China Beach: Definitely Not the TV Series
It’s only April, but it feels like summer here in Zhuhai, China . Temperatures have soared into the 70s and it has generally been quite humid.
But make no mistake. Even though this is the tropics, it can get rather chilly during January and February-especially since our apartments do not have heat. Even though I’m enjoying the warmth now, I’malso recalling an unusual experience I had during the month of February.
Teaching English as a Second Language is one of the programs at my college, United International .I was invited to be a chaperone for a barbecue they were having. Since I have seen many restaurants with grills or woks with intense flames, I assumed this barbecue would be an indoor event. Guess again. This barbecue would be held at a beach along the ocean!
Silver Beach is a coastal recreation spot about an hour from UIC. So we took a bus ride there. When we got off the bus, there was no doubt it was February since the chilly ocean winds immediately slappedus in the face. This was definitely the first time I’ve ever been to the beach wearing a winter coat.
I’m told Silver Beach is popular with the Chinese. But I’m sure usually that’s when the weather is nice. Of course in the dead oft in winter the price is right at this resort. So that’s probably why this spot was selected for the day trip.
After our group off the bus, the guide who greeted us invited us to rest on a beach hammock. Somehow reclining in a hammock with a bulky coat on in chilly temperatures is just not the same as swinging over the sand with just a swim suit on and holding a cold beer!
After a brief rest, it was time to prepare for the barbecue. The resort provided us with the vegetables and the chicken. But we’d have to prepare everything ourselves. No big deal….until we found out what the preparations actually involved. We had to pick the vegetables ourselves out of a small farm. I considered that a simple task since my father raised vegetable gardens for years. Problem is in China they grow a lot of things I do not recognize so I was not sure exactly what we were pulling up out of the ground a great deal of the time.
Next, the chicken. What could be hard about cooking some chicken? Well, we’d have to catch it, kill it, and clean it before it could even be cooked. I discovered that chasing after a chicken can delay dinner for some time. My 59 year old legs are not especially suited for catching a swift c
hicken. Fortunately, one of the staffers took pity on me and grabbed the poultry.
As for the killing part, many of the students were well trained in this skill back in their home provinces. One gentle young lady assigned to my group very matter- of -factly slit the chicken’s throat and got it ready for cleaning. I never appreciated how many feathers there are on a chicken until you actually have to pluck them off. Again, experience made the difference. Some students had that part of the task down to a science.
When it was time for the cooking, fortunately many of these young ladies were experienced chefs. That’s fine since my culinary skills are non-existent. Even so, they insisted that the professor not have to do any cooking. Little did they know that was to their advantage!!
The students showed great skill with woks and preparing the assorted dishes. The feast prepared was quite impressive with a wide range of vegetable dishes, our famous chicken and even some fish that were supplied. They were already caught. Attempting to fish in the ocean on a frigid day may have been worse than chasing the chicken around!
Of course, the respected professor (yes, that’s me) gets to sample the dishes first. That was a good thing since I was extremely hungry. Chasing chickens around, getting fires going with scattered wood (no charcoal here) consumed a lot of time.
Speaking of those chickens, the surviving ones oat the resort are apparently smart enough to figure out when their lives are no longer in danger. After we finished our meal ,they hopped on the table and helped themselves to leftovers.
Time now for some exercise to work the feast off. We all took part in a Chinese version of what Americans would call “Duck, duck, goose”. The good thing about it was that all the running around helped to work up a sweat .That made one forget how chilly it was outside.
I doubt I’ll ever visit a beach in February again during my lifetime. So this will probably remain a once in a lifetime experience . It once again proves the expression I’ve heard many times: “In China all things are possible!”