August in China: Ciqikou

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Ciqikou a historic street that has been very authentically and unobtrusively restored. The narrow streets of this former porcelain making district is full of old world charm.

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Off the main tourist stretch, this place is surprisingly untouristy, with all sorts of old shopfronts. One of them was of a fortune teller, with signs on the outside extolling its virtues and mindful of its fame, also warned potential customers that only those who sincerely wanted their fortunes read were welcome. The sign also warned tourists not to take pictures, otherwise a dire fate awaited. I, of course, didn’t want to tempt fate and took a picture of this doctor’s traditional remedies for everything from common quotidian illness to fertility problems and more.

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Heading back to the main drag, I ducked into one of the little family-run eating places for a pot of jizha (literally: miscellaneous chicken parts), a local speciality recommended by my guesthouse. This was the smallest pot available at ¥25. Be glad that the photo is slightly out of focus because it’s a mixture of two kinds of chicken giblet and liver. No light meat, dark meat here, it’s all about the innards. Making up some bulk was some daikon, onion, carrot, leek and river kelp. It was all covered in chilli oil and had dried chilli and szechuan peppercorns floating in the mix. The first few bites were good. Gradually it got spicier and spicier and the rice in my bowl worked more as a blotter for the oil than a staple to accompany the food! I fished out all the liver, which I like, and vegetables, leaving the giblets and chillis behind. It was a great experience though.

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I love taking pictures of children.  Here are the restaurant bosses’ kids waiting for lunch to be served after most of the guests had left. They’re so happy playing at having lunch while waiting for everyone else to turn up.

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It was a mistake to cool down with this odd bowl of pudding with weird local toppings. Hygiene-wise, it was fine. Check out the red fly-chasing ribbon swirling about. The soft yellow pudding was sweet yet strangely bitter. It was one of the few things I threw out after one bite on this trip.

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There was a temple with a gazillion steps leading to it. Ever one for a challenge, I leapt for the exercise and bounded up.

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Great architecture and carvings here, but I wasn’t completely impressed until…

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… these massive joss sticks turned up. That was a pretty cool sight. I wonder if there’s more reason than impressing the gods to the size of these things.

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