Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peanut brittle -- Chinese style

Shanhaiguan peanut brittle
I've been going through all my China pictures lately, looking for the best/my favorites to use on the remodeled website I am working on. It is long past due to update my website, Cheryl's China, but the process is taking me longer than I expected. The present website is 14 pages; my updated will have about 50 pages with a design that I hope is easier to read.

Anyway, as I was going through my pictures, I came across this one I took when we were in Shanhaiguan last fall. The makers put a bunch of raw peanuts, a little flour and sugar on a wooden block, and then use a big mallet to pound the heck out of the peanuts. The end result is similar to peanut brittle, but not as sweet.

I'm an addict when it comes to street food, so, of course, I bought a bag. It was wall worth the 10 kuai (about $1.50) I paid for it.. And even if I hadn't liked it, it was worth the money to watch them make it. Some stands had two smashers wielding mallets, and I wondering how many times they swung the mallets down at the same time.

What's been your favorite street snack you've sampled in China?

Are you going to China?

Check out my website and feel free to email me if you have any questions about travel in China.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Exciting developments for Chinese trains

A lot has been happening in China these days when it comes to train travel.

A shopping mall in Shanghai
First, the long-awaited high speed train between Beijing and Shanghai is starting up. This will cut the time from 12 to 15 hours down to four, making train travel very competitive with flying between the two cities. I actually think taking the train will be the way to go since trains run from downtown to downtown. No 1-2 hour pre-departure check-in at the airport or a long trip from the airport to downtown.

China still plans to run its regular trains on this route, and those who want the speed will pay substantially more for express trains.

We took an express train to Shanhaiguan from Beijing last fall. It was pretty cool, only taking two hours non-stop. The first time I went to Shanhaiguan, the city where the Great Wall ends, the trip took six hours and had many stops.

Another China Daily story in the last week was about online train ticket sales. I am really looking forward to this for getting tickets on our next trip to China. When I lived there, getting tickets was such a pain as ticket clerks usually didn't want to deal with foreigners and kept referring them to other windows. Once I went to seven windows, standing in a long line each time, before someone would sell me a ticket. I finally wised up, and paid my hotel's travel desk a couple of bucks to get my onward tickets. After all, a Chinese person will almost n ever be standing in the wrong line.

I anticipate the website will be in Chinese, which could be difficult, but I think I'll figure it out some way or perhaps get some friends to book our tickets.

The new system will start with just a few routes, but is expected to be systemwide by the end of the year. Yippee!

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, please check out my website, Cheryl's China, and please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Papercuts: a traditional Chinese art

Papercuts are one of my favorite souvenirs of China. They are so colorful, not to mention especially fragile. They're made from very thin paper and tear easily, but that doesn't make them any less fun.

Papercuts are traditionally made from red paper and cut by hand. Traditional papercuts are of Peking masks, Chinese maidens, birds, flowers, the Chinese zodiac . . . the list of topics is endless. But, in recent years, a Western influence has been creeping into the designs. Stuff like Disney characters and Santa Claus, with some of the papercuts being made in several colors.

The Chinese put papercuts in their windows or frame them for wall hangings. Mostly papercuts are small, maybe 3" x 5", but I have seen some as big as 3-5 feet square. I don't put mine in windows or frame them. I use them on the greeting cards I make, using double-sided tape to stick them to the front page.

If you're looking for unique souvenirs from China, consider papercuts. They're inexpensive and come in small, lightweight packages of eight or 10.

Are you going to China?

If you're planning a trip to China, please check out Cheryl's China, my website about traveling in China, especially Beijing. and feel free to email me if you have any questions. Also, check out my Amazon Kindle page for my travel guides to Beijing.