Crouching Chiel, Hidden Raquel
Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
71Trip End Jan 19, 2008
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Huang Long Xi is the village where part of the movie 'Crouching tiger, hidden dragon' was filmed. It's pretty, attracts tourists, and therefore the Chinese government, in its infinite wisdom, has tarted the place up to look like a Chinese Disneyland. The terraces on the banks of the river look appealing, though. The fish is fresh, still swimming in plastic buckets kept by the roadside, and the staff is authentically thick and devoid of foreign language capabilities. Part of the problem when ordering in China is that rather than naming dishes after the ingredients, the Chinese translations our phrasebook provides say something like: "The Dragon flies over an open field", meaning "Duck with spring onions". So when I ask for a dish and one of the ingredients is missing, i.e. spring onion, the answer is meio, No, and there is no way of asking for Duck with cabbage instead. After exhausting the phrasebook and having attracted the attention of the whole bloody village, who have all gathered around our table offering Chinese advice, massages, ear cleaning, or stand there stupidly and laugh, I point at a bucket with some small fish in it. I'll have one of those. 1, for the chef, means 1 kilo, but it's quite tasty and we manage to polish the whole bowl off, accompanied by boiled cabbage and spicy fried prawns.
Raquel has the massage and I kill some time warding off the other masseuses and buying fruit. There are some miniature tangerines that I'm curious about and I buy a bagful. They're awfully sour and bitter and there's hardly any flesh inside, it's mostly peel. I try another one and another one and then notice several passers-by staring at the discarded peels and our distorted faces. They're laughing and finally the lady who sold me the fruit comes over angrily and shows us: you eat the fruit whole, enjoying the sweet peel and discarding the bittersour innards. Doh!
After lunch we finally manage to escape the tourist shops and find the real old part of town with a fantastic temple that indeed I recognize from the film. A monk is leading a congaline of local elderly around the dragonpillars. It makes the visit worthwhile.