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Lets Go On a Picnic Chinese Style! Bring the Wok!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Mate, have you ever been on a Chinese picnic? Let me tell you about the Chinese picnic I went on today. First step is to buy as much food as humanly possible Second step is to pre-make nothing at all. Third step is to carry it all there, then make it and eat as much as humanly possible! After trying to comprehend the first two steps for a few hours, by the time we reached the third step I realised it was actually a heap of fun and even if I tried to explain the way we do things back home it wouldn't matter at all as this is 'their way' and being as group orientated as the Chinese are it wouldn't work any other way. It all began at my friend Yan's 'Chicken Shop'. Ha Ha! Sorry Yan, I meant Kitchen Shop. When we first met she got Chicken and Kitchen confused and for the life of me I couldn't remember passing another Chicken Shop in Shaowu and luckily after she began explaining she sold benches etc I figured it out. I thought I was going mad for some time. This is a common mistake just as the confusion between 'tomato and potato'. Even some of the best Chinese English teachers confuse many of these words. Canadian Jo and I rode over to the Kitchen Shop around 9:30am and soon after everyone began to arrive, but not on bikes as promised. They had all decided to take their Motor Scooters or Motorbikes instead. So much for needing exercise! Thankfully Yan arrived on her little Green Machine and was still going to ride with us. As everyone arrived I began to notice the large amount of STUFF that was coming with us. Honestly, at home we would bring the same if we were going for a weekend camping and not an afternoon. But as there were about ten of us and they were all Chinese then this is simply the way it is done. I went on several with Mandy, Yang Yang and friends in Guangxi along with a few in Gansu before the snows hit and it was pretty much the same. It seems it doesn't matter how heavy or big it is. If it is needed then simply bring it along! So what came with us? A large heavy grill/bbq 'thingy'. Wood for the heavy grill/bbq thingy. A huge plastic container filled with meat to make dumplings. A box of beer, woks and numerous cooking things. Sadly polystyrene trays and not paper or plastic plates Various sauces and salts etc I know must of this 'sounds' pretty much normal but the difference is we usually put it into a car and not onto small motor scooters. The grill/bbq thingy that went on the motor scooter was simply awesome. It sat where you put your feet and stuck out on both sides. Highly illegal things like this have kind of become normal but I don't think they really ever can or will become normal'. If you know what I mean? I think you would have to be born here and not really know the 'other' way. This doesn't mean 'my' way is better. It just means it is easier and more convenient! Oh one thing that did happen that was pretty much straight out of a comedy movie was when I punched Jo in the eye by mistake. It really was the stuff straight from a skit. I was standing at the door of the Kitchen Shop and when everyone arrived on motorbikes I pointed to our bikes and said No No No and swung my arm other way to point 'back home' for them to go change them and it was the same second Jo stopped next to me and looked out to see what I was pointing at. WHAM! The poor bugger nearly hit the floor! I felt so bad but after a few minutes she was up and back in the game! Anyhow it took the three of us around forty minutes ride there. We met the rest at the Water Station and we then began lugging 'everything' up the hill to the waterfall. Of course I got to carry one end of the heavy grill/bbq thingy which half way up became even heavier when someone realised they could fill it full of the bag of bottled water they were carrying. BUGGER! Maybe I would have done the same! Ha Ha HA! Once we arrived and after changing places several times we finally set ourselves down (sadly amongst the rubbish many others before us had left). That is another thing I will never and could never get used to. Most places such as this that are 'beautiful and worth visiting' are sadly filled with rubbish from everyone prior. No one thinks of filling a few plastic bags with their rubbish and taking them either home or to the nearest bin. For those who are saying...hey, we litter back home and some leave their rubbish behind! That is 'little' rubbish that when another group or a family arrive will usually clean it up or a Park and Gardens person will have the job to clean it up. Here it is BIG rubbish and when others arrive they simply don't think to clean it up. They are raised to simply add to it! There were hundreds and hundreds of polystyrene trays, bottles, chop sticks, plastic bags etc. Sadly these also followed the dry river bed as we climbed it later in the afternoon. Happily it then turned out to be one of the best days I've had in such a long time! In fact, I would go as far to say that it was a wonderful day! We began the day by sitting to make dumplings (Joutsa). Everyone who wasn't looking after the bbq or the wok leant a hand and soon we had the top of a large rock covered with freshly made dumplings. Others were marinating different parts of chickens and soon the wok was filled with boiling dumplings. That is also something I will never get used to, boiling dumplings at a bbq. It sounds strange, it looks strange and for any foreigner it is strange. But believe me, it is totally awesome. From making them to eating them, every one has such a great time and the end result is (on all occasions) some of the most delicious dumplings I've ever eaten! The chicken was also awesome and the sauce than Yan made was so delicious. MMMMMmmmmm BBQ Chicken! Yummy! After several hours of eating and drinking we began our journey up the river bed to the waterfall. I can only imagine what this place would be like in summer time when the rains are here in south China. The waterfall which was tiny today would be huge and the river itself would be full and gushing. We climbed up and back over huge boulders and happily no one either fell into the water or hurt themselves. As the afternoon passed by it was sadly time to call it a day. Happily we filled many bags full of not only our rubbish but probably much of the rubbish from the past many months and lugged it all back down the hill again. I really did have a wonderful day and the only thing I would change would be to 'hope' for a cleaner place to visit no matter how beautiful it is. This 'non-caring' mentality is slowly changing here in China. Many of my younger high school friends I have lunch with find spitting and littering disgusting. Some of them have even passed comment to their 'elders' who throw rubbish and cough up their lungs in the middle of the street. The comments aren't usually taken very well by the 'elder' but the thing is, many of the young are now not scared to voice their opinion on how their environment should be kept. So who are Yan, Youji & Yu Wen Ji? I met Yan a few months ago through her friend Yu Wen Ji whom I met many times on my lunch time walks. I then met their 'group' through Yan and Youji. Youji's parents own the Vietnamese Rice Eatery here in Shaowu. Not the one I went to with Daniel and Alexa but a second and much more delicious one! Youji is also very beautiful but sadly married with child! Yan is an English Teacher at the Teachers College here in Shaowu and her English is great. Several of the others can come up with a little English and Yu Wen Ji has a lot stored in his head. Its just remembering it all and bringing it out to use it that he finds hard. They are such a lively and happy bunch. Most are married with child but luckily for them, here in China the grandparents look after the child on weekends and most are free to head out and party. We all meet for big dinners, usually at someone's home and then watch DVD's. During the week some of us meet up after ten (when the children are asleep) and head to the local Dumpling or Lanzhou Noodle Bar. Shaowu is feeling very homely and comfortable right now. I'm having such a great time and it has been quite sometime since I've been somewhere long enough to actually make 'real friends'. By this I mean people who don't actually want to be around you just to be seen with you (a foreigner). This will sound strange to most but those who have been to China as a Foreign Teacher will know exactly what I am talking but. Difficult to put into words so I won't jibber on about it except for the fact that it gets very tiring and ones patience wears very thin for some time before you can sit and relax and know that most of the new people you will met will be a lot more genuine. Here's to a great bunch and a dumpling delicious day! Beers N Noodles toya....shane ___________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was The Doors The album was 'Morrison Hotel'

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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