Big, Cheap and Dirty
Trip Start May 05, 2012
54Trip End Mar 01, 2013
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Today was the first day of our weekend. Tony, one of our TAs, offered to take us shopping for a mattress overlay thingy to make our bed a bit softer, so we met him and his flatmate, Micky, at the "Da Hu Tong" shopping markets. Our Chinese teacher, when we later told him this was where we had been laughed and said "Ah Da Hu Tong. The real Tianjin. Big, Dirty and Cheap!". Which was really quite a good description of the place. It was unreal! So many stalls with everything imaginable on sale. We were lucky to have such good guides - they bartered the prices for us and knew exactly where to look to find what we needed. We were able to pick up a nice thick overlay thing for the bed for ¥110 - or $22NZD. The same thing would have cost at least $80 in NZ! I was also able to find a new handbag to replace my broken one, for ¥85 or about $18NZD - Bargain!
After we found what we wanted we walked down the road to "Ancient Culture Street" which is a real tourist spot of Tianjin. The buildings are really beautiful, and some very old. The stalls sell all of the touristy type stuff you would expect: paintings, masks, figures and beautiful Hanza (the Chinese characters) artwork
After this we tried to take our fantastic guides out for lunch, but somehow they ended up taking us to a restaurant near Cheng Ji, apparently a very famous place locally and was obviously very popular. It was set down a random street and people were sitting on short stools around little tables outside under trees because the main restaurant (I use the term restaurant lightly - It was more a shelter with chairs and tables in it) was full. However, we walked a little way up a path and there were three Portacom-like buildings with more tables and we got a proper table in there. The food was mostly delicious! The first dish we got was a spicy noodles and cucumber dish - the cucumber and sauce were great, the noodles were interesting... They were transparent and thick and jellyfish-like in texture, not quite what we were expecting when we put it in our mouths! The next dish was garlic beans with a thick peanut sauce - these were absolutely delicious. The third dish was some kind of sweet (maybe pickled?) pork. I don't usually like pork, but this tasted great - closer to bacon than pork really. After we had eaten a ton of these dishes, out came the steamed dumplings. These were so good! There were both mushroom and bean based dumplings to choose from, mixed with minced meat - we don't know what type
It was so lovely to be taken around by locals and they really looked after us. We will have to try and find some way to show our appreciation!
After lunch we rushed to make our Chinese class with Chris. Today we learnt about food. What the different meats were called, how to recognise the characters and how to say things like "no bones", and "no offal". Very useful I think once we start going out to more local Chinese places!
Tonight after dinner we decided to go for a walk to the local shopping street called "Bin Jao Road". The road went for ever and had all sorts of interesting things to look at: Take special note of the couples clothes store in the photos. I kid you not. Couples actually buy the same top- and wear them around together! (I just want to make clear that we are NOT doing this! - Evan)
It was a good way to end the day, and we think that we will go back for another look tomorrow and find some pants for Evan
It has felt like it would rain all day today - hopefully it will tonight and clear some of the mugginess out of the air. The type of weather we have been having is called "Sauna" weather. Not pleasant for anyone outside of air-conditioning!
Lots of pics for you all to enjoy this time as we have been a bit lazy lately.
Keep the comments coming, we really love getting them.