Archive for the 'Guangzhou' Category

Day 6 Jiangmen江门, Kai Ping 开平 and Foshan 佛山

Day 6 was our last day in Jiangmen city and time to bid goodbye to the Liang family 😦

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Wouldn’t be right to visit Guangzhou without dimsum for breakfast. We went to Gerry’s ‘local’ dimsum restaurant which was a convenient short walk away from his house. Their variety of dimsum was definitely more wide ranging that what we have in Perth.

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Gerry ordered this dish for us thinking that it was 沙 翁 Sa Yong, as in chinese sugar puffs which were a favourite dessert from my childhood. These light and airy sugar puffs are somewhere between light cream puffs and sugary doughnuts, I haven’t had many in my lifetime which is a sad regret. But when I ate these ‘sa yong’, I was deeply disappointed and  didn’t quite know how to tell Gerry that they were different from the sa yongs of my childhood and more resembled heavy doughnuts. Then R had a bite and said ‘Donut leh‘. Hahaha. So they were actually doughnuts after all.

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Our last stop at the Liang residence was a bit sad. We all took pictures in front of the house and Gerry’s mum gave us presents after presents, from boxes of egg noodles to fragrant tea leaves and even bananas 🙂

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I will always remember the good times that we had at Gerry’s hometown. I hope we return again some time soon.

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It was a few days to go before the Dumpling festival so Gerry’s mum gave us a bag of zhongzhi which lasted us for days.

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Before we headed back to Hongkong, Gerry’s family wanted to show us some of the tourist sights in the area. Perhaps the most famous of all the tourist attractions were the Diaolous 碉樓 located in Kaiping city. What is a Diaolou? These multi-storeyed defensive village houses/towers were constructed in the Kaiping area from the early Qing Dynasty and were used as houses as well as defensive watchtowers for protection against bandits. Today, these Diaolous are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.

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The architecture of the Diaolous are a mixture of Western and Chinese fusion. Gerry’s uncle explained that they were built by the wealthy families who returned from overseas (North America, South Asia etc.) and were influenced by the Western architectural styles. This reflects Jiangmen’s reputation as the first hometown of overseas Chinese.

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It was a miserable rainy day so we skipped most of the Diaolous and headed for one of the main Diaolou being Li Garden 立园. The main lobby before we enter the grounds. Anyone for a game of Aeroplane Chess?

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Li Garden was a built by an overseas Chinese American, Mr. Xie Wei Li ( made his money in the chinese herbal business in America).

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Mansions of the Li Garden estate.

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Man made waterways and gardens around the estate.

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For some reason part of Li Garden is being used as a photography set for wedding couples! R and I couldn’t resist taking photos at some of their ‘sets’.

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Despite living in America, Mr Li kept thinking of his home country and eventually returned to China spending 10 million yuan building the Li Garden estate, starting in 1926 and finishing in 1936.

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The furniture and furnishings in the Diaolous were a mixture of East and West.

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I found everything a bit scary, maybe it was the downcast skies and rainy weather that  aided the gloomy feel of the dark rooms.

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The bird cage!

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My favourite part of the Li Garden tour, eating local Wu Yang brand  ice cream! This was honeydew flavour which was so refreshing, I loved their flavours including red bean, double skin milk and mango etc. I wish they sold Wu Yang here.

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Stopping by Chikan town in Kaiping which now feels like a dead town with all the youngsters having left the town for the city. Still this town is well known for being the site where many movies and dramas are filmed.

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Movies that were shot here include Ip Man, Drunken Master II and Let Bullets Fly.

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Picturesque buildings.

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Even though our butts were getting sore from all the car travel, we couldn’t resist stopping by Foshan, the home of the great martial art master Huang Fei Hong. Our main point of destination was  the Foshan 祖庙 (ancestral temple) which also housed the Yip Man and Huang Fei Hong memorial museums.

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Yip Man, also known as Bruce Lee’s shifu.

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Hehehehe. Martial arts geek. Enough said.

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Stopping for a snack, this was mang gong yuen, as in blind man’s dumplings. Not bad.

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My first time eating 蛋散 literally meaning egg shatters. This dim sum is made from a dough of eggs, flour, sugar and lard and is twisted, deep fried then drizzled with malt syrup.  Very crunchy and I can see why it’s a popular snack but it was a bit doughy and deep fried for me.

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The best and most hospitable family in Jiangmen in front of ZuMiao. Thank you Gerry, 勤姐 and 强哥 for an extraordinary and most memorable trip in Jiangmen. We will be back.

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Day 5 Jiangmen 江门

I apologise for the lack of updates, can’t blame it on anything but pure laziness. Anyway, to continue on from where I left off from the Hongkong/Guangzhou posts…
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We woke up well rested from the exciting and food laden day before. Gerry, being the perfect host, had put us up in yet another five star hotel in Jiangmen, 逸豪酒店 Yucca hotel, which was grand and comfortable.

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The view of Jiangmen from the hotel window. Geographically the city  is located in south-central of Guangdong province, Zhongshan is in the east and Foshan in the north. The homeland of 3.68 million overseas Chinese, Jiangmen also has a reputation as  ‘the First Hometown of Overseas Chinese”.

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Knowing R’s love for noodles, our first stop for breakfast was this noodle restaurant.

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Our bowls of noodles, generous portions. I had the beef brisket noodles, Gerry had wanton noodles and R had pork trotter noodles. All were yummy especially the springy egg noodles. In fact, knowing how much we liked the noodles, Gerry’s parents gifted us with two BOXES of Jiangmen’s dried egg noodles (=^ ^=).

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The exterior of Swallow brand  Jiangmen Pai Fen factory. This is an inside joke. JiangMen Vermicelli is probably one of the more well known if not THE most well known brand of rice vermicelli and is sold everywhere in the world. Back in the old days we kept forgetting where Gerry’s hometown was even though he reminded us several times. In the end he said ‘you know 江門排粉? Well, that’s where I come from!’ Since then we joked for years that we would visit Jiangmen just to eat the vermicelli there. So Gerry brought us to the factory :).

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You would think after eating such a big bowl of noodles it would be some time before we had lunch. But no, Gerry’s uncle had it all planned out. We were in for an eel feast, another specialty of Jiangmen, but first up were these little sweet prawns as appetisers.

It was really nice of Gerry’s uncle to take time out from his busy workday to meet us for lunch. In 2010, Gerry’s good friend Hom visited Perth for a brief 3 days and we had a great time showing him around. Fast forward three years, Hom is now married with a little daughter and we were able to catch up over lunch :).

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The star of meal the steamed eel dish. Afterwards, we also had fried rice with eel. Gerry’s mum loved this dish.

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Jiangmen is also famous for it’s dried tangerine peel and these fried tangerine peel infused spareribs were wonderfully fragrant and tasty.

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It was the season for bittergourd and we were told that the best way to eat them was bittergourd on ice! Dipped in a bit of soy and wasabi, the bittergourd slices were crunchy with only as slight hint of bitterness, really good and such a refreshing way to eat bittergourd.

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After lunch, Gerry’s uncle suggested that we go for a relaxing foot reflexology massage. Now these Chinese foot reflexology shops are very popular in Malaysia and have even been popping up all around Perth. Funnily enough, I’d never been to one of these centers so why not try them in China?

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It was all very fun and hilarious because Gerry’s parents joined us! Gerry’s mum delighted the masseurs with her wisecracks and funny questions.

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More eating! We stopped by this traditional dessert shop for some chinese desserts.

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Couldn’t go past the Double Skin Milk and Black Sesame Paste again. Taste wise, the double skin milk wasn’t as smooth or creamy as the one we had in Nanxin, but still, it was very good. The Black Sesame Paste was very good and fragrant.

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Gerry’s parents and I had the 姜撞奶 which literally means ‘ginger knock into milk’, ginger milk pudding. I love ginger and the notes of heat from the ginger with the smooth milk pudding was great and comforting.

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The best part about being in Jiangmen besides spending time with Gerry and his family was getting to visit the places that he grew up including his high school, his ‘local’ yumcha restaurant etc. We also stopped by his very first home with its old stone steps and narrow alleyways.

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Gerry’s first home was an eye opener, tiny  place opening up to a rooftop with this view. It was a sentimental and touching moment for us to listen to Gerry’s mum telling us about their early life, Gerry’s childhood and how she made her livelihood (and still does) fortune telling. In fact, she decided to read our palms impromptu and it was eerily accurate.

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We were supposed to head off to Macau that evening. But one thing led to another, and we found ourselves opting to skip Macau and to stay another night in Jiangmen instead. Only this time, we would stay at Gerry’s house! In the end we were researching the train times to return to HK from Guangzhou.

I remember sitting in Gerry’s dining room, eating a feast including more roast goose and homemade waxed meats prepared by Gerry’s father. Praying to the gods at close to midnight, throwing rice and wine on Gerry’s porch. A midnight supper at an outdoor stall near Gerry’s home where we had fried mantou dipped in condensed milk (very yums) and fish porridge.

Everything felt very surreal, magical and dreamlike. It was one of those nights that will be etched in my memory forever.

Day 4 Guangzhong and Jiangmen

On to our second day in Guangzhou and first day in Jiangmen, Gerry’s hometown :).

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Gerry put us up at Holiday Inn which was conveniently located right on Shangxiajiu pedestrian street so we had a really good sleep after the exhausting day before.

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View of the pedestrian street from the hotel.

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Compared to the crowded and busy Shangxiajiu pedestrian street at night, day time Shangxiajiu was positively sleepy in comparison.

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Passed by the famous 莲香楼 Lian xiang lou. This highly reputable traditional chinese bakery is also known as ‘ 蓮蓉第一家’ as in the No.1 Lotus Seed Paste, I’m assuming their mooncakes must be very yummy with smooth lotus seed paste. Not a huge fan of mooncakes so we didn’t step in to try their pastries.

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Gerry brought us to yumcha, my first yumcha session in Guangzhou haha. Our restaurant was  泮溪酒家, meaning lakeside restaurant, probably named that because it’s surrounded by five little lakes. This restaurant started back in 1947  which explains its gorgeous traditional settings.

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R and Gerry at dimsum. Sigh, I miss Gerry.

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Cute rabbit shaped dumplings.

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We spent a long time yumcha-ing, mostly chatting away and trying a lot of different dimsum. Besides the more common carrot cake, we also had 马蹄糕Water chestnut jelly which tasted like the Chinese New Year nian gao in a jelly form.

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After our heavy brunch, we walked around the garden restaurant and admired it’s beautiful surroundings such as this koi pond.

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Felt like we were somewhere in the forbidden palace.

Panxi Restaurant 泮溪酒家
地址: 荔湾区龙津西路151号(近荔枝湾)
Address: 151 Longjin Xi Lu, Liwan District

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Another famous shopping street in Guangzhou being the Beijing Road. A bit more high end than ShangXiaJiu but not that much of a difference to us since we weren’t in the mood for shopping.

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China history was my favourite subject in high school so I thought it was pretty cool that along Beijing Road we could see cultural relics of the ancient city gates from the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. The story goes that back in 2002 when Beijing Road was undergoing road excavation, they unearthed the ancient city wall and found five to 11 layers of pavement dating back to the ancient dynasties.

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Our very hospitable tour guide Gerry next brought us to the place where we could best get a 360 degrees view of Guangzhou.

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Where else but the Guangzhou/Canton Tower? The Guangzhou Tower is the tallest structure in China  but only the fourth tallest in the world. This tower has a nickname ‘young girl with tight waist’ can you tell why? It’s even prettier at night with all it’s lights on.

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Not sure whether it was a foggy day (Gerry tells me this is just normal for Guangzhou) but the views weren’t very clear.

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The highest post office in the world!

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Since our tickets were also post cards, we wrote a few out and posted them straightaway. I posted mine to Gerry’s (girl)friend while R wrote a thank you postcard to Gerry’s parents. I wonder whether they’ve received them yet?

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Gerry and the Guangzhou tower.

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It was getting late so after a bit more sightseeing, we hopped into the car for a two hour drive into Jiangmen city, Gerry’s hometown. We stopped by Gerry’s home to pick up his parents for dinner. But instead of rushing to dinner, the parents pressed us to have a bowl of soup that they had cooked specially for us. This bowl of soup was very  special and a first for R and I. 老龟老鸡蛇汤, meaning turtle, chicken and snake soup! Apparently very nourishing and good for health so R and I gulped it down.

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Dinner that was arranged by Gerry’s uncle! If you remember my blog post back in 2010, I blogged about Gerry’s uncle when he visited Perth back then. Gerry’s uncle or Kao Fu (uncle in cantonese) as we call him left me with a lasting and memorable impression as a lovely, fun and knowledgeable uncle. R and I were really excited to meet up with him again.

We were a bit taken aback when we were ushered into this grand and luxurious private dining room with it’s own sitting area and private attendants. Gerry’s uncle was already there and as welcoming and friendly as ever. It was even better because this time we got to meet his equally affable wife and Gerry’s female cousin.

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The dining table was so huge that I felt like we were sitting on a giant conference table with it’s rotating lazy susan.

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The food was amazing and already I knew we would probably never get to try something like this again.

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When we were in Perth Gerry had already promised us that we would be drinking copious amounts of Chinese rice wine and he was right! Gerry’s uncle and aunt took out their ‘special’ wine which was fragrant (scarily high alcohol content) and very drinkable. They spent the remaining of the night toasting to us, luckily those cups were tiny and the wine was of a very high quality so we didn’t end up getting drunk at all.

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Gerry’s wondeful family, from left to right, his cousin, Gerry’s father, Gerry, Gerry’s mum and Kao Fu. Kao Fu’s wife was too shy to be in the photo.

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After dinner, we went over to Kao Fu’s house for some tea drinking. Kao Fu gave R a special tea session and taught him the intricacy of making chinese tea. Kao Fu introduced us to tea drinking back in 2010 and is the only reason why we have fragrant tea leaves in Perth now. In fact, they gave us more tea again this time!

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There was a surprise birthday cake for R specially arranged by Gerry, so sweet :). R’s birthday was the next day so Gerry had arranged for his cousin to bring a cake and we had the birthday cake session at Kao Fu’s house. I think this was possibly one of the more memorable birthday celebrations R has ever had.

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Birthday cake wasn’t the only thing we ate that night *gulp*. Cicadas (yep,the bugs that make all that racket at night) are a delicacy in China and we were offered these rare delicacies (apparently it’s very hard to catch or find them nowadays) by Kao Fu and his family. R, btw, has an insect phobia, it took him a good 20 minutes trying to convince himself to even touch those things let alone eat them. In the end we summoned our courage and had a cicada each! What was the taste like? It wasn’t too bad, not slimy, salty garlicky juices, but we didn’t go for seconds.

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I was really pleased that I got to meet Kao Fu’s daughter whom I’d talked to on the phone back in 2010. She’s a talented and sweet little girl who sang and danced for us and also brought me into her bedroom to show me all her treasures.

It was a fantastic night, probably the best night of the entire trip.

Day 3: Guangzhou, 江南大道 Wedding dress shopping & 上下九步行街 Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street

We were excited on the third day because it meant that our Guangzhou leg of the trip was starting! We woke up early because we wanted to catch the early trains from Hongkong to Guangzhou to make it to Guangzhou by noon.

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Breakfast at another congee stall near Soy Street Mongkok. I wasn’t very hungry so ordered a plate of zha leong, which is fried youtiaw wrapped in cheong fun and soaked in a sweetish soy sauce.

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Richard had a big bowl of ‘zhu hong jook’ as in pork blood cube congee. He preferred the first congee stall we had the day earlier but said the bloodcubes were good.

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Don’t forget if you’re travelling from Hongkong to China, you need to apply for a visa in advance. There are various methods of getting to Guangzhou from Hongkong, but one of the easiest ways is via train. All you have to do is get to the Hung Hum station in Kowloon where you’re able to buy your train tickets (HKD$190) to the Guangzhou East station. 12 trains run daily and the train journey takes a comfortable two hours. The train itself is very spacious and clean so we had a relaxing journey.

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Once we walked out of the train station we were greeted by Gerry, Gerry’s mum and his friend CK ! It was all very exciting and cheerful, Gerry’s mum was delighted that we were finally going to visit their hometown and was chattering to us non-stop. Straightaway Gerry brought us to fill our tummies and introduced us to his hospitable and friendly god mother who started ordering a vast  array of dishes.

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This was one of the first dishes being red roasted pigeons, a specialty in Guangzhou and Hongkong.

Day 3

And then the dishes went on and on from a variety of dimsum to roast goose, a beautifully steamed fish and pearl chicken.

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But we were really in Guangzhou for a mission: to buy a wedding dress. They had purposely picked a restaurant along the famous Guangzhou Wedding Street being Jiangnan Da Dao so we could go wedding dress hunting straight away. The aunties left us to shop and the young ones started trekking along the never ending shops of wedding everything. There weren’t just wedding dress shops, there were shops specialising in tailored suits for men, shoe shops, wedding accessory shops selling everything and anything you would need for a chinese wedding.

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Big sparkly gown or traditional red and gown kua? Choices, choices.

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Just in this building along there were three or four stories of wedding stores. Along both sides of this busy street were bridal boutiques and tailors not to mention street vendors selling wedding stickers, red umbrellas, lucky packets with your family name …..

Did we manage to get a wedding dress? Yes! I also bought a cheongsam and Richard ordered a suit as well, so in all, a very successful shopping outing. Poor Gerry and CK couldn’t have been enjoying themselves trooping in and out of the stores in the muggy heat but they never complained and were great companions.

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It was late afternoon by the time we were done shopping, time to check in our hotel which was conveniently located on the busy Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. We were pretty tired by then so didn’t explore the street much.

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After checking in, CK brought us to this popular dessert house 南信 Nanxin located on the pedestrian street. We knew straight away that it was going to be a good foodie place because it was teaming with locals.

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Richard and Gerry in Guangzhou, June 2013.

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My first 双皮奶 Double Skin Milk and apparently Nanxin’s双皮奶 happens to be one of the best in Guangzhou too :). This mixture of milk, egg white and sugar was fantastically smooth, creamy and rich. I was very impressed.

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Gerry’s favourite chinese dessert is the black sesame paste 芝麻糊 which when you look at it, looks like a uurgh black mess. But Nanxin’s black sesame paste wowed us with its fragrance and richness. It was really lovely and possibly the best jimawu we’ve ever had.

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They have other things besides dessert! This was their Sampan Congee which was slightly burnt but still pretty tasty nevertheless.

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Their cheongfuns which come in huge portions. Again, I was surprised at how different the texture of cheongfun was in Guangzhou, chewier and stickier and smooth.

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CK introduced me to another signature dessert of Nanxin, this mixture of mango, red bean and herbal jelly dessert. It was nice but I was still partial towards the double skin milk.

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Another nice dessert, this one had crunchy bits of water chestnuts in it and tasted a bit like a light horlicks or ovaltine. Very refreshing and great texture. And with that, our wonderful first day in Guangzhou ended with a sweet note. Already this Guangzhou leg was promising to be an exciting foodie experience and memorable trip.

Nanxin Shuang Pi Nai 南信双皮奶
47号 Dishifu Road, Liwan
Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

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Wanted to end this blog post with this picture that we snapped along the Guangzhou busy roads, can you guess what this building is? It’s a kindergarten! I think Tristan and Kaka would have liked going to a kindergarten that resembles a Hogwarts castle. More Guangzhou posts next time.


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