For me, travel is all about the food. Of course, there are other things I enjoy — sight seeing, shopping, outdoor adventures, etc. I believe that the dining experience, however, is highly representative of the cultural lifestyle. It’s always worthwhile to get out of the hotel and sample the local cuisine, preferably at the less touristy locales. You learn so much, and I just love tasting my way through a city.
I crave the savory spices of this area of China. Last night, we met a couple of other pilots from our flight for dinner. The four of us enjoyed dry braised string beans, garlic shrimp, cashew chicken, beef on a sizzling platter, shredded potatoes, steamed rice, beer, and soda for the equivalent of approximately $8 U.S. per person. The service was prompt and courteous. We felt welcome and well cared for while kicking off our trip with a delicious meal.
After dinner, we strolled through a few of the local markets, went to the tailor, did some shopping, and then topped off our evening by sampling some of the spa services, enjoying affordable massages and pedicures. My traditional Chinese massage was somewhat painful, focusing on deep pressure points, but I think that some of those chronic knots in my shoulders may have been eased a bit. In broken English, the therapist kept exclaiming “Sore, very sore” while pushing down with his thumbs until I winced. He asked a second therapist, who spoke better English, to inquire about what I did for a living. When I said I was a writer, they simply nodded, as if spending so much time at a keyboard or handling a pen and paper explained everything.