Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guilin: Day 2 Haiyang Xiang

We took a 30-minute 4.50 Yuan/RM2.25/US$0.60 per pax bus ride from Daxu to Haiyang Xiang ("ocean village" although there's no ocean around). Haiyang is a one-street town that lines the road, with mud-brick houses behind the road. This town is famous for its gingko nuts and trees, many of which are hundreds of years old. Movies are filmed here and artists, photographers and local and foreign tourists come here in the fall to appreciate the beauty of the golden yellow leaves.

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Unfortunately for us, the weekend before we arrived the fall leaves were in their utmost glory but the wind and rain came 3 days before we arrived and brought most of the leaves down. It was a bummer for me because this is the second time I missed the gingko leaves in their yellow splendor. The right time to be there is in the last week of November, I'm told.

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Hub literally flagged down a local called Xiao Duan ("Little Broken"?) and he agreed to drive us around for 100 Yuan/RM50/US$14 in his borrowed 'bread car', a van. He also sent us back to Guilin, an hour's drive, for 110 Yuan/RM55/US$15.

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In the gingko park a short distance away from the town.

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The villagers who live in the park sold produce such as ginger, sweet potatoes, taro, peanuts, kumquats, oranges, mandarins and gingko nuts which we bought, at 5 Yuan/RM2.50/US$0.70 for 1 jing, about 500 gm. The nuts were white, unblemished, big and round while the pearly yellow flesh inside was fresh and plump, unlike the moldy shriveled ones we get in Malaysia. Instead of 5 kgs, I should've bought twice as much but the thought of carrying 10 kgs of nuts around for the duration of the holiday stopped us from doing so.

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Sugarcane is a snack available everywhere in China. For 5 Yuan a long stalk, we each got a 1 foot piece to chew on. It was very sweet, full of juice and refreshing.

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China's sweet potatoes are very different from the ones we get in Malaysia. They are sweet, fine-fleshed, moist and fragrant. The amethyst-purple and the orange ones are the best. When baked over a wood fire, the potatoes caramelise outside while the inside is soft. We all love them.

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I read somewhere that oranges originated from China but they are wrongly regarded as a western fruit. These navel oranges were sweet, juicy and very big but maybe because they were for the Chinese market, they were hard to peel. Oranges are served in wedges in China and South East Asia, which I think is the best way to eat them. Less work and no sticky fingers.

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Remember the sign in this photo because if you go to Haiyang, you must eat at this restaurant. It is on the right side of the road as you enter the town (btw, the Chinese drive on the right side of the road, like the Americans). I ate their village chicken gingko nuts soup 3 years ago, and this time I wanted to try the same soup but with duck instead of chicken because that's one of Guilin's famous dishes. The soup would take at least 20 minutes so I took off to the back lane and took some photos.

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The soup was set over a gas stove to keep it (and the diners) warm. In the soup was chopped village duck, white tofu cubes, ginger, chinese nappa cabbage, something white called wei san (which had no particular flavor and had the texture of potatoes) and lots of gingko nuts. Surprisingly, the soup and the duck didn't have any ducky smell at all. The soup was light & refreshing/ching, very savory sweet and I could tell the sweetness was from the duck and not msg.

The pot of soup and bowls of rice, with leftover (Wey's portion because he just wouldn't try it), cost only 60 Yuan/RM30/US$8. Even though simple, it was one of the best meals I had on the trip.

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Look who's watching us eat.

7 comments:

A Gracious Home said...

I enjoyed your photos. Thanks, Doylene

mott said...

what a wonderfully gastronomically satisfying trip!!!

Are there more saliva drippin' photos????? Do share!

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, can you tell me the conversion from F to C. I am trying to roast a turkey this year for the first time but most recipes (esp American) refer to F instead of C for the cooking temperature. I am a noveau cook and I always regard you as my Sifu so hope you dont mind giving me some advice on this. Cheers

zurin said...

Terri, I cooked the gingko soup but it doesnt look as nice as the duck one in ur pic....I put a teaspoon of light soysauce..bummer...also I split the nuts to remove the bitter part,cos Im not good at bitter...heh...but it was good though..

anyway yesterday was my second cooking....n both times I ended up with almost useless photos..as soon as I was ready to photograph it rained..HEAVILY....sigh.

but the soup was good..my daughter said "delicious!" so thats a consolation. I still have some gingko nuts...maybe third round..heh..

"bread car" .."broken little"..I can't get over that...its adorable...lol....

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MARLENE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MARLENE said...

Terri, I've thoroughly enjoyed your travelogue. I wish I had the foresight to hire a local guide. I ate in pretty awful places in Yangshuo :( and never got around to trying their local noodles.

Can't wait to see where you travel to next.

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