In April this year, I was privileged to be able to visit China and Hong Kong on business with my husband. For a variety of reasons, not least that I love Chinese people, and their delicious cuisine, and that I am very hungry for opportunity to travel, I was pretty certain I was going to like China, but nothing had prepared me for just how much I would love the place and actually want to move there!
I know it probably sounds a bit dozy, but I hadn’t registered properly that the climate in parts of China was tropical, so to arrive into an atmosphere of misty haze that China is so characteristically known for, was very exciting indeed, and especially so, when coming off the plane we were hit with a gorgeous waft of hot humid air. I had done some research, and I did know that where we would be visiting would mostly have significantly warmer temperatures than here in Manchester for the same month, but unlike visiting say Italy or the South of France, where you expect to be greeted by heat the minute you arrive, whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t quite that. I found the visuals of the city, glistening and towering high with skyscrapers, the streets lined with huge lush vegetation & botanical aromas mingled with the fresh damp air, quite overwhelming, in a really happy wonderful way.
So, as you can probably imagine, I took a lot of photographs. I’m not usually one for snapping indiscriminately, but seeing as it’s not every day you get to travel to such an exotic and special place, I basically photographed anything that crossed my path. Please also note that for the purposes of speed and to be honest, a little laziness, I have used my iPhone for the majority of my pics. I have also filtered quite a lot of the pics in phone and have left them that way as a kind of memory of how it felt to first take them.
Partly, because I have so many photos to share with you and partly because I want to blog about each wonderful place we visited separately, I am going to divide my blog into three or four parts. Today I’m blogging about Shenyang which is the first place we went to.
Shenyang is in Northeast China and is the provincial capital and largest city of Liaoning Province and to quote Wikipedia, is also the largest city in Northeast China by urban population. We went there because a factory that supplies my husband’s company is based there. They showed us excellent hospitality, including providing us with exquisitely delicious meals during our stay and kindly allowing me to have the recipes for any of the meals I particularly wished to recreate at home. Two of the four or five recipes they have given me, are for a Sizzling Beef dish and what’s called a Squirrel Shaped Mandarin Fish dish. Both these dishes were absolutely scrumptious (as was all of the food they served us) and I am desperate to get cooking them, so please look out for my future blog posts if you would like to see how I get on and to get a fantastic new Chinese recipe. I didn’t get a picture of the Sizzling Beef dish, but please find my picture of the Mandarin Fish dish below, but bear in mind that by the time I managed to get a photo, quite a lot of it had been gobbled up!
The next picture shows one of the marvelous meals our Chinese hosts put on for us called Hot Pot, which consisted of little saucepans filled with hot broth that were kept on a vigorous simmer on portable burners on the table. You will be able to see that each of us had our own little saucepan and in the centre of the table are plates of meat, fish, vegetables and herbs all prepared and ready to be cooked in the broth and the idea is, that you select from the fresh ingredients provided to create your own delicious combination. There were also little condiment bowls of soy and other exquisite sauces to be added afterwards. This was really fun to do and I will be writing a blog post demonstrating how to do this in the future. My husband is pulling what looks like a greedy face in the photo, which I think is appropriate bearing in mind the magnificent spread in front of him! I’m the lady in the white coat in the background walking along with my camera in hand.
One of the afternoons, our fantastic Chinese hosts and company representatives took us to Shenyang City and to visit the beautiful and fascinating Shenyang Imperial Palace, also known as the Mukden Palace or Shenyang Gugong. Built in 1625, it was the former Imperial Palace of the early Manchu-led Qing Dynasty in China and the first three Qing Emperors lived there from 1625 to 1644. It was built to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing, although it’s style also shows evidence of Manchu and Tibetan influence. In 1955 it was converted into the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum. We didn’t manage to look round all of it because it’s really big – the palace is reputed to have more than 300 rooms and covers a ground space of more than 60,000 square metres. Please see my photos of one of the palace buildings and some silky Chinese costumes that the museum have for you to try on, as well as pictures I have of the gates and street outside the palace. Right outside the palace are all the trappings of a modern city and I found it aesthetically & visually pleasing to see the high tech buildings outside, from inside the ancient palace gardens and courtyards. I sensed a respect but also genuine joviality in the many motorcyclists who were zooming up and down the street directly outside this ancient site. I managed to capture my favourite motorcyclist on camera and you can see him, with a surgical mask and a leather jacket and red soled trainers, looking super cool and quite John Travolta-esque at the top of this page. If you were travelling to China with children, I would recommend the Imperial Palace as a very worthwhile place to take them and in fact anyone who is interested in history, art or architecture.
Please see my shots of our fantastic Chinese female hosts and employees of two of the companies that supply my husband’s company – ladies from the company based in Liaoning Province and one lady from a company in Guangzhou. We were hosted by excellent male representatives of the company as well, but I haven’t included a picture of them here. It was a real privilege to meet these delightful people and to make new Chinese friends and contacts.
On the way back from Shenyang City, we had a wonderful drive with what I call a butterscotch and blue, peachy sunset on the horizon, reflecting in the glass of many of the high rise buildings and silhouetting others to produce some striking photographic effects. I also managed to capture some interesting photos with people pushing trolleys and riding all kinds of interesting vehicles, like the gentleman pictured underneath and the my collage of images showing a lovely lady with a long trolley with cardboard on it, which I’ve included because I was and still am very curious about what they were doing and where they were going with their trolleys. I’ve also included these images because so much of China is shiny and brand new and there is such a tangible technological buzz about the place, that these images offer almost a flash back in time and I find that very refreshing. I adore the new and the digital, actually would struggle to live without it, but I also crave the old fashioned feeling and I how in China you can have both living, in what appears to be relative harmony.
The drive back to our hotel in Liaoning Province, after our visit to Shenyang City, Liaoning.
Update: you can now read China & Hong Kong Part 2 – Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, Southeastern China..