Saturday, June 4, 2011

Because of your face!!!!

Thursday started fairly quiet, but had a VERY spicy end to it!!!!

Michael spent much of the day working in his office while I made yet ANOTHER trip to Carrefour (just found out I have been misspelling it).   The main object of my desire was a fan for our bedroom.   Last night we slept with the windows open so that the room would stay cool.  The only problem was that we spent the night with our faces under the covers to avoid the buzz of the mosquitoes!!

I found several fans and decided, as usual, to buy the cheapest one since it didn’t have to last very long.  This ended up being a really bad idea since it only worked for about TWO hours and I have no intention of trying to return it.  Fortunately it only cost about $12!!!!

This shopping experience was pretty normal, however I did encounter a mob scene as a fresh batch of cabbage was delivered to the vegetable area!!!   Also, the “escalator” was broken so I ended up having to push my loaded cart UP to the top level.  I am glad that it was UP and not DOWN since I think that it might have been hard to stay in control on the downward slope and I would not have wanted to take out some little old lady with her freshly fought for  cabbage!!!!

We had planned to go to the Physics Cafeteria for lunch, but Michael was getting a lot done and didn’t really want to stop to eat. So, we decided to try one of the experiments that I had bought on a previous day.  We had seen people eating these in airports and all around campus and had laughingly called it “the mother of all cup-a-soups”!!

When I opened it this is what I found…..

IMG_0184 I cut open the four packets (garlic, powdered spices, dried herbs/vegies and chili/soy sauce) and poured them into the bowl.  Next I added boiling water, sneezed a few times as the chili vapors infiltrated my sinuses, and let it sit for a few minutes……

_6022576It was delicious and spicy.  We shared the bowl and were barely able to finish the entire dinner.  I cant imagine how one person could eat all of it!!!

Michael stayed in the office and worked while I went up to the apartment for a bit of quiet time.   I did a bit of sewing and listened to some podcasts that I had saved on I-Tunes.

****For the quilters out there*****   Have you checked out toginet radio at http://toginet.com/ ?  There are hundreds of radio shows, including some from American Patchwork and Quilting  (with Pat Sloan as host) and also one from Mark Lipinski (Creative Mojo).

Thunderstorms had been forecast and showed themselves about 2:00pm.  It was quite impressive to see the torrents of rain coming down in the KIZ courtyard!!

At 4:00 we met with Wang Wen and drove to the Kunming Institute of Botany located in the Botanical Gardens.   Michael was meeting with Li-Zhi, another researcher who is at KIB.   He has spent quite a bit of time in Athens and we had the privilege of hosting him there a few months ago.

While they met, I had the opportunity to stroll around the Botanic Gardens.  Kunming has had a lot of rain this year so the gardens were lush and beautiful.  I had a wonderful time wandering and photographing some of the plants….

_6022623 _6022603 _6022606 It started to rain again, but not hard enough to really get  wet, so I opened the umbrella and kept on going.   It actually made the photos prettier to have the leaves covered with droplets of  water!!

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And no, this is not the Nimbus 2000 prototype, but just one of the brooms that workers were using to clear off the paths.   It is incredible the amount of work that is done by manual labor and with the simplest of tools.

As I walked around I could not get acclimated to the temperature.  It would rain and I would get cool so would put on my jacket.  Then it would stop raining, the sun would come out and I would get hot, so off came the jacket.

Michael called to tell me that they would be ready to leave in about 10 minutes so I started back up the path to the building.  What I hadn’t realized is that I had been walking DOWN hill for the entire sight seeing time and now I had to hurriedly walk UP hill to meet them.  I was puffing when I reached the gate again.

We returned to Li-Zhi’s office for a few minutes and he brewed us a cup of flower blossom tea.

_6022661The mixture is one that he makes himself and consisted of tea leaves and small flower heads.  It was really good because it had a nice tea flavor AND a fragrant aroma as well.  He said that these flowers have some medicinal qualities so the tea should be good for you.  So now we have eaten bugs and drunk flowers!!!

We climbed into his car and headed to dinner, with a couple of stops in between.  We first stopped at his new home.  It is mostly finished and furnished but they have not moved in yet.   It was an incredible condo with an infinite number of floors and a  sun room on the very top.  The views were spectacular and the furnishings were incredible.  I didn’t have my camera but there was one particular dividing screen that was gorgeous.  The design was a typical pot of Chinese flowers, but the screen was slightly transparent so that the art could be seen in both rooms.

We then headed to his current apartment so he could drop his car off.  On the way we passed a grand apartment complex that is under construction.  You can just see the tops of the structures……

_6022670 As I mentioned yesterday, Kunming is trying to grow its population so it will have more power in the regional government and they are busily tearing down small shops and homes and replacing them with these types of apartments.  They have even made a law that they cannot build any more “single family” dwellings, including condos!!!

Li-Zhi told us that his apartment was very safe as one of the head officials in Yunnan Provence lived in the complex so the security was very tight.  This was born out in the form of two armed guards at the front gate.  We parked the car and started walking to the street to catch a taxi.  One of the guards stopped us and talked animatedly with Li-Zhi while  staring pointedly at us.  He informed Li-Zhi that we couldn’t walk in that area and would have to go a different way to get to the street.  Li-Zhi was obviously embarrassed  as he explained…. “it is because of your face”.   We thought that it was hilarious and immediately started planning the title of this blog post!!!

I told Michael later that it was the first time that I remember being discriminated against because of my race…..guess this is what it feels like to be racially profiled.

Li-Zhi wanted to take us to his favorite restaurant…..featuring Thai food.  It was a dark place, with dark wood furnishings and bright pink couches instead of chairs.  The couches were decorated with white and red pillows…..VERY colorful!!

The beautifully clad waitress brought the requisite green tea but this time it was flavored with Rosehips…..the second “flower drinking” of the day.  _6022673

We ordered a bottle of wine and I watched as the waitress uncorked the bottle and then turned to present the cork to a small Buddha statue that was on the shelf behind her.   They serve the wine differently than we are used to.  It is served in small amounts……maybe 3 or 4 sips each.  The waitress returned again and again to replenish the glasses. 

Also, it was interesting to watch the separation of duties.  The chefs would hand the food to a porter who would then accompany the waitress to the table.  Once there, the waitress would place the food on the table.

Li-Zhi went completely overboard when ordering and we ended up with 6 different dishes.  We started with a very spicy seafood soup.  I had a whole shrimp in the bottom of my bowl that I really wanted to eat, but couldn’t figure out how to peel it using chopsticks!!!  Next came a cold seafood salad, spicy pork, lettuce rolls with a spicy meat filling, an eggplant dish that had THE hottest milk-based sauce on it.  This was all accompanied by pineapple rice which was served in a cutout pineapple rind.  The final course was a gorgeous fish that had a very light flavor.

Many of the plates were lined with banana leaves which made for a gorgeous presentation._6022672

All of the food was quite hot and by the end of the meal, we were both reaching for the cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce to try to cool off our palates.  Of course, those are the types of things that you are NOT supposed to eat (because they have been washed in the local water), but we are hoping for the best.

I was also interested in the timing of the meal.  We arrived about 7:30 and the restaurant was only about half filled.  It quickly emptied out and the kitchen turned off the light at 9:00!!   However, this particular restaurant continues serving ice cream, fruit and coffee long into the night so we finished up the meal with a fruit platter.  We could not believe the beauty of this presentation…….

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I was especially enamored with the way that the orange slices were prepared, but was embarrassed to continue taking flash photos, so, while no one was looking, I hid one in a napkin and stuffed it quickly into my purse.   Michael died laughing when I told him but he agreed that it was worth it to get a good photo…..

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……isnt it amazing!!!!!

So, another day and another set of tasty, wonderful meals!!!!  This blog seems to be turning into a food journal.  Maybe I should rename it……“Traveling in China on your stomach”

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