Month: July 2016

Riding a Chinese sleeper train from Shenzhen to Guilin in China

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I spent the last week traveling in Southeast China – mainly in the area of Guilin and the surrounding towns Yangshuo and Xingping. It was a wonderful journey, and I documented every second of it. First I wanted to talk about the difference between these sleeper trains and the high speed trains that China is so famous for. Firstly, I would have taken the fast train if I could have. They are much nicer, newer, and of course faster. However, the tickets for these often sell out fast. I could have gotten fast train tickets going there but I actually wanted to do the long ride in order to document what the sleeper trains are like. This is the inside of a soft sleeper (1st class) cabin:

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They are relatively comfortable and the bottom bunk costs a bit more than the top. You have fresh blankets and a private space with a door, like a room. The beds are only stacked two high, and not three. There is a table in the middle, and under the table (Not pictured here) there is a power outlet where you can charge your devices, etc. These beds cost about twice as much as the hard sleeper cabins – which are a bit different. They are all stuffed into one cabin (So over 100 beds to a car, and can be very noisy) and the beds are stacked three high. (If you’re on the top, it totally sucks!) The cost of my soft sleeper ticket was 433 RMB which translates to $65  USD. The hard sleeper, comparably, is about half the price. Anyway, as we made our journey outside of the big cities and into the Chinese country side, I got a lot of cool shots!

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Passing by a river as we are just leaving Shenzhen on the way to Guangzhou

At around 4:30 PM I began my journey to Guilin from Louhu Station, in Shenzhen. The evening began to come around and darkness began to fall.

And above are some night shots I got as we were exiting Guangzhou. As we made our way into the Chinese countryside, it was really pitch black since there were no cities or towns so I waited until morning to get the rest of my shots. Here they are as we are entering the Guilin area.

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Getting out of the city is something you absolutely must do, even if it’s just once in awhile. The feeling of being out in nature is like nothing else. Guilin is absolutely breathtaking, and I spent a wonderful week there. I will be updating every week with new videos and pics of what we did there. It was a crazy cool adventure! Make sure to check out my YouTube video of the train ride below, and don’t forget to tell me what you think in the comments!

 

Kung Pao Chicken and Ox Tongue: Spicy Sichuan flavor feast!

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Living in China affords access to all of the culinary wonders that is Chinese food. China has many provinces and each one has their own special types of cooking. Sichuan food is renowned for being very spicy and that is just like the meal we had today at a traditional Sichuan restaurant located in the Longgang metropolitan area of Shenzhen.  It’s located at the corner of Longping W Road and Aixin Road in Longgang.

It is a very beautiful restaurant There’s even a coy pond with fish swimming around! It’s quite a sight.  This is some of the delicious food we had:

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The first dish we had is what we know of as Kung Pao Chicken back home, or 宫保鸡丁. This is chicken meat along with peanuts, dried chiles, and leeks fried in a high heat wok covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. This dish is absolute heaven. A lot of Chinese dishes have bones but this is the few that actually use pure chicken meat with no bones. The meat was soft and moist and literally falls apart in your mouth. The leeks give a nice onion essence and the chiles give it some serious heat. This dish is actually one of my favorite Chinese dishes ever, hands down. The next dish we had was a bit different, but still spicy as hell!

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So this dish is called Fu Qi Fei Pian (夫妻肺片) which is sliced beef with ox tongue over a spicy chili sauce. This dish was served cold, but it sure is spicy hot! The tongue is nice and chewy which I really like and reminds me of tripe. It’s covered in a citrus style spicy chili sauce that compliments our other dish very well. Coupling a bite of tongue with the thinly sliced beef is a match made in heaven as you have chewiness mixed with moist tender beef.

So from tomorrow for the next week I will be traveling to Guilin from Shenzhen by sleeper train (It’s about a 13 hour train ride and I will be exploring much of that beautiful area! My blog probably won’t be updated for at least one full week, but when I get back, expect lots of interesting new Asia content! Don’t forget to check out this week’s Sichuan food meal, below:

Enjoying beef hotpot in Huizhou with LaoWhy86

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This last weekend I took a trip out to Huizhou – a Tier 2 city in China that is just about a one hour bus ride from Shenzhen. I went there to meet my friend C-Milk, or more commonly known as LaoWhy86 on YouTube. We met at Huizhou’s finest beef hotpot restaurant for some drinks and a meal. The result was some delicious food, crazy Chinese baijiu and good times.

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Pictured above are a few of the things that went inside our hotpot. This restaurant is well known for it’s beef and how they make their beef meatballs. Instead of grinding the meat in a grinder, they actually pound the meat for a continuous amount of time without actually cutting it, to make the meatballs. The meat is delicious, juicy, tender, and I found it to be bouncy and different than a western meatball.

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Chinese guys pounding out the beef to make meatballs, not grinding it

If you aren’t familiar with hotpot (火锅), I’ll fill you in a bit on how it works. There is a large pot of broth in the middle of the table (On top of a hotplate) that is generally filled with spices, vegetables, raw meats, chile peppers, etc and cooked until done. Once it’s done, you just take what you want out of the pot, dip it in your dipping sauce, and you are eating like a king. Hotpot is a little different than other styles of eating because you must cook your food first, but sometimes waiting for it makes it taste even better. Here’s a nice picture of mouth watering beef simmering in our hotpot.

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Mouth watering beef cooking to perfection in our table’s hotpot

Now the dipping sauce was something out of this world, or so it seemed literally so! When I dipped my first strip of beef into this delicious dipping sauce, I was immediately reminded of a spicy mexican blended salsa. I tasted elements of tomato, cilantro and definitely some chile peppers!

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That sexy spicy chili sauce that you dip your beef into

We also ordered some incredibly delicious beef noodles (炒牛肉河粉) that tasted surprisingly creamy. It seemed to be covered in a sauce that reminded me a lot of western gravy, the style that you would put on top of mashed potatoes. It was a little different, but the noodles were sweet and delicious and the beef was nice and tender.

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Beef noodles mixed with vegetables and a creamy gravy-like sauce

After a few drinks or ten of wine/beer/baijiu, we went back to my friends house for some arm wrestling. It was a good time to say the least!

Make sure to check out my video from this evening – I think you have to see the video to understand the scope of our experience! Don’t forget to check out my channel on YouTube and subscribe if you like the material!

 

Making ribs and potato salad on the Fourth of July!

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Ah, the Fourth of July. The big holiday to celebrate our independence from the British – and I’m in China. Well, though I am far away from home, it is that distance that makes me go so far to learn how to cook! I was craving delicious BBQ ribs and potato salad, which is typical Fourth of July fare. I had never made it before, but I did a little bit of research online, made a few modifications, and came up with a couple delicious recipes! Here is the product of what I spent yesterday afternoon cooking:

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Oven baked pork barbecue ribs and potato salad, heaven

The labor altogether probably took me about three hours, but it was well worth it! Here are what you need to make both the potato salad and the ribs.

Ribs Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 kg of pork ribs
  • Bottled BBQ sauce (I used Heinz)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Salt

Potato Salad Ingredients:

  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 white onion chopped fine
  • 1 bunch of celery chopped fine
  • 1 big teaspoon of mayonnaise (The more the better usually)
  • One big teaspoon of mustard
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Let’s get to how you make these delicious dishes! Let’s just start with the potato salad:

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Potato Salad:

To make the potato salad, start by peeling and chopping your potatoes into chunks. Next, boil the potatoes in a pot for 15-17 minutes. Drain into a colander and let cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, chop the white onion and celery fine. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, combine the potatoes with the chopped celery and onion, the mustard, the mayonnaise, and the salt and pepper. Mix together until the mayonnaise is well distributed. I only used one big teaspoon for my salad because I don’t like excessive mayo – You can even double up on it though if you want it a little creamier. Put it all into a bowl and wrap it in plastic, and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour to chill it. Delicious!

Next, let’s move onto the ribs.

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To make these mouthwatering ribs, start by combining the brown sugar with the salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, and the brown sugar in a bowl and mixing it all together. Pour it out onto a tray or some kind of surface and spread it out. Wash and pat dry the ribs with some paper towels. Then start by dipping the ribs into the rub, and be sure to get each rib well coated on both sides with the rub. Cover your cooking tray in aluminum foil. Once all the ribs are coated, pop them into the oven at 150 degrees celsius (300 Fahrenheit) for 2 hours. When they are done, pull them out and remove the foil and then cover them with your bottled barbecue sauce. Brush them with a sauce brush to get them well coated. Place them in the oven for 5 more minutes, remove and brush the other side, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then remove the ribs, let them cool for a few minutes and enjoy this delectable Fourth of July treat! Feel free to check out the recipe video for both of these dishes from my YouTube channel below!

Exploring Huaqiangbei, one of the world’s largest electronics markets

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Ah, the joys of living in a Tier 1 Chinese city. So many exciting things to see and do. This week I paid a visit to one of the highlights of this glorious city: Huaqiangbei (华强北)  is the largest electronics market in China, and one of the biggest on this very earth. Huaqiangbei is home to electronics of every category including computers, smartphones, helicopter drones, RC anything, cameras, you name it! I thought it might be fun to show the world just what this exciting market is like.

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Huaqiangbei has a number of different buildings that have their own markets – some corporate name brands with very recognizable names such as Asus, Dell, Samsung, etc. Other buildings will have few brand names and be full of hundreds of independent resellers pushing products of questionable quality.

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Some of the more recognizable corporate names at Huaqiangbei

There are also plenty of popular Western and Chinese restaurants here. Burger King is here and in fashion. There are a number of pizza places and food courts serving plenty of different cuisines so you’ll find no shortage of delectable eats here also. However, people don’t come here for food. They come here for electronics. And RC products. Lots of RC products.

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A cute little drone quadcopter following me around. Were his intentions sinister?

Now the main and biggest market at Huaqiangbei is located inside the SEG building. This iconic building is insanely tall and has a history of both shady and good deals. Here are a couple pictures from inside the SEG building below. I wanted to give a better tour of this building in the YouTube video (Located below) but security actually gave me problems with filming, so I had to keep it on the down low.

Overall I had an enjoyable little walk around tour of Huaqiangbei – in the past I have bought many things from here including my current camera (My Canon G7x). Some important tips to remember here:

  • Question the great deal you’re about to get. There are a lot of fakes so it is important to make sure whatever you are buying is genuine. If you see an iPhone for 400 RMB, it is fake.
  • Don’t forget to bargain – never pay the first price that is asked. You can’t do this at corporate stores, but all independent resellers will try to give you the highest price first. Offering half of what they are asking is usually a pretty good strategy.
  • Pay especially close attention to independent resellers. Corporate stores are often 100% legitimate, but even corporate stores can be fake! Yes, there have been fake Apple stores, no joke. Copyright infringement is absolutely rampant in China. I knew someone that bought a Xiaomi Hongmi note from an actual Xiaomi store from Huaqiangbei and it was a fake repackaged old Samsung, so be careful!

Check out my video tour of Huaqiangbei below on my YouTube channel!