Tag Archives: food

China-2023: eats, sleeps.

I’ve shown you how awesome China‘s lesser-known (to non-Chinese) natural-beauty-tourisms can be. But what about the places to stay and dining options for tourists there? How do they stack up?

Quick answer: it all depends on how much you want to spend, for there’s everything in China from bargain-basement lodgings and street/fast/junk food, through to 5* hotels and gourmet cuisine at fine restaurants. As for us, we mostly went for somewhere in the middle for both accommodation and dining – sometimes opting for somewhere nearer the upscale-end of the spectrum; for example, in Enshi (canyon, cliffs) we stayed at a small private hotel that was really very nice indeed. The views: wonderful ->

In the cities we tended to stay in larger hotels – often franchises of international chains, and overall they were decent and comfortable. The views to be had from the rooms in some of them were pretty decent too, for example in the hotel in Xinning County near Langshan where we stayed after our decompression-river-cruise on the Fuyi River. In one direction:

In the other:

Read on…

Back in Tokyo – tasting its haute cuisine with gusto!

It was farewell to the quiet backwater of Hokkaido, and hello to the world’s largest city (by population) – Tokyo! Time to get some work done!…

Alas, we were so busy we had zero time for tourisms. It was literally all work, work, work – strictly formal too: I wore a suit! Meetings, handshakes, discussions, and the inevitable low bows. Doing business in Japan these days for us is really tricky – but we don’t never give up! Despite the geopoliticalisms that we’ve zero control over, there’s still plenty of demand here for the world’s supreme quality cybersecurity.

Back at the hotel after sundown – I managed a few photos out the window but, like I say, 0 tourism (…

…And the next morning – what a beautiful day! ->

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Tokyo
  • Tokyo
  • Tokyo
  • Tokyo

Instagram photostream

African vacation – ver. 2023: Nairobi.

Should you ever head to Kenya for a vacation, you’d most probably fly into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, the nation’s capital. Nice airport: good level of service – and extraordinarily light on lines for both passport-control and customs. I wonder – were we just lucky, or is it always like that?

Nairobi itself looks like… pretty much what I expected: the capital of a country that’s successfully developing toward a brighter future. There’s poverty – plenty; but there are also plenty of districts that are positively salubrious…

Read on…

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A rare post about food – because it’s Japanese food!

Food is seldom a guest on these here blog pages of mine, but when it is – it’s something really special. Like when it’s Japanese food that I’ve been eating – in Japan itself. Oh my gorgeous-gourmet-grub!…

I’m normally partial to Japanese food no matter how far away I am from the country itself, but that’s often merely sushi – which the Japanese themselves scoff it. But in the good country itself, in a good restaurant (in good company:), it’s oh-so not-just-sushi: it’s OMG-varied and interesting and simply wonderful!…

We were real lucky this time: we dined at the famous – at least among the gourmet-dining set and restaurant critics – Kamakurayama (which means Kamakura mountain). Ok, enough text; time for pics of the dishes we were served. Just a shame you can’t taste them )…

First up, of course – my starter:

Read on…

The world’s northernmost city.

Over the last three years I’ve probably visited more cities in Russia than anywhere else. The main reason of course having been the global travel restrictions during covid (which some countries are only just lifting, while others (e.g., China) aren’t even contemplating doing so). Then, this year, international travel for Russians has become a lot more difficult, with multiple connections being now the norm where before there were direct flights. Accordingly, I’ve been doing a lot more domestic travel – for both business trips and adventure-tourism expeditions. And I’ve been visiting plenty of places for the first time too. Just this year I’ve been to the following cities for the first time in my life:

And just the other week I had another +1: Norilsk

Norilsk is no ordinary city, as you either knew before, or now know from the title of this blogpost. Yes, it’s very far north – so, of course, it gets frightfully cold (down to -60°C sometimes!) here in winter. But summer ain’t much better: constant rain. Then there are the strong winds year round. Then there’s the whole ecology… issues – but more on them in a bit…

Read on…

Northern Taiwan, 101.

Actively checking out Taiwanese natural places of interest can bring on sudden attacks of hunger, as I found out the other week while in the far north of the island. When our stomachs were rumbling simply too loudly for comfort, we were ushered to the town of Juifen to put a stop to the noise. And guess what – the town of Juifen is… must-see! Particularly – must-eat-in )! Especially – if you’re a big fan of Chinese cuisine, which I certainly am. Oh my gourmet!…

The place is made up of a labyrinth of narrow little streets, in many places with some roof-like construction up above to keep off the rain. There’s less of an emphasis on souvenirs (like you often get with cute little places like these that attract tourists and natives alike), and more of one on: grub! Yeh! All different kinds of grub too – albeit of the Chinese kind. Eateries, restaurants, cafes, greasy spoons; eat-ins, takeaways; boiled, steamed, fried; meat, fish, veggies – ice cream too. Hissing, bubbling… and the fragrances: they sure got the appetite up. And it looks like this:

Read on…

(Motoring through) marble marvels in Taiwan, pt. 3.

Hi folks!

Herewith, my next dispatch from Taiwan…

I’ve already told you about the footpaths that run through the tunnels here. Well there’s a road too – the Central Cross-Island Highway. Built – and in some places chiseled – in 1956–1960, back then it was quite the pioneering engineering feat. Still today they’re renovating and improving it. And they’ve got their work cut out: there are frequent earthquakes, and typhoons cause flooding and mudslides. They dig out new sections for the cars, and the old ones get passed over to tourism.

Read on…

Geothermal-gastronomical.

There are just two ways to get to the white waterfalls I told you about in a recent post post. You can either walk from the village Pauzhetka (en route to the peaks of Koshelev volcano), or – just the opposite – walk from the same volcano en route to Pauzhetka. So you see: all roads lead to and from Pauzhetka. Accordingly, this post is dedicated to the small yet significant – and most curious – village of Pauzhetka…

Pauzhetka is a village of extremes:

First: It’s probably one of the remotest settlements on the whole of the peninsula. To get there in a regular road car is probably impossible. To get there in a 4×4 or off-road vehicle from nearest town of Ust-Bolsheretsk takes up to two days (including a long stretch along the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk, and probably entailing a few ferry crossings). On the other hand, getting to the village by air isn’t too much trouble: there are scheduled flights once a week (from Petropavlovsk) to Ozernaya airport, which isn’t far from the nearest village on the coast – a mere 30 kilometers from the Pauzhetka. The only other means of transport that can be used to get there is chartered helicopter.

Second: It’s tiny. Locals put the population at a mere 42 folks ((co)incidentally, a magical number:).

Third: Still – as of summer 2018 (!), there’s no cellphone coverage – at all!

Fourth: Though the village is tiny and very inaccessible, it nevertheless has its own… geothermal power plant – Pauzhetskaya (the first power plant of its kind in Russia (or maybe even the USSR – I’m not sure)! As a result, the local area is supplied with free electricity and hot water! Free, as in – zero rubles! And it comes in seemingly unlimited supply: no electricity meters… nothing: as much as you want to use, whenever. Leave the TV on – fine! Never turn the iron off (if that’s what really floats your boat) ok! And it’s not as if the local authorities discourage such wanton waste of energy supplies: they don’t bother turning off every home’s central heating… ever! See – told you the place is one of extremes ).

(Btw: I’ve written about Pauzhetka before.)

AAAnnnyway, that’s all beside the point (yes, I do like to digress).

What makes Pauzhetka so significant to me is that you need to go through it to get to the nearby OMG-stratovolcanoes – Koshelev and Kambalny. Now, since Pauzhetka is located in such a touristic paradise, you might think that it’d be all… Davos-like: nothing but hotels and guesthouses and restaurants to cater for the tourists. Alas – nope. Pauzhetka doesn’t do tourism – for a few reasons.

First, this place is inaccessible, literally middle-of-nowhere, and literally unheard of (almost). Just try Google photos of Koshelev Volcano: my photos are the first to be shown!

Second, getting here ain’t cheap (in part because it’s so hard to get to), which reduces its average-tourist magnetism to around zero. And for the serious explorer-expeditioner-climber, the volcanoes are just too easy to conquer:

– What were you climbing this summer?
– I did a couple volcanoes in Kamchatka.
– Cool. I hear Kamchatka’s the bomb when it comes to serious volcanism. What altitudes did you get up to then?
– Ah. Er… 1800 and 2200 meters.
– Oh…

Accordingly, every tourist passing through Pauzhetka fits easily in this here ‘tourist base’ made up of two buildings with sleeping quarters, the inevitable pool filled with hot thermal water, and lots of vegetable patches and greenhouses:

But these aren’t just regular, common-or-vegetable-garden greenhouses…

First, these are greenhouses supplied with as much free hot water as needed all year round. Second, the soil here is super fertile volcanic soil packed with mega-doses of the minerals fruit and veg love. Third, there’s the industriousness of the locals who tend the greenhouses…

Read on…

A Chinese gastronomic enigma.

Many of you may have noticed that I rarely write about food. Photos of food or meals on Instagram are not my strong suit :) However, it would be wrong to say I’m indifferent to food. Absolutely not! These are my favorite kinds of cuisine:

  1. Chinese cuisine. To be more precise, all types of Chinese cuisine, and above all, South Xianggang cuisine (is that the proper name for it?).
  2. Japanese cuisine. To be more precise, all types of Japanese cuisine with their fresh, fried, grilled, roasted, boiled, etc. food. (Which reminds me of this video about the mysteries of Japanese cuisine.)
  3. All other Asian food.
  4. The entire culinary spectrum of the Caucasus. (The challenge here is to stay within the confines of lunch and dinner rather than succumbing to all-out gluttony…which I don’t think is right.)
  5. Borscht.
  6. That’s probably enough, or we may descend into the aforementioned gluttony :)

So now, I need the help from the audience.

There is a remarkable vegetable that grows in China (or, more correctly, on Hainan island). When cooked, it looks like this:

Its name in Mandarin is 四角豆.

“Four-cornered beans” according to my translation tool. Indeed, this veg has a very distinct four-cornered stalk. When preparing it, they chop the stalk at an angle (which results in rectangles with sharp corners) and pour on some seasoning.

I’ve never seen this vegetarian dish anywhere outside Hainan, and that includes Hong Kong which is just next door. This vegetable only grows in Hainan, and that’s where it all seems to get eaten.

So, two questions.

  1. What’s the proper name for this vegetable in Russian and English?
  2. Just in case I’m wrong, does anyone know if this tasty veg is on sale anywhere outside China? Would be great to know.

Thank you all in advance!

// After all that I have a strong urge to go and have lunch :)