Saturday, April 18, 2009

China 2009 - 11

14 February 2009 - Xishuangbanna region, Yunnan Province.

Hey, this is the last post for Feb 14th. I bet you thought I'd never finish this day, eh?

After visiting the park with the canopy walk, we loaded back into the van to head back to Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden.

We drove through the agricultural region and I scored a pond heron (not in this pic) in one of the rice paddies. That was pretty cool.

Rural China is so very different than the big cities. I wonder if this is going to change in the near future? It seems as if the cities are trying to emulate the west and that the rural areas are standing still in time.

Some of the tunnels had only one lane open. We got stuck behind a log truck carrying rubber tree logs. The sap was oozing out the ends.

On the way back, Jim requested that we have traditional food rather than westernized stuff. Our guide made a decision to stop in a Dai village, where, once again, we were able to see a more traditional layout of homes, businesses, and other sites.

This is a view of the village from the porch of the restaurant where we spent the evening.

The restaurant was a sheltered porch with lots of small chairs and short, round tables.

This is the kitchen and those shelves hold the evening's menu. Our forestry colleague is making decisions about the menu, choosing among the various plants and other items on the shelves.

He also looked at the current selection of refrigerated meats and fishes.

The cook staff immediately got to work in prepping the dishes, chopping veggies and starting to stir fry the various selections.

Here's a closer look at the larder. This was such an interesting concept - go into the pantry and choose different fresh (real!) foods and then have the staff prepare flavorful dishes fro the selections.

Here's one of my all-time favorites - banana flowers! Who would have guessed? The dishes I had that were prepared with banana flowers were the most interesting and flavorful of all the things I sampled on the trip.

We had a variety of fungi, greens, etc. in this meal.

I think we probably had some of everything in the evening meal.

You can see the kitchen layout here. Two large chopping blocks, the wok is on the wall near the window, a set of burners in the corner, and that low curb to the right is the sink.

Our driver made himself at home in front of the TV set.

While dinner was being prepared, I took a short walk to look around the village. The main road has all the typical shops and construction stuff.

I sure saw a lot of automotive support places along the roads in China. Low tech, but very efficient, I'm sure.

All of the rooftops had the typical Dai embellishments.

The little girl in this picture is all dressed up. I wonder where they were heading?

Bamboo scaffolding around a new construction site.

Back at the restaurant, some appetizers were brought out. These are tamarind pods - from the legume family. The outer coat of the pod is broken away to expose the fibrous covering of the seeds. You pop that into your mouth and chew it off around the seeds.

It's very flavorful - kind of sweet and spicy.

This is what's left behind. We made a pretty big pile of seeds and husks while we were waiting for dinner.

The ubiquitous pack of cards that everyone seems to be playing with at mid-day.

Ahhhhhh - this was my favorite meal in China. Everything was super delicious and adventurous in one way or another. I loved how the dishes were brought to the table as they were prepared. You'd start eating and think that there was plenty of variety, and then another handful of dishes would arrive.

We figured we had plants from 12 families, including some that would never be encountered in the states. I don't have my little notebook handy, but I wrote down the different families. If I think of it, I'll update this post sometime with the list.

Of course, we had Brassica. Every meal had this vegetable - always prepared nicely with lots of flavor.

My other favorite - bamboo hearts. Think artichoke hearts and you have an idea of how to eat this. There were several sauces for dipping and the hearts were tender and flavorful. Loved it!

I thought the presentation of this fish was very nicely done. Yum!

This was a tasty stir fried dish of veggies and egg. Another huge yum!

Strips of pulled and marinated beef. Very spicy.

The start of my food trash pile. When in Rome . . .

The sunset was pretty. I guess all the smog in the air is good for something. . .

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