BeiHai – An Addendum

For posts like these, in which I’m telling the story of our days, I tend to look through my photos to remind myself of what we did and to help structure my writing. That means that if I don’t have any photos of an event, it might get less air time. I neglected to take photos of our lunch in Beihai, which means it was not discussed in great detail in my last blog post, about our entire day there. That situation should be remedied, and there are a few other notes I’d like to preserve here, as well.

At lunch, we had asked Glenn if there was anything for which the area or the restaurant at which we ate was known, and he said there was a soup in which they specialized – a pork and corn soup. We’re reasonably adventurous eaters in China, so we asked him to go ahead and order it. Interestingly enough, it comes out in a large clay pot, which is placed onto a gas burner in the middle of your table, which is then turned on.

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We opened the lid to look at it – the way Daniel described it when we were later discussing it was, “So you take the largest pork bone you think you’ve ever seen a dog chewing on and then multiply it by about four. You throw it into a pot of tepid water, along with some corn cobs.” I think that’s probably a pretty accurate description.

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So after the water boils for a while, you dish out some broth and corn cobs. At this point, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to eat corn cobs in soup – a reasonable question. It turns out the restaurant has you covered – they provide plastic gloves for you to slide onto your hands, and then you pick up your corn cobs out of your soup in order to eat them! That’s probably what you’d guessed, right? 🙂

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Also providing some moments of levity for us in the midst of a somewhat emotionally heavy day was the van in which we rode around the city. I don’t think we have any photos, but it had thick, sort of velour-ish curtains on every side and back window. What makes this more notable is that in China, drivers sometimes park their cars on sidewalks, which is what our driver did outside the restaurant. Getting up was fine, but I’m sure you can imagine that there might be some difficulty in backing a fully-window-curtained van off of the sidewalk and onto a reasonably busy road. Our driver’s strategy seemed to be to honk the horn and then start backing up and assume everyone would get out of his way! We made it out in one piece, at which time Danny and Sharon and I looked at each other and all started laughing.

One more note before I wrap this up 🙂 I’d mentioned in my blog post before we went to Beihai that this would be interesting in that it was a trip to a truly small city. It turns out I misunderstood what Glenn was saying – he’d been talking about its past population when he referenced the 60,000 number. Beihai’s current population is something like 1.5 million people – you know, just another small Chinese city!

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