National Day – trip to Conghua

国庆节快乐!guó qìng jié kuàilè!

It’s National Day here in China! This marks the 68th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, kicking off one of China's two Golden Weeks. We decided to brave the inevitable traffic jams and join a family trip to Conghua to have lunch and check out a relative’s new home.

As we drove out of Guangzhou early this morning - the flags were already up and lining pretty much every street in town:

What would normally be an hour’s drive turned out to be two, but this is nothing compared to the journeys many people face as they go across the country. It is estimated that over 590 million travelers will be making their way home this year. Fortunately, my wife's family is local to Guangdong, so we don't face the horrific trams you've likely seen on the news.

We arrived at the restaurant after a drive through some villages and up a mountain. The car park was surrounded by a lotus pond:

I could see from the entrance that this was going to be a big outdoor restaurant, but yet again, I underestimated the scale of the premises.

I couldn’t help thinking of Spirited Away as we wandered past the koi ponds, waterfalls and tea pagodas.

 

Also, this restaurant is home to a rare tree, called 沉香 and according to Wikipedia, is seen as vulnerable, possibly due to its usage in traditional medicine. It might look like any other tree, but we knew we’d found it when we smelled the incense-like fragrance wafting down from the branches.

The weather turned against us just as we found the tree, hence the dark photo.

There were multiple buildings to choose from for our room, like this smaller one facing the waterfall:

Because we were a party of 20, we got a huge room in this building:

The food was traditional Cantonese dishes, and were amazing as per usual!

These were just some of the beauties laid out on the lazy Susan:

蕃薯叶 - fan shu ye - sweet potato leaves served in a garlicy sauce. So good.

猪肉丸 - pork meatballs. Served in bamboo halfpipes.

铁板牛肉 tiěbǎnniúròu - beef grilled on a hot iron plate, along with onions, peppers, string beans:

 

香蕉/榴莲饼 - xiāngjiāo / liúlián bǐng - Banana/Durian pancakes.

Luck of the draw which one you get. No mistaking the odorous king of fruits though, which tastes amazing fried in these pancakes.

 

野猪腐竹 - yězhū fǔzhú - wild boar with bean curds:

 

On the left, we have 煠奶 - deep fried milk. ‘Twas delish.

After the meal, we went for a walk (散步 sàn bù).

This guy is a 蟾蜍 chánchú - a three legged money toad. You’ll often find these fellas near a cash register, facing the door. He brings fortune and wealth to your business, and is usually sat on a pile of old Chinese coins.

This kid was checking out the 鳄鱼 èyú - crocodiles. Much in the way you’d see live lobsters in the West, here it’s turtles, eels, fish and snakes.

What I love most about these restaurants is that they’re an experience in their own right. The food is just an added extra.

Like my other reviews, I’d love to give you directions on how to get to this place, but sadly it’s unlikely you’ll manage to get to this one without a car.

After the restaurant, we went to have a look at auntie's new apartment. It was in a brand new gated community. China has an amazing ability to just build new ‘cities’ in rural areas, as you can see in the following photo (another separate post on this in the future). Rows upon rows of uninhabited villas:

That's all from me for today! Going to a wedding tomorrow, followed by 中秋节 Zhōng qiū Jié - Mid-Autumn festival, followed by yet another wedding! A very busy Golden Week ahead!

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