Tuesday, November 11, 2008

黄龙溪 - Huang Long Xi

Nimen hao! (hello all) First of all, my apologies on this delayed blog post. The end of October and beginning of November have been quite busy for me (plus my internet was down for a while). These days, I have been preparing my students for the midterm exam, playing gigs, learning Chinese and preparing for my recital on top of all that. The SCCM saxophone midterm exam was last Wednesday. Luckily, only 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students were required to play. That meant I only had to hear about seventy scales and etudes. Most of them played quite well. I was pleased to hear a good balance of Ferling, Lacour (progressive etudes) and Mule (18 etudes) Etudes. The Thursday and Friday after the exam were teacher work days and sport competitions for the students. I thought this would be a good chance to see a little more of old Chengdu. My friend, cellist and teacher, Karen Liu accompanied me to the ancient town of Huang Long Xi on the Friday.

After a breakfast of baozi and milk tea, Karen and I hopped the 12:30 8 元(about $1) bus from the Xinnanmen station to Huang Long Xi. The bus was packed as I assumed other teachers and students were taking advantage of this little holiday. In about 50 minutes, we arrived and were immediately greeted by merchants selling flower wreaths to worn on the head (a local custom to take the tourist's money I suppose). After a million '不要!'s (don't want) we continued to the main entrance. My first impression, was that Huang Long Xi looked similar to many of the ancient towns I had been to before. However, there were definitely some specialties which made it unique. For example, every shop sold these corn husks with smoked beans inside. They were terrible. We did pick up some mint candy and sesame pastry which was pretty good.

The reason Huang Long Xi was so popular was due to the temple street. Supposedly there were three temples on one street. This was something I had to see. Sure enough! Smack in the middle of town, there was a street with one big and two small temples. The big one was special because it had a Banya tree. According to the sign the tree was over 6000 years old. I would have posted pictures, but after taking many videos my camera's battery ran out. Learned my lesson. The other interesting place was an ancient Chinese courthouse complete with gallows, guillatine and pictures of when they made a movie there. Someone there said that almost 200 films have been made there!

Huang Long Xi is located at the juncture of the Jin and Luxi rivers. Although the water isn't that clean, you can still take boat rides at your own risk. The town is said to be about 1700 years old, which to American standards is pretty amazing. After a few hours of exploring the winding streets we were hungry. The whole time there we saw and smelled all kinds of interesting foods. The speciaties there were dried seafood and tofu. Because we were planning a big dinner, we chose only the seafood for lunch. They prepare the little dried seasoned shrimp, crabs and fish by deep frying them, then dusting them with more salt and spices. The flavor was pretty good, but it was kind of strange eating the whole crab, shell and all.

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