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Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:13 am

Dinner in Erguna, Inner Mongolia. Lamb ribs, perfectly tender, crispy on the outside, served with a deep red sour sauce, and spices for dipping. Not pictured, a gigantic bowl of freshly made soup noodles. I must say, many of the articles I could find on the area mentioned an abundance of meat as if it'd be the only option. In almost every case, we did not find this to be the true. Having a Mandarin speaker by my side was so crucial to that, though. This was an amazing first proper meal. I've had this type (and the spit roast leg) in China many times, and these surpassed all of them. We paired it with Russian beer, and ended up seeking that particular brand for the rest of the trip, and it was easily found in all the shops. Such a solid start to this trip, much thanks to our hotel's owner.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby free meat on Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:12 am

Good lord. I just slebbered at my desk after seeing that picture.
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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:44 am

Don't get slobber in the keyboard! :lol:

The Erguna wetlands. Winds whipped through at high speeds, and the sun only poked out in spots as we reached the peak. Supposedly the largest wetland in Asia, though it was near impossible to find official statements on the matter, par for the course for much of this area in Inner Mongolia. Only a few "said to be's" dot the internet. It was cold as we trekked down seemingly endless stairs, and around the basin. After taking this photo, reaching the end, the sun finally appeared as if to welcome us there. Entry with a small cart up was cheap enough for the experience, totaling about 100 RMB, or $15 USD. Erguna was a branching off point to head to the larger city of Manzhouli, or further east. The city itself was quite interesting, to me. Definitely worth a stop. So ended our first day in Inner Mongolia.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:35 am

Only one bus was leaving Erguna, Inner Mongolia, and when we arrived at the station, we were told it was broken. Nothing could be done. We jumped in a taxi. An easy, beautiful, two hour ride. We didn't know much about Aoluguya, and info was scarce, even in Chinese. Mostly selfies with reindeer on what was supposedly a hunting tribe ground. Rain intensified on our hunt for food, so I grab a taxi and asked him where to eat. He brought us to a tiny hot pot place. Hot Pot is a Mongolian invention, so I had high hopes. Descending down the steepest staircase I've ever seen, we ate at the single table in the damp basement. Choose from a dozen sauces. Dip in the clear broth. Super clean flavors of tofu, lamb, sweet potato, tangy beef dumplings, and "Hailaer" beer, which was really just the ubiquitous Snow, repackaged. Another great start.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:37 am

Sometimes called the "Last Hunting Tribe of China", the Ewenki people in Aoluguya have dwindled greatly in numbers. In 2003, the government put ecological immigration policies in place, and the tribe "put down their guns, and immigrated to Genhe" per the large sign at the Deer Tribe scenic region. Tourism was developed rigorously, and they sell traditional clothes and trinkets along the well maintained paths that lead to the reindeer breeding center. Also for sale, this spectacular and fluffy bread made over fire. Much like the difficult and lonely jobs elsewhere in the world, they face an uncertain future not knowing if their children are up to the task of continuing their way of life. A great day, and definitely worth the stop on your way to the Northeast corner of Hulunbuir.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:13 pm

Arriving at the "station" in Aoluguya, Inner Mongolia, we laughed. A tiny room. Cracked windows. Empty fare table. Broken, abandoned. The only bus left at 6AM. In the taxi, the driver tells us this forest park we sought wasn't worth it. I abandon the plan in lieu of finding a spot to light a fire. We checked out a few hotels, mostly terrible, but finally found a nice man who sped us off to his beautiful second property. He lit an old wood-fired heating system, and showed us the place. We were the only tenants. Perfect. We looked at his giant wood pile in the back, and agreed to stay under one condition: He must let us light a fire. He did, then made us beef stew from scratch, as his wife brought fresh blue and red-berries. More Russian beer, bright stars for the first time in years. The night was ours.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:51 pm

We headed off to our final stop in Inner Mongolia. The kids who came to our campfire the night before agreed to drop us off halfway. This was perfect, as I wanted to visit Shiwei anyway, but didn't want to stay overnight. The sun finally came to stay, and the roads stretched on forever. In this town lies the quite thin Argun River, and on the other side, Russia. Surely the closest I will be without stepping foot inside. We mulled around a bit, bought pornography laden tin-box Russian cigarettes, and bid our gracious hosts farewell. After lunch, it was time to head to what promised to be the smallest, most beautiful stop of the whole trip. Of all the towns with very small amounts of information, this one took the cake for lack of visibility, even in Chinese. I was excited. Hunger hit, so we began to hunt for food.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:02 am

Lunch in Shiwei, Inner Mongolia. Iron Pot Stew Noodles (铁锅焖面). Potatoes, some pea pods, pork, and the deepest damn sauce you could imagine. All brewed up in an iron pot. I've had this sort of "Mèn" stew sauce noodle before, but this was some next level spectacular stuff. Determined to eat at least a little something in every place that we stopped, I'll be day-dreaming about these for some time. One of the best dishes I've had in Asia, and I'd go back to Shiwei just for another chance to eat them. Damn, I'm a nerd...but you want these. You need them. Off to Enhe.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:31 am

I was excited for Enhe. Of all the places in Inner Mongolia, this was the smallest, and the one with the least information. We rolled in, smiled as the sun came out, and got to our hostel. I got tipped off to not only the village, but the YHA spot itself, by the wonderful Mark Camplin. It was the only room bookable online that we could find on any platform, a feat in this day & age, and the photos looked too good to be true. We figured, hell, let's roll the dice. There it was, smack dab next to the main river. The best location I've ever seen for a good night's sleep. We dropped our stuff, gawked at what was on our doorstep a few times, and began walking. This little pupper, one of many stray dogs, trotted ahead of us, as if to say, "follow me", stopping regularly as if to show off his town. Lead the way, friend...

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:06 am

The dog led us to a bridge that overlooked the mountains and streams. A perfect backdrop for such a serene moment. It was exactly what we sought to find here. We listened to the water bubble in the undisturbed quiet, and reflected on what we did. Such a short, but potent and refreshing trip. We heard the clop of horse hooves, and this woman appeared out of nowhere. It felt like we were stuck in time, or in an old movie. Enhe just seemed so old-school. The woman asked if we wanted to go ride her horses. With sunset coming soon, of course, the answer was yes.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:20 am

It had been a long time since I'd rode a horse. Over five years, back in Montana. Even though it was largely just a glorified loop around a set dirt track, the landscape was beautiful, and we didn't plan this at all. The owners were insanely nice to us. It cost a third of what we would have been charged in a more tourist drenched area. Over all, it was just one of those unplanned things that had me grinning from the moment I saw that woman. We walked back still smiling, bought ice cream from the little carts. Couples on tandem bicycles slowly crept by. The sun was about to set, so we rushed to our hostel and got in position. Thank You, #Enhe. It was just what we needed.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby seanurban on Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:19 am

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:57 am

Our final night in Inner Mongolia, and our final sunset. Could not have dreamt up a better view. We grabbed a cold beer, and sat in the silence. A few cows slowly walked past, a side glance. A gurgle. Low season was a great time to visit. I've learned in the last few years to commit to leaving some time, unplanned, in the middle. Lock down your beginning, and your end, if you have to. The what if's and uncertainty, time and time again, bring some of the best moments for me. We slept well that night. I didn't know five days could feel like weeks. The hours felt long, but days didn't drag. It was simply good. Morning brought an easy trek back to Harbin, and some wide smiles. I hope you enjoyed these. Cheers.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:20 am

Farewell to summer. One of the best I can remember. We rafted in Tie Li. I went on tour with my favorite band from China for the second time, something I never thought would happen again. We played a new space ran by a friend across the world in Shenyang. Trekked around Inner Mongolia. Wonderful times. Hope you had a good one. It's already chilly here at night, dropping near zero in celsius. I'm ready for the worst winter can throw at me this year. Tomorrow night, we head to Beijing for a week of solid noise. Stories to come. See you soon. (Photo taken in Tie Li, Yichun)

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:03 am

XY Pattern. Beijing, day one. We've been consuming food like we're about to die since rolling in. Dim Sum, pizza at Great Leap. Little Yunnan. After nearly five years, Brad M. Seippel continues to bring the best food recommendations. Hit DDC for the Nasty Wizard Recordings tape release. Caught Noise Arcade do what I thought was one of his finest sets to date. Started to get a bit drunk, and wanting to show my cohort Dr. Liu and the Human Centipede, decided it'd be best to pull double duty, hauling ass to School Bar. Rowdy. Hitting multiple gigs in one day reminded me of Chicago. Bought some tapes for future record packs. Ate a metric ton. Only just getting started. It's gonna be a damn fine week.

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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China...

Postby lucy on Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:10 pm

gonzochicago wrote:Chinese New Years, February 2016 :

Image010 by John Yingling, on Flickr

My boss and friend, Shaun, had us over to his in-laws house for the New Year. Beautiful home. Great food. Really nice time. After 8PM, people start going off with fireworks. We jumped outside and lit a few off ourselves, watched as others bounced shells off cars, windows. Hopped in and out of the CCTV NYE gala special. The parents watched as they made dumplings on their bed for midnight. Shaun's wife drove us around, past the cold unlucky who waited for taxi's that would no doubt take forever to come, or even be going their way. She stuck her head out of the window and flagged one down for us, and off we went. We have the rest of the week off, so we're rolling ahead on all the other cylinders. A great couple of days. Thanks for having us, Shaun. Cheers.

April, 2016 :

Image011 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Signs of summer... (finally)

Image012 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Boat docks off the middle Songhua River. Inches from the famous "walking street" everyone loves in this city. I like to visit this area every few weeks, as it's a slap in the face reminder that this is a big city. This area is teeming with people, on a Monday afternoon. Almost 3.5 million people live here, a mere blip on China's radar. So, sure, no music scene, but turning that into a positive has been good. It'll force me to visit neighboring Changchun and Dalian. There's a whole spectrum of shit going on here that I have no idea about. It's been fun poking my head above water, finally. Will keep exploring. Cheers.

May 2016 :

Image013 by John Yingling, on Flickr

麻辣刀削面 - "Numbing" Hot Knife Cut Noodles. From what I know, this began as a Sichuan thing. Preservation, back in the day. (Má, or literally, hemp, or "pins and needles") You mix the giant glob of chilis on the left, and it seeps into the broth giving the whole thing multiple layers. I really wanted to find out if this noodle shop was a chain, as the provinces were all over the place. I asked a worker what she was eating, if it was on the menu, and she said it was. I pointed to each thing and gave a good guess as to the province. She nodded. Out came the translator, and I asked about their locations. I can never tell with some signage. She shook her head. All their own recipes. Their only location. This is a pretty ubiquitous noodle dish, but I still really like it. I will be back. Nice people! Support your local noodle shop.

Spring :

Image014 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Adventures in BBQ. China has a large population of Uighur Muslim people. It's filled with tension. Another thing I know very little about. I can recall my first trip to China, reading some official piece on how their BBQ stands were causing the pollution in Beijing. Right... I believe, Beijing "officially" still has a summer outdoor grilling ban in place, but it's mostly been business as usual when I've been there. They'll round up and destroy some of their carts in the night, and from what I've seen, that's about it. This was right before the rather vicious 2014 knife attacks, for which they were also blamed. I'll be posting a few more photos from this night in the next few weeks.

Image015 by John Yingling, on Flickr


Incredible! Thank you for sharing these.
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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:08 pm

It's my pleasure, really...

ImageBeijing 5 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Dr. Liu and the Human Centipede. School Bar. There are natural breaks from gigs built into this trip. Two, which we'll need. It'll up sleep and food consumption and keep us from dying. Tonight, Brad walked us around Houhai and brought us to a secret marinated pig trotter spot. Wonderful. Tomorrow, The Flyx and Shochu Legion at School Bar.
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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:41 am

ImageBeijing 9 by John Yingling, on Flickr

SHOCHU LEGION (烧酒军团). School Bar. I'll never forget the first time I saw this band, partially because it's lodged forever in the history of terrible mornings. It was a gig at the now closed Old What bar, with Diders, and we got one hour of sleep. We arrived at the train station, completely wrecked and barely able to move, only to find out it was the wrong station. We headed clear across Beijing, missed the train, nerves wrecked, I left my expensive monopod in the trunk, leaving it forever to the taxi Gods of China. This was a much better morning. Tonight: Dirty Fingers, Lonely Leary, and some sort of special surprise at School Bar.
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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Tue Oct 03, 2017 11:18 pm

ImageBeijing 11 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Last night, Enrique Maymi joined the ranks of a heavy week at School Bar, performing some classic songs from Maybe Mars history alongside Yang Fan and Guo Zhen. Wen Yuzhen rang the bell to kick off "Sunday Girl" by Ourself Beside Me, and it broke apart, half falling to the ground before he put it back together for one more try. The bass cut out randomly. It really didn't matter. Packed. Hot. After some insanely good sets by Dirty Fingers and Lonely Leary, it was a great cherry on top of an already excellent night. So cool to hear The Gar's "圈". Muscle Snog. Chui Wan. Dear Eloise. Snapline. Perfect. Tonight: AV Okubo, Backspace & Dream Can at Yue Space.
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Re: Musings and food photos from Northeast China + beyond.

Postby gonzochicago on Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:07 am

ImageBeijing 12 by John Yingling, on Flickr

Dirty Fingers (脏手指) at School Bar. "Spazz punk." So happy I was able to catch this band. They don't have a handful of songs to through online. Someone said this set was largely new material. Gushing to their drummer afterwards, he said he was in metal bands before finding "this group of crazy bastards who loved 70's rock." It was spastic and raw as hell. They weren't in love with their own performance. Talk of too much Baijiu. However, it still bled energy, and was crazy refreshing to me. Hopefully we can get them to Dongbei some day.
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