously large Agricultural Bank HQ on San Zhong Lu (三中路).

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When I went out this morning at 11 am, there was a crowd gathered outside the bank looking up at this woman perched on the window sill. The police and fire people had just arrived. She has decorated her perch with banners criticising the incompetence of the bank and accusing them of having stolen all her money amounting to “millions”.

So maybe she has no intention of jumping, but is merely making her protest. I know nothing.

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Anyway, I carried on to do what I had come out to do. When I returned at 1 pm she was still there. The fire people had set up their bouncy castle thing to catch her if she went over the edge.

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There is also one above the bank entrance portico. Looks safe enough?

Well, from that angle, maybe. But from this angle below, you can see that they are unable to cover all the area under her. Still room for error.

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Anyway, it’s now 4 pm and, for all I know, she may still be up there. But I’m not going back out to check. Too damned cold.


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