It seems perhaps the Chinese Gods have been listening to our wishes, or reading the blog. Over the last few days, as Alex wrote about in the last two blogs, we have been welcomed into two families’ houses, and last night in Nanyang some locals took us out for a terrific dinner in town as well as treating us to their favourite breakfast(s) in the morning. It is nice to confirm in our minds that although a lot of people here are reserved to the point of rudeness, there are also a lot of really friendly Chinese men and women who chat to us and welcome us to their country!
To add to our upturn, a dash of sunshine popped out of the smog, two days after I had discarded my £1 sunglasses sure of not seeing anymore of that bright yellow thing until London! A man pulled us over to his van to give us some red bulls, which was nice, and we generally cycled feeling pretty happy, in T-shirts, until lunchtime.
We saw an outdoor wedding taking place just off the road and went to take a picture, when rather embarrassingly the bride, groom and guests all took a much greater interest in us than in the ceremony. We were invited in and spent a few hours meeting lots of guests and learning about Sino-neo-western wedding traditions, lots of bangers and so on… We take the criticisms of our blog being too food-oriented very seriously, so instead of writing too much about the delights of the meal, we just made a short list of the dishes served to us (shared between seven people):
Chocolates and sunflower seeds enough for an entire terracotta army
Lotus root, bamboo and garlic
Fried beef with peppers and green beans
Red bean sesame puff balls
Fungus and cabbage chilli salad
Different fungus salad
Delicious meaty soup with herbs and stuff…
Whole Steamed fish (鱼 and 余 , meaning fish and surplus respectively, are homophones in Mandarin, yú, so sometimes this is left uneaten to imply extra wealth and prosperity)
Glazed chicken: head, toes and all
Another meaty soup with pork and tofu
Roasted and falling off the bone pork leg, cooked within inches of fat and absolutely delicious
Stomach and greens salad
steamed buns with rich soy-braised pork
Pork and vegetable hodge podge
American wine – 3% alcohol! Very sweet grape juice
BaiJiu, of course
No noodles, no rice!
Enough said, it was tremendous. Quite unusually for us, all of the guests were just in casual clothing, and as soon as the final round of bangers had cracked our ear drums, most of them left in the biggest of hurries, plates half-full: back to work!
The cycling after that could be likened to two balloons wobbling along the road thinking about digestion in the hope this might speed it along. We kept going until sunset, chatted to some sweet girls who wanted to practice their English, and pitched the tent in a field at least 50m away from accommodation: oh, the beauties of the countryside!