Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Have Wok, will travel

The next morning I had a cookery class. First we met our teacher to browse through the local market. There was very little there that looked familiar from home, but much that recalled our recent meals. Strange mushrooms, peculiar herbs, smoked ducks; it was a delicious scene, but the real eyeopener was the meat section. Slabs of meat were nailed to wooden chopping boards for dissection, while a whole row of stalls was devoted to that most Asian of meats, dog. Hair removed, they hung from hooks like a ghastly collection of waxworks. Not content with the canine though, I saw a skinned cat on one table (they didn't care much for the variety of ways to skin it), while at my feet, its own legs tied, was a young kid, very much alive, if not for very long. The seafood area too was colourful, if a little disconcerting. Basins and tanks everywhere held masses of catfish, frogs and turtles. We made our purchases and left for the cookery school.

The cookery school is owned by an ex-pat Australian. She hovered around on the fringes while a young Chinese girl led the class. We each had a wok, a gas cooker and an assortment of ingredients. Among the dishes we learnt were duck with ginger, steamed chicken with ginseng, and egg pork dumplings. I can't say my skills were perfect, I needed to really grasp the changes of temperature required for skillful wok cooking, but my dishes were perfectly edible and I had a good lunch.

Getting back to town in the early afternoon, I went to an internet cafe to catch up on email etc.. I had an email from Anabel, from the Indochina trip, to say she was in Yangshuo and to ask where was I. The mail had been sent the day before. I made my reply, sent it and turned to a tap on my shoulder. There she was. She too had come in to catch up on mail. We went for coffee and compared notes. By and large our experiences had been similar. It was good to meet, but we were both a little sad, I think, that it was so close to the end of our stay in Yangshuo. I was leaving that afternoon.


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