Wanderlust: a day in Guangzhou, China

I’ve done quite a number of posts about Guangzhou already, since my family has visited there a few times now within the last few years. This past winter break, my dad and I again went to Guangzhou for one of his conferences, so while he was out science-ing, I went out with a family friend to go explore the city. The thing about this city is that there’s so much to do, and it really never gets boring because there’s always something fun around the corner.

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Wanderlust: 798 Art Zone, Beijing (China)

This past winter break, I visited Beijing for a couple days with my Dad, and I spent a Monday around the city with one of my dad’s students. Since it was a Monday, most places (like museums) were closed, so we decided to go visit one of the few places open, the 798 Art Zone.

798 Art Zone is located at a defunct military factory in Beijing, and the buildings each have a very unique architectural style reminiscent of both the time in which the military factory was still in use and more modern elements. There are a bunch of buildings, each of which house their own art pieces. One of the buildings we went into housed a 3D art gallery, in which the paintings are made to look 3-D when you take a photo with it. This highly interactive gallery definitely makes for some cool Instagram photos, since you’ll find yourself in the middle of the Frozen or Ice Age movies or playing chess with a figure from a medieval painting.

The second gallery we visited had many beautiful pieces created by art students who worked there. This was showcased a number of wood sculptures combining both traditional and modern Asian elements, creating very unique pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed looking at. Again, since it was a Monday, a few of the buildings inside were also closed, but I would definitely recommend spending a day here when the whole complex is open to take a look at the future of Chinese art, built upon the thousands of years of preexisting Chinese art.

Sweet Tooth: Tian Jiu (Sweet Rice Wine)

Tian Jiu, otherwise known as fermented cooked rice, is a popular southeast Asian tradition, as it has many uses in addition to being a great-tasting rice pudding. Many people will eat it in the winter as a way to keep warm, and mothers who have just given birth will also eat it, as it’s said to be good for the body as it recuperates. (And apparently it’s good to use as a face mask!)

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Wanderlust: Guangzhou’s dim-sun, desserts & more (part four)

And finally, here’s the last post in the Guangzhou/Xiamen series (that, honestly, I should have posted a loooong time ago, but got caught up in some other things…) Anyways, on the rest of the post:

Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates and is popular particularly in Guangdong. Dim sum dishes are usually served with tea, and together form a full tea brunch, although nowadays it really doesn’t matter what time of the day you crave dim-sun; you’ll always be able to get some.

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Wanderlust: Guangzhou, the food city of China (part three)

I spent about a week in Guangzhou, China, last month (which you can read all about here and here). Guangzhou is the third largest city in China, but I daresay the food there is best in the nation. There’s a popular Chinese saying — 食在广州, which literally translates to eat in Guangzhou — that best testifies to the idea that the food scene in Guangzhou is spectacular.

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Sweet Tooth: Chinese Egg Tarts

Chinese egg tarts are popular treats found all over Chinatown, particularly in tea houses as a dim sum dish. Egg tarts are prominent in Guangzhou’s food scene, and scholars call it the “quintessential symbol of the fusion between Cantonese and Western cultures.” I grew up eating these, and distinctly remember always asking my mom to buy me some whenever we went to Chinatown. Now, we tend to make our own egg tarts, and because they’re actually quite simple to make, you should definitely try them out too!
Ingredients
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and refrigerated
⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp (80g) white sugar
⅔ cup (150g) warm water
⅓ cup (75g) evaporated milk
2 large eggs & 1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Completely dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Roll out the pastry dough to 12 x 12 inches and cut out 9 circles using a 4 inch cookie cutter. Gently press onto tart tins and place on baking sheet.
  4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, evaporated milk and vanilla together. Stir in the cooled down sugar solution. Strain the egg mixture into a large measuring cup through a fine sieve. Carefully pour into tart shells, filling to just below the rim.
  5. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes until the edges are lightly brown. Please keep an eye on the tarts as they are baking. As soon as the custard starts to puff, open the oven door 2-3 inches to prevent the filling from puffing up too much and collapsing when cooled.
  6. Once the edges start to brown, reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the custard is done. Test the filling by inserting a toothpick into the custard; if it can stand on its own, it’s done.

(Recipe adapted from Little Sweet Baker.)

Wanderlust: Gulangyu (Xiamen), the piano island (part two)

Just off the coast of Xiamen is Gulangyu, a pedestrian-only island that is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. At only 2 km2 area and home to about 20,000 people, Gulangyu is a major domestic tourist destination and is one of China’s most visited tourist attractions. However, all cars and bicycles are banned on the island, which helps to preserve an air of antiquity and tranquility.

Shuzhuang Garden

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Wanderlust: Xiamen, the gateway to China (part one)

After spending almost four days in Guangzhou, we took a high speed train to Xiamen. Xiamen, located in Fujian Province, is a coastal city, and as such, has been an extremely important port in China for centuries, as well as one of China’s earliest Special Economic Zones. Translated directly, Xiamen means “door to the house”, referring to the city’s centuries-old role as a gateway to China.

Yongding District of Longyan

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