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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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How I know my true worth!    

By Garreth Humphris
2370 Views | 3 Comments | 3/24/2011 11:55:59 PM
Tag:

Candy available in HangZhou, SuZhou and ShangHai

I went on a bit of an excursion the other day, to Hangzhou... Although it is only about 2 hours from where I live, my last trip there was about 7 years ago and that was a 'flying visit' - a stroll around West Lake, a quick sprint up to the Buddhist temple in the mountains and then to LongJing Village to get some tea.

So this trip was a little different because I was on a fact-finding visit - one of my varied jobs in China is as a consultant that helps foreign companies enter China and I went to Hangzhou as a request of a customer to look at the 'climate' there for their type of business.

So this time, I wasn't touring the beauty-spots, but the industrial zones that surround most of the larger cities in JiangSu and ZheJiang (and many other cities in China).

I was actually very surprised at the 'sprawl' of the city - I remember it being much more compact and defined, contained somewhat by the river to the south and the hills in the north and northwest, but I made excursions far beyond this area looking at things, and places and talking to people.

One of the places I visited was an old Tang Dynasty village, and had to check it out because usually inside the twisting alleys is some old lady selling some of the local home-made sweets and goodies.

One thing in common with SuZhou is the desire to give everyone a 'Donny Osmond' smile through gross sugar intake, so these sweets didn't disappoint. The local specialities are a hard toffee encrusted in peanuts, or a hard toffee encrusted in sesame seeds or a hard toffee infused with sesame paste and encrusted in peanuts!!! Pretty simple really...think sweet and crunchy!!!

There were heaps of other sugar-dusted, sugar-encrusted and sugar-coated wonders including a small fried biscuit that tasted a little like donuts!!! (as well as some pretty heavenly biscuits with some unidentifiable nutty paste filling). But unfortunately my local dialect recognition and retention isn't so great and I have forgotten their names!!! But a good reason to return methinks!

I was talking to the old lady for a little while asking her about the village and her life - she gave a few details, but curiously she kept telling me to step back a little, a little bit more, a little bit further!!! I had visions of it being some sort of slapstick comedy for the local television station...you know, like Chinese Candid Camera, so I asked her why?

"That's easy", she cackled, "if other people see a foreigner buying from my store, then they'll come and buy my stuff".

Now if there is one thing the Hangzhou people are, it is direct!!!! So I wasn't really surprised in this story!!

'Ok', I said,'what's in it for me?'

She looked at me for a moment and said, 'you've too fat so I can just give you one bag of sugars if I sell some others'.

Just then, a group of people came along and she went into selling overdrive...'see this foreigner knows quality, see how fat he is, he can eat 5 packets of sugars, buy now before he eats them all'.

This caused a ripple of laughter through the group but they madly started snapping up bags of sweets, biscuits, tofu cake, everything!!!

More people came, as well as the other stallholders, 'come buy, world famous Hangzhou sweets. This foreigner comes from America to buy!!', (apart from the fact I am Australian!)

I wasn't sure whether to be shocked and walk away or to stand there and watch the selling...it was quite an eyeopener!!!

After a few minutes the crowd cleared away and, true to her word, she gave me a huge bag of sweets (I still have 90% left and my staff members have been munching it for a week...

As I waved goodbye, she said 'same time tomorrow?'... I guess this old lady knows which side her bread is buttered!!!

Well, maybe I won't go there tomorrow, but I'll surely be back there sooner or later!

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(Showing 1 to 3 of 3) 1
#2011-03-25 00:04:48 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Garreth, I have to visit that village, find that old lady and score the free bag of treats. Can you give us some directions or is this the area down by the old Drum Tower? And if so can you still give us some directions to the old lady?

#2011-03-25 04:14:22 by aussieghump @aussieghump

It is actually the old village near ChouShan, near QianJiang...near the 'Blossom Park' in QJEDA

You can still get the same sweets over near the Old Drum Tower, I've been there before...from memory, the first stall over the bridge on the left was pretty good...

#2011-03-25 23:40:09 by thedragonb1 @thedragonb1

Haaa! Funny story. :) You should write more often, Garreth!

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