Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Empire Rebuilt

Good evening my friends.  I hope you're all doing well today.

The day started off slowly, as evidenced by my having time for an early blog post on random thoughts, but we put a lot into the afternoon.  Actually, things started getting really interesting right at lunch.  We were at a restaurant when Euphy asked me if there was anything I wanted and handed me the menu.  I usually leave it to Euphy and her family to choose what we're eating because I consider them more qualified, but I thought I'd browse through the menu anyway.  I've had good luck in China with menus; there seems to be a trend towards huge menus with detailed pictures of every item, so you don't have to read Chinese to be able to get something out of them.  I flipped through and discovered this:

Those are bamboo worms.  They look like little caterpillars, but Euphy thinks that they are just an insect that feeds on bamboo and that's what their adult stage looks like.  We haven't had a chance to research these yet to get more details on their life cycle, but I can report some scientific findings on their taste.  These little babies are delicious!  I was expecting something slightly bitter, or maybe very earthy like the roasted ants I've tried before, but these actually possess a very mild, subtle flavour.  They were lightly seasoned to help that stand out, and the end effect was more like a french fry with a bit of seasoning.  Fish and Worms, it's the next big dish.

Following my unexpected culinary adventure we went to... the Summer Palace actually.  No, we didn't hop on a flight back to Beijing.  You see, during the Opium Wars the original Summer Palace was burned to the ground by French troops.  The palace that we toured in Beijing was a reconstruction which was completed much later in the life of the Empire, and hence was slightly altered to fit modern styles and needs.  Someone however (I'm not sure who, and I'm not sure when) decided that some of those iconic buildings needed to be remembered, and so they reconstructed them, as close to the original design as possible, in a park in Zhuhai. There are also reconstructions of important buildings from the Forbidden City and a small replica of a section of The Great Wall.  It's like a little Chinese cultural insurance policy.

In the spirit of the Summer Palace they've made land that houses these buildings as serene and park-like as possible.

They've done a great job in beautifying the park, to the point that I actually found sections of it far more beautiful than any of the landscaping in the actual Summer Palace.

There's a small mountain along one edge of the park, and they've put in a cable car up to the top.  There's a path as well, so climbing is an option, and one-way tickets on the cable car are available, and it looked like a beautiful, natural walk up.  However, it's still about a billion degrees with the humidity here, and the cable car is insanely cheap, so we opted to take it both directions.  Here's a panorama I stitched together from the top:

It's a sprawling park, and we spent most of the afternoon there wandering around.  There's even a hedge maze!  It was very entertaining, especially for the entry fee of zero dollars.  We're not sure why, but apparently starting today there's no entry fee.  Maybe this is the beginning of the tourism off-season?  Either way, we picked the right day to visit.

After our afternoon stroll we headed over to visit Euphy's Aunt.  I'd attempted a couple photos from their balcony a couple days ago in the evening, but the view is much better during the day.  Here's a shot of Lover's Road, which winds along the coast.

After dinner with family we headed down to Lover's Road to enjoy the night scenery.  While I'm still at the point where a huge percentage of my photos are taken in "Auto" mode, this is where I love having a full-featured camera that I can throw into full manual.  The automatic settings weren't getting me anywhere in the very low light, but throwing into manual, opening the aperture up as wide as it would go and setting the shutter to five seconds yielded some much more impressive results.  Fortunately I had a little mini tripod with me as well.  I couldn't get it quite level, but I'm still happy with the photos.

Well, that's all from me for today.  Tomorrow... I'm not sure, as usual.  One thing I am sure of though is that it'll be fun!


Jabbles said...

Nice pictures, nice to see your experiments are turning out to be quite nice.

Debbie said...

Agree...Nice pictures as always :)

Debbie said...

Don't think I'd be eating bugs tho.