FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Our sleeper train to Xian was great. The trains are fitted out with individual TV's on each bunk, there are flasks of hot water and slippers. Even better was the fact that the two other passengers due to be in our cabin didn't turn up so we had the whole cabin to ourselves! The weather in China is appalling at the moment; it's very cold, wet and smoggy. Some days it has been so bad that it barely gets light. It's a bit like being trapped in something between a Dickensian pea-souper and a full scale nuclear winter. As you might imagine this is only adding to the long list of things we've found to love about China. The people here are the least friendly I have ever met; the language barrier is so bad that we've now become almost completely reliant on the "Point It" book as a means of communication and have I mentioned the food? The food here is nightmare for vegetarians. We've been living off bread, rice and eggs as everything, and I mean everything, has meat in it. Whole ducks and chickens seem to the food of choice and every supermarket sells them whole (heads included) in handy take-away bags. The feet, however, are sold separately and are vacuum packed in bags as a snack - I ask you - chickens feet? Claws, skin the lot! There must be more meat on my tonsils.
There is, in fact, nothing that these people won't eat. Dogs, cats, donkeys, snakes, monkeys, rats - nothing is sacred except perhaps the panda. And it's not just the flesh - there is ducks blood soup and chickens hearts. Every street corner has some vendor selling something gross that has been lightly sautéed to dead and impaled on a stick. Even the drinks are vile. They have wine with bees, snakes and lizards and all manner of teas with unidentified bits of foliage floating in them. To top it all off they also have mock food - fish resembling aubergine or fish resembling meat. This delightful array of food is also complimented by the table manners of the locals. For example, it is customary to spit out seeds, bones and anything else you don't like directly on to the table which results in a large pile of half chewed and discarded food on every table at the end of each meal. To make matters worse our attempts to find some veggie friendly food at the supermarket have only produced some cereal bars and some instant macaroni cheese. Sadly the macaroni requires a microwave as well as hot water so we are now the proud owners of four plastic bowls of inedible instant swill.
On a more positive note we have been to visit the Terracotta Warriors. They were very impressive. Sadly the second of the three pits was closed for renovation - not happy!!! Still onwards and upwards.
Next stop Shanghai…