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Archive for the ‘Fuzhou’ Category

Fuzhou

7 – 30 Sep 2005: Fuzhou, Fujian Province

  
Fuzhou (福州) is the capital of the Fujian Province. Located at the lower reaches of the Minjiang River (闽江), this city is a popular tourist spot with beautiful mountains and a dazzling array of local specialities and snacks. It is also renowned for both the quality and quantity of hot springs throughout China. Fuzhou has also long been called the city of Banyan (Rong Cheng or 榕城) as many such banyan trees with exposed lattice of roots dots the landscape and provide great shade for the city. 

Fuzhou boasts riches from its nature as well as from history. This city was was the launching point for the seven voyages of the navy of the Ming dynasty (明朝, 1368 – 1644), led by China’s famous adventurer, Zheng He (郑和, 1371–1435). Lin Zexu (林则徐, 1785 – 1850), the high-ranking official of Qing Dynasty whose attempted to resist British colonialism sparked the Opium War, was born in Fuzhou. When the 1842 Peace Treaty(南京条约) concluded the first Opium War, Fuzhou became one of the five Chinese treaty ports completely opened to Western merchants and missionaries.
 
 
We stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel, Fuzhou, located in the heart of Fuzhou at Wuyi Square (五一广场).

Located geographically and spiritually at heart of Fuzhou City, the Wuyi Square Park is the perfect location to celebrate national occasions and parades. In the centre of the square stands a white statue of Chairman Mao, facing the Chinese national flag. Each night, the square becomes a bustling meeting place for local people to meet, chat or dance.

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18 Sep 2005: Drum Mountain @ Fuzhou, Fujian Province

Fuzhou is a city surrounded by a few mountains and the prominent ones within its jurisdiction are the Yu Mountain, Wu Mountain and the Drum Mountain.

Drum Mountain

Resting on the northern shores of Minjiang River, the Drum Hill (鼓山) is indisputably the most popular attraction in Fuzhou. At the hilltop perched a massive natural rock formation in the shape of a drum. It was said that during a downpour or a strong breeze, the percussion effect of the rock sounds like a drum. Although you can reach the summit by taxi, bus or even cable car, I think the best way to enjoy is a leisurely hike of the 1,800m long trail where you can be totally absorbed in the stunning scenery and pristine natural landscape. I even saw some locals climbing the steps barefooted as  a therapeutic workout.
 

One of the attractions at Drum Hill is the 1,000 years old Yong Quan Temple (涌泉寺), truly a quintessence of Chinese architecture.

Yu Mountain

To the east of the Wuyi Square is the 58 metres high Yu Mountain (于山) or commonly known as the Nine Immortals Mountain (九仙山).
 
 
There is a famous White Pagoda Temple (白塔寺) standing on the western slope of the hill. The octagonal white tower has seven levels and is the tallest ancient building of Fuzhou.
 
 
 
Wushan Hill
 
Speaking of the White Pagoda on the western hillside of Yu Hill, I have to bring out its corresponding twin – the Black Pagoda sited on southern hillside of Wu Hill (乌山).
 
 
Like the White Pagoda, the Black Pagoda (乌塔) has seven levels too. The tower was constructed in AD 944. King Wang (王延曦) of the Five Dynasties period was under threat by external invasion, so he decided to build a pagoda to pray to Buddha for protection. The pagoda was originally planned with nine levels, but Wang was executed before it was completed. Thus, current Black Pagoda is dark-gray granite, octagonal-shaped construction with seven levels.

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30 Sep 2005: Fuzhou, Fujian Province

Buddha Jumps Over the Wall

A restaurant in Fuzhou claims to be the birthplace of the super premium Chinese delicacy called Buddha Jumps over the Wall (佛跳墙). The name itself is an allusion to the dish’s ability to entice the vegetarian monks to partake a meat-based dish. While you think this is purely exaggeration, the dish is actually prepared with more than 20 ingredients including chicken, ham, pig tendons, sea clams, dried scallop, shark fin, abalone and pigeon egg; and stewed over low fire for many hours in a jar for holding Shaoxing wine.

I have heard so much about Ju Chun Yuan Restaurant (聚春园) that I decided to at least try its Buddha Jumps over the Wall before leaving Fuzhou. The price of this delicacy was obviously out of my business meal budget, I paid it out of my own pocket for the experience. The next day, I shared my superb food adventure with my boss and colleagues. Sandy’s eyes brightened and announced: “Tonight, we shall go to Ju Chun Yuan to celebrate the completion of this 3-weeks assignment!” That’s how I ended up having this delicacy two day in a row!

There are many stories surrounding the origin of the dish. But the most commonly story told is about a scholar from the Qing Dynasty traveling by foot with his friends. While traveling, he kept all his food in a clay jar used for holding Shaoxing wine; which he would warm the ingredients over an open fire whenever he was having a meal. When they arrived in Fuzhou, the scholar started cooking the dish. The smells spreaded over to a nearby Buddhist monastery where monks were meditating. One of the monks who was so tempted by the smell that he jumped over the wall to see what’s cooking.

Fuzhou Fish Balls

A trip to Fuzhou would not be complete until you tried the Fuzhou Fish Balls (福州鱼丸). Today was our last day here; the local suggested that we packed home some Fuzhou fishballs. And they brought us to Fu Xin Fuzhou Fishball Store (福信鱼丸店), purportedly the best in this city.

Fuzhou fish balls are different than regular fish balls because they contain a meaty filling of lean pork or shimp in the middle. The fish wrap is made from fish flesh of shark, eel or fresh fish.

 

The Litchi Meat

Sweet sour pork (咕咾肉) is a common dish in China. But there is a slight twist of the taste in Fuzhou and that is the Litchi Meat (荔枝肉). It is so named because its color, shape and taste are all similar to that of litchi. The subtle blend of the sweet, sour and refreshing litchi taste simply makes it unforgettable.

Old Duck Soup

Another dish which I enjoyed tremendously was the Old Duck Soup (lao ya bao or 老鸭煲). This is a whole duck casserole whereby a duck is simmered in a large earthenware pot along with choice cuts of tender bamboo shoots, Chinese wolfberries and other delicacies to produce a rich and fulfilling broth. 

I believe Fuzhou will continue to develop its prosperity through its well rounded tourism industry. As its Chinese suggests, this city could one day become a State of Fortune (“fu zhou”)

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