Bai Peng is Lotus Land

Lotus fields in flower near Bai Peng, China

Bai Peng, GuangXi, P.R.C.  June 2011

Oh how these things escalate so quickly.  Judy (our chinese friend and liason for resolving issues here in China) sent me a simple e-mail saying not to miss out on the lotus flowering season like she did last year.  So we resloved to go the very next weekend so as to not miss out on the flowers.  Gary and I have a driver and a van and so could take a few people with us to go see the lotus.  Well, then word quickly spread throughout our small but close laowei enclave about our little outing into the countryside and it soon evolved into 5 car caravan of nearly 20 people.

And so the questioning phone calls started:  “what time are we leaving?”  “how many people are in so-and-so’s van?”  “how do we get there?”  “is there bicycle riding there?” “what about lunch?”.  So I tried my best to make up some kind of plan about a place I’ve never been to before.  Which is not a big deal, it was just that suddenly I felt a little bit responsible for the success of the outing, and I now noticed that the lotus flowers here in the water gardens at the apartment complex had already begun to fade and wither.

D’oh!!  It would have been a very typical of what we call here “A Bad China Day” for all these cars and all these people to haul all the way out to the country to see fields of spent flowers already gone to seed on my suggestion.  Disappointing, to say the least.  I watched the flowers here with trepidation as the week progressed and imagined the local villagers reaction to a field filled not with flowers, but with perplexed laowei.  “No flower this time of year, but plenty laowei!  Why they here silly and sweating , look how they turn red in the sun!!”.

The pink blossoms of ornamental lotus

Or so I was imagining, in my mind.  Well, as you’ve figured out by the pics, there were many flowers and we probably picked the best weekend.  A fact supported by the teeming hordes of city folks crowding the small walkways with umbrellas against the sun, tottering on high heels sinking into the mud and snapping pictures wildly.  We still made a spectacle of ourselves, the chinese couldn’t help but notice 5 vanloads of 20 laowei turning up all the sudden en masse, we’re still so much a novelty here in Liuzhou.  Enough even to be photographed, and asked to pose with them in their pictures;  “Did you really see a LaoWei Grandma?”, “Oh yes, my child, I have the picture here to prove it!”

Anyway, enough about the cultural oddities that add interest to our lives here, this was supposed to be about the flowers!  As we approached Bai Peng, we saw endless fields of lotus, but no flowers (which did not improve my panic attack about having missed the whole thing already!)  We saw a few stray white blossoms and a man picking them off.  Apparently what happens is if the lotus is allowed to flower, it doesn’t produce a large root, which is eaten widely here.  The ones we saw are an ornamental variety planted for their showy pink flowers and allowed to bloom just for the beauty of it.

Gary models the latest in Lotus fashion, it really goes to your head.

We had lunch near the fields and ate lotus roots sauteed with garlic and chili, chicken wrapped and cooked in lotus leaves, and ate the seed pods we had picked ourselves, all of it very lotus-licious.  The roots have a pretty flower pattern of holes in them and retain a nice vegetably crunch when cooked and the flavor is something like water chestnut crossed with potato, at least to me.  I’ve made a mental note to cook with them in the future, now that I know what those weird roots are at the vegetable market.

Lotus seed pod in various stages to being eaten. The white inner seed is highly edible.

Lotus roots being readied for sale at market.

christystarfish  wanderlust wonderings 2011


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