Yummiest Chinese BBQ skewers

The best food can often be found at the dirtiest alleys.

Still in Changping, there’s an an alley full of little eating outlets about 8 minutes’ walk from our hotel (Hui Hua Hotel).

We went to this outlet called Ah Sheng BBQ (阿胜烧烤 something – their shop names are always so long that I don’t have time to read everything before stepping into the shop).

Ah Sheng BBQ

The Goonfather had eaten there before and couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. This place was the reason we extended our stay in Changping for two nights. I had a sore throat our first two nights there and couldn’t eat throat-unfriendly food. =P

They cook the food right out in the open and bring it into the dining area for you. There’s a huge array of food for your consideration: All kinds of vegetables, meats and seafoods on skewers. All the food is spiced with interesting Chinese spices including peppercorn and something salty and herby.

Ah Sheng BBQ

You can get Chinese BBQ in Geylang. Lots of little shops there, usually called 羊肉串 (mutton skewers) because that’s probably the main attraction. The ones in Singapore, however, are limited to a few kinds of meat and no veges save for corn.

Check out the stuff we ordered in Ah Sheng!

Mushrooms and mid-joint chicken wings:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Eggplant:

(Look like fish, doesn’t it? Haha.)

Ah Sheng BBQ

Prawns:

(They have the giant ones, like three or four times this size but I didn’t dare order them.)

Ah Sheng BBQ

Enoki mushrooms:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Below the mushrooms are chives:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Shishamo and Taiwanese sausages:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Corn:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Buns:

Ah Sheng BBQ

Quail:

(The item on the menu said Little Bird (小鸟) so I ordered it out of curiosity. It wasn’t so nice, though, and it looked a bit scary.)

Ah Sheng BBQ

The meal was just amazing. It was the first time in my four days in Changping that I overate. You definitely have to try this if you go to China. It’s not only in Changping. Many other cities and towns have them. You’ll find hawkers on the streets (main roads as well as alleys) BBQing in the open.

There was a pretty female singer in Ah Sheng carrying a guitar in her arms and an amp on her back (like a backpack) walking from table to table asking if people wanted a song. Of course, she would put the amp down when singing, but once done, she’d hoist it upon her back again. It’s quite cute!

She has a menu of Chinese song titles and each song costs 10RMB (S$2).

Ah Sheng BBQ

It’s like a mobile jukebox!

There was a table with, like, gangster boss types, that ordered 10 songs in a row, so we got to enjoy lots of free songs, heh.

After she was done there and came to our table, we ordered one song. (Because we only had one 10RMB note among us. The rest of our cash was in big notes.)

After our table no one else ordered anything.

Ah Sheng BBQ

By the way, this was the night we got accosted by the little girls I mentioned in Star Blog this week. It was after dinner while we were walking back to the hotel from this place.

(It didn’t happen in an alleyway, though. It happened out in the open by the main road, which made it more remarkable.)

Anyway, I’m loving Changping despite the pollution and scary little girl predators. Definitely gonna pay another visit soon. =)

A farm restaurant in Tangxia, China

I have mixed feelings about this place.

It’s a restaurant where everything you eat is grown in-house, including vegetables, livestock and seafood. The Cantonese-style cooking is superb and you can be sure your food is fresh.

The restaurant is situated in the farm itself, so you can take a tour and see for yourself the vegetables, the animals, the fish… before they are removed to be cooked.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

I think it’s read as Hui Li (or Li Hui. I don’t know). That’s the name of the farm-restaurant, or whatever you call it. It’s situated in Tangxia (a very small town in Dongguan, China).

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

It’s not that you get to pick what you want to eat and they slaughter it on the spot for you. I think the owner allowed us to wander about to visit the animals because he knows Isaiah, our friend who brought us there. (But maybe he allows people to walk around anyway because he seems the friendly, easy-going sort.)

It’s just that it’s a little weird seeing the live counterparts of the animals that you know you’ll be eating later. I feel a bit guilty, even, although I’m not about to get all noble and swear off meat forever.

I still enjoy eating meat. I just don’t really want to pay them visits and grow attached to them just before I eat them, you know?

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

This goose was playing with a hanging hose. It was rather cute.

I think we had a goose dish at dinner.

We didn’t order chicken.

We saw a bunch of black chickens that had really funky hairstyles. The Goonfather thinks this one looks like Unker Kell:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Running chicken:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

We also saw two rabbits along the way.

We rationalised that, since there were only two rabbits in the whole place, they must be pets rather than food.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

The pigs were quite smelly. And scary. Because they oinked a lot. And they were enclosed in a rather dark shed.

But they weren’t as smelly as the elephants we visited at the zoo two days later.

These are little black pigs (or something). We ate them. Not them in this picture, specifically, but probably one of their brothers who had already been slaughtered.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Normal pigs:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

You don’t see the animals if you just walk into the restaurant and hang around there. (The animals are deeper into the compound.) What you see will be the eating areas, lots of greenery, and tranquil, still waters.

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

And the food.

Goose:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Vegetables:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Bean curd:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Pork:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Fish:

Hui Li Farm Restaurant

Since it’s Cantonese-style, nothing is spicy and everything is less salty than the usual Chinese fare we ate most of our trip (mainly Hunan-style and Sichuan-style). But it’s still tasty. You feel a bit healthier eating here.

But I guess I still prefer the spicy food. There’s a Hunan restaurant Isaiah brought us to in Changping which was great but they didn’t allow me to take photos so I can’t share them. But I did take pictures at another Hunan restaurant so I’ll share those another day!

More photos from Changping

Eight-Treasure Rice from a Hong Kong style cafe:

Eight treasures rice

Beef tendon ball noodles:

Beef tendon ball noodles

My third dose of ginger coke:

Ginger tea

I’m recovering so fast it’s unbelievable!

A rather old-fashioned sleazy-looking hairdressing salon:

Hairdresser

We went in there because I wanted a place to get my hair washed and blow-dried and this was the first we found after asking at many places.

The massage skills of my washer sucked, though. I was thinking I should have just washed my own hair at the hotel. It was a far cry from the last hair-washing service I tried in Tangxia.

But my hair stylist did a pretty good job styling my hair so I guess it was worth it after all.

Sheylara

He gave me cute curls by swinging my hair round and round itself while blow-drying it. It was quite weird but it worked! Hehe.

A wash-massage-style session like this costs between S$3 and S$7. Takes about an hour. The difference in price is in the type of shampoo/conditioner you chose, I think. I had a bit of trouble understanding the guy. I chose the S$7 one.

Walking out into the street fresh from the salon:

Sheylara

Sheylara

We were about to find a taxi to take us to our next destination when the Goonfather spotted a Singapore Restaurant (lol):

Singapore Restaurant

Look what she’s wearing! Sarong kebaya! Haha:

Singapore Restaurant

Random photo across the street:

Changping, China

Got a cab! Still liking my hair:

Sheylara

We decided to check out this toy building we passed by the other day. The outside looks so cool and exciting:

Toy city in Changping

But the inside looks like a warehouse:

Toy city in Changping

It’s a toy wholesale building, lol. It’s quite empty, though. Hardly any customers, many stores are vacant, and even the open stores are pretty empty.

Toy city in Changping

The third floor is the computers and electronics floor, but like half of it is vacant. When we reached a segment where there were open stores, I thought the Goonfather would be excited, but he wasn’t. He said everything there is old. Like 10 years ago technology.

Toy city in Changping

Toy city in Changping

Toy city in Changping

He was more excited about the little boy toys, like this jeep with mounted artillery:

Toy city in Changping

And remote control helicopters:

Toy city in Changping

He didn’t buy anything this time, but I think we’ll be going back to the place again and I think I’m going to have helicopters hovering above my head when I’m working at my computer back home.

Looking forward to it.

Not.

China waitress cures my flu

I really believed I wouldn’t fall sick this time, even though I had hung out with three sick people the whole week before, even sharing food and drink with them.

I had already caught the flu bug three or four times this year. I thought I would have developed enough immunities to all the strains flying around Singapore.

Besides, I had felt perfectly fine until after arriving in Changping.

Maybe I had gotten it from the Hong Kong lady who was sitting beside me on the plane, sniffling away into her tissue the entire trip. I was sandwiched between two sick people for more than three hours. (The Goonfather was also still sick at that time. His flu had started about three or four days before.)

Once we arrived in China, I started developing allergic reactions (the fleshy part near my tonsils itch crazily and my lungs feel irritated) from the smog and grime in the city and the sun combined.

That very night, I got a sore throat while sitting in my hotel room blogging.

The next day, full-blown flu. Inflamed painful throat, throbbing head threatening to explode, nose blocked and leaking.

I spent the whole day in bed with my iPad, alternating between playing PvZ and sleeping.

I did step out for lunch and dinner, though.

Lunch was at a Western cafe a minutes’ walk from our hotel. I had to eat something soft because of my throat but I didn’t want porridge so the Goonfather suggested pasta.

What a great suggestion that was. I had the best spaghetti bolognese ever. It was really good. And I’ve never even liked bolognese in the first place.

The sauce was very tasty, just the right amount of saltiness, sweetness and spice. And the spaghetti was a perfect consistency, firm and chewy.

Spaghetti bolognese

Huge fork and spoon!

Spaghetti bolognese

The Goonfather had these, which were really good too:

Mixed grill

Fruit salad

What a surprise find. You wouldn’t think the food’s any good from the outside because it kinda looks like an old-fashioned tourist trap, and it’s dark and quiet inside. We wouldn’t ever have eaten in there if I hadn’t been sick.

Bistro in Changping

Bistro in Changping

There’s a huge department store opposite our hotel.

Changping department store

The whole building is a department store! We had wandered there looking for lunch but didn’t see any eating places other than MacDonald’s, so I just bought some flu medicine and the Goonfather bought mini mooncakes.

They have interesting ingredients in the mini mooncakes like pork floss, roast beef, abalone, sharks fin and assorted fruit flavours.

Mini mooncakes

Unfortuntely, I still can’t eat any because I don’t think my throat will like it.

I ate a peach at 6 pm (this is still yesterday) so I could eat another dose of medication.

The peach is disappointing. A Chinese masseuse had told the Goonfather that this year’s peaches aren’t too sweet because it has been raining too much. Darn. Just like the lousy durians back home now. What’s with the excessive rain these two years?

The woman that sold us these peaches said they were ripe and ready to eat, but they’re hard. Yucks.

Peaches

Dinner was at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel.

I was dying of pain all over the place and didn’t want to go anywhere further.

I ordered a whole bunch of food that I thought would be kind to my throat.

Japanese food

Japanese food

Japanese food

Japanese food

Japanese food

Plus a california handroll which I forgot to photograph cos that was the first one to arrive.

Yes! That was all mine! Hehe. I didn’t realise I had ordered so much. Obviously, I couldn’t finish everything.

After placing my order, the waitress asked if I wanted a boiled coke with ginger. She said it in Chinese and I had to look to the Goonfather to see if he knew what she was talking about.

He said, “Oh! I hear it’s supposed to be very good for flu.”

So I agreed to try it.

After the waitress left, I asked the Goonfather, “How did she know I’m having flu?”

He said, “Because you look sick. Your eyes are watery and you ordered all the sick people food.”

Dots…..

My ginger coke was a bit nasty. Well, I’m sure you can imagine the taste. The mad sweetness of stale coke combined with the spiciness of ginger.

I don’t know if spicy was the right word, but the drink was very spicy. And hot, since it’s boiled.

Ginger coke

But I managed to finish it and I think it did make me feel better.

At first, I was drinking it by the spoonful cos it was hot and I could never manage more than four spoons at once (cos of the spiciness).

But once it turned lukewarm, I was gulping it down. Just to get it over and done with.

Ginger coke

I’m sure it works even better than the lousy flu pills I bough. The pills didn’t seem to do shit for me.

Oh, then, after that, I asked the waitress whether I could eat my flu medicine after drinking the coke. She said it was okay, and then added that I shouldn’t eat eggs while having the flu.

Why didn’t she tell me earlier? I ordered so many egg dishes because I thought they were safe.

I took a very hot shower after dinner and went to bed. There was still a lot of pain in the head and throat and nose so I flitted in and out of sleep all night.

But by the time I woke up in the morning and blew out my nose, I felt a lot better!

I managed to wake up early enough to have the complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel. I ordered another ginger coke. Luckily, it was a small cup this time!

Ginger coke

Looks like ginger coke is such a common drink in China (and I think Hong Kong) that you can probably order it at any eating places. The Goonfather has seen it once on the menu of a Hong Kong cafe in China.

I feel a lot better now after my second dose!

Throat still hurts a bit but it’s bearable now. Headache seems to be gone. Yay. But nose is still a bit runny.

I had more sick people food for breakfast.

No eggs, boohoo.

The porridge was very good, though. The preserved bean curd here is sooooo good. It tastes a lot better than the ones we get from the supermarket back home. I’m gonna eat more tomorrow!

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

I feel well enough to do some sightseeing today but it’s a rainy day, so I don’t know how fun it would be to visit a theme park in this kind of weather.

Yesterday was nice and sunny and I was in bed all day.

Changping

Oh, we’ve decided to extend our stay in Changping for two more nights because the Goonfather deems me not well enough to make the three-hour bus ride back to Zhuhai (supposedly tomorrow).

Yay!! I get to stay in this cheap and good hotel suite for two more days! =D

Dying from pollution in Changping

My first thought when I arrived at Zhuhai this morning: “OMG it’s so hot and dusty and smoky.”

It was so different from when I came here five months ago, around winter’s end.

Hot, I can deal with. Smoke and dust give me bad allergic reactions. Smoke and dust and impatient drivers honking the hell away nonstop and glaring sunlight give me a deathwish. Almost.

I thought Changping would be better. A childish vain hope to comfort myself, I later realised.

Our plan was to take a three-hour bus ride from Zhuhai to Changping. One of those cheap tour buses with seats that recline a little way. The fare was about $16.

Zhuhai bus station

Zhuhai bus station

It was 10:45 am. The next bus wouldn’t leave till 11:30 am, so we went for brunch. The KFC in China is so good!

KFC

KFC egg tarts

The bus departure terminal is an enclosed building with really bad acoustics. Sound bouncing and echoing everywhere. It doesn’t help that Chinese nationals enjoy screaming or shouting at each other. And then there was the endless announcements for departing buses. There was like an announcement every few minutes.

This is probably the last time I can ever be persuaded to take a bus in China.

Our bus was delayed for an hour due to a traffic jam, so I was stuck in that horrendous hell of a place for an hour and 15 minutes.

The most exciting part of our three-hour bus journey was when our bus turned into a boat. Suddenly, it was rocking like crazy, like if a boat were to hit turbulent waves.

I looked out the window and this was what our bus was driving through:

Zhuhai

Crazy humongous potholes competing for space on the ridiculously uneven road.

Fortunately, I didn’t die in the journey.

Unfortunately, Changping is as bad as Zhuhai in terms of air and noise pollution, if not worse.

We hired a private taxi to take us to our hotel. In China, private taxis usually mean beat-up old wheels.

This was our private taxi. It was a minivan or something:

Changping taxi

Changping taxi

Did I ever mention that I really hate being in a moving car with the windows down? I hate when my hair flies all over my face. Sometimes it hurts. It gets in my eyes and whips my cheeks.

According to my friend Isaiah, who works in China, Hui Hua Hotel is the best in Changping. He had helped us book a suite a couple of weeks ago.

So we did get a suite after all. Yay.

The hotel looks very unassuming (even cheap) from the outside. But it looks better on the inside, although not like super grand or anything. I guess we can’t expect too much for a small town in China.

Besides, it’s really cheap. It’s only $100 a night for our suite! Splitting the cost, we each only have to pay $50 a night. =D

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

Hui Hua Hotel

After checking in, we went out to get some food, SIM cards and peaches.

You know, I think you can identify China by the number of construction works going on. You see them everywhere you go.

Changping

There’s a huge one going on beside our hotel. This is the view from our sitting room, lol:

Changping

Anyway, we were hungry again after the long bus ride, so we wanted to eat first.

When we were still in Singapore, the Goonfather couldn’t stop talking about the food in China, naming all his favourite China-specific dishes.

And then once we’ve checked in and are ready to go food hunting, he says, “Let’s go eat at a Hong Kong cafe!”

So, this is what he chose to eat first (KFC not counted because we really only wanted to get a drink while waiting for our bus, but then we couldn’t resist when we got there):

Pig innards

Icky disgusting beef innards.

I know it’s a little weird that I eat liver and intestines and kidney, but I cannot stand all those in the picture above. I think they are like lungs and pancreas and stomachs. They just don’t look like food.

I ordered a very safe item. Luncheon meat and egg sandwich.

Luncheon meat and egg sandwich

We bought some peaches after that! They’re now sitting in the hotel fridge. We haven’t eaten them yet so I don’t know if they’re good.

After buying those and SIM cards and some Blu-ray movies (all very near our hotel), we went to our room.

I started this blog while the Goonfather went to a spa.

I think I’ve been blogging for 2.5 hours now. (Taking very long because I’m not used to the free video editing software (GIMP) which I’m using on my Macbook, and then I couldn’t connect to my FTP server to upload images for some reason, so I had to use a more manual, time-consuming way.

It’s almost 9 pm. It’s hungry time!

Oh, the Goonfather just came back from his spa and then we’ll have dinner with Isaiah. I hear we’re going to have roast chicken. Supposedly some most famous food or restaurant or something in Changping.

More field reports tomorrow if I haven’t died from the pollution yet.