On Saturday, we went to 佑尼寺, or Youni temple, before going to 达赖故居, the birthplace of the Dalai Lama!  We started the day off by hopping a bus to 平安, Ping’an, a small city (read: population of 120,000), and then 包车, baoche, chartering a cab to carry us around all day.  It was 60 bucks, although I think the cabbie was expecting us to argue down a little harder, but he was a cool guy and was fairly informative as he drove us about.  We went 23 km north to the temple, then back into Ping’an and 30 km south to the Dalai Lama’s birth place, before finally getting back into Ping’an by 3:30.  

Anyways, the temple was actually a 土族, Tu zu, or the Tu nationality (a type of Mongolian that go by the name “Monguor” in English and who believe in Tibetan Buddhism), temple.  It was pretty much the same as any Tibetan monastery I’ve been in (not that I know how to look for the differences, but I can tell a Tibetan monastery apart from other Buddhist ones), even if it was ran by Tu monks and catered to the surrounding Tu villages.

I will mostly let the pictures speak for themselves, as this trip was nearly entirely information free (there was no entry fee, no guides, and the monks said we could pretty much do anything we pleased, INCLUDING! taking photos).  We did speak to a few of the monks for a while though, and they were all extremely nice and helpful, and told us a *little* about what was going on.  I will say of the first photo, however, that we started at the temple with the gold roof off to the right, then went across (left in the photo) up the mountain to where the banners and streamers are (far left middle), straight across to the highest temple in the photo (smack dab in the middle of the photo) before going down to the one beneath it to the right and then largely slip-sliding our way the rest of the way back down.  The fourth photo was of the largest Buddha in the place (probably about 5 meters) and is Maitreya Buddha, the future Buddha for those of you that have actually been reading my lessons.  You can see our little green cab in the middle left of the fifth photo.  I!!!!! am in the 6th photo!  you’re surprised I got one of me in there, aren’t you!?

I AM ALSO IN THE 7TH!  THAT’S TWO!

Once we got back into town (oh, don’t forget my trip to the Dalai Lama’s house in this post! if you haven’t read it already, that happened before we got back into town), we had some Tu Hotpot and then grabbed some cans of 青稞酒, Qingke Jiu, or barley wine.  It’s pretty much a weaker version of Baijiu, the more standard Chinese liquor (this stuff was about as strong as beer at 4%, but Baijiu usually hangs out around 120 proof).  The first sip is interesting but it pretty much goes downhill from there, it’s a pretty weird flavor.  Then we went home and crashed because we had done quite a bit of hiking at, if I may say so myself, a respectable altitude.  I’ve included a picture of the barley wine as well (last one) for your consideration.

Anyways, you guys should start asking me questions : p or commenting or something, it’s getting boring just throwing up mountains of photos.

Hey all! Before I start telling you about Gansu, I figured I should tantalize you a bit with some of the food I ate in Xinjiang. The first photo is 馕包肉, nangbao rou, or meat (and other things) thrown on some naan (Indian pita, or, well, Central Asian Indian Pita) with some extra spicy stuff for good measure. It was phenomenal, and I don’t think there’s a way for me to understate just how good it tasted. I had it in Buerjin, and it’s some pretty distinctly Central Asian stuff. The second photo is of Shell chowing down on some lamb. You can also see a little bit of the other food on the table, too. When we were in Hemu, a local family put us up for dinner and everything was absolutely delicious. We also had some 牛奶酒, fermented cow’s milk, which isn’t too far from the more traditional Central Asian alcohol, 马奶酒, fermented mare’s milk. If you think that that means it would taste like sour milk, you’re right! But it also wasn’t horrible, and I would drink it again. It’s got a little bit of alcohol, but not much, and isn’t considered an alcohol by Central Asians (i.e. when they feel that their Muslim faith compels them not to drink (which isn’t all the time, mind you, there are plenty of Kazakhs that could drink you under the table even though they’re “not supposed to,” and I put that in quotes because what you are supposed to do or not do is always subject to interpretation, whether you’re Muslim or Central Asian or Chinese or whatnot), they will still drink this stuff). I think I only took one more picture of food, so don’t worry that your taste buds will be watering the whole rest of the time you read my posts.

This is 月饼, yue bing, or mooncake!  It’s the traditional snack for 中秋节, mid-autumn festival, which is TODAY.  But I’ve had enough of them in the past week or so I’m probably going to have a heart attack soon.  They don’t really have a conception of cholesterol here, and they’re frequently filled with some fashion of meat or egg yolk (my family does not understand why I am averse to egg yolks.  I think they taste funny in the first place, but they can’t be convinced that they are anything less than great for your body).
I have had 月饼 filled with some fashion of sweetish bean curd (the traditional way of doing it), bean curd and egg yolks, sunflower seeds and little bits of dried meat, other ones that are mostly dried meat, some that claim to involve lotus flowers (these are perhaps the best, and taste like fig newtons), and still others that are differing combinations of the above.  As you can see from the photo, they’re usually quite pretty.
This all stems from tonight being a full moon (Mid-Autumn fest is based on the lunar calendar, which is how it manages to fall on a full moon every year), and from round things being auspicious and continuous (think: wedding rings).  So today and yesterday and the general season is all about appreciating and eating round things, like grapes and mooncakes, while enjoying family time and celebrating being all together with your family and stoofs.  One of the stories in my lit class was about how couples not spending their first mid-autumn festival together generally don’t work out in the end.  So yeah.  It’s been a lot of fun though!  

This is 月饼, yue bing, or mooncake!  It’s the traditional snack for 中秋节, mid-autumn festival, which is TODAY.  But I’ve had enough of them in the past week or so I’m probably going to have a heart attack soon.  They don’t really have a conception of cholesterol here, and they’re frequently filled with some fashion of meat or egg yolk (my family does not understand why I am averse to egg yolks.  I think they taste funny in the first place, but they can’t be convinced that they are anything less than great for your body).

I have had 月饼 filled with some fashion of sweetish bean curd (the traditional way of doing it), bean curd and egg yolks, sunflower seeds and little bits of dried meat, other ones that are mostly dried meat, some that claim to involve lotus flowers (these are perhaps the best, and taste like fig newtons), and still others that are differing combinations of the above.  As you can see from the photo, they’re usually quite pretty.

This all stems from tonight being a full moon (Mid-Autumn fest is based on the lunar calendar, which is how it manages to fall on a full moon every year), and from round things being auspicious and continuous (think: wedding rings).  So today and yesterday and the general season is all about appreciating and eating round things, like grapes and mooncakes, while enjoying family time and celebrating being all together with your family and stoofs.  One of the stories in my lit class was about how couples not spending their first mid-autumn festival together generally don’t work out in the end.  So yeah.  It’s been a lot of fun though!  

asker

Anonymous asked: Are there any good Mexican restaurants in China? Or have you been to a KFC yet?

I have no clue, and no.  I haven’t really tried out any outside of China food while in China, except for the time I made spagetti for my family (I don’t think they liked it, because I make spaghetti differently, even though they’ve had it before and liked it), but I don’t think that really counts.  I did get some french gummi worms though.  

And I plan to hit up 肯德基, Ken de ji, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 麦当劳, Mai Dang Lao, McDonald’s, and 必胜客, Bi Sheng Ke, Pizza Hut all at one point or another.  But not more than once.  Because I’m in China.  I just have to find out what they’re like and see if they’re actually that much better here.

If I run into any foreign cousine, I’ll be sure to try, but maybe only after I get a few more weeks of Chinese food in me.

This was my lunch today, and it was absolutely mindblowing, so I figured I’d share it with you.  At first I thought “oh noooo I already have so many food pictures” but then I realized I only had two, and that it had been a while since I posted any.  Not to mention the fact that I need to make you jealous of me since that last post about smog probably made you think “maybe not being in Beijing isn’t so bad”, and the best way to make people jealous is to show them food they can’t have (人以食为天, amirite?).
My friends and I grabbed it at a 清真菜餐馆, or a qing zhen restaurant, which sells what is essentially halal food.  And halal is Muslim kosher.  So it’s distinct and different from Chinese food, but you could also order tons of Chinese food from the restaurant, and all of it had a bit of a Chinese flair to it.  回族, or the Hui people, are a Muslim minority that are pretty well assimilated into Chinese culture (looking pretty Chinese and speaking Chinese), and they are the folks that pioneered this style of food.  Also, I did a waaaaay better job of ordering this time, which was pretty dang confidence building.  
So the top of the photo is 串, chuar (or just chuan if you aren’t in Beijing, they’re fond of their rs here), or meat-on-a-stick.  Pretty amazingly delicious meat-on-a-stick. (also, if you look at the character, it’s two boxes with a line through them, doing a pretty good job of representing meat-on-a-stick if you ask me).  I don’t know really know what the middle was, but it was also tasty (and a touch spicy), and the bottom was eggs and green peppers (which was pretty spicy (by American standards)), also GREAT.  So yeah.  Be jealous.

This was my lunch today, and it was absolutely mindblowing, so I figured I’d share it with you.  At first I thought “oh noooo I already have so many food pictures” but then I realized I only had two, and that it had been a while since I posted any.  Not to mention the fact that I need to make you jealous of me since that last post about smog probably made you think “maybe not being in Beijing isn’t so bad”, and the best way to make people jealous is to show them food they can’t have (人以食为天, amirite?).

My friends and I grabbed it at a 清真菜餐馆, or a qing zhen restaurant, which sells what is essentially halal food.  And halal is Muslim kosher.  So it’s distinct and different from Chinese food, but you could also order tons of Chinese food from the restaurant, and all of it had a bit of a Chinese flair to it.  回族, or the Hui people, are a Muslim minority that are pretty well assimilated into Chinese culture (looking pretty Chinese and speaking Chinese), and they are the folks that pioneered this style of food.  Also, I did a waaaaay better job of ordering this time, which was pretty dang confidence building.  

So the top of the photo is 串, chuar (or just chuan if you aren’t in Beijing, they’re fond of their rs here), or meat-on-a-stick.  Pretty amazingly delicious meat-on-a-stick. (also, if you look at the character, it’s two boxes with a line through them, doing a pretty good job of representing meat-on-a-stick if you ask me).  I don’t know really know what the middle was, but it was also tasty (and a touch spicy), and the bottom was eggs and green peppers (which was pretty spicy (by American standards)), also GREAT.  So yeah.  Be jealous.

The left was my lunch yesterday, and the right is 两个包子, two dumplings, my breakfast this morning.