19 October 2014

Autumn Festival Dinner

Autumn Festival is a big day in China.  They celebrate grandly by decorating the streets with lights and laterns, live telecast of variety show over all China from Beijing for the night.  On the night of the festival we had a grand dinner with extras of la mian (noodles) and mooncakes. 

We were given a demonstration on the making of noodles.  The chef began making the dough, by kneading and pulling.  With the right consistency he cut the dough into pieces and with each piece he pulled, twisted and turned till they were of long equal strands.  The noodles will then pass on to the next chef to cook and serve in beef broth, with added vegetables and beef cubes. 

At the end of the meal a plate of mini moon cakes were served. The moon cakes were savory in taste, filled with minced meat, different from our sweet varieties.

18 October 2014

SUNSHINE HOTEL

The hotels for the trip were all 4-stars and there was nothing to complain about.  All the basic facilities were in order except the funny part was even though a refrigerator was provided it was locked.


15 October 2014

NINGXIA WOLFBERRIES MUSEUM

Ningxia, capital of Yinchuan is China biggest cultivator of wolfberry due to its weather.  Cultivated along the fertile aggradational floodplain of the Yellow River for more than 700 years, Ningxia wolfberries have earned a reputation throughout Asia for premium quality sometimes described commercially as "red diamonds".

The museum showcases Chinese wolfberry in Ningxia history, culture, health, wolfberry industry distribution, the development status of Chinese wolfberry, scientific research, ancient Chinese  farming equipment, products exhibition and sale of Ningxia wolfberry.

On entering the museum we were greeted by a large gourd in the centre of the hall.  The symbol of the museum is a gourd of treasure standing in a pool of water.  Cast in bronze, the gourd stands three meters, with the width measured at two meters and weighs 2.5 tons. On it are carved with magpies, Chinese wolfberry fruit, and growers of such fruit. It signifies that Ningxia's Chinese wolfberry has become so well known in the world for its unique geographical locations by the Yellow River.

We were served wolfberry tea as we entered the inner hall.  The staff explained that the wolfberry leaves tea possesses rich elements like calcium, iron, zinc and selenium which has obvious function in reducing blood pressure and strengthening the human immune system.  The progesterone material in the product is also effective in treating cough and asthma, expanding artery, reducing cholesterol, treating arteriosclerosis, indigestion and neurasthenia.  The carotene can be transformed into vitamin A inside the human body.

We were led to various sections of the museum and given talks on the health benefits of wolfberries.  There are varieties of wolfberries products in the form of dried fruits, tea, juices and sweets for sale in the museum, which are not cheap.

The wolfberry bush is about six feet high and were laden with the little bright orange berry planted along the road outside the museum.

14 October 2014

LUNCH

Cucumbers

Omelette with tomatoes and green bell peppers

Cabbage with potatoes and red & green chillies

Smoke chicken

Chicken with potatoes and chillies

Potatoes salad

Green cabbage with oyster mushroom

Fried fish with beancurd and leek

Spinach with century eggs, ham and potatoes

Dessert - Sweet fermented rice wine with egg whites and wolfberries

As we go further north, the food that were provided was spicy.  Bell peppers and dried chillies were the common ingredients you will find in every dish.

12 October 2014

DONGGUAN MOSQUE (东关清真大寺)

Having stayed in Xi'an for 2 days we took a domestic flight to Yinchuan where we will continue our journey by coach till the end of the silk route journey.  On arrival we visited the famous Dongguan Mosque.  The Hui minority accounts for over 26 percent of the Yinchuan population. On the road you will see sun-bronzed bearded men wearing taqiyah caps or women with headscarves on.  Majority are Muslims and most of them speak fluent Mandarin.  We were given a tour of the mosque and briefed on its history by a well versed Mandarin speaking guide.

The mosque enjoys a long history of more than 600 years and still remains the most well preserved ancient building. Architecture of the mosque combines traditional Chinese style with the local features, with grand appearance and delicate, dazzlingly inside ornaments.

There is a complex of traditional Chinese palace-style buildings in the mosque. The gate of the mosque is an elegant archway with the name of the mosque on it.  One pavilion-like building of about 8 meters high stands on each side of the courtyard, and is designed for the imam to call the prayers to worship. The main worship hall faces the east, therefore the prayers can pray facing the holy city of Mecca. Its wall is made of great cyan stones, and its roof is decorated with colored glaze. The ridge of the hall is decorated with Tibetan style Aquarius. The majestic main worship hall resembles a palace of the Han nationality. There are two-storied ambulatory-like wing halls on both sides of the main worship hall.


The side rooms are for guests and well decorated with handwoven carpets

The main attraction and center piece of the room is a model of the Mosque and the smallest Koran in display case.

11 October 2014

MUSIC & DANCE

After dinner we went to First Theatre Restaurant to watch the "Tang Dynasty Music & Dance".  The Tang Dynasty was distinguished as the most progressive and prosperous era in the history of China and its music and dance symbolize the splendor and the glory of the Chinese civilization.


THE KING OF EVER
The first segment celebrates the appreciation of the people towards their ruler who has brought peace, wealth and tranquility to the kingdom.  At Royal Banquets, the court musical masters played this grand number to praise the Emperor, and to wish him a long and happy life.


ACROBITS PERFORMANCE

HAPPY SPRING : This scene depicts the lifestyle and customs of the noble classes as they gathered along Qujiang River outside ancient Chang'an to celebrate the New Year and the great prosperity and harmony of the Tang Empire.

A CLOG DANCE : The people celebrating the Mid-Autumn-Moon-Festival in a beautiful area near the emperor's palace at the foot of Li Shan Mountain. As the people are joyfully dancing, the Tang Emperor appears and joins in the celebration.

THOUSAND HANDS GUAN YIN : The thousand hands of this bodhisattva represent Guan Yin's many abilities to render assistance. There are a thousand eyes on these hands which give Guan Yin great powers to observe the world. Guan Yin also has many faces so she can become who people need her to be, not necessarily herself, because her help is given in a way that is literally selfless.

MOONLIT DANÇE : According to the legend the Emperor Tang Xuan Zong had a dream.  In his dream he travelled to the palace of the moon, where he saw celestial women, clothed in feathers and rosy clouds dancing in the sky. After the Emperor awoke, his favourite concubine Yang Gui Fei, renowned as being one of the four most beautiful women in Chinese history, choreographed and performed this dance according to the Emperor's recollections.