Tuesday, August 26, 2003

On Steven Ma's earlier tour of China, a rushed schedule and a great atmosphere was guaranteed, but to gain some more memories of this trip, he braved the rain in Xian as he looked around the night markets because he was trying to find his ancestral roots.

Talking of these lovely memories, Steven starts by talking of some regrets on the tour: "I thought that in going to six places, I would definitely have a chance to see the sights but the schedule was so tight that I didn't have any time to look around and the most annoying thing was not being able to see the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, but luckily I got to take a look around the night markets, otherwise it would have really been a great shame."

Steven reckons that to understand the customs and traditions of a place, just staying at a top class places is not enough, you have to check out the streetside stalls before you can say you know a place, so with each place that he went to, he asked to take a look around the stalls on the streets but because of time constraints, he didn't get his wish until he arrived at Xian. Talking of this night time tour, Steven says quite excitedly: "The night market is in the streets behind the clock tower and is very famous there. As soon as I entered, I found a stall selling 'Ma Family Noodles' as it turns out there are a lot of people with the surname Ma in Xian who come from Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. When at school, my teacher once told me that the Ma surname originates from Inner Mongolia, it looks like I have finally found my ancestral roots, so I have arranged with my record company that for the next mainland tour, I will go to Inner Mongolia as well."

In the night market Steven also tried a variety of foods, including peanuts and 8-treasure sweetcake. However the biggest impression was left by the streetside hotpots, because he saw that many people didn't care about the cars driving past on the road and still had a hotpot in the open streets and even Westerners were using a basin for a pot and boiling away on the streets. Liking his food, Steven look on with his mouth watering, but he wasn't allowed to try by the crew on the grounds of hygiene and headed off to a Mutton Kebab restaurant instead.

As well as the stop at Xian, Steven also went to Kaifeng and tried some soup dumplings from a restaurant of a hundred year history and in Zhengzhou as well as attending the Kwan Kung temple, he saw some mini quad bikes that some children were playing on and handed over his 3 Yuan rental to take a spin himself. Later he headed to Shaolin to practise Kung Fu with some young monks as he summarises how much fun he has on his tour, but there was something that he missed out on. Steven smiles: "I want to buy an apartment in Shanghai and originally I had planned to go and take a look, but I didn't have enough time in the end so will have to leave it until next time. I am confident that my wish to buy property in Shanghai will come true, in fact my biggest wish is to have property in each of China's provinces, so hopefully one day I will reach this."


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