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I Love China  
By Dian Thomas

While going to the zoo in Beijing, I found this lovely sign done by children for the Olympics last year. If you come here, you too will fall in love with China. I spent a month here last year taking tour though many of the spectacular sights. After bringing a tour here in March, I decided to return on my own to learn all that I can about China, the wonderful people here and the many things there are to learn. For me when I travel information comes into my brain at the speed of light.

Here in China I say there is a photo around every corner and several in between. I put a new chip in my camera yesterday and at the end of today I had over 451 photos. I thought this week it would be fun to share just a few of the photos I took the last few days.

For two weeks I am staying in a beautiful town in Southern China call Yangshuo. Here you see a lovely lake in the middle of the town with the most unusual mountain behind it that I say looks like the back of a camel. There are hundreds of these small limestone mountain everywhere you look. Yangshuo is on the Li River and for many this is a stop on their journey though China. One of the highlights of the trips that I guide is a 4-hour ride on a big boat down the river.

This little lady is someone that I met in the country on my last visit. Here name is Mo and she lives by herself. She is about 85 and makes a few coins by showing tourist how the locals live. Her home is small but her heart is huge. She is typical of the love older people greet you with along your journey though China.

About a 3-hour drive from Yangshuo, you will find rice terraces that are high in the mountains. They were built over 700 years ago, and the Chinese people are still farming the rice patties every day. This is a little village that you can only get to by walking about 1 mile up the path and stairs. Everything is carried or taken in on a donkey's back. There are paths though that terrace that the farmer uses and are also used by the hardy tourists who make their way up the hillside to see this wonder of the world.

If you wonder what a Chinese kitchen is like, check this one out on a chair that I found as I was strolling though the village today. Many of the inside kitchens do not have much more to cook with than this. I have even seen some that are just a campfire in the middle of a canvas cover. The food that comes out of the wok is both delicious and nutritious.

If you do not want to cook in your own kitchen, it is not hard to find a small restaurant with a pot of dumpings just waiting for you to stop by and have a bit. Food here is very cheap and easy to find. Food like this would sale for under $1.50. Behind the steaming pot of dumplings is a beautiful pond filled with lilies just waiting to blossom.

Tuula, a Finish lady that is now from Austria, came here seven years ago and decided to make this her home. She is bargaining with this lady to buy some of the local fruit. This fruit I have not ever seen in all my world travels. It is probably the most delicious fruit I have ever tasted. When peeled, it is sweet and delicious like a fruit but looks like a clove of garlic. There are so many fruits and vegetables that I have never seen before.

Right now the hot vegetable is pumpkin blooms. This village farmer comes to market every morning with the fresh cut flowers for people to buy. They were cut just before she came and will all be cooked by the end of the day.

Dr Lili Li is a certified traditional Chinese medicine doctor. I go everyday for treatment so I can become healthy. This day she said that she was going to teach me about healthy eating. I went to the farmers market with her and then stayed with her all the way to the finished dish.

Each morning her day starts by going to the market and buying fresh produce for the day. She does not own a refrigerator. We had that discussion once and she said that food put in the fridge does not taste as good as the product that is picked in the morning and eaten by the end of the day. She is preparing a special dish for us by taking the center out of the flower and then peeling the outside of the stock so that the center when cooked will be delicious and nutritious.

After all the flowers were prepared, she made a special stuffing to go in the center of each flower. The stuffing was made of diced pork, diced tofu, some greens like chives, and then it was mixed with fresh eggs bought at the market this morning. And yes, I know for sure that these chickens are " Free Range ". Here is what you get when you buy an egg. First the flower is stuffed and then the petals are folded over and part of the stem is put in the top. That flower then is put into the wok above and boiled for 10 to 15 minutes to cook the flower and the pork.

When we eat at Dr. Lili's this is what the table looks like. This is the front of her office. You can see the bottles of tea that they have been drinking though the day. This is herbal tea to promote health. They are special recipes that Dr Lili's father and grandmother, who were both doctors, passed down to her. Dr. Lili is on the right and a wonderful chinese woman we call "Antie" is on the left. Today I went to the market with Antie, we bought the fresh produce, and I watched her cook each of the dishes. Most of the dishes are vegetables with a very little meat for flavoring. Meat is use as a flavoring not as a main course here.

At the end of the day it is not hard to find one of the adorable children to throw you a kiss. When my head hits the pillow all I can say is I can not believe I am in China ! And yes I have fallen in love which China.

Dian Thomas is a tour guide and takes groups to China. Here next trip will be in August and September. Check out her trips.

while you sign up for her interesting Newsletter at www.dianthomas.com. Be sure to click to the travel section.

   
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