Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From Chinese Brush Painting to Avatar – Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China

Avatar Hallelujah Mountain - Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China When I visited Zhangjiajie in November and wrote the blog post in December of 2009, I was only in awe of the natural beauty that my eyes encountered – the unique rock formation, the mist, the forest, and the Chinese brush paintings that kept on coming to mind. 

So wait, the "South Heaven Pillar" that I saw through the viewfinder of my camera became the floating Hallelujah Mountain in the movie Avatar?  And little did I know that Will I Find Na'vis from Avatar - Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, Chinathe government was this quick to cash in on the fame of this Hollywood 3D movie and changed the mountain’s name to “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in an official ceremony yesterday. 

Does this mark the milestone of Hollywood having a hand in the Chinese traditional art?  Imagine how the paintings will be having descriptions of fishing boat, willow, stream, …, and Avatar.  This truly is a manifestation of a global village that we live in.

Now, feeling having missed the history by just one step, I regret not looking hard enough for the alien Na’vis behind those misty thick woods.

Are These the Floating Hallelujah Mountains - Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jiuzhaigou, Here We Come – Jiuzhai Valley, Sichuan Province, China

Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

October 20, 2009, we were flying to Jiuzhaigou.  For that, we did not have a good night sleep.  Yes, we were having an early flight.  But we were also excited, with all the reasons to feel this way. 

Is it Really that Great?

Entrance to Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China We had started hearing about this place a few years earlier and remained skeptical.  You know how some places can be “beauty in the eyes of beholders”, meaning for others, they are just over-rated.

So as we were passively been on the receiving side, all we heard about Jiuzhaigou was how beautiful it was and how it was like a place from the fairy tales.  The overwhelmingly positive feedback helped us make this trip.

Jiuzhaigou and its Fairy Tale

Jiuzhaigou means Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China (2)"Valley of Nine Villages" in Chinese.  The valley derived its name from the fact that there are 9 ancient Tibetan villages within it.  It is part of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous District and is located 100 km north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province (or Szechuan, as put in the Western countries).  In English, Jiuzhaigou is officially known as Jiuzhai Valley. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hunan Cuisine – Are We Ready for It?

Yummy Street Food - Changsha, Hunan, China
Alright, alright, I give in.

If you’ve been following my last few posts, I’ve been trying to stay on the high ground, meaning keeping on the philosophical and/or spiritual subjects. 

Well, it’s undeniable that one cannot spend a day (comfortably) without food.  And one definitely cannot skip Hunan cuisine before leaving Hunan.

Moving Street Vendor - Changsha, Hunan, ChinaWhat’s the Big Deal about Hunan Cuisine?
China is covered by such a vast land that Hunan cuisine is one of the eight regional cuisines of China.  So one could imagine how diversely distinctive regional cuisines are from one another.  In all honesty, I did not get to taste Hunan cuisine before I made the “leap” to the US 16 years ago.

Yumm - Changsha, Hunan, ChinaBeing in gourmand's heaven, Los Angeles, I’ve visited more than one Hunan restaurant.  However, I was not 100% sure that I’d had the most authentic Hunan cooking.  They are all delicious dishes.   But the thought of how Americanized some Chinese food has become (orange chicken, everyone?) makes me wonder if the same happened to regional cuisines from all over the world to tailor to US consumer’s tastes.