China

Beijing culinary centennial icons “Laozihao”

Beijing culinary centennial icons are revered “Laozihao” (老字号) establishments. Known as gastronomic exceptional restaurants showcasing almost every region of Chinese cuisine in the capital city. The title translates as ‘old brand’names¹. Each in its own uniqueness representing a high level of culinary art by remaining true to its origin.

Stumbled upon an older article mentioning the city’s eponymous duck and the city’s oldest surviving restaurant. “Bianyifang Kaoyadian” established in 1416, the premise originally began as a takeaway. The first characters of the Chinese name ‘Bianyifang’ roughly translates as “convenient to everyone” roast duck shop.

As the name of the shop indicates it features a special bird, the duck, with an illustrious history. The roast duck dates back with an acknowledgement as early as the Yuan dynasty (1202-1368). Here it became listed among the Imperial dishes in ‘The Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages’³. For connoisseurs and curious foodies who like to read more about the history of roast duck click on the link. A different poultry topic here for the goose link. Source: A Taste of Old Peking: The Capital’s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants | the Beijinger 

A Taste of Old Peking The Capital s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants the Beijinger

Source credit: thebeijinger.com | blog author Ed Lanfranco

The Flavour of the Capital

After reading the article, my own memories unfurled of an earliest family home trip in 1981. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I visited a few of these iconic Beijing culinary centennials establishments. One of them is the now well over 200 years old Yueshengzhai Restaurant. The most famous and oldest Muslim establishment in the capital city. Doors opened in 1775, by a former servant at the Qing Imperial court named Ma Qingrui. Six generations have continued and followed the traditions after its founder.

“In 2007  Yueshengzhai’s received recognition for processing techniques for braised mutton with soy sauce. Most noteworthy citing the high standards of guarding the quality of meals. An integral part of Beijing’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Source: btmbeijing.com.

For more in-depth information featuring “The flavour of the capital” (Jingwei’r) click here on the China Heritage Newsletter link. The link includes an appendix with halal related snacks and dishes in Beijing. The food keeps drawing local devotees and visitors to the same place. With each visit renewing one’s palate is a feast of confirmation and merit reminiscent to old Peking.

One of the featured dishes is “Baodu” made from intestines and what I ate at my second visit to Beijing. The thin slices were meltingly tender and aromatic. Tripe if not cooked and seasoned correctly is unpalatable and rubbery. What surprised me was the hot-vinegary tart sauce and use of cumin. A spice which is not common in the south-eastern cuisine (my family originates from Zhejiang province). Cumin founds its way by caravan trade into China north-western regions Xinjiang, Mongolia and Hunan cuisine.

“BAODU 爆肚 (lamb tripe in sauce) 
This seared and thinly sliced delicate tripe is made from the washed stomach lining of the sheep. Prepared with a special sesame based sauce with flavour ingredients including cumin, pepper, chilli, vinegar. The dish is often accompanied with shaobing, a baked unleavened layered flat bread. Baodu originates from China’s north-west, it has come to find its home into the capital.”

1,000-year-old Copper Firepots

Among culinary centennial discovery was seeing and enjoying the copper chimney firepot “Huo Guo”. This cooking pot dates over 1,000 years with the origin being from Mongolia. Fuelled by charcoal heating the broth to a slow simmer with the smoke escaping through the chimney. China Northern cuisine is represented by the mutton hotpot by using sheep (lamb) bone stock as broth. Most of the copper chimneys have disappeared, replaced by digital electrical cooking pots.

The cooking pots with steaming hot broth have a variety of choices of basic Chinese meat, fish or seafood stock. Varying seasoning of MaLa (lip numbing hot!) or herbal infused and more. Will mention my favourite book choices in a separate post with recipes to prepare your own tasty & healthy hotpot dinner(s). Other cultural influences by neighbouring cuisines as Thai, Korean based stocks appear on the menu. A new cooking vessel is known as the YinYang or Double duck to serve a spicy and non-spicy version. This new design serves double broths, is a big hit as a home cooking utensil and restaurants serve ware.

qianmenhuoguo

Source courtesy and photo credit: www.chinaheritagequarterly.org

For our international readers the above serve ware can be ordered online, but for Dutch readers and foodies, both items are on sale at Chinese Supermarkets e.g. Dun Yong Amsterdam, Wah Nam Hong The Hague and Amazing Oriental in Rotterdam.

This post contains affiliate links by purchasing through these links Asianfoodtrail earns a small commission to support and maintain the website. However, you pay the same price for the item (it does not increase). Please note promoted links to products are purchased, used, tried and tested unless stated otherwise. For more information, read my disclaimer.

References:
  1. “Time honoured shops” is the official translation of 老字号. A government distinction awarded to certain brand names and shops that have proven histories. Source: Book Unequal Englishes: The Politics of Englishes Today by R. Tupas
  2. China’s time-honored brands struggle to survive | www.english.cctv.com
  3. The History of Chinese Imperial Food | Kaleidoscope-food culture www.cultural-china.com -internet warning unsafe link malware
  4. Beijing Halal | www.chinaheritagequarterly.org
  5. A Taste of Old Peking: The Capital’s Culinary Culture Lives on in its Laozihao Restaurants | www.thebeijinger.com
  6. Mutton like no other | www.btmbeijing.com

Ma La spices and spiciness Sichuan hot pot

Ma La 麻辣 spices and spiciness, the lip and tongue-numbing heat of spicy Sichuan peppers in many dishes and sauces in Chongqing and Sichuan Cuisine. Embraced by lovers and fans of hot and spicy food also referred as La Wei 辣味.

The dishes of Chuan Cuisine are famous for their spicy-hot flavors, a spicy-hotness that Sichuaners call “dry hot”, insisting that it differs from the “wet hot” spiciness of other cuisines. The difference, say, Sichuaners, is that the spices used to achieve “dry hot” spiciness consists of a mixture of dry ingredients such as crushed peppercorns (black, red and white) and dried, crushed chili, as well as Sichuan Province’s own native pepper, huajiao. According to Sichuan-Cuisine chefs, gourmets and gourmands (which covers just about everyone cooking and eating Sichuan Cuisine), the salient features of “dry hot” spiciness consist of an instantaneous numbing effect on the tongue, and a pleasing, lingering, spicy-hot aftertaste. Source:Chinadaily

A favourite winter dish is Ma La Huo Guo 麻辣火鍋 or fiery Chinese Hotpot. The first time we had Ma La Hotpot, by chance we ordered a Double Lovers Hotpot since the kids joined for dinner as well. This variation is named Yuan Yang Huo Guo 鸳鸯火锅 or Mandarin ducks, representing male and female, yin and yang perfect harmony of warmth and cold. Which explains the common use of reference as Double Lovers Hotpot.

An inventive vessel next to the chimney type Hotpot, because the Double Lovers Hotpot has a divider containing a regular stock and Ma La broth sided together. Now in China and other Asian countries, you might even come across specialised fondue restaurants with quadruple pan holder for broth variations or including a grill for barbeque food.

With upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, this year on 8 February 2016 signifies an important Chinese Food culture known as “Reunion Dinner” 團年 Tuan Nian. Conjointly Chinese New Year holidays marks the greatest mass transportation, where 4% of the world’s population are on the move, with an estimated 3.5 billion journeys in China. The largest crowd of 200 million Mainland Chinese travelling long distance going back home to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families. These numbers do not take in account the number of Asian and Chinese descendants travelling outside of China to visit their families in other Chinese diasporas worldwide. Source: Chinese NewYear facts China Highlights

Chinese people all over the world consider it to be the most important part of the celebration. The reunion dinner literally meaning re-unite or grouping and 圍爐 Wei Lu which translates as surrounding the fireplace marks a family gathering on the Lunar New Year’s Eve.  Wei Lu 圍爐 symbolising the family gathering with a prolonged Hotpot as family members arrive one-after-another.

Double Lovers Hotpot 鸳鸯火锅

Double Lovers Hotpot 鸳鸯火锅 Credit and Photo courtesy by HTHSART | www.nipic.com

The versatility of Chinese Hotpot serves three purposes;

  1. First obviously as a soup, a base of meat stock made from one or mix of lamb, cow, pork or chicken bones simmered for hours to release nutrients and marrow with additional herbs and vegetables aiding extraction and enhancing the final broth. During the course of the dinner, the Hotpot will be refilled several times with the prepared broth. Added bonus once dinner progresses all the additional food items dippings will release more flavour to the broth.
  2. The dipping sauce condiments to create or blend your dip mixture to your own liking and preferences. For all intent and purposes, the various plates ingredients after being cooked in the Hotpot broths are dipped in your sauce before being savoured or wolfed down. Often used sauce components are; diced garlic, Sa Cha Jiang 沙茶酱 (a must), sliced green onion, chopped coriander, chopped ginger, salt, sugar, chilli slices or diced, Chinese vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, and chilli oil.
  3. While the broths are important so are the many accompanying ingredients of thinly sliced meats, fish and seafood, vegetables (typical Hotpot veggie is Tong Ho aka Chrysanthemum greens), doufu (dried, soft and hard) and variations of hotpot dumplings, doughy items e.g. Nian Gao 年糕. And often offal items are included and seen as a highlight for many Asian and less for the general Western palate.  Just remember an easy rule of thumb; 5 vegetable dishes and 5 meat/fish dishes is a good start.

Let me guarantee that life will never be the same after sampling Ma La sauce or hotpot, it is one of the most popular and sociable dinners in China and Taiwan. Your sensory taste buds will be nuked while experiencing the sauce or soup unique flavours at the same time. If you cry, you are in great company joining your culinary merriment in howls and other spasms.

Ma La Spices and Spiciness

While every Chef or household has its own recipe, the main ingredients are dried chilli peppers; La Jiao 辣椒 (dried Sichuan pepper) and Hua Jiao 花椒 (has a unique aroma slightly lemony tone and a tingling mouthfeel) next with chilli powder, cloves and use of black cardamom. Related to green cardamom, but bolder and stronger flavour with notes of resin and camphor, mostly used in curries (Indian), stews and meat broths in Chinese and Vietnamese Pho.

Other spices are fennel seed, cinnamon, star anise and typically Chinese herbs Sha Jiang 沙姜 (in Indonesian cooking aka kencur, aromatic ginger it has a peppery camphoraceous taste); Bai Zhi 白芷 aka  Angelica root or Chinese Angelica often used in stewing soups for restorative medicinal purpose as a tonic.

Nowadays Ma La sauce is premade ready and sold in Asian supermarkets or Chinese food stores. Sichuan restaurants will often make their own sauce blends in large quantities, as will home cook aficionados. Add to this the number of travellers who will return home and develop comfort food cravings starting to search for recipes or scouring their city for an authentic dish to recreate and/or rekindle the wake-up feel by Ma La spiciness on their tongue and lips. The MaLa Project literally chases Mala prickling and tingling spice in food and life by Taylor Holiday runs a great blog exploring authentic Sichuan dishes and recipes.

Since it’s still winter season we have the Wild game on the menu, here’s a dish Spicy Hare stir-fry regional Sichuan style recipe. Give it a try and adjust the spicy level of heat up a notch or keep it burning low and slow.

Ma La heat level

The flavour is spicy, numbing brought on by Hua Jiao (flower pepper aka prickly ash) and salty, mixed with a strong herbal taste which is often described as savoury, spicy, complicated and addictive.

The international pungency measurement for the level of spicy heat of chilli peppers is the Scoville scale heats unit (SHU). A practical measurement determined by the capsaicin sensitivity of testers and not a precise or accurate method to measure scientifically capsaicinoid (a volatile oil in peppers) concentration. This method is created by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912. Since its origin using real testers you will often see in signs or advertisement the progressive faces of compliant up to screaming and teary faces or the number of peppers behind a dish or ingredient.

For those who are curious to find out how scientist measure spiciness now, check the link here for more information or browse to read more on a different measure of pungency units here.

How hot Ma La 麻辣 spices, as Sichuan peppers in La Wei 辣味 are can be viewed in the China challenge: Eat ‘World’s Spiciest’Rice Noodles original by NetEase|163.com as posted by Wall Street Journal Video Channel.

Entertain your Hotpot with family and friends at home or find a great Chinese Restaurant, take the challenge add some spice into 2016.

Happy New Year, I wish you good health and lasting prosperity.

恭贺新禧,祝身体健康、事业发达。

Spicy Hare stir-fry regional SiChuan style – Recipe

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Hunting season has begun with an abundance of local Wild Game choice; Hare, Pheasant, Goose, Deer and Wild boar to name a few. Since I returned home I haven’t had the chance to try on Wild Game cooking. The occasion did not present itself till recently, to buy Wild Game and fowl directly from a hunter-gatherers group. Almost two weeks ago I picked up a Wild Rabbit or Hare, already butchered in parts; front legs, back legs and saddle at my request. Otherwise, I would have to skin, gut, debone and butchering it myself well that is just too much 麻烦 ’mafan’ or trouble since I only could prepare it the next day.

For this dish, you can use the whole Rabbit or Hare saddle rack by chopping it up in pieces or cut out the loins and then cut at an angle in fine slices. After I had posted my photos I received questions how I deboned the Hare. Instead of writing out that process I found a good instructional video to watch. Newbies to deboning might find this to be helpful improving their technique and make this dish as a next meal.

Sichuan is one of the popular cuisines in China and has set ground in Europe with a growing group of gourmets aficionados, its famously know because of their hot spicy taste and the flavour of numbing Sichuan pepper (aka Mala Wei 麻辣未). However it is actually a variety of flavours combined together; spicy, salty, sour, sweet, bitter, smokey and flowery (Sichuan peppercorns). It is not rare that you will find all of these flavours in one dish.

Flavors of Chuan Cuisine — hot and spicy

A variety of seasonings are used in Chuan Cuisine, and each dish can be cooked differently. Therefore Chuan Cuisine enjoys a reputation for variety. As the saying goes it’s ‘one dish with one flavor and one hundred dishes with one hundred flavors‘.

The most common flavors of Chuan Cuisine are hot and spicy, “the five fragrances” (Fennel, pepper, aniseed, cinnamon, and clove), other mixed spices, chili and Sichuan pepper (made with prickly ash), and sweet and sour. Source: Chinahighlights

Ma Po Doufu, Kung Pao Chicken, Yu Xiang Rou, are favourites in and outside of China, next to the common and exotic ingredients are wild game dishes, in all Chinese cuisines and all over south-east Asia. This realisation came to me after the huge response I had on my post with the request to share my recipe.

Now you might have an idea what you are preparing to taste, eating spicy and hot will never be the same. Since it was a trial cooking with Hare meat I have not taken any photo shots during preparation or cooking, these will be added later. For more information on some of the ingredients with images, you can read this here.

Last Sunday I’ve picked up a frozen goose and another Wild Rabbit, the Goose to try a roast and the Rabbit in three different dishes. Coming up!

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style, dinner tonight

Enjoy!

Voices and Northern Girls – Bookreads

Last August I read online the excerpt here below of Let 100 Voices Speak. The title and content focus on how social media flourished and has taken China by storm. Also, the various correlations the writer points out between the past and present e.g. on movement, dissidents, targeting of influential intellectuals.

Coincidentally today’s news in The Telegraph brought these premises to the foreground with the headline: “Chinese human right lawyer stands trial for social media posts in China.” 

Internet censorship in China is extreme, authors and publishers are under pressure appeared as a headline news article in the Guardian just a month ago. Novelist Sheng KeYi had written a best-selling breakthrough novel over a decade ago, but while preparing the third edition she was informed that parts of her texts were not publishable.

In her book “Northern Girls” she writes about the problems of society: the “injustice, the inequality, and the darkness”. The author tells the story of Poor Chinese Women to critical acclaim, review by The New York Times.

Let 100 Voices Speak, on “The Darkness”, Liz Carter answers to a question whether she was active on China’s social media as an outsider looking in and what spiked her interest.

LC: It’s hard to pick just one thing, but I love Chinese Internet humor. It’s so complex, and references a lot of shared knowledge, and it can be very, very dark. Humor is under-appreciated as a form of protest and resistance, especially humor in China. Part of this is because humor is so hard to translate.

Let 100 Voices Speak: How the Internet Is Transforming China and Changing Everything Paperback – August 30, 2015

By author Liz Carter, she is the author and translator of numerous Chinese-language textbooks and the co-author of The Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon.

Article by Natalie Omell originally posted on China Digital times – Highlights excerpt here below or read the full article click here.

Book "Letting 100 Voices Speak"

Live feed on my screen flashing the latest internet headlines blurbs of today. Focusing on China, real life time changes in the face of censorship and the visible pressure clamping down on social media. The information reminded me of having read the book excerpt earlier and seeing the correspondence in real life occurrences.

For me, what comes to mind are keywords as in hashtags; #social media, #China, #transformation, #lifestyle, #femalewriters #newwriting #information not readily available, the more reason to learn more about.

Voices and Northern Girls

Recommend to read both books;

Let 100 Voices Speak by Liz Carter

Let 100 Voices Speak – Liz Carter

  • Northern Girls; Life goes on. Best-selling Chinese novel one of the few translated Chinese fiction books in English. Words are written in raw candour showing a slice of life, the harsh reality where little town village girls are leaving home for the bigger cities to be drawn into the depravity of a seedy cesspool. Hidden dangers nobody wants to see or talk about.
Northern Girls, Live goes on by Sheng Keyi

Northern Girls, Live goes on by Sheng Keyi

The book links here above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting Asianfoodtrail when you shop.

Photo credits “Let 100 Voices Speak” featured image source: www.cityweekend.com.cn

Hainan Chicken tutorial step-by-step

For making Hainan Chicken Rice recipe click on the link. Buy fresh pandan leaves at Chinese supermarkets or frozen packages, if none available you can substitute with spring onion or young leeks. To handle the leaves for stuffing and cooking, tie 3-4 leaves into a knot as shown in the image here below.

Hainan Chicken Tutorial step-by-step photo overview

Fresh pandan leaves, great fragrance and vibrant colour

For us a distinct Hainan Chicken Rice flavour is steeping the stock with Pandan leaves, it enhances unique fragrance. My home recipe for Singaporean style how to teach my kids to cook this dish. Like any great dish, every Singaporean cook has its very own recipe. Suggestions for Chinese stock methods and variations or Hainan Chicken Rice – food chat trivia, click on the links. Luckily we all share one big secret ingredient.

“Love” to eat, create and share.

Preparing chickens; stuffing set

Preparing chickens; have everything set up and ready.

Don’t forget to remove the chicken fat at the rear side of the chicken

chicken fat

Remove chicken fat and set aside for use in stock or making chilli paste.

Salt and rub all over the chicken, scrub as you can see it exfoliates and smooth the skin

Rub chicken skin clean

After a good rub, the skin will look glossy and clean

Season the chicken in and outside with pepper and salt

Season the chickens

Season the chickens

Stuff cavity with whole garlic cloves, ginger slices followed by the pandan knots. This will prevent the stuffing from falling out and locks everything in for great aroma development.

Stuff chicken with herbs in cavity

Stuff chicken with herbs in cavity

Tie up the chicken legs, so it is easier to lift and lower the chickens into the stock.

tie up the chicken

Tie up the chicken with the packaged food elastic or butcher’s twine.

Chicken prepared, marinating time will do its work blending the flavours.

Marinate chicken 6-8 hours or overnight

Transfer the chicken to a container and marinate the chicken in the fridge for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the aromatics for stock and rice

Fry the chicken fat add ginger, garlic, Chinese wine, light soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil. Fill the pan with 4 litres of water.

Recipe Hainan Chicken Rice; poaching stock

Preparing Chicken broth

Bring to a rolling boil first, lower the chickens submerged in the liquid and turn the heat down to a simmer. With only a soft bubble on the surface, this manner is poaching the chickens.

Recipe Hainan Chicken Rice - whole chickens in stock

Whole chickens submerged in stock

Let the chicken poach in the stock for approximately 35-40 minutes, taste and add seasoning if needed. Put a lid on and turn off the heat. Let the chickens cool down in the poaching liquid

Hainan Chicken rice - plump rice kernels full of flavor

Hainan Chicken Rice – plump rice kernels full of flavour

Method 1: Wash 6 cups of rice and cook in cooled poaching stock for a fragrant rice with a light aroma.

Method 2: Fry chicken fat in 2 tablespoons of oil together with the smashed garlic and ginger till its golden brown and fragrant. Add the rice, keep stirring coating all the rice kernels with a thin layer of chicken fat oil. Add the rice wine while it sizzles keeps mixing, as soon as you smell fragrance lifting up this signals to add the poaching liquid to cook the rice. At the end when you fluff up the rice remove the aromatics.

Method 3: Make a rice paste first, by pounding the chicken fat, ginger and garlic together with seasonings. Then fry the paste into 3-4 tablespoons of oil for 3-4 minutes releasing an aroma. Add the rice and mix to coat the rice. Pour the stock with pandan leaves to cook till the rice is ready.

Of all three methods, the rice paste will be fully absorbed producing an intensified flavour to the chicken rice.

Hainan Chicken Rice almost ready

Lift the chicken up from the pan with the opening down to pour the cavity empty.

If you leave the skin on rub the chicken with ½-1 tablespoon sesame oil for extra aroma and a nice gloss. Fluff the rice pan and remove all the aromatics from the rice.

How to cut and dress the plate

Cut the chicken in serving portions

How to cut the chicken into serving portions

Cut off the chicken legs and remove the stuffing.

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This way the cavity opened up more to take out the stuffing. Now remove off the chicken wings, cut away the backbone. And remove the chicken carcass by pulling it off the chicken meat.

Cut and remove the breasts

Cut and remove the breasts

Turn the breast, remove all the bones and cartilage, with the breasts up cut through the middle and slice it up in pieces.

Slice the breasts in portions

Cut each breast horizontally lengthwise, making it thinner and easier to cut equal portions,

Chop the legs with a cleaver through the bone or debone first. Remove and discard wing tip, chop in equal pieces.

Dress the plate

Dress the plate

With all the cutting done, scoop the rice onto the plate add the garnish.

If at a restaurant or shop, sometimes you will be asked which meat cut

Place a combination of sliced chicken breast or chopped chicken wing or juicy leg onto the plate

Add condiments

Add condiments; dark soy sauce, chilli hot-sour sauce (and minced ginger sauce).

Enjoy labour of love

Hainan Chicken Rice Plate – Let’s jiak! – Time to makan-lah :-).

As street food meal, a big bottle of ice-cold beer makes a great combination. In refined dining setting pairing with wine, I would opt for a Viognier. Why? It is a dry, medium-bodied with loads of fruit flavours. While enjoying have a look here at Singapore as your next stop.

What would you like to pair with this dish? Leave a comment of even better sent me a photo how you enjoy your meal. Cheers!!

  1. Chinese stock methods and variations
  2. Hainan Chicken Rice – food chat trivia

7 Tips Taobao China e-site useful sources

7 Tips Taobao

Note: We have updated the Taobao information list and added new sources on how to use China’s largest online shopping sites locally.

You will need a Chinese phone number, a credit card or PPS for foreign cards. Shipping mail address in China and email address. Which basically excludes foreigners outside of China to shop on Taobao, but if you happen to plan on living in China for study or work it’s worth the process to open an account.

Taobao is the biggest consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce platform based in China. The Chinese online sites might look like a daunting process, but we’ve found some helpful sites with advice, tips and how-to’s to get you started.

 

Take your time to read the shared information on the use of agents as go-in-between too and decide which route or process you prefer to follow to make your first purchase(s).

You want to choose a trustworthy and experienced seller by looking at his profile with records of how many processed transactions and successful delivery. The same process as shopping on Ebay, counts for picking an agent as an outside buyer.

  • Taobao Focus We help you buy all kinds of products offered at an incredibly low price from China’s biggest domestic online shopping website.
  • YoYCart Connects individual sellers as well as small businesses from China factories.
    These are just two examples there are many more internet agents who provide e-shopping services.

Update: Previously this blog post title had 6 Tips how to use Taobao shopping site in China. We added new information click on the provided links for tutorials and guides with step-by-step information.

7 Tips Taobao China e-site useful sources

  1. Taobaofocus
  2. The Ultimate Taobao Guide for Foreigners | Hao Hao Report.
  3. Tmall and Taobao how-to guide
  4. How to order from outside China | Reddit NEW
  5. How to buy from Taobao | Taobao field guide NEW
  6. Shopping process in engtaobao.com
  7. Taobao tutorial in China on Vimeo
  8. Tutorial how-to-buy on Taobao  Website seems no longer to be active.

Train travel in China tips & information

Last year after Spring Festival in March we were travelling around Guangdong and Zhejiang Province in China. The masses of travellers and passengers which are transported on a daily basis is incredible. Here in The Netherlands we often grumble and complain about NS, the Dutch railway company, about train delays often signalling problems or other service disruptions.

Train Travel China

Train schedule, Search Online, Type and Reservation

Train travel in China tips & information

As a passenger, you don’t want to be stranded anywhere (Train and Rail Travel info in The Netherlands). However, it is just a drop in an ocean if you see the number of people travelling in China using public transport as buses, MTR’s, train stations, domestic and International airports “humongous”.

With 10.276 million riders every day (Daily Record) and transporting 3.029 billion people travelling Beijing Subway last year 2013!

 

Today China boasts both the world’s longest and second longest metro systems. Out of the top 10 busiest metro systems in the world 4 of them are in China. The first subway in China was built in Beijing in 1969. The Tianjin Metro followed in 1984. Since 2000, the growth of rapid transit systems in Chinese cities has accelerated. The Shanghai Metro despite being the world’s longest only started operating in 1993. From 2009 to 2015, China plans to build 87 mass transit rail lines, totaling 2,495 km, in 25 cities. Source: Wikipedia Urban rail transit China.

 

As another netizen pointed out, it’s good to have another transportation available for speed besides aeroplanes, which is the CRH the high-speed train or a.k.a bullet train. Analyst says that Beijing-Shanghai railway is not in competition with Airlines.

Unfortunately, China has had a major train disaster on July 23, 2011, a high-speed train collision in the suburbs of Wenzhou. Read full articles Wenzhou crash report and Wenzhou train collision clicks on the highlighted links.

Rail, which is the primary mode of transport, has doubled in length since the mid-twentieth century, and an extensive network provides service to the entire nation. The larger cities have metro systems in operation, under construction, or in the planning stage. The highway and road system also has gone through rapid expansion, resulting in a rapid increase of motor vehicle use throughout China. Although China’s transport system comprises a vast network of transport nodes across its huge territory, the nodes tend to concentrate in the more economically developed coastal areas and inland cities along major rivers.

China Railway High-speed (CRH) is the high-speed rail service operated by China Railways. Hexie Hao (simplified Chinese: 和谐号; traditional Chinese: 和諧號; pinyin: Héxié Hào; literally: “Harmony”) is the designation for rolling stock operated for this service. Transport in China has experienced major growth and expansion in recent years. Airports, roads, and railway construction will provide a massive employment boost in China over the next decade. Source: Wikepedia.

Trains, High speed rails, bullet train

Train travel bullet trains

Ordering or buying train tickets can be a cumbersome and frustrating process, at the bottom you will find how-to links and information to make reservations and order online in advance.

Thirty-two new bullet train routes will start operation next month, linking Shanghai to Guangzhou, Nanning in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Huaihua in Hunan Province and Nanchang of Jiangxi Province.

All the new bullet trains will depart from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. The new bullet train will allow passengers to reach Guangzhou in 6 hours and 51 minutes — nine hours less than the previous 16-hour ride by slow train.

Meanwhile, fast trains to cities like Harbin, Shenzhen and Lhasa will be upgraded to direct trains starting from December 10.
via New bullet train routes | Shanghai Daily.

To travel we need transportation and we travel in huge numbers, hence the need for fast mass-transportation. Passengers already travel faster than a horse, car, bullet or standard train or by plane.

Typical consumers argument “faster and cheaper” its never enough. Because for as many supporters there are as many opposers fighting for environmental preservation, loss of habitats etc.

In all honesty and fairness if we didn’t have our modern means of transportation. We would not be able to travel the world as often and conveniently as we are used to in the last quarter of twentieth into the twentieth-first century.

The ShangHai – Beijing bullet train has broken a world speed record, hitting a top speed of 486.1 kilometres per hour in a test run by CNN Travel.

A recently updated article written after the train collision event titled; “Decision to slow trains with mixed responses” on ChinaDaily.com.cn. With another editorial appearing in the Beijing News stated,

“Developing high-speed railways is in keeping with current trends and the aspirations of the people, but what people need are safe trains, affordable fares and quality service.”

Professor Sun Zhang from the Railway and Urban Mass Transit Research Institute of Tongji University said; “We should take time to test the high-speed rail system and gain more experience because that will provide an important reference for the future operation of these trains at high speeds,”

China High speed rail map

High-Speed Rail Map of China – Source photo courtesy by Johomaps.com

Travelling in China

CRH tickets are compared to Dutch and European high-speed railway very cheap, but in China relatively expensive. Travelling around China on the CRH is very modern, fast, clean and excellent service on board.

We travelled from Hangzhou to Wenzhou in 4 hrs, the standard travel time would be 8 hrs according to the train schedule. More than 25 years ago I travelled the same distance and it took us around one and a half day by ferry boat disembarking on the wharf.

From there we had rented in advance a car to bring us to our hotel and that’s a whole other story by itself. Taxis were old Japanese Toyota’s and sparse least alone hiring little buses named “mianbao che” (they resembled small bread loaves). Compared to those days this is

Compared to those days this is a science-fiction reality, as for the present progress it has its ups and downs. Travelling speed and comfort are here, choices are offered how you want to spend your money and time on the road.

If you have plans visiting more places and provinces in China, travelling on high-speed train or bullet trains is a comfortable and very convenient option to be transported to the heart of coastal city centres.

The train coaches, seats and aisle are in comparison to domestic or continental aeroplanes more spacious. When booking hotels check on free airport pick-up service.

Be prepared that the masses you are travelling with are going through the same exit. The stations are huge, so it was not a surprise we had to walk a fair distance to arrive at the taxi stand to join the long waiting line. Easily adding an hour for taxi service so plan this ahead in your itinerary.

Travelling on the bullet train is very convenient, fast, affordable and for long distance service on board is great. In comparison with aviation service, I might incline towards travelling on the bullet train based on the pleasant travel experience we had.

Bullet train ticket, Train travel China tips & information

Train travel in China information & tips; how to order, train types, reservation, ticket office

Updated 30th June 2017

China new economy innovation course

Sharing of news alerts and stories:

In laboratories and startups across China, tinkerers with big dreams are pushing what many in the industry see as a potential new wave of Chinese innovation. They see smart gadgets—wearables and other devices that connect to the Internet or interact with users—as an opportunity to create a Chinese-designed product for a global audience. China is betting heavily on innovation as a way to help its economy develop beyond its traditional reliance on factories, exports and government spending. At a meeting of lawmakers in March, top Chinese economic planning officials called for development of a new generation of smart gadgets as part of a broader effort to emphasize cutting-edge technology. China has invested in areas to help that process, such as a pledge this year to spend 120 billion yuan (nearly $20 billion) over an unspecified period to build its nascent semiconductor industry. Read full article via Chinese Gadgets Signal New Era of Innovation – WSJ.

China International Fashion Brand Fair 2014 – Shenzhen

The largest and most influential fashion exhibition in southern China, highlighting innovative designs, ideas and intelligence sharing

via The 14th China International Fashion Brand Fair — Shenzhen opens today – MarketWatch.

 

14th China International Fashion Brand Fair-Shenzhen (FashionSZhow)

14th China International Fashion Brand Fair-Shenzhen (FashionSZhow)

China International Fashion Brand Fair 2014

Information Venue and Organizer:

FashionSZhow

Cathay Tulip, overnight sensation

Peng Liyuan, the wife of the President of China Xi Jinping named in the presence of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima a special tulip in Keukenhof.

Cathay tulip christening by Peng Liyuan, China President's wife

Photo source credit: Shanghai daily

With the name giving ceremony this purple parrot tulip has the name, for eternity “Cathay Tulip”.

Cathay Tulip

Photo source credit: http://www.cntvna.com/

Peng Liyuan’s “Cathay” tulip debuts in Beijing, click here to watch the video. Ever since China’s First Lady had baptised the new tulip “Cathay”, the new variety has become an overnight sensation. China has a high demand for importing the new cultivated Cathay Tulip and the Netherlands sees a rise in a new export product.

Keukenhof press release:

The new Cathay tulip is a strong and colourful flower, that can be grown in a sustainable way. Mr Bart Siemerink, director of Keukenhof, already expresses the wish that this is a symbol for the strong, flourishing, and sustainable bond that China and the Netherlands have.

 If you happen to travel by train along the route Leiden – Amsterdam, you actually have a track view on the bulb fields “bollenstreek” of Lisse, where Keukenhof is located.