Sunday, December 31, 2006

Food Epiphany and Eating Etiquette

Food Epiphany and Eating Etiquette

23:45 ,December 31 ,2006

The minimum temperature is below the freezing point and it accelerates to reach two digits in the mid-day. However, the cold wind will be with you most of the time that has already started to hit the inner tributaries of mind and heart both physically and psychologically. Adapting to live in the freezing cold for a long time is a challenge and opportunities for cells and tissues. I am still eagerly waiting for my grand day!! But I have to wait one more months to reach the climax of freezing cold to feel the snow fall if I am lucky.

The month started by computer network course, the area of my interest of undergraduate degree. The course content was not impressive as I expected to dig more, nevertheless it was professional. It helped me to get fundamental and practical insights that are worthy in the professional environment. Learning Photoshop and finishing many e-books in snail-crawling class was something I have never expected I will do in my life. However, I was happy I learned Photoshop although I am poor in an art of drawing.

Life becomes colourful when it’s twilight in the 1912 street. Asking for some barbecue sticks and getting more than two dozens sticks was one of the common problems we suffer due to the gap in communication. However, when I ate a lot of it, I realized that it was the wise decision that I have made which was keeping my stamina up for the whole night, eventually assisting art of dancing. It was a food for enjoyment and living.

There are different reasons why people eat food. Obviously, the prime reason is for survival. But when survival is no more a question, then people eat food for enjoyment and fun. Some people are very conscious about their food to keep there physique to be slim or to show biceps and triceps. Some peoples have a passion of eating, they can’t resist it and can’t avoid it, and no matter they are suffering from diabetics or obesity. They are vulnerable to foods and they are cryptic in the dining room.

The choice of individual varies diversely depending on their culture and the way they are brought up. Interestingly, age and sex are crucial factors which determine the choice of food. Western and Eastern foods are completely different. Even the foods within the eastern cultures differ according to the different geographical regions and cultural diversity even in the same region.

Some are under nourished and some are malnourished, some are underweight and others are obsessed. Some are spending lot of money to manage their weight and some are not having enough money to have basic foods they ought to have.

Hunger and famine are some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. No matter, how people define an art of eating, I should say I am not fond of eating except few itineraries; maybe I am eating for survival!! It is no doubt that eating is key issues not only for human to survive or for ecstasy but also for all living creatures in the universe.

Vicky, the name sounds Hindi, but she is my Chinese friend. Having English nick name is one of the common cultures of young Chinese peoples. I do have many Chinese friends but this girl is very close to us and is very happy to spend a time with us. Vicky, A freshman of Psychology major at Nanjing University, is originally from Beijing. I would be always thankful to her for sharing her precious moment and help us to know insights of Chinese culture despite our communication gap. I never asked her Chinese name that shows how pathetic I am in Chinese language. However, it’s mind-boggling every time she brings that tiny electronic machine with her to bridge the gap of our communication. This is how technology helps people to bridge the gaps and grasps opportunities. Promiscuously, it seems the missions are learning English and Chinese culture cryptically.

On one evening, we spend more than five hours walking through the underground train subway. It is mind-boggling to roam around the underground metro subway as you see the fascinating window shops that serve your every need. You will never realize that time moves so fast until you see your clock tickles seamlessly as the sub-way spreads more than few kilometres, bigger than shopping malls of Kathmandu. The three layers spread with wide varieties of commodities ranging from the beauty parlour to KFC and MCDONALDS and at the bottom is the metro. I was wondering when I will experience travelling through underground metro but it was never a distance dream. Watching other peoples doing window-shopping was a fantastic experiences that will remain in your grey matter forever in this crowded sub-way.

Spending entire evening with Vicky and watching her trying to catch English words was amazing. But it seems that she was imitating more slang, the analogy to most of African friends, rather than understanding its proper uses. It’s no doubt that English is becoming critical and a key factor for career and growth opportunities in china like of many countries as globalization continues to invade the geographical boundaries.

I was mesmerizing the time I met her for the first time at the corner of Nanjing Normal University when we were enjoying mutton barbecue, we never thought we will be so close with her. It was simply the matter of time and the frequency of propagation.

Later we enjoy the night life again. We were already addicted to hear the western music in eastern culture and colourful light and heart-throbbing music in subtle environment that were hitting our ear-drums whole night. The vomiting and sleeping jerks are daily commodities that can be enjoyed without tickets around these premises along with exploding emotions and musical harmony.

It was already a freezing morning at 1912 street after fascinating and wonderful night life. The clock was ticking so fast again with the beat of music. It was wonderful time dancing whole-night. Eating dumpling (MOMOS) with chopsticks in dawn was the need or the enjoyment that was very hard to realize. However, the month was surprising as most of time we were busy in eating various types of foods ranging from Italian to Chinese, and truly Nepali. It was simply a food epiphany, a co-incidence for wrapping-off the year.

Eating etiquette can vary widely between different cultures and nations. In China, a person who takes the last item of food from a common plate or bowl without first offering it to others at the table may be seen as a glutton and insulting the generosity of the host, similarly, amongst older Australian women, a woman who takes the last item of food is called the old spinster, whilst in most European cultures a guest is expected to eat all of the food given to them, as a compliment to the quality of the cooking. The last two needs to be verified personally. In some societies including Hindu it is considered disgusting to eat with the left hand, because the left hand is reserved for dirty tasks, and left handed individuals are sometimes forced to use their right hand.

Again, it was time to enjoy Nepalese food again. But this time we invited some of our Chinese friends and Nepalese friends together to TajMahal Restaurant and Bar at Shin Je Kou, Nanjing. We were two less for a dozen with four of our Chinese friends. As we sit together in two rows facing one another. We started with milk-tea, a traditional tea of Nepal. In the walls, the environment was perfect as we can see different beautiful Indian actress and south-eastern culture. When we started our food, Chinese friends were in dilemma, maybe they were looking for the chopsticks that were not there. The dishes and utensils were antiques all made up of bronzes. Our foods are very spicy compared to Chinese foods. I can see our Chinese friends looking for the water frequently to quench the thirst. It was their first experience. Everything in life at first is confusing but amusing and intrinsic. We started our lunch at mid-day. Later some of the foreigners also enjoyed watching us eating the traditional Nepali food as we have homogenous foods along the table. After tea was traditional bread, rice, chicken curry, pulse, chicken-tandoori, Rice, salads. The food was even spicy for me. I could feel something was happening inside me, however, we enjoyed it a lot. I believe my stomach has already been tuned for Chinese food. At last, we wrap-off our wonderful lunch with desert white-sweet called “Rasbari” in Nepali. We enjoyed almost two hours. Practically, we were never concerned about food etiquette as in multicultural environment these issues are non relevant as there is no uniformity. Simply most of us were enjoying. We were happy that some of our Chinese friends are willing to visit Nepal someday, I am afraid; it’s not a verbal and food compliment!

The following day we were invited by few Nepalese friends to have dinner near Nanjing Normal University. We went to talking restaurant. This time we were exactly half-dozen rounded up in a small table at the corner. At other side of the table we could see the Christmas tree. Before we pass through the streets today, we could see everywhere Christmas trees. I think these Christmas trees are guided by the principle of globalization and economy. We enjoyed pizzas, mashed-potatoes, spaghetti and drinks. It was perfect time enjoying the western food.

At last in compliment before leaving, we got a merry Christmas wishes from owner.

Also we were lucky to visit Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo this month. My desire turned into reality when we used metro, fast moving underground train that passes through Nanjing City from the centre.

We started with Flamingo, move to crown cranes garden and was happy to see the Siberian crane. We watched peacock garden, I watched the peacock legs. In Nepal they used to say “peacock will cry seeing legs that are not beautiful like its feathers”. I couldn’t convince myself, the legs were not as ugly as in phrase.

Later we were having ostrich mania as everybody wants to take photos with this big bird. I was just wondering how nature creates these wonderful things with diversity. After that, we move to carnivorous animals starting with panther, Bengal tiger, white-black tiger. Most of them were sleeping and it seems that they were not happy behind bars. How could they be?? Animals don’t love modern and materialistic life like human. Then we move to Lion zoology garden, the lion stunt was the majestic and royal style. In the way, I was shocked to see some rotating wheels again; it gave me flashback of the shocking time in amusement park couple of weeks back.

We can see many children’s at this place as it was the children’s place. They were happy to compliment us with “ni hao” each time we greet them. Something I have learned in last four months.

We had fried-rice as a lunch this time, the cheapest lunch I ever had in china. I was scared to have it at first because of stomach problem as we were experiencing different types of food and I was already tuned to Chinese food long time back. It seems that this time everybody eat for calorie after using it to see natural diversity.

Interestingly, I was scared to ride camel and horse to have photos at first. But I have no patience to resist becoming a cowboy or a Siberian silk-road traveller with horse and camel. It was a wonderful experience to have photos riding them.

Also, we watched one of the endangered species of the world, white panda and red panda. Red panda gave us warm sense of hospitality but white panda maybe dreaming of his boy-friend so she was not active. She was lying and enjoying the nap of winter. I think she did wise decision.

One of the incredible experiences was animal circus inside the zoo’s premises. It started with warm welcome and applause with tiger and lion show. They were tamed by the professionals and were performing different gestures and sometimes were rotating the wheels. It seems that they were tamed using pointed and thick stick along with the frequency of sound. The show was followed by dwarf and dog. Dog did some aerobics and walked only through front and rear legs. Later she did skipping. Then we saw monkey aerobics and bear’s cycling. At last, there was procession taking Christmas gift by bear at last with monkeys in vanguard followed by human. It was perfect combination of zoological diversity. I was amazed to see these performances, however it seems that most of these animals are not enjoying the show except dog, they were doing these things in psychological stress, and I feel sorry for them and was optimistic for their independence and freedom.
Later in the eve of Christmas day, Getting Christmas Card for the first time in my life was another wonderful experience in non-religious china.

Also, I got my first New Year gift from Melody, my Chinese friend who lives at south-east part of china. We never meet but we were good friends on internet, the virtual world for many peoples but real one for us. But I was surprised that she knows my choice. I think that she read my blog seriously. No matter her choice was perfect.

We were studying in the weekend as they were elongating New Year holiday for three days. So, are we becoming book-worm? Something I never did in my life.

The most disgusting part of this year was internet crawling to survive as we were isolated for last four days because of earthquake in Taiwan. It was serious problem from Beijing to Bangkok and from Shanghai to Kathmandu, most part of Asia pacific region due to the problem of fibre-optics. I was becoming crazy of internet so badly that I could feel it making differences in my life although it’s simply a virtual environment for many.

The year is rounding up forever within few minutes for me. Peoples in Aussie are in the year 2007 and will be followed by Asians and rest of west on the basis of Longitude.

Closing up food etiquette on the New Year eve was interesting for me. Completing my blog with apple and vanilla coke was exciting moment for me enjoying the last hour of year 2006. Behind the curtain was the Peter Andre with Mysterious Girl. The apple was something I never liked in my life and coke was something I always love from my heart, the taste was juxtaposition. I am still asking myself this is a food for epiphany or etiquette. But for me, it was both!!

I know this is my last paragraph of the year 2006. Finally, let’s hope that peace and development with secular humanism prevails in the year 2007.

Adieu 2006: Time 12:45: Nanjing, China

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Life is Series of Unpredicted Journeys

Life is Series of Unpredicted Journeys

Nov 30, 2006

It was the beautiful morning and sun was glowing as usual. However, I could feel differences in its strength and penetration. The sun is not warmer as it used to be and the winter has already knocked us.

We went to golden bridges in Qi Jiao. It was one of the cheapest markets at Nanjing but you should be cautious in bargaining. Sometimes you never know the extreme ends. Also, you could see unmanaged pavement and open restaurants in the street but you can get everything to eat. I find this place good for bags, electronic goods and cloths.

The end of first course, the room number 112 multi cultural party, playing tennis for first time are some of the events that I will remember this month forever in my life.

The new doctorate professor, having profound instructor’s qualities, one who loves to laugh from her heart, a woman with first degree in space technology, advanced degree in electronic warfare and PHD in information tracking, was unforgettable woman. I was very happy to have doctorate professor of my first degree for the first time in my life.

I enjoyed learning about Chinese tea culture. Don’t feel amused if you see every youngster to old peoples in china carrying a big tea-jar in their hand every time. I tasted Green tea – most expensive tea in my life which was offered free by our professor in class.

Green teas are mostly used in winter and red teas in summer. Most people like green although youngsters prefer cola and coffee. One of my Chinese friends was insisting me that I should wait for third or fourth cup to get the best out of it. At first you have to wash your cup with tea. The tea may cost up to 500RMB or even more higher than that.

Of the three major beverages of the world tea, coffee and cocoa, tea is consumed by the largest mass of people.

China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea plants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China.

The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha." The Russians call it "cha'i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy).In Nepali we call it “Chiya”. The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced slightly differenced.

The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chinese tea may be classified into five categories according to the different methods by which it is processed. The Green tea is the variety which keeps the original colour of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing. The Black tea, known as "red tea" (hong cha) in China, is the category which is fermented before baking. It is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea. The Wulong tea represents a variety half way between the green and the black teas, being made after partial fermentation. The Compressed tea is the kind of tea which is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country. As compressed tea is black in colour in its commercial form, so it is also known in China as "black tea". Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks; it is, therefore, generally called "brick tea", though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls. The Scented tea is kind of tea is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia among others. Jasmine tea is a well-known favourite with the northerners of China and with a growing number of foreigners.

Producing a tea is not an easy task. A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, at 30 years of age, it will be too old to be productive. The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for about l00 year’s .The season of tea-picking depends on local climate and varies from area to area. The picking starts from the end of March and lasts through October, altogether 20-30 times from the same plants at intervals of seven to ten days. With a longer interval, the quality of the tea will deteriorate. A skilled woman picker can only gather 600 grams (a little over a pound) of green tea leaves in a day.

The new leaves must be parched in tea cauldrons. This work, which used to be done manually, has been largely mechanized. Top-grade Dragon Well tea, however, still has to be stir-parched by hand, doing only 250 grams every half hour. The tea-cauldrons are heated electrically to a temperature of about 25oC or 74oF. It takes four pounds of fresh leaves to produce one pound of parched tea.

The best Dragon Well tea is gathered several days before Qingming (Pure Brightness, 5th solar term) when new twigs have just begun to grow and carry "one leaf and a bud." To make one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of finished tea, 60, 000 tender leaves have to be plucked. In the old days Dragon Well tea of this grade was meant solely for the imperial household. It was, therefore, known as "tribute tea".

Tea is produced in vast areas of China from Hainan lsland down in the extreme south to Shandong Province in the north, from Tibet in the southwest to Taiwan across the Straits, totalling more than 20 provinces.

Tea has been one of the daily necessities in China and around the globe for the different peoples from different quarter of life since immemorial time. In summer or warm climate, tea seems to dispel the heat and bring on instant cool together with a feeling of relaxation. For this reason, tea-houses abound in towns and market villages in South China and provide elderly retirees with the locales to meet and chat over a cup of tea. This culture exists in remote and rural areas of Nepal.

Medically, the tea leaf contains a number of chemicals, of which 20-30% is tannic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and germicidal properties. It also contains an alkaloid (5%, mainly caffeine), a stimulant for the nerve centre and the process of metabolism. Tea with the aromatics in it may help resolve meat and fat and thus promote digestion. It is, therefore, of special importance to people who live mainly on meat, like many of the ethnic minorities in China. A popular proverb among them says, "Rather go without salt for three days than without tea for a single day."

Everyday I enjoyed the tea as the course is becoming tough. Realizing the strength and weakness of subject matter in my University and was comparing the teaching pedagogy, we are lagging far behind. Our educationist and policy maker has a long way to go.

I find something similar to Nepal in terms of personal career and life goal of individual aspirants. Most Chinese students study subjects in their University not by their will or by interest but most of them do for the sake of their parents.

I even experienced unforgettable moment to teach class mates as they were not getting things. Also, I had one of the most challenging presentation about diamond (*) problem in C programming for a class. It was a memorable day for me.

We went to McDonalds again. I am addicted to these junk foods. We also went to very big computer shops located at Computer Street where you get anything you want. But tough bargaining goes there too. I used Microsoft Vistas for the first time in my life. I find it interesting and appealing.

It’s been a long time I was wondering about my hair, I went to barber’s place. At first I was skeptical about her professionalism because I was afraid we couldn’t communicate well. Also, Chinese hair-style and ours are completely different although I am not hair savvy guy. However, everything goes well as anticipated and I was grateful to her. Again, the language of gesture worked pretty well here.

I was even lucky to use QQ. QQ is an instant messaging software that has been very popular in China. If you meet any Chinese guys or girls, don’t forget to ask for a QQ number. I am sure he/she will be very happy and in compliment you will get beautiful smile. I find the features of QQ promising than yahoo or msn as a software engineer and as a professional chatter. Hearing the Chinese song with Chinese girl in QQ was heart-touching experience although I didn’t understand the language as the virtual reality rules.

We were lucky to contribute in sports day this year because it happens every two years in this University. It was again wonderful day with lots of formal processions and events. As we march in the main field with our own military Uniform and our own flags in our hand, I feel we were taking part in Olympics.

Inaugural ceremony starts by flag rising ceremony, a sense of patriotism was moving through my blood like a flash, undoubtedly it was very emotional and sensational moment that are very difficult to describe in words.

As colourful hydrogen balloons as moved higher and higher in the sky and resembled the diversity of nature and peoples. The ceremony proceeds with musical cacophony with four big balloons showing the direction of wind at four corners of the ground.

The battle-field drill started with 95-china rifle similar to Russian AK-47. Then group of girls and boys with a Murphy cloth performs typical dance that symbolizes red-revolution of china. They were using Peony, typical royal flower in china existed from ancient Dynasty. They were even using "chagi" a Chinese fan that were used to frighten the wild animals in the old-days. In the middle of the show, these girls changed their dress from red to yellow. Sometimes you never notice that as it’s too fast and professional. Finally, it was end of vanguard performance.

The game started with 100m athletics, African students showed a good performance and international students were happy to share those wonderful moments. There were many shows of girls and I realized that girls were coming up in the sports. Finally we had many photo sessions with colorful uniforms.

I had lost a bangle at one of the classroom that I bought in Yangzhou last month. But I was surprised when my professor returned to me after a week. I believe system works in china. I was happy because that is something I bought first time in china and may have emotional attachment with me.

In one afternoon, I was lucky to experience the typical Chinese food with my Chinese friends in town. We went to small typical Chinese restaurant near Computer Street. At first, five dishes were brought on series chicken and peanut, Green Vegetable, Tomato egg, Cucumber chili and fish soup and at last they bring maize-egg soup and rice.

They insisted me to eat more as I was eating too less. But I am not eating jerk. All the foods were in the table and I was enjoying their hospitality. Particularly, I loved chicken-peanut, and soup. Honestly, our talk was not less spicy, than these foods as we started to talk about different issues of Chinese society.

However, my friend told me that every item of vegetables can be used on soup. Also these are things that you have basically in Chinese dining table. He even told me something about chopsticks. I am serious about it after that.

The second course has finished. I was happy as I gained some life-long skills, and was grateful to my instructor. We moved to advance course.

On one of the chilling evening, we started with mutton barbecue in Ninghailu, near Nanjing Normal University. I was scared at first to eat street food but I realized that its good and many peoples were eating it. My friends tasted octopus tentacles but I rejected their offer. I am very sceptical and selective to eat a food in street. However taking one stick, I find it more delicious. I took a risk and ended with 5 sticks. I did a good decision that I realized later at the club.

As I was closely watching cooking skills of the skilful old-man, nearby were the tentacles of octopus being grilled and many Chinese were rushing to buy it. It was a cold chilling evening with light showers. The man uses five different types of spices and uses his sharp wedge for the homogenous distribution of oil. It seems very simple and easy but demand was very high.

Later, a Chinese girl came and I talked with her. She was the student of university. She was so shy and she keeps on asking me why my friends were staring at her. I told her “Maybe you are beautiful”. She was shied again.

Her English was not so good. She asked my cell-phone that I don’t have. So I gave the number of my friend. She says she is happy to eat octopus! Of course, everybody has choice in life. I have no comments.

After that, we went towards 1912 street, night Freak Street. It was almost midnight. We stayed outside waiting for our friend who works as a DJ in one of the reputed night club.

We were sitting outside below red-umbrella exactly opposite of baby-face. Guys were drinking and I was taking sprite and my ear-drums were hearing the orchestra at terrace.

People were moving like swarm of bees. Most of them had cigarettes in hand. Little distance away, Chinese girl was vomiting, and then came western couples in 60's. They were in more pathetic condition. Woman can’t wear her sweater because she was drunk and was moving her hands from left to right and right to left but the sweater was upside down. We were laughing but I was feeling bad inside. I had a bad habit of taking care of many peoples in this big world.

I was simply watching the activities of each people as they pass by with enthusiasm and cautiousness. Again another Chinese girl was moving like rabies dog! Watching the activities of people at midnight was something I have never imagined in my life but seems thrilling and exciting.

We can see the security patrol at one corner, with cigarettes in their hand to repel cold. Later we met guys from Spain and we were friends in no-time, maybe because we have black hair, although I never give emphasis to colour in my life.

It started with striping in A8. Show girls pouring ice-cubes in naked body of a man, a current passes through your nerves. We sat in corner and watch for a while. Later I couldn’t resist as waves of music strike my mind and ear-drum each time and I was impatient to move my body. I started to dance in one corner. Later, we moved nearby podium where many peoples were dancing and we were making our own groups, especially with guys from Spain.

When I started to dance I feel everything was changing for me, all were motivating and I was also helping few Chinese guys to dance with me in my pace. I never knew that I was good in dancing but I realized after that day, I am not bad either. Later, I dance with a Chinese girl.

At last, I was dancing in podium. But what I could feel inside my heart was that there were no infatuations inside me, I could only see the matrix of arts inside me performing extremely well.

Later we went to Scarlet, one of the most popular night clubs of Nanjing, there was more crowds and smoke. I danced with many girls there but that day was one of the wonderful moments of my life as I had never been to clubs like this before in my life. The next day I was exhausted and tired.

This month we have five days holiday trip to know insight of North West China. We went to Shaanxi Province to visit Xuanyuan Temple, The Mausoleum of Yellow Emperors, Yan An Memorial Museum, Chairman Mao's House, Date Garden, Hukou Waterfalls, Shaanxi Provincial Museum, Big wild goose Pagoda, Terra Cotta Museum and finally to Muslim Street

Shaanxi Province is located in the heart of China. Boasting a population of more than 36 million in an area of over 200,000 square kilometres is bigger than Nepal. Shaanxi includes most of the middle stretch of the Yellow River. It borders Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Gansu and Ningxia. Shaanxi Province is one of the most important cradles of ancient Chinese civilization. As far back as one million years ago, some of China's earliest inhabitants lived in this region, and began spreading their culture along the life-sustaining Yellow River. Throughout the province's long history, there are 13 dynasties who established capitals here. Because of this rich history, cultural relics and ruins are plentiful, and may be found preserved both above- and underground. So Shaanxi is called the 'authentic history museum' in China.

In the capital city, Xian, you can see the City Wall, which was begun in the Han Dynasty, a century before the Christian era, and is now the largest and most well-preserved ancient wall, existing in China. It has mausoleum of the Tang emperor Xuanyuan (the Yellow Emperor), who initiated Chinese civilization.

Shaanxi is the juxtaposition of Chinese new-democratic revolution and a place with unique folk customs. The loud resounding Shaanxi opera, the joyous clattering of gongs and drums, the exquisite cut - paper art and the peasants' paintings full of a rich flavour of life are some of the attraction of this place.

The mausoleum of Yellow Emperor and Xuanyuan Temple, Xuanyuan, stands at the top of Mt. Qiaoshan, Huangling County, Yan'an, Shaanxi Province. The Yellow Emperor is regarded as the ancestor of Chinese people so he has been worshiped by all the Chinese people. The Huang Di Tribe mainly lived at north of Shaanxi Province and it is said the Yellow Emperor was buried at Huangling County. The mausoleum of Yellow Emperor has become a Holy Land of Chinese and symbol of Chinese culture.

HuKou Waterfall is located at the intersection of Shanxi Province and Shaanxi Province, some 400 kilometres from Xian, is the second largest waterfall in China located at mighty Yellow River, where it suddenly found its way through a narrow valley blocked by mountains on both sides. The riverbed abruptly narrows down from 300 meters to 50n meters, turning the placid water to rapids. The tremendous water splashes on the rock, forming a magnificent waterfall of 15 meters high and 20 meters wide, as if the water is pouring down from a huge teapot, hence the name Hukou (means mouth of teapot).

Shaanxi Provincial Museum located to the northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, in the south suburb of Xian city, the Shaanxi Provincial Museum is an epitome of Shaanxi’ glamorous imperial past. The museum building was designed in China’s ancient Tang Dynasty style, grand and elegant. The Shaanxi Local Historic Exhibition Room is arranged into seven small parts of the Prehistoric Period with a focus on the social development from the Stone Age to the decline of China’s imperial history in 1840. Many theme items reflecting Shaanxi’s characteristic local culture are displayed in this hall, including the Silk Road Exhibition, Yaozhou Porcelain Exhibition and so on. The most impressive exhibits here are the murals from the Tang Dynasty tombs.

Big wild goose Pagoda Situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, about four kilometres from the urban centre, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty to collect Buddhist scriptures. Although it is worn by wind and rain, the architecture is well preserved. Originally built in 589 A.D. in the Sui Dynasty, Da Ci’en temple was named Wu Lou Si Temple. It was not until 648 A.D. when Emperor Li Zhi, then still a crown prince, sponsored a repair project on the temple. This was a symbol of thanksgiving to his mother for her kindness, after she had suffered an early death. The temple then assumed the present name Temple of Thanksgiving. The temple, with 13 separate courtyards, contained 1,879 magnificent-looking rooms altogether and was a place of grand extent in the Tang Dynasty. However, it went into gradual decay after the downfall of the Tang Dynasty. The halls and rooms that have survived the ages are structures that were built in the Ming Dynasty. The Tang Regime gave orders to build a chamber for the translation of Buddhist scriptures. The Wild Goose Pagoda was finished in 652 A.D. Its five stories are 60 meters in height. The decay of the earth-cored pagoda caused the new construction of a 10-storey pagoda from 701 to 704. However, the winds of war in the years to come reduced the pagoda almost to ruins, which in turn resulted in the construction of a 7-stored, 64-meter-high structure today. The storied pagoda was an architectural marvel. It was built with layers of bricks but without any cement in between. The bracket style in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction of the pagoda. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of Chinese traditional architecture.

Terra cotta Warriors and Horses Museum is located about 1.5 km east of Emperor Qinshi Huang’s Mausoleum. In the early spring of 1974, a number of peasants accidentally discovered some ancient bronze weapons and pieces of broken terra cotta armored warriors while sinking a well at the northern foot of Mt. Lishan, 35 km from Xi'an, the famous cultural city in China's history. No one ever expected that this accidental discovery would prove to be one of the most significant modern archaeological finds, adding greater understanding to China's history and at the same time unfolding a unique and majestic spectacle before the world: the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, the underground army of terra cotta warriors. Among the three pits, No.1 pit is the largest one. More than 6,000 clay warriors and horses could be unearthed from No.1 pit. All of them are life-like. The terra-cotta warriors and horses are arrayed in an oblong battle formation of the Qin Dynasty, facing east, they look healthy and strong and have different facial expressions, showing Emperor Qingshihuang’s Strong determination of wiping out the other six states and unifying the whole country. It is the most magnificent archaeological discovery in this century. It is also a reflection of Chinese people’s wisdom and artful skill two thousand years ago. Thousands of real weapons were unearthed from these terra-cotta army pits. These weapons were exquisitely made. Some of them are still very sharp since their surface were treated with chromium. They are as bright as new, though buried underground for more than 2,000 years. This indicates that Qin Dynasty’s metallurgical technology and weapon-manufacturing technique already had reached quite a high level. In 1980, two teams of large painted bronze chariots and horses were unearthed 20 metres west of the mausoleum. Together with Terra cotta Warriors, they are called the eighth wonder of the world.

The Muslim Street is a fantastic place to wonder. All shops and restaurants in the street are operated by Muslims. The stalls lines and the narrow alleys sell almost everything you can expect. If you are good at bargaining, you can get some things at a really cheap price. The restaurants in the streets are all Muslim ones, and variety of Muslim food and snacks can be tried here, including the locals’ favourite ones, roasted beef, roasted fish, and pancakes. Food served is diverse, complex but are very cheap.

Now we were ready to experience these beautiful places of china.

Nov 13, 0600, we are waiting for a bus to move from our University premises. We move towards Qi Jia Nanjing Train station. We departed from Nanjing at 1700.

In train we started discussing about oranges in different languages. The train was moving slowly. The train can move up to 160 Km per hr in its maximum speed. As another train passes from the opposite direction, you feel that you are watching Keen Reeves in Matrix. It was already a dusk as we passes across Yangtze River. The slow and steady flow of Yangtze River and train was predicting perfect environment of the trip.

At 18:40, we started our supper provided in a pack. Now, it was time to rock some music, we were jamming hotel California with James who is good in Guitar.

The train was moving very slow but the expectation and emotions were rising above. As train started to move in the faster speed, I can see the continuous movement of peoples across our car and personnel wearing blue dress were always busy in cleaning. We were rocking hotel California for many many hours. Now, it was already time for someone to dream about their family. Then we passed through very high sky-scrappers, where we can see vehicles at top and down.

At 21:50, we were informed that light will be switched off at 22:00. We passed through many railway platforms and we could see many tall buildings and tall chimneys. I just imagine, how beautiful the trip would have been if we could have travelled in the day. The light was gone now but still there was dim light under the table that I can use to write something about this wonderful experience. There was pin drop silence except the stereo-type sound of electro-mechanical part of the train. I can see many basketball courts as we pass through.

The train stopped at 22:00 in one of the train station. It started to move after ten minutes. As another train passes each time, you can feel flash of light coming inside you. There were many traffic lights as we pass through.

At 01:40, Nov 14, the train stopped at Zheng Zhou train station. I believe they inspected the different critical operational parts of the train. Even in the middle of night, peoples were moving and waiting for the train. Life is moving extremely fast here was what I concluded. In the mid-night, rest room was locked for a while. I was in problem for couple of minutes before they open it.

I peeped from the window and I can see the crescent of moon moving along with us. It was a good fantasy and imagination perpetrated with nature. Again constructions were everywhere. I took a rest for a couple of hours as I was too tired. Surprisingly, I was dreaming about travelling in double-decker train. May my dream come true!

Early in the morning, I was waiting for a Dawn. At 0500, people started to woke up and do their regular jobs. Finally at 06:30, I could see the silver lining of the cloud signifying new day although it was started couple of hours back technically. We can even see the rural glimpse of villages as we pass through, at many places there were massive urbanization happening as old houses were being demolished and new ones were coming up.

Most small rivers and natural canals were dry along the way. I can see the green farm and big industries everywhere. I was enjoying a piece of bread with orange juice. In fact, I was seeing and experiencing the beauty rather than eating. I can even see the graves as we move ahead. Now, it was early in the morning. Elder citizens were busy stretching their arms in the fields enjoying the beautiful part of wonderful morning.

Finally, we reached at Xian at 08:00 before that I had my last coffee that cost 10 RMB (1.5 dollar). We board our bus at 08:45 in the morning. The sun was shining dim, the temperature was chilling. We were at the northern part of the Xian city, the capital of Shaanxi province.

We met our tour guide, Elsey, smiling Chinese girl in mid 20’s, very cheerful and hospitable. Later, we had delicious breakfast at 0900 at double dragon restaurant. As we move forward, the terrains seem dry but it has many small hill stations. The sun was rising high. At the mid of the day 12:00 we pass through many maize fields. This province is rich in natural resources like Coal, Oil, and Uranium and it is becoming prosperous province.

We visited Xuanyuan Temples that has 5000 years of history. We saw the oldest Cypress Tree of china believed to be 2200 years old. There were three tables that resemble Macau, Hong Kong and History of this place. Everywhere there is a dragon. Dragon is believed to be ancestor of Chinese people. Then we went to the mausoleum of Yellow Emperor

Finally we headed towards Yan An, another city of Shaanxi province. Along the way, everywhere you can see curved Arched Roof something identical to my grandfather’s house in my village. Also, the soil was dry and yellow most of the time. But apple gardens were fabulous.

We arrived in Yan An at 17:00. We relaxed for a while to have a supper. The chopstick problem was not leaving us. It was one of the most important suppers for me because I could enjoy it with an Art, seeing the paper cutting skills, a heart-touching art of an old disabled man. Later I bought his collection of animal portrait and he designed portrait of my face. It was great emotional moment for me.

In cold-night, the wind was blowing and light showers were outside. We went to Khusala disco, the small typical disco near our hotel. We were dancing for a long time we didn’t know that time was running so fast, I could even see cops watching the dance. But peoples over here were bit different compared to peoples in Nanjing, I find people non-reactive to us. They could be shy and be reserved. But after all, we enjoyed a lot.

The next morning on Nov 15, we were ready to rock the day after finishing our breakfast at 0800. We left for Yan An Memorial Museum. We see many antique things of Chinese PLA and know about different historical revolution of china.

We can even see the Chinese scripts of Chairman Mao, different military equipment. We can even see the old-type writer and see how educational institutions were growing from ancient time and how china is giving more priority to its educational policy.

After that we went to chairman Mao’s house. It was well preserved. Unfortunately, we can’t see it inside because there were some renovations going on. Before that, we even went to Chairman Mao’s meeting room and simulate ourselves as a Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) for a while. We even see the place where Chairman Mao gave first interview to western journalist.

At 10:30, we went to date garden, one of the historical and secret meeting place of Chinese revolution. It was wonderful time seeing some cultural show and knowing about significance and importance of this place.

We had lunch at 12;00, the same typical food we proceed towards Hukou waterfall, the second highest waterfall of china located at the cross section of Shanxi and Shaanxi province in Yellow river. we had to change the route as there was an accident. As we pass through the ridges we could see many apple-gardens. I have never seen such a huge apple gardens in my life. Later we bought 2 kg of apple at 3 RMB (0.4 US cents) and in that chilling cold, we were very happy to bite those fresh apples and swallow juices in ice-freezing environment. As we were moving, Angel, another tour guide from Nanjing sang Chinese song and the musical environment loomed. Although, we couldn’t understand the Chinese song but we could feel something from her expression.

In the way, we saw donkeys and horses that were used for mode of transportation and people were staring at our bus as we were alien from moon. I find this place like a typical cow-boy village of early cow-boy American movies I used to watch when I was a kid. Most of the houses have arched windows and are inside the earth, covered roof by earth to survive from the cold.

Some of the prominent features of houses are that they have arched shape window, the top is covered by the soil and even though people seems poor but every house has a dish antenna at the top.

Finally at 13:30 we arrived at Hukou waterfall in Yichuan County. We see the yellow river for the first time. As we get out from the bus, the cold wind was swirling but we proceed towards waterfall with zeal and enthusiasm.

The waterfall is magnificent. The turbulent sound and waves it creates was echoing the two sides of the hill stations. As we move nearer, the sound was more lively and heart-breaking. We can see one of wonderful creation of nature. The scene can be overwhelming, water stirs up masses of smoke and clouds, with colour turning from yellow to grey, grey to blue. The locals call this awesome scenery “smoke from river”.

At the end of the day we reached at Yichuan County at 18:00, and stayed at Dianli hotel. The temperature was -5 degree centigrade, the most chilling day in my life. The city was like a typical American suburb in an American movie, very beautiful, elegant and managed. I was not feeling too cold. I don’t know maybe I am a hot boy or a man. But, me I don’t like summer, I love winter from the time I was a kid. After having supper, we tried to get out from the hotel although there was light shower but we came back after walking for couple of minutes as we were completely blank of this place and the city was almost deserted. Later, the manager of the hotel opened the disco room and we were rocking quickly. You could see Indian songs to American rock. At that time I realized Angel is shy girl and Elsey was good in dancing. Angel seems very sober but nervous. It was a perfect environment.

I was looking for the weighing machine for a long time, I got it in hotel but unfortunately it was not working. Later, I talked with security officer, a friendly chap. Soon I was enjoying the CCTV with him. It was fun seeing activities of my friends and other peoples. Later, I was even able to use the internet. I checked news and write few pieces of note about my existence in different land. Later, I felt too tired was with my pillow in no time.

On Nov 16, we left for Xian after breakfast at 0800. As we pass through we can see the snow covered white hill stations. It was like silver plated ornaments that are very precious. We enjoyed the natural beauty perfectly and we were making the environment musical again. Peoples sang the song of different countries. It was an ideal multicultural environment. Although you did not understand what exactly others were saying but still it was penetrating and generating sort of emotion and happiness and the environment was friendly. After four hours we saw green fields again.

Finally we arrived at Xian and had our lunch in The New Town Restaurant at 12:00 noon. I have noticed something different here, there were many foreigners and even I can see few hoarding boards in English. As the largest city in NW China, Xi’an isn’t a horse town, but I was nevertheless startled and amazed at how modern and cosmopolitan it is. On many of the tree-lined major boulevards you’ll find expensive and stylish shops, hotels, and restaurants with superb facilities. It is even bigger than Nanjing.

The other big surprise for me was the large size of the original walled city. The Inner City is surrounded by a wall which is over 13 km (8.5 miles) in total length. Originally there were twelve gates in this wall but later they add four more gates to manage the growing traffic of the city.

We went to Shaanxi history museum where we saw historical monuments and antiques. I was surprised to see the human fossils of thousands of years back that mesmerized the tributaries of my high-school biology class. I was happy that I can see those things in front of it even though I learned it many years back. We saw ancient ornaments, clothes and utensils.

We see how civilization develops and how civilization is evolutionary process. How money was introduced, how paper processing starts from scratch using fibre and become the global business commodity in the modern china. How the silk were invented and it became one of the oldest commodities. We can even realize how animals were used as warriors in the ancient time of war. How precious element like Jade, Gold including mirrors were invented in those days.

Introduction of monetary currency, use of necklaces in the ancient time were other interesting insights. Nevertheless, money from one dynasty couldn’t be used or transferable to another dynasty.

We even notice that how Buddhism prevails in china. Also, we were even excited and curious to know that in one of the dynasty fat woman were considered most beautiful woman. Ancient Silk Road also signifies the important cultural and economical importance of Xian. We even notice about the first lady emperor in china and how gender equality and education system were given priority in the history.

At 15:45 we moved towards Pagoda Temple which is about one thousand meters far from the museum. The temple is the typical Buddhist temple and we can see the lotus flowers everywhere. It was believed that Buddha was cremated to nine hundred thousands places and this place is one of it.

Later we visit the Asia’s highest water fountain near pagoda temple. However, we were not lucky enough to see it when it is operational.

Finally, we were waiting for our supper at hundred year old Donglaishun restaurant at 17:30. It was very nice and old restaurant. But the same problem was there, the chopstick problem never left us.

Later we arrived at Diamond International Hotel at 19:30. The hotel was excellent with superb facilities. We were planning to go to see night life at Xian but we couldn’t as we were tired and we find it awkward to roam around the places. Although we have heard about buzzword baby face, we have to halt our plan. But we were able to move around train stations and around our hotel to see the beautiful glimpse of this modern city.

One of the frustrating and severe social problems of this city is related with sex business and prostitution. Everywhere you can find the woman to quench your physical thirst. It starts merely from ten dollars to more than hundred dollars. Hookers will come to you as you pass through the cities. Don’t get panicked, just do what you feel good?

At night, I borrowed my friend’s notebook computer and quickly check the happenings in my country and around the world. I was lucky on this day to check my weight after two months; I was 61 KG, +1 in china. It seems that china likes me or vice versa.

On November 17, 2006, the last day, We were excited to visit the eighth wonder of the world. At 07:30 we were very happy to have an English breakfast after a long time leaving away the chopstick problem for a while.

Because of its historical importance this city is often compared to the cities of Greece, Egypt and Italy.

We left hotel at 0900, as we move on we could hear “Get down get down move in all around”- beautiful song by Backstreet boys.

Finally, we were at Terra Cotta, the eight wonder of the world and the climax of our holiday. There were three vaults in museum. I feel this place as a living history. The first vault has many soldiers. I was happy to know how media and journalist helped to excavate this historical monument when it was discovered earlier. It has also been listed in UNESCO’s world heritage site.

We met a kid inside the museum who was nice but would-be successful businessman. We take many photos of these living antiques and I was happy to take photos with Captain of Terra Cotta soldiers.

We could even see the excavation being carried out and it will take many many years to finish this excavation. There are many scientists around the world working round the clock to preserve these historical monuments.

One of the most exciting things about this trip was related to chromium technology that was used in ancient weapons 2200 years ago in china. This technology was discovered by Germans in 1937 and by American in 1951.

At last we were at the auditorium hall of the museum where we could see the documentary about this place. Also environment was perfect, you could see nine sides flat screen and you feel you are inside a Matrix like a Neo in techno-revolution.

After visiting these wonderful places, we were at flourishing international hotel for our lunch at 12:00 PM. I bought two rings for remembrance of this historical place and had already bought two terra-cotta lighters last night on the street.

After that, we were at Snacks (Muslim) street, the last place to visit. This is one of the oldest parts of the city and here most of the local government houses resides. There were many beggars in the street, many of us gave the cheap apples we bought before and they were very happy. Later we met two of the Pakistanis guys who told that there are many Nepalese students studying medicine in this place.

Finally we were at Guang Hua Hotel for our last supper. We had last soup at 17:50. Finally we were moving towards the Xiang Train Station.

We were at train station at 18:30. Before we proceed we have to queue it up at line for some of the formal proceedings that needs to be done. However, we were being terra cotta soldiers for a while as many peoples were staring at us with curiosity. Again, there were many beggars and poor people who were asking for foods and money. We were now at train and leaving this place very soon. No matter, where we will go, the Shaanxi will be in our memory forever. Thanks Shaanxi for being so beautiful!

Now the train is moving towards a Nanjing, luckily we had western chaps in our neighbourhood. I checked the newspaper, this time something amazing happened, I was happy to read something in English. The paper was talking about railways importance in modern china and how it is focusing on quality service and safety procedures in the future. The train started to move at 18:45. We were waiting to rock this evening again. We had transcontinental rockers from different continents of the world including Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. We enjoyed a lot.

I had short chat with a guy from Spain who works in Ireland, a vet doctor by profession. He is here for three weeks to enjoy holiday. I believe we have so much in common about human civilization, development and social aspects in different parts of the world. I really enjoyed talking with this guy, I am sure he was happy too. I was even happy to convince him that Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. Interestingly, this chap seems very different from others. Almost we were in same frequency but I doubt about band.

Finally, I was tired and I was in my bed at 22:45. I woke up at 05:30 September 18 and I could even see the train moving as usual in same pace. I enjoyed watching the sceneries from the window of the train. I had my coffee at 06:30 with 10 Yuan (1.5 dollar), one of the expensive coffees. We started to enjoy breakfast pack, I ate bread and juice.

At last we were at Nanjing at 08:30 and it was raining. Finally we were at our place and were relaxing after a long but exotic trip. We completed more than 2500 kilometers almost thrice the length of Nepal.

There were many interesting facts about this trip but one of the disappointing facts for me being a Nepali was that many people think in china and around the world that Lord Buddha was born in India. But Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. I could see how small countries are losing their identities in a global world. But I am grateful to UNESCO for considering Nepal as a birthplace of Lord Buddha.

In the end of this month, days were becoming very cold. We couldn’t see the sun for eleven days disgusting experience for me that never happened in my part of the world.

Internationally, back in my home many important things happened. This month was the historical month for would-be the peace and prosperous Nepal. The road are tough ahead however, the first pace is promising as the government and the rebels signs an agreement for arms management, promulgation of interim constitution and paving the way for new constitution through the election of constitutional assembly.

In china, the founder of China's biggest electrical appliance has made it to the top of Forbes magazine's richest business people list. Wong Kwong Yu, the 37-year-old entrepreneur behind Gome Appliances, country's biggest electrical appliance retailer, with a net worth of $ 2.3 billion, was on Thursday named as the richest Chinese by Forbes in its 2006 China Rich List.

Also, China is bucking the global aid establishment of Sino-African Summit, the importance strategic-diplomacy of this decade. Premier’s visit to South-Asian allies including India and Pakistan would have long term impact and will create historical milestone in the days ahead in this region and in the entire global world.

In IT world, Microsoft's decision to work with Novell reflects the increasingly important role of Linux's open-source software in corporate IT world.

Also, Gmail started its email application for cell phones followed the path of Microsoft and Yahoo but for me Google has always been the beautiful even though it’s late.

At last I am feeling too cold. I am sure it’s too long. I should go to my bed. Only this journey is finished, many more to accomplish!!!