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Monday, October 23, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 6 & 7

19 OCT

We started this day by meeting with our local tour guide, Simon. A distance from Shenyang city is a water cave that is popular for its stalactite and stalagmite formations - 本溪水洞. Several formations have designated names based on their shape resemblance to animals, deities, etc.

Calcified formations lit up with multicolored lights.

And for the first time, we had proper hotpot with two soup bases - spicy and pork bone. The entire meal was one of the most satisfying during a day with a tour guide for the entire trip.

We then proceeded to the Residence of General Zhang, which is, from what I can recall, a walking distance from the Financial Museum of Shenyang. Most of the places we visited constitutes our second visit, as we had visited these places a few years before, just without a tour guide.

Chinese Northeastern cuisine seems to gravitate around flour-based dumplings or pancakes eaten with meat. Dinner was a walking distance from our hotel, specializing in smoked meat (pork) and flour pancakes. We also got some tapioca noodles, soup, and eggs to go with it.

20 OCT

We started the morning morbid by visiting the Qing Zhao Tomb. Shenyang was at one point a Manchurian city, so a lot of the symbolic items were Manchurian, including the nods toward crows, which were thought to be sacred.


We then headed to the Shenyang Imperial Palace before heading to lunch.

Some strange deep-fried cream fritter thing.

This is called 怪味锅, meaning "pot of strange flavor". The main ingredients? Tons of bell peppers.

After saying necessary goodbyes, we headed to Shenyang Taoxian Airport for a flight back to Beijing. We stopped by this place that sold milk ice cream, which wasn't half bad, and I got some vacuum-wrapped braised chicken thighs as souvenirs (which also were fairly good).

Monday, October 16, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 5

18 OCT

There really isn't much to see in Shenyang - being an industrial city, I find that the only redeeming place to visit is the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which was where the actual imperial palace and capital was in the Qing Dynasty until it moved to Beijing.

There are, however, several parks, and we visited one called 棋盘山, literally translating to "chessboard hill".

Within this park was another "park" that features several buildings that were apparently used as filming sites for dramas and movies.

And a large lake that is the center of the park itself.

Autumnal colors had completely set in by then, lining the roads with bursts of oranges, yellows, and reds with specks of green.

There was another hill that you could climb in the park, but we opted out due to the effort required, and there was only one handrail on one side that was covered with ladybirds.

On the way back to the city, we stopped by the Scitech Outlets. The area was experiencing a water shortage and none of the toilets could be flushed. And most of the prices of international brands seemed to be even more expensive than retail.

Dinner was, once again, at 新洪记.

Friday, October 13, 2017

CHINA 2016: DAY 3 & 4

16 OCT

Since we were still in Beijing and we were to have breakfast before picking up Miss Wang, we opted for Yonghe King. I recalled that there was one branch right behind Scitech Hotel (where we stayed in some number of years ago), but apparently it had moved to about a couple of blocks away.

Yonghe King is a fast-food chain restaurant, but one which has soy milk and Chinese doughnuts as their main selling item. They occasionally also have rice dishes on their menu.

After breakfast and picking up Miss Wang, we headed to the Great Wall. Now, the Great Wall is broken up to several smaller "segments" that are distributed across an area. The one we went to this time was the nearest to the city, thus not as high up and less cold than the one we went to a few years ago (higher up and more popular, called Badaling).

Miss Wang and my mother stopped at one of the plateaus, where there was coffee and food. They chatted and shared snacks while my sisters and I proceeded to climb up from the nearest tower to the next.

Being a clumsy person, i.e. someone who is able to lose balance and trip on flat ground, the climb was anxiety inducing. Some steps were knee-height high, but was only about a few inches wide. One particular lady climbed the entire thing without handrail support and in stilettos; a few elderly individuals took this as an opportunity for exercise, and steadily climbed and descended, while everyone else panted away.

Our next destination was the Summer Palace. It was essentially a place of relaxation and luxury, with a vast lake and hills surrounding the area. The last time we were here, it was in the dead of winter - the lotus plants in the water had rotted into oblivion and the smell permeated the place. But we were in the midst of fall this time, and the lotus and lily pads were still fairly decent. The weather was also cool enough to walk around and thoroughly enjoy the scenery.

Dinner was once again at a hotpot restaurant, but in a very secluded corner with pre-ordered Chinese dishes served with rice. Meanwhile, the smell of lamb hotpot wafted in around us.

17 OCT

The next morning involved a flight to Shenyang, where salted peanuts and a measly red bean bun constituted as an inflight meal.

After checking in to our hotel, my father's ex-colleagues brought us out for lunch at a place called 新洪记 that specializes in dumplings. They also have an interesting order system, where you pick out what you want to eat from a menu displayed over an area, and pick your fresh seafood from a tank.

The highlight - roasted lamb on burdock root skewers.

Deep fried tofu

Pan-fried dumplings. The filling here is called 肉三鲜
Steamed dumplings, same filling.

We were sent back to the hotel after some errands and reassuring them that we would be able to handle dinner for ourselves... which we did by raiding a convenience mart right outside our hotel. We picked one instant noodle cup each and loaded up the beer.