Dreaming of tea in….Shanghai

There are some nice tea houses in Shanghai and a must taste is the Chrysanthemum tea.  Served in most tea houses this special tea has unique taste.  It is a mixture of Chrysanthemum flowers and chines wolfberries.  the lysium barbarum wolfberry species grown in Ningxia, Tibet and the Himalayan regions are supposedly beneficial for health (antioxidant and anti aging).  Here are images of the old tea house in Yuyuan gardens, expensive and touristic but a must wisit for the time visitor in search of impression of Old shanghai.

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Chrysanthemum tea

 

Green tea sencha and Maofeng Huangshan grown mostly around the Yellow mountains.

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Green tea

 

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Yuyuan Garden Tea House in Shanghai

 

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The Old shanghai teahouse
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The old china hand reading room in Shanghai

When in Shanghai come to these tea rooms.  The Old Shanghai Tea House and the Old China Hand Reading room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old China Town

 

Surrounded by Dutch colonial architecture, a town where Chinese immigrant live since the discovery of Indonesia.  Many buildings still stand through time, grand, imposing and some left to the elements.   For anyone who want to venture out to Old China town is a must.  Plenty to discover such as Chinese temples,  walking is the best way to experience the hustle and bustle of this old city.   If you still have energy walk to the old Dutch train station in Kota with its 1930’s style façade and browsing through the many old VOC Dutch buildings.  Visit Fatahillah Park where a large building stand was the Dutch Governor residence, it is now a museum.  A large draw bridge build by the Dutch still stand proudly through time.  This bridge connect to sea port “pasar Ikan” fish market where you can find Dutch storage area where it is a museum.  There are plenty to see and experience in this wonderful corner of Jakarta.

Fatahillah Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Forbidden City : rise of an empire

The Forbidden City Beijing China
The Forbidden City Beijing China

One of the largest palatial structure in the world, The Forbidden City is definitely a reflection to China’s past grandeur once home to Ming and Qing dynastic Emperors since it’s first creation in the 15th century. The former Imperial city today the palace Museum epitomizes the supremacy of imperial power – a city within a city with secular and military architecture covering 74 hectares of land surrounded by more than 50 metres wide moat encompassing some majestic halls, entrance gates and royal pavilions. Like many great dynastic lineages that of the Forbidden City somewhat reminds me of the great Ottoman empire and the creation of the fabulous Topkapi palace in Istanbul. It might not be as gigantic as that of the Forbidden City, but political intrigues and stories of the inner chambers relating to eunuchs, princes and princesses are as impressive. One of the stories I enjoyed reading about Topkapi and the Ottoman splendours is perhaps that of Noel Barber’s historic novel “Lords of the golden Horn”. Rebellion, conspiracy and assassinations are part of life within the palace wall of the Forbidden City, from its founding till the last rulers. One story tell of the last Ming emperor Chongzhen who hanged himself on Jingshan Hill the imperial garden following the capture of the city by Li Zicheng, leader of the pheasant rebels. Another story which has been often fictionalized in novels is that of the rise of the royal concubine Cixi to the height of becoming the Empress Dowager, the Opium wars, the Taiping rebellion and the Boxers or the sad story of the “royal prisoner” Pu Yi the last Qing emperor who abdicated in 1922. The palace grounds is spacious and walking around the city do give you that feeling of magnificence with long walks from one pavilion to another. The pavilions are elegantly designed and so is the overall structure of the palatial complex requiring hundreds of craftsmen to build the city, laying the grounds for palatial constructions each conveys to its particular imperial symbolism based on numerology and traditional colours ranging from black, red, yellow, green and white.

The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City

The enigmatic and imposing Forbidden City

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My visit continues while admiring some beautifully carved lintels decorating red gold coloured gates enhancing royal pavilions.

Elegant architectural beauties at the Forbidden City, Beijing
Elegant architectural beauties at the Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden city is truly a maze of some impressive buildings and gardens – silent witnesses to the glorious past of emperors and empresses of China.

The Forbidden City, Beijing
The Forbidden City, Beijing

After some hours lingering within the fabulous walls of the Forbidden City, I left the palace through the famous eastern glorious gates facing Tienanmen square.

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A Taste Of Uyghur Cuisine

Toxo chicken vegetable stew Uyghur specialty served at Dolan Restaurant in Paris
Toxo chicken vegetable stew
Uyghur specialty served at Dolan Restaurant in Paris

Uyghur food is probably one of the lesser known Chinese cuisine. The Uyghurs are the Turkic ethnic groups inhabiting the Xinjiang autonomous northwest region of China. Located at the crossroad known as The Silk Route where trade and cultural exchanges between the East and West began centuries ago, their traditional cuisine reflects the multi taste of these regions. Chinese restaurants abound in Paris and while many catered to clientele searching for Chinese food without getting to know in depth of their regional specialty others would like to discovers and to know better other regional specialty. From Xinjiang to Zhijiang passing through Sichuan, Hunan, Guandong 7 days and 7 selected restaurants opens their doors to traditional Chinese cuisine. For this year’s festival I have selected Dolan Uyghur. A charming left bank restaurant, a side street of Quai de la Tournelle across the Notre Dame Cathedral. Entering this lovely place you are warmly greeted by Nueraili Maimaitimusha, of Uyghur origin who first came to study cinematography and ends up opening his own restaurant two years ago. Unlike other Chinese food, Uyghur traditional dish consists more of grilled meats with savoury spicy sauces and especially the fabulous hand rolled rice and wheat noodles known as Leghman served with vegetables and mead is certainly not to be missed! Cold spicy meat in ginger and garlic sauce and pickled vegetable salad to begin with, and rose tea all throughout the meal. The “Samsa” (it probably derived from the Indian Samosa) or the filled meat pies comes next together with deep fried ravioli served with spicy sauce. Like many Central Asian cuisine skewered spiced meats are definitely on the menu such is the “Zig Kawap” grilled veal served with either the flat Indian style chapati bread or yoghurt and “Polo” the traditional carrot rice. Yoghurt and rice Pilaf style is a common blend in the Central Asian region even as far as Russia, which seem to also dominate Uyghur cuisine. More Uyghur hand rolled “Boso” and “Toxo” flat rice and wheat noodles cooked in al dente with meat and vegetable in spicy sauce are just divine. After a nice hefty meal then comes the best part, the traditional “matang” a nougat style chewy sweet made of nuts, almonds and honey. Wow…that was a royal meal, and next stop is a nice long walk along the Seine and dreaming of my next visit to Xinjiang.

Here are some mouthwatering Uyghur dishes orchestrated by Nueraili at his restaurant …

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And his charming restaurant with a special corner for traditional musical show.

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Dolan
Uyghur restaurant
5 rue de Poissy
75005 Paris
France
+ 33 (9) 83 20 88 57
+ 33 (6) 51 90 65 43

Shanghai Greens …

Chinese greens sold in Old Shanghai morning market
Chinese greens sold in Old Shanghai morning market

Southwest of the Bund towards Yuyuan Gardens is the touristic and crowded Old Street lined with shops, temples and traditional tea houses. But, come in the early morning hours, walk down the many alleys around the area and watch the local market teeming with vegetable sellers showing off their baskets filled with fresh greens. This is a small area with arched passages surrounded by nineteenth century buildings surprisingly still preserved amidst the rapid growth of the city ultra urban development.

Vegetable sellers in Old Shanghai
Vegetable sellers in Old Shanghai

A charming market within the walls of old buildings – a nice walk to get a glimpse into vanishing Old Shanghai.

Morning market in Old Shanghai
Morning market in Old Shanghai

More images of Old Shanghai market …

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In a Tea House …

Renmin Park Tea House Chengdu
Renmin Park Tea House Chengdu

Tea houses in China are probably one of most typical stopover for any visitors who love this beverage, renowned for its health benefits since the dawn of humanity. Chengdu was my gateway to my first visit to China, and besides looking out for pandas, savouring local tea was top of the list and so I went to see Renmin park with its lovely tea house. The place is popular with locals. Walk along the shady trees or do like the locals – relaxing away chatting with friends over tea served in large thermos bottles.

Chatting over a cup of tea in Renmin Park Chengdu
Chatting over a cup of tea in Renmin Park Chengdu

While delighting in local snacks …

Local Sichuan snacks
Local Sichuan snacks

Or spending afternoons relaxing and playing mahjong ….

Playing games  in Renmin Tea House Chengdu
Playing games in Renmin Tea House Chengdu

Misty Mountains …

The mist of the Yellow Mountains

This is Huangshan known as the Yellow mountains highly praised by poets and painters throughout the centuries. I have always wanted to visit this place and here I am … The scenery is beautiful with fabulous sunset and sunrise. An inspiring landscape of granite peaks surrounded by the unique Huangshan pine trees. I was quite lucky to catch a glimpse of the mist descending the mountains just before dawn. These images are taken with a Canon film camera using my favourite Ilford Delta 400. A little grainy but that is the beauty of black and white film negative shots …

As the sun rises illuminating the dark corners of the mystic mountains ...
As the sun rises illuminating the dark corners of the mystic mountains …

A memorable journey just like how I would imagine and staying a night on the summit is a must to catch the first sun rays at dawn …

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