Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shao Xing, Caves, Han Zhou: Day 13

Early in the morning at the hotel breakfast buffet in Shao Xing


Melon, coconut mochi-like snack, some Chinese mandarin variant, and watermelon juice.

Our first stop in Shao Xing was a small old road named Lu Xun Native Place. Lu Xun must be that dude with the cigar wishing he was a Chinese Stalin, staring wistfully off into the distance.

There were several pay-to-get-in parks here but we were advised against them. I guess we'll be seeing plenty of these sort of things later.

Boats along the road.

A peanut? For me?

Back on the bus, this is a picture of some of the... houses? Apartment buildings? we saw along the highway. Note their ridiculous style and over opulent TV antennas.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Next, we made an impromptu random stop for lunch in some random town. Xiao Yang gave this place the Western Sanitation all-clear. Above, we have a beer called Cheerday. It seemed like every town had their own brands of piss poor watered down beers. Maybe less emphasis on piss poor and more on watered down. Let's just say we had beer at EVERY lunch and dinner because beer was actually cheaper than drinking soda. It was always a struggle to get cold beer though.

Here is an assembly line of aunties cleaning out bowls and spoons using hot tea and napkins.

Again with the tiny river shrimp! Hardly anyone ate these.

Somewhere under that Mei Gan Cai, I think there is meat.


mushy squash.

Fish # ?

Bamboo Shoots

lotus root again.

noodle soup. The tour group was quite happy with this random meal.

Smelling "tour bus" upon exiting the restaurant, a horde of hawkers appeared to sell us, yes, their roasted nuts.

Roasted walnuts and pecans. Don't know why they taste so naturally sweet.

Another bus ride brought us to this cave entrance.

WTF? Are we entering a night club?

Disneyland? Pirates of the Caribbean?

The lighting in the caves certainly added some... color.

A local cave guide kept pointing out all these rocks that looked like animals. I think this one is an elephant. Or a tiger. None of the rocks were ever refered to as the phallic fertility rocks they all resembled but I guess in a nation of billions, there really isn't a need for that superstition.

A sanely lit rock.

And its polar opposite. Disco WTF?

Disco siblings?

OK. Seriously. This has got to be the worse job ever. Wait in a cave for tourists to show up and sell them drinks. The thing is that Xiao Yang keeps our tour bus stocked full of bottled water. There was absolutely no need for us to buy any drinks. We were supposed to take a rest here for... 15 minutes? Anyways, it got really awkward and someone "Bu Hao Yi Se" bought some drinks out of good manners (aka pity). Here we are, a bunch of well off Americans. What's a few dollars to us? =P

Speaking of questionably shaped rocks, if you rub this one you will be ahem, seeded with good fortune. Actually I think you can knock it. I sounded hollowish like a strange earth drum.

Greedy for mo' money mo' money mo' money, Maria hugs the fortune rock for all it's worth. Ma full of delight.

Chinese must like carving oversized poetry everywhere. I guess this is what would be considered cultured. You know, actually having enough interest in poetry to do something insane like this?

What you look?

ok. SERIOUSLY WTF. That was my reaction. Thankfully I learned that it was a set from a film or Sun Wu Kong (Monkey King) TV show and they just sort of... yeah, left it here. I guess it adds to the ambiance.


Must... escape... color hole...

On the way back to the bus (oh by the way, we came out way on the other side of the caves. No loop. Fortunately, we had the bus drive over and wait for us there so note all you crazy cave dwellers, you'll have to walk like 15 minutes or so back to the entrance if you don't have paid drivers.) we encountered this beautiful divide in the road.

And Ma found her wild side, stealing a motorcycle and running over several small rocks.

Random rice crispy snack on bus.

To the next destination...

Han Zhou

Visiting the house of who we would dub "19th Century Man" (sung to the tune of Secret Agent Man)

And his 19th century door.

Ahem, doors...

with 19th century fancy detail.

And 19th century beds

And 19th century halls.

And 19th century 1:100 scale complex models. Remember his 19th century wall in the picture above? Scale the height of the wall to the model and proportionalize that to the size of his villa. Check out the lower left. See that pool of water?

Bam! The platform with the people is the stage he used to watch entertainers entertain and performers perform. Pan left.

And that mofo's is where he would watch from! Holmes got serious digits! Or tales (of gold) if Chinese kung fu movie subtitles are to be believed. Oh and the rocks beneath his mega throne...

All caves! The ORIGINAL Playboy grotto. He has a pool in one. Chalk that one up to another Chinese invention.

The view from up top.

I'm rich. Oh, I think I'll put a giant rock in my house.

Whose house can you do something like this in? WHOSE?!??

Ok, I still have to get some more mileage out of it so...
19th century kitchen.

19th century mah jong table.

19th century tea table.

19th century kenny G room (that was the music playing in this area)

Oh, it's getting dark... Why haven't we left for dinner yet?

What's that Xiao Yang?

We're eating in 19th Century man's house?!????

19th century... err... well maybe let's go with cucumbers that were just prepared.

jellyfish? maybe some random fish pieces?

sweet potatoe

Before I tell you what this is, it tastes like chicken wings. Actually I didn't eat this but future me had it at another place and future me says "chicken wings" so mentally embrace this meat.

New town, new beer.

return of the hairy crab.

egg drop soup. okay, okay so now I'll finally tell you. That chicken wing thing is actually duck tongue.

stinky tofu.

detail on the deep fried tofu skin roll.

mini zhong zi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaf - but not wrapped here) dish

served with black tree ear and chestnuts.

blurry meat

deshelled river shrimp served with a tea chaser.

yet another fish.

Ah! The is a chicken head in my soup!

Thank you 19th century man.

Checking into our hotel in Han Zhou.

Too many freaking pictures damnit!

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