Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Imaginary Snow

For two days, I’ve been besieged by people telling me it is snowing in Liuzhou city, Nanning, Guangzhou etc. Just to clarify things “NO IT ISN’T!”

What they are seeing is, in fact,  ice, frost and soft hail (technically, “graupel” – Chinese – )

Few locals have ever seen snow, so they misidentify everything white and cold as ‘snow’.

Here is one picture sent to me to prove it was snowing in Guangzhou. It’s icicles.

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Another, more sensible friend sent me this asking what it was. She knew it wasn’t snow. It is graupel/ soft hail on her car windscreen. This time in Nanning.

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Today was cold in the morning and evening, but at noon it was bright and sunny, if a bit crisp!  Keep warm!

No pictures from Liuzhou because there was no snow, frost, hail or anything similar to photograph. Right now (10 pm) its 6ºC. The temperature never reached the forecast low of 0ºC. The slow crawl back up the thermometer begins tomorrow. The forecast is for double figures next weekend. We shall see.

New Mayor

Wu Wei 吴炜

Wu Wei 吴炜

Approximately two months after the apparent suicide of the last incumbent, Liuzhou has finally chosen a new mayor. That is, the party has.

吴炜 was “elected” yesterday after what appeared to be bit of struggle. with four vice-mayors having resigned and one suspended for a suspected  inappropriate relationship with a married woman other than his wife.

Mayor Wu is a native of Guangdong and was previously a deputy secretary of Liuzhou’s division of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

As ever, the real power remains with the party secretary, 郑俊康.

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Party secretary Zheng Junkang congratulates Wu Wei on his “Election” “Keep away from the river”, he advises.

Friday Food 160 – Black Ants

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 antsy.

ants

Black Ants

Black ants have been eaten in China for decades, more for medicinal reasons than gustatory. You won’t find them in your local supermarket, but they are available in pharmacies dealing in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ingredients.

They are priced by size, the larger they are the more expensive.  The largest can fetch over ¥300 per kg.

They are considered to be of benefit to longevity and general well-being, and in particular to men wishing to retain their reproductive power into old age. But that seems to be the case for almost everything in TCM.

What is more easily available (and affordable), even in some supermarkets is Black Ant Health Preserving Wine (黑蚂蚁养生酒). 175ml bottles are available for ¥9.80. Ingredients are listed as rice wine, black ants, cobra, banded krait (another snake), gecko, astragalus herb,  ginseng, longan and wolfberry.

black ant wine

Zhongbai Hualian supermarket on Beizhan Road is currently offering a ‘buy two, get one free” deal. Either that or I’m seeing triple.

Mayoral Muddle

Swearing-in

Swearing-in

Shenanigans are afoot in the search for a new city mayor after the apparent suicide of the last one back in November 2015.

It has been reported that four vice-mayors have “resigned” and one is under investigation by the party discipline committee for being involved with “a married women”, presumably not his own wife.

Swearing-in ceremonies have also been held for what seem to be replacements.

It is easy to speculate as to why, three months after the loss of the last mayor, the city remains mayorless. Power struggles go on at every level. But we will never know for sure. Opaque isn’t strong enough a word.

Snow in Liuzhou?

Rongshui County 2013

WeChat, the Chinese cellphone social media is buzzing with rumours of there being snow in Liuzhou next week as temperatures plummet. The local weather experts have broken with tradition and admitted what every one already knows. “We don’t know!” they say.

Actually, snow in Liuzhou isn’t that unusual. It depends what you mean by “Liuzhou”. Places such as Sanjiang and Rongshui are in Liuzhou prefecture and it often snows there. Snow in Liuzhou city is extremely rare. I have only seen it once – in January 2000 for about five minutes.

But for sure it is going to be chilly. Wrap up well (but ventilate any rooms using gas cookers or water heaters for the shower.)

Starman

Bowie-Black-Star

Bacon War

At this time of year, many Liuzhou residents take up smoking. They smoke home cured bacon, mostly, but also sausages etc. However, not everyone is happy about it.

When an elderly couple decided to take advantage of the recent warm weather and smoke themselves some bacon for the winter, neighbours took great exception to the pollution and smell drifting in through their windows and throughout the neighborhood.

After having their complaints ignored by the couple, they declared war and set about the couple’s home-made smoker with fire extinguishers.

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All hell then broke loose as different factions went to war. Eventually someone called police to the fight in Yuejin Road (跃进路), North Liuzhou. The police broke up the fighting and took the side of the objecting residents. The couple were given a stiff lecture on how to be good neighbours.

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I do have some sympathy for the elderly couple. They bacon sold in the local supermarkets is utter garbage. The so-called “elaborate bacon” is horrible and this is a joke.

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Yurun is one of China’s largest pork processors. They clearly don’t know what ‘pure’ means. A brief glance at the ingredients list demonstrates that what they are selling is anything but pure.

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That said, I don’t think they know what bacon means either.

P.S. China does produce some wonderful hams and bacons. Just not this trash.

Liuzhou Railway Station Modernization

Nanning Railway Bureau has announced the commencement of a full-scale rebuilding of Liuzhou’s railway station. The station has been upgraded several times since it first opened in 1939, most recently in 2013. However, with the expansion of both goods and passenger services the station is no longer considered adequate for the needs of its users.

The massive upgrade/rebuilding will take place in phases in order to minimise disruption to existing services. The whole project is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

Here is an artist’s impression of the future station.

lzstation

Not long ago, this article would have been been full of sarcastic remarks about the general hopelessness and downright rudeness of Liuzhou station staff, but to my huge astonishment, two recent journeys demonstrated a giant leap forward in customer relationship and for the first time, I actually enjoyed passing through the station.

Whatever next?

Friday Food 159 – Rabbit

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 rabbiting on.

Rabbit_in_montana

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Larry D. Moore

One of my favourite meats is bunny. Preferably wild. Years ago in London, my local “real” butcher would occasionally get hold of one or two (shot by his brother) and keep them for me. Not that many people were fighting for them. Shame.

The supermarkets also carried frozen cubed rabbit meat -imported from China. It was pretty flavourless, but cheap.

Some of Liuzhou’s supermarkets have rabbit, either the whole beast or joints. Bubugao or RT Mart are your best bets. Also, many markets will have at least one stall with rabbit – usually farmed; sometimes wild.

The animals are 兔子; the meat is 兔肉.

rabbit

Some of the supermarkets also sell precooked rabbit. Some are roasted; others braised Chinese style in soy sauce and spices.

Roast rabbit in Bubugao Hypermarket

Roast rabbit in Bubugao Hypermarket

My own favourite way to cook rabbit is to substitute its meat for the chicken in the Chongqing classic Lazi Ji (辣子鸡). The rabbit is cubed, on or off the bone, briefly marinaded in Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and salt then deep fried until cooked through. The rabbit cubes are set aside.

Loads of de-seeded chillies and Sichuan peppercorns are fried with garlic and ginger. When they are fragrant (but not burnt), the meat is added and stir fried until  heated. A splash of sesame oil and serve.

Lazi Rabbit 辣子兔肉

Lazi Rabbit 辣子兔肉

Another classic is the Sichuan speciality, rabbit head. Rabbit heads are fried with Sichuan peppercorns and chilli and sold as street food. A braised version can be found in Liuzhou. Rabbit head braised in baijiu with Sichuan peppercorns, chilli and sugar.

Braised Rabbit Head 麻辣兔头

Braised “Hot and Numbing” Rabbit Head 麻辣兔头

There is also a version using five spice powder instead of the ‘mala’ spices.

P.S. One of the absolutely best, most memorable things I ever ate in Liuzhou was a spicy wild hare hotpot. Hares are apparently a speciality of nearby Lipu. This one was shot by a relative of a friend and cooked by said friend.  If I ever get hold of some hare, I’ll be forced to extract her recipe by fair means or foul. It was delicious.

The Height of Madness

It has long been my policy to ignore anything and everything in the UK “newspaper” The Daily Mail. Its politics is slightly to the right of Hitler and truth is never allowed to stand in the way of its bigotry. Every story I have seen there concerning Liuzhou has been garbage.

What’s more, I have no intention of checking this story out. Standing on a chair to change a light bulb makes me dizzy.

According to the slimy rag, Liuzhou has opened a 994ft high glass walkway  around one of the city’s skyscrapers and opened it to visitors. Why?

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I wonder if these people are aware of the reports that a similar glass walkway around a nearby hill, cracked a while back.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here is the full story with more pictures and a video.


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