Due to my colleague having a severe bout of asthma, we decided to postpone our trip to Qingdao that we had planned for this week; luckily, the train tickets were refundable prior to departure time, less a 20% fee.
So I had the day free today. Went to the grocery store and then, inspired by my colleague and I constantly battling coughs and colds, I decided to make some garlic chicken noodle soup. It turned out awful; I used some ingredients I don't use at home and the tastes were not right at all. I used chicken necks to make the broth, where I normally use commercial broth and white meat. I used curry powder and ground red pepper instead of flakes, neither of which tasted like at home. I used some kind of long onion that is bigger than a spring onion and smaller than a leek, also tasted different. I added some slices of ginger, which simply didn't go with the rest. and to top it off, I put the cooked noodles in the colander to drain and then forgot about them while picking meat off the cooked necks, so they turned into a stuck together mass. If it were any one ingredient it would be OK, but the combination of so many unfamiliar things just did not work at all, I hated the taste of it. Ugh. Instant ramen tonight, I guess. Lesson learned: don't use more than one or two unfamiliar ingredients in a recipe!
I was surprised to find a miniature lake on the kitchen counter around my electric kettle after filling it this afternoon; looks like it has sprung a leak on the side where the see-through window is. Will probably go out tomorrow in search of a new one, since I have really enjoyed the convenience of it and it likely won't cost much more than a regular kettle.
Here are a few photos of our walk around Daming Lake 2 weeks ago. Part of the lake's perimeter is gated with a substantial fee to get in, but we were able to walk about a third of the way around it and across the islands and bridges for free.
Near the ticket gate, on the opposite side from where we started, we bought one of my favorite street foods here, a slab of pineapple on a stick. The pineapples here are smaller than at home, and have deeper flower blossoms, but they seem to be sweeter and the center core is less fibrous so no waste there. The locals have this great way of cutting out the blossoms in a spiral so as not to waste any pineapple when peeling, leaving the leaves on it and wrapping the fruit in plastic bags to keep it clean. I tried to do this at home once and not only did it take a long time, but I discovered that I had paid a lot more for it than if I had bought a prepared one, since they are sold by weight and quite a bit gets trimmed off. Pineapple sellers are a very common (and welcome) sight on the streets, and I often buy either a chunk to munch on or a whole peeled one to take home. It seems they are available almost year round because parts of China are far enough south to have a subtropical climate.
But I digress... now, back to our walk around the lake.
Don't be fooled - although it looks like an authentic temple, according to my colleagues this was just built within the last year. Inside appears to be a museum, with yet another hefty admission fee.
Another view of the structure, I took this shot because the contrast between the park buildings and the industrial high-rise in the background was interesting.
It was hot, near 90 degrees, but as you can see from the ripples on the water, there was a good breeze that kept it quite pleasant, for which I was very grateful.
I love the reflections in this picture. I'm not a great photographer, but every now and then I get a good one!
This building on the street side of the lake had a restaurant in it, which was emitting tempting smells and had gorgeous views of the lake, but which looked quite expensive. The street vendors sell such yummy things at such incredibly cheap prices that I often choose them over a restaurant, unless I want a place to sit and relax for a longer time. In any case, if you zoom in on this picture you will see that not only is the decorative paint under the eaves incredible, the ends of the beams are decorated with what looks like the red name stamps used by artists to sign their work; it's the first time I've seen this, usually one sees circular tiles with a family crest .
This picture shows a little tour boat that one can take around the lake, and it also shows another instance of the contrast between the park and its very industrial urban surroundings. The giant construction cranes are a typical sight here in Jinan, as many old structures are being torn down and new buildings built. Unfortunately, it also means construction noise from 6am to midnight and a lot of dirt and grit in the air, on the sidewalks, and everywhere.
Daming Lake is a good place to spend a hot afternoon as it's cooled by the water and there are plenty of shady spots. Someday I will find out what is inside the tall structure too.