3 Dec 2008

The Snacks

On Wednesday, Jane and myself travelled to Nanjing for a short holiday.
We left the house a bit late and had to rush to the tube if we had any hope of getting the high speed train to Nanjjing. Jane had warned me about the rush hour tube, and how to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately we hit it head on! Waiting on the platform were at least 30 people for each door, which is a lot but this stop is far from the centre so the train normally has only a few people on it.
After 10 minutes, the platform was filling up even more and when the train arrived I couldnt believe what I was seeing.. the train was full, absolutely solid to the door.
Jane grabbed me and and was drawn into the crush, I had made it about 2 feet inside the door and people were still desperately trying to fit in.
It took about 10 minutes waiting at the platform before the stragglers gave up their futile efforts and allowed the doors to close. The same happened at every stop which severely hampered our attempt to get the train.
Fortunately we managed to get on the high speed train with just minutes to go, and our journey was reasonably comfortable, apart from the dried fish snacks being consumed by most of the train (at 9am!).

Once in Nanjing we dropped our bags off at the hotel and got a taxi to the Tombs (one of Nanjing’s most famous sites). The place was fascinating and so beautiful. The highlight being the stone statues which were built to accompany a King in his tomb. This King was the first to use statues in his tomb in place of the tradition, which involved burying all the King’s employees and pets alive with him.

On the walk around the gardens here, Jane heard something and shrieked.. chasing after us across an open field was a small white dog. The dog rolled over and started excitedly playing with us, but after we started to walk away, it turned on Jane and began biting her ankles. I went to grab it but it had no collar and I was unsure how you can handle a dog ensuring you are out of biting distance.. like holding a crab’s back. Before I knew it, Jane had made a sharp exit and I was left with him biting my ankles, in the end I had to make him airborne to stun his continual chase.

The first night in Nanjing, we met a good friend of ours called Mi Jia who lives there. She took us to a very good restaurant which serves traditional dishes in a ‘themed’ setting.. excellent food and live music. I will definitely go back again some time.

After the meal, we visited some of the night sights of Nanjing and a good market. I tried several new snacks the first of them being something similar to a candy apple, but with a smaller red fruit that im still yet to identify. The sugar glaze is much thinner than a candy apple and there are 8 of the fruit on the wooden stick. I have had this snack again since Wednesday.

The second snack is called smelly tofu, which as the name suggests smells, BAD! It has to rank in my top 5 worst smelling things in the world.. actually top 3. When you are walking along the street in market areas you often hit a wall of this smell and it honestly will make you gag, and hold your breath until you get through the pocket.
As this was a special trip and as Mi Jia was showing us new things, I agreed to try some.. instructing my sense of smell to turn off for the next 15 minutes I bit into it and surprisingly it was very nice, at this point my sense of smell rebooted and every bite from there on (a total of 3) was terrible. Please dont let your curiosity make you try this snack, you’ll regret it for the next 2 days, when you cant get the taste/smell out of your mouth!
The next snack was a popular drink called Milk tea, which as the name says is a very sweet milky tea. It doesnt have much of a tea taste, more like a hot sweet milk. Very nice on a cold evening, and it comes with the option of some ‘chewable’ clear sweets. These small sweets are very popular in drinks and desserts here, and I have to say I love them.. simply for the pleasure of having a little chew on them whilst you have your drink. I will try and get a photo of them in the drink and out of the drink so you can understand. If you want to try some, I could post some, let me know.. I know Chelsea will want to try it.

Next day, we travelled to the natural hot springs on the outskirts of Nanjing. I had included a picture of the springs in an earlier post. Unfortunately taking photos was banned for obvious reasons.. but we managed to take a few with Jane’s mobile.
Jane had booked a very high class hotel for us, which is part of the springs. Very soon, we realized that we had a problem.. when they wouldn’t allow me to check in without a copy of my Visa and passport! So annoying, and no way of getting a copy as it was in Nanjing and the time in the UK was around 1 am. So after much argument, I told Jane we should just enjoy the springs with an individual ticket and then travel back to Nanjing and go out to some clubs instead. Jane reluctantly agreed, and we went in. The place was incredible, so beautiful and clean, every need is thought of and catered for.. free drinks on hand wherever you are.. clean dry towels handed to you each time you get out of the hot spring, which is very necessary because of the cold winter wind.
There are over 56 baths, each one having a different medical purpose.. some for the lung, some for the heart, and the massively popular one for the colon.
Some of the pools have wine in them, some flowers and one with around 3000 tropical fish (cichlids) living in it!!! I literally couldnt believe what I was seeing, each person had about 50 fish swarming around them. After selling these exact fish just a few years before in Parkers Aquatics I found it bizarre that I was getting in the water to have a bath with them!
When you are in and sitting down, you cant see the floor so its very surprising when the first one starts nibbling on you. The fish are between 3 and 5 inches long and very quickly you have a school of them all nibbling away at your feet, legs, arms, back, nipples and neck. The first nibbles I had were on the bottoms of my feet which was terrible seeing as I am very ticklish, so I quickly pressed my feet flat to the floor. The fish have tiny teeth which are just big enough for them to feed on the dead skin, and from what I could see during my day there, this is all the food available to them.
The experience wasnt so relaxing for me as I had a spot on my back which they insisted on attacking, the only defense for which is covering the spot with your hand.. not exactly what id call a comfortable position to sit in for 30 mins.
Great fun though!! You must try it if you come here.. Guy and Chelsea you’re already booked in.

Later, after the spring we travelled back to Nanjing and went to a very nice thai restaurant to celebrate Jane’s birthday. The food was by far the best I’ve had since I’ve come here.. wish I could go back to it every night.
After the meal we went to a club called Tiger Tiger which was good. Expensive but the music started out well, before they started playing ‘Soulja Boy’ and the ‘cool guys’ wearing Yankees caps starting doing the dance moves on stage. Head meets table!
Jane had to translate a few girls attempts to ask me out, which is incredibly awkward as you can probably imagine. Also had a few come talk to me when I went to the bathroom as they have shared sinks.. again very awkward when my chinese is very poor. One of them asked me where I was sitting and I replied “Ingwo” which means England! Oops.
We also played a bar game with one of the hostess girls which involves 10 dice and is kinda like poker. Ill explain in another post.

The next day, we went to the Nanjing lake which is so idyllic. We rented a motorized boat and spent an hour on the lake eating some snacks and taking photos. I made a mess with my sugar coated fruits, when I bit into what I thought was an apple (like before) but which was actually a tomato! Ugh! The seeds went literally everywhere and I spent most of the boat trip trying to clean them up.

Whilst I was there I spoke to my new boss and he talked about a project that I may be working on in January. The project is with a the biggest american comic company, and ill be making a 104 episode series with them for Chinese and American tv. The project combines The Monkey King story with some famous comic characters and sounds very interesting. Hope I can post a little more when the details are finalized!

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