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Day 45 Lanzhou

July 10, 2011 (Sunday)

Forty-fifth day in China, first day in Lanzhou: 牛肉面 (兰州拉面) beef noodles (Lanzhou ramen), 黄河 Yellow River, night train to Dunhuang

2011年7月10日 在中國第45天, 在蘭州第2天:

We set out in search of legendary Lanzhou lamian, or “Lanzhou ramen”, sold all over China, and called niuroumian, or “beef noodles”, in Lanzhou. On the pedestrian shopping section of Zhangye Road we got Joy’s glasses fixed for free. After three shops didn’t have the needed screw, we were sent to the back of a fourth. A somber young guy produced a box full of screws, selected one with tweezers, and fixed the glasses without a word.

“How much?”

(“It’s nothing.”)

We found Gansu people, lens-fixers to cabbies, quite helpful and kind.

We walked between department stores on the pedestrian Zhangye Road, turned down an alley full of restaurants, and ate lamian at 马子禄 Mazilu. I suppose eating Mazilu in Lanzhou is like eating Ippudô in Hakata (though a bowl of ramen in Mazilu is 5 yuan, or less than 100 Japanese yen, making it easily ten times cheaper than Ippudô in Fukuoka, and twenty times cheaper than Ippudô in New York). We stood in a long line and gave our tickets to a cook at the kitchen window. Chefs stretched and smacked the dough, then tossed it into a bubbling vat. Another cook scooped the noodles into a bowl and passed it to the window, where the ticket-taker with a ladle whisked beef and chili oil. The texture of the hand-stretched noodles was superb, the beef portion small but delectable, and the soup good enough to drink.

I still felt under the weather, so we taxied to the Gansu Provincial Second People’s Hospital. A doctor listened to my symptoms, diagnosed me with a minor cold, and sent me for a blood test. They pricked my finger and gave us a chart full of percentages. The doctor prescribed a mix of Chinese and Western medicine we picked up from the dispensary, and we headed out.

We caught a cab back to Zhongshan Bridge and walked along the Yellow River, then taxied back and caught the train to Dunhuang at the station.

The dry, treeless mountains of Gansu passed outside.

We slept on the train.


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Kieran Maynard

Kieran Maynard

Writer, translator, researcher, traveler specializing in Japanese and Chinese literature.

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