how they make noodles

 

On one fine morning in Sanya, we decided to go to the pearl district and do some Christmas shoppiing.  We gave a call to Becky who arranged for a car to come and pick us up and take us to the pearl wholesalers and showrooms.  But, before we left, we decided to get some breakfast noodles.  Becky said that she knew a local place that made good noodles.

As with so many of the other noodle shops, this one was owned and staffed with Chinese Mulsim Uighurs.  These friendly people made up noodles with such skill that they made it look easy.  As we ate and talked and laughed, I watched with keen interest as the noodle maker made his noodles and I thought that I would capture a video to share with you all.  I hope you enjoy it:

 

 

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Christmas in China

What does one do on Christmas day when at the beach?  Go to the beach of course!  It was going to be a long day, we had plans at Yalong Bay (a little swim and sun time) followed by (another) party thrown by Winston.  Winston was showing some yachts at the yacht show and had invited us to come down to the marina, but the lure of the beach was too great and we passed on his offer.  Before heading out for our long day, we stopped at one of the beach front restaurants for some breakfast.

Every time I went to a sea food restaurant in China, it was much of the same wherein all of the fish (and or other live animals offered for eating) were displayed in some sort of fish tank.  You walk with the restaurant proprietor, select your fish, she kills it and takes it to the back for cooking.  I captured the two photos (above and below) to show what the sidewalk in front of most of these restaurants looks like.  You can see that there is a wide variety of fish including eels and all sorts of other “exotic” fish, snails, clams, starfish, cuttlefish, crabs, lobsters and pretty much anything else you can find “alive” in the ocean.

I finally found the polarized lens for the camera and was able to capture the ocean view in a photo that actually looks like what it did to the naked eye.  The ocean in Hainain is actually quite beautiful and the white sand beaches make for a beautiful baby blue color near the shore that fades to a deep blue azure further out to sea.

Winston was throwing another party and invited us to attend.  It was located on the top floor of a local (and popular) restaurant located near his businesses.  I believe that the yacht show was a success and he had a sale or two and was entertaining some dignitaries from Beijing, some business leaders, some customers, a few friends, and of course Anya and I.  In the photo above, we are seated next to an official from the Chinese Olympic Committee (left) and a professor from the University in Beijing (middle).  Her field of academic interest was about maritime trade and history and her thesis was based on the life and exploits of the most famous Chinese mariner of all time, Zheng He.

She started to explain who Zheng He was when I said, “He’s China’s greatest mariner; he sailed all over the Pacific, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and sailed to the west many times setting up Chinese colonies everywhere he went.”  She looked surprised and said, “You know Zheng He then?”  I replied that I had and told her that I had recently read a book about him and the author made an analysis that Zheng He’s colonies that he set up in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, in Thailand and even in India and Africa have made business for modern Chinese merchants easier as they have other Chinese merchants in foreign markets to trade with.  She said that this was the thesis of her graduate paper and that this view had come to be accepted in Chinese academia.  She then made the comment (refering to my knowledge of Zheng He) saying, “I’m impressed.”  Right then, Anya said, “So am I.”  I basked in the acknowlegement for a moment, content that I had chosen History as my major.

Some of the other guests included business leaders and a golf pro who teaches golf (primarily to Chinese tourists) at a resort in Korea (photo above, front row right in blue Hawaii shirt).  Our gold pro was good fun telling us all kinds of stories about his work at the resort, about British and American tourists and of course stories about his Chinese clientele.

Winston brough cases of wine and we tasted and tasted, he and Anya explaining to the table the differences in taste or aroma for each particular wine.  We tried some sparkling wines, desert wines, red and white, and there seemed to be no end to the flowing bottles.  In no time everyone was laughing and having a fun time joking and telling stories.

At one point, the Olympic official asked Anya and I our opinion of China and the Chinese people.  We told him how impressed we were with the Chinese people’s generosity and grace.  He and the other guests seemed quite proud to hear such appreciation for China from western visitors.  We toasted to China and he and the the other guests toasted to friendship and our visit.

Of all the Christmas days I remember since I was a little boy, this day will certainly stand out as one of the most memorable Christmas days of all.


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Winston’s Christmas Party

On our first day in Sanya, we had asked Becky if she knew where we could find a nice bottle of wine.  Unfortunately, in China most everything is pirated: DVDs, computer software and even alcohol.  Yes, that bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label is probably produced in China and even the stickers and bottle match the real thing.  You have to look for subtle differences in packaging to know if you have the real thing or not.  In choosing a bottle of wine, you can’t just go to the grocery or liquor store if you want an authentic bottle.  Wendy knew just the place.  A prominent business man who owned some restaurants and a coffee shop had a wine club and cellar.  We visited the wine shop and purchased a bottle or two.

The “wine club” was in a makeshift wine cellar in a coffee shop and had quite a selection of wine.  I was most impressed with Anya’s wine taste and knowledge and I had a crash lesson in wine tasting and appreciation.  The waitresses at the coffee shop, one who was studying to be a sommelier, took especially good care of us.  We tried several different wines and they even served us some cookies and fruit.  Later, Wendy called back and said that the owner of the establishment had heard that some westerners had come to call on his business and he wanted to meet us.  He asked us to come over for an ad hoc Christmas Eve party at his wine cellar.

Of course we agreed to come.  As I think about it, this kind of thing never happens to me.  I’d have to say that Anya is responsible for the invitation.  She didn’t “do” anything per se, but I suppose that either her stars are aligned just right or her magnetic personality just draws people towards her.  I have made a mental note that I must be more friendly and open when I travel so that I don’t miss unique experiences like this.

When we arrived, we met Winston.  Not his real name of course, but it seems that everyone in China has a western name to make it “easier” on us westerners.  I thought about that, how considerate is that, everyone taking a second name for our comfort.  Can you imagine suggesting that we take Chinese names when we received visitors from China?  No one would even consider it.  Again, the Chinese have impressed upon me a certain level of graciousness that will  not soon be forgotten.

Winston met us eagerly and escorted us into his cellar.  He had already made some wine selections for our tasting and in no time we were all in a festive party mood.  Winston was also well versed in wine knowledge and he was impressed with Anya’s understanding of wine.  The two talked on and on about this wine and that and its characteristics and flavors.  Winston spared no expense and uncorked bottle after bottle of wine and popped a few champagne corks as well.  This is someone who we don’t even know and he is treating us as honored guests.  Yes, the Chinese to impress me.

With each round of drinks came more and more refreshments.  One in particular, a beautifully arranged bowl of local fruits was brought (above) and we tried some fruits that were new to us.  I’d had Dragon Fruit before, while in Vietnam; it has a hard purple skin with spines on it, the inside fruit is white with black seeds and to my taste it reminds me of a mix of honey-dew melon and kiwi.  In the photo below, you can see a yellow fruit that is shaped like a star.  This fruit, the star fruit, was not cut like this, it is its natural shape.  It reminded me of an orange but more tangy in taste.

Again and again, we had more and more drinks and appetizers and snacks and I was so impressed with Winston’s hospitality.  He really made us feel like we were at a Christmas party – he had even sent one of the girls out to get us Christmas hats which we wore with some embarrassment – but all in good cheer.

Just before midnight, Winston made a toast and asked each of us to make our toasts.  We finished just before the stroke of 12 and from the balcony above, confetti and glitter started raining down on us.  Winston had directed some of his employees to be standing above us on the balcony and to drop the confetti right at midnight.  He had missed nothing and again we were impressed.

Later, Lulu, Winston’s wife (second from left) joined us and we continued to laugh and make toasts for Christmas happiness.  The party went til quite late and we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.  Winston had a fun hearty laugh and we enjoyed his company and that of the other employees and his wife.  When it was time to go home for the evening, Winston sent us home with a half case of wine and refused any payment at all.  I really, really couldn’t believe the hospitality.  We came as customers and left as dear friends.


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