People and cuisine of Hunan impress foreigners

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2017-07-08 14:43:54

  It took a lot many trips to the embassy to get me a travel visa but every single trip was worth it.

  And here's a little secret the Chinese wouldn't let you in on.

  ^It's the most beautiful country in the world ̄

  It surprises me is how little they promote tourism internationally. All one pictures of when thinking of China is the Great Wall or the Terracotta Army. But guess what, I didn't visit either. All the places I¨d been to were full of domestic tourists and I stuck out like the odd one almost everywhere. (I'm not complaining though, but more in that later) I only got a month¨s single visit visa. And I spent all of it in the southern part of China. So let me give you a brief account of my amazing experience in this mystical country.


Just mentioning that people are kind would be such a gross understatement. People are very warm and always greet you with a smile (Not just the formal touristic greet but the genuine humble smile)

  I was always short for change while traveling and there wasn't once an occasion when some passerby didn't pause to help me. And the help wasn't just instructional or with giving me a change. A lot many of them just put their money, got me a ticket, handed it to me and left with a smile.

  I didn't have the change to get into a bus in Guangzhou once and was putting in 10 yuan instead but the bus driver stopped me and put in his own money instead, asked me to just settle down.

  When I was Changsha, I didn't know the metro route and was struggling to figure out with the route map. A woman hurriedly came to me and asked her young son to help me out. He was a school student, probably still learning English. With the little that he could, he stood there, looking into my Apple Maps travel route suggestion and keyed in those details into his phone and started searching. It took him a good 10 minutes to help me sort out the route but he made sure (despite the language barrier) that I got the travel route right. When they proceeded to leave, the mother gripped her son¨s shoulder as a sign of appreciation for his help. I could see the humility in her eyes and I couldn't have been more humbled by her gesture.

  I went to a makeshift food outlet in Shenzhen run by a family (the family probably lived in the establishment) simply coz they endorsed ^Halal ̄ on their board. It was a Friday afternoon and I could bravely order a beef stew. The order ran up to 30 yuan. While I waited for my order, the chef pointed her children to say `Assalamualikum¨ (Muslim greeting) to me. I found this amusing as the kids looked at me with a gaze and surprise and anguish. I extended my hand to greet them and they reluctantly did. Although there were no grounds of communication, I improvised on Google translate and had a good conversation with them. They were Hui Muslim family running a makeshift restaurant. The women ran the kitchen while the men waited and kept the books.

  After our talk, I wanted to tip big and pulled out my wallet to pay. But they flatly refused. They said, it being a Friday, they wanted to do me good as I'm far away from home. Their gesture moved me.I pulled out my wallet and hurriedly handed the kid a 20 Kuwaiti dinar bill. I told them it would be a memorabilia from a visitor and I'd always remember them in my prayers. Looking at the small designation bill, they didn't protest much. (Little did they know!)

  There are several other P2P stories about how awesome Chinese are to their guests but I guess you get the picture.

  NOTE: The Chinese police deserve a special mention as they're the warmest towards a foreigner while being dead strict against their own citizens. (Had a first hand experience when I jaywalked on a busy road)

  So, if you're planning on visiting China, expect the warmest of people there and keep your heart open.

  Here are a few pictures for a good measure.

We became good friends (coz he spoke English) and I kinda would've been lost in Zhangjiajie without him. He explained a lot of historical and cultural facts from here which otherwise would've lost on me. The tourist guides make shit up (his words not mine!) and he gave me a detailed account of the area¨s geography.

This woman was delighted to see a `black guy¨ amidst the mix and just wanted to click a picture for memories. I can't even remember the number of times people walked up to me asking to click pictures (felt like a celebrity !!!)

  Well, that was about some of the people. Now let's get down to the one thing that caught me by surprise.


  Being a Muslim, I had very few culinary options, although there's no complaining about the wide variety of food this country has to offer. Then, being an Indian I'm too spoilt for food options but over here, they were a step ahead of us.

  Special mention for the Hunanese (Boy ! Don't they cook amazing food) cuisine.

  I couldn't have asked for better food than what I got in China. Even though I had to stick to fish and prawns, I'd indulge in other food as soon as I could find a restaurant serving Halal food.

Hunanese Fish.

Dried fishes. (It was quite spicy)

Cold Mutton pieces with peanuts? (I¨m sorry I forgot the name of the dish)

Sichuanese Mutton Pot (with sprouts and a ton of other spices. I guess they had some bamboo in there as well)

Spicy Crab (There's no civilised way of eating this. My hands were dirty as I crushed the crustacean in my mouth and my nose ran like flowing river coz of the spices. With my mouth and nose dribbling with juices, I gobbled every last bit of it)

  Mouth watering anyone ?

  Alright, here, how about I give you some street food !!!

Quail eggs !!!

Oysters !!!


I wish I could taste the deer kebabs and I had a strong craving for Yak burgers but my religious duties held me back.

  NOTE: Chinese fruits deserve a special mention here. Fruits in China are the cheapest in the world. I mean, 2 yuan for a kilo of apple cheap. If you're into fruits, your daily food expenses would drop drastically.

  So, that was about the food. Let me fill you in on another important factor. And I guess this is probably one aspect the Chinese are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the world. 

  by Nazim Mehboob

  Source: Quora