She grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution and came from China to Britain in 1982, on a scholarship, to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University.
Later, she took postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. When she is not travelling to Courts & Police stations as a professional interpreter, she loves spending her time reading & writing books.
The first two novels of her 'Journey to the West' trilogy, 'The Same Moon' and 'Trials of Life' have been published on Amazon Kindle, and on Smashwords. She is now writing her third,scheduled to be released later this year. She lives in Birmingham, England, with her husband.
Heavenly Kingdom Sichuan 天府之国四川
I’m a spice girl.
No, not one of those Spice Girls, one of whom married David Beckham.
I’m one of the original spice girls, one of the millions of women from Sichuan (川妹子 in Chinese. Spell it Szechuan, if you like) who are natives of the province, and who, in China, are called by that nickname.
We’re considered to be virtuous, hardworking and tough.
And not only in China, where we’re famous.
Whenever my husband boasts that he married a spice girl, Chinese people tend to give him a slap on the back and a compliment, because my home province has a great deal more to offer than just its women.
Mount Emei (峨嵋山), for example. At 3099 metres, it’s the highest of the four Buddhist Mountains in China, and now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I first paid my homage to the mountain when I was a student in China, back in 1982, and again in the spring 2011.
The mountain remained the same but I have changed :)
Sichuan means, literally, Four Rivers.
But the province has much, much more: lakes and springs, waterfalls and limestone caves, mountains and valleys. The landscape is, in fact, so attractive, and so varied, that it’s credited for inspiring literary giants like Sima Xiangru and Yang Xiong from the Han Dynasty, Li Bai and Su Shi, the most eminent poets of the Tang and Song Dynasties, and a unique style of opera that features changing face masks and the spitting of fire.
Before 1997, when Greater Chongqing split from the rest to become an independent metropolis, Sichuan was the largest province in China, a region the size of France with a population that exceeded 100 million people. And, even now, it exceeds the land area, and the population, of many countries in Europe.
Mankind’s presence in the region goes back for a long, long time, perhaps as much as 200,000 years.
And the Kingdom of Shu, as Sichuan was once called, was one of the early cradles of Chinese civilization, having arisen some 25,000 years ago.
During the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD) , Chengdu became the capital of the Kingdom of Shu, and it’s been a cultural and economic hub in the Southwest of China ever since.
This long history has left the province with an abundant historical heritage, including the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world ( ) and...
...the Leshan Giant Buddha, completed well-before the end of the first millennium of the Christian era ( ).
We’re also amazingly diverse, a home to more than 15 minority groups like the the Yi, the Hui, and the Miao; each with its own culture, language, styles of dress and unique customs.
Another popular tourist site is Jiuzhaigou, “Nine Village Valley” (九寨沟), home to nine Tibetan villages:
It is a national park located in the Minshan Mountain range in Northern Sichuan, where more than 220 rare bird species, endangered animals and plants live, including...
... the Giant Panda, golden monkey and many different varieties of orchids and rhododendrons.
Spectacular waterfalls and lakes abound, all in different colours of blue and green, the result of colouration by natural minerals.
And then there’s the food, laced with the hot and spicy ingredients that made me an original spice girl. J
Check the menu of your Chinese restaurant. The odds are you’re going to find something like “Sichuan Gong Bao Chicken” or “Beef Sichuan Style”.
If you are a vegetarian, you might well have tried making “Mapo Tofu” (beancurd with Sichuan Peppers and Hot chillies).
Other famous Sichuan dishes include the mouth-watering Hot Pot, Tea Smoked Duck, Twice Cooked Pork, Husband and Wife Cold Beef Tripe, Water-Cooked Meat or Dan Dan Noodles.
If I’ve piqued your interest (and your appetite) and you’d like to learn more about the province (and the food) I invite you to drop into my blog.
There, you’ll be able to follow video instructions for preparing some recipes at home, learn about other tourist attractions and even read about the devastating earthquake that struck us when my husband and I were visiting my family back in May of 2008.