Saturday, May 21, 2011
Our first Grand Gateway-sponsored outing is to Xinchang. We get to relax on a tour bus that takes us directly to our destination, rather than to the nearest Metro or train station!
Once on Hunan Highway, it was like those old US highways that are now miles of commercial properties like furniture warehouses and auto dealerships. Passed a rock dealership:
Once in Xinchang, we mobile-phone communicated with the guide in a Volvo, and he led us to the public parking lot. We went through a visitors center to enter the "ancient town." At this time they are still not charging an admission fee.
Walked through alleyways, past an ancient bicyle rickshaw:
We turned a corner into a commercial and perhaps touristy street. The shops had photos of the proprietor with his wares posing with tourists. Since we were just hanging around, we bought a sticky cake at the shop with the old sticky cake molds:
The mystery meat platter:
I did not take pictures of all the dishes; we were too busy eating. We sat at a table with three Japanese couples and they were impressed that Kent ate with chopsticks.
A sweet pickle dish with black fungi:
What's left of the West Lake grass carp fish in vinegar (sort of a BBQ sauce):
Other local specialties included Pork Dongpo (the dish we had in Hangzhou that was 50% fat in a thick teriyaki-type sauce), Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish (the skin is cross-hatched so that when steamed, the meat sticks out in little bumps, the fish mouth opens, and the tail sticks up in the air), Emperor Hongwu's Bean Curd (very soft sweet and sour tofu), Spinach Flavored with Shrimp Sauce, and Smelly Tofu (tastes better than it smells).
Other notable dishes included a seafood custard (a very smooth custard topped with prawns over clams) and steamed bamboo shoots.
After lunch, back to the ancient town after passing these ancient trucks:
We walked along the canal, looking back at the arch bridge we had crossed earlier:
Hulusi (gourd flutes):
Dancing with bamboo poles:
Passed the thousand-year old bridge:
Passing the other boat:
We were given 30 minutes of free time. One of 13 gates, built in 1986:
The restaurant at the bridge:
It was starting to sprinkle rain when we left for the bus ride back to Shanghai.