Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 1 year 7 months ago

Information from Local Contacts:

There are two Xizhou Baba (喜州粑粑) places; one behind the 题名坊 gate, and one next to Old Town Snacks. Both offer sweet and salty for 5 RMB. The one next to Old Town Snacks has a thicker crust, and the rose paste filling tastes more like red bean filling. The one behind the gate recieves noticeably less attention and has a thinner, flatter, crunchier crust. The sweet baba in this shop tastes distinctly of rose. In my opinion, the salty baba is better in the shop behind the gate, and the sweet baba goes to the one next to Old Town Snacks. [11]

The one next to Old Town Snacks is called 酥香园. Mr. Du first began making baba when he was 19. This year he is 32. He eats the bread once every three days, but dislikes making it. He says it's too hot and too tiring to do all the time, but there's nothing else he can do to make money. Mr. Du also takes on students from time to time. [11] (5/8/13)

The one next to the Muslim restaurant, 老字号, is run by a Mr. Yang. He was born in Xizhou, went to Lijiang for 10 years and sold Xizhou baba there, then came back. Xizhou baba is much, much better than Lijiang baba, according to him. The shop has always been in Sifang Jie, but before he was a street vendor. After 10 years, he "upgraded" to the modern 3-year-old shop. Like Mr. Du, he does not like making baba, but there is no other choice. [11] (5/8/13)

Old Town Snacks (古镇小吃). Aka "Fried Rice Shop". However, they also sell ersi (饵丝), rice noodles (米线), and bean noodles (豌豆面). You can also customize your rice by asking for specific things to be in it. For example, Mr. Tafel regularly orders a kind of fried rice with pork, eggs, onions, and spring onions. This is known as Tafel fried rice, and may be put on the menu soon. The highest price is 12 RMB in the entire shop. [11]

The main cooks are sisters-in-law. One of them is from Xizhou and married the younger brother of the other one, from Chengdu. They opened the restaurant because they enjoy cooking and making people happy through food. The shop has been open for one and a half years. The brother likes watching food-related TV shows. Their motto is "童叟无欺", which means that they don't cheat anyone who comes to their shop. [11] (5/8/13)

Golden Flower Restaurant (金花饭店). The owner is Mr. Yang, a very friendly man who loves reading what people write on his comment notebooks. So next time you go, be sure to write something on them! When a group of students went to the Golden Flower, he brought out three or four notebooks of comments and proudly displayed them on the tables as we waited for our food. There is no menu; you look at the vegetables and meat available and ask for dishes accordingly. You can also ask what they have and get that. The lazy way is to give him 20 RMB and let him serve everything. Trust me, it's good. If you want a local, sit-down dinner, go to the Golden Flower. The fried rice is amazing. [11]

Mr. Yang has been running the Golden Flower since 1985. He says that there wasn't as much food before, so it was hard to have a full belly. When asked what the best food is, he replied, "When you're hungry, everything tastes good." He opened the restaurant to meet different kinds of people and has kept message logs since 2000. In these 13 years, he has accumulated around 20 notebooks full of comments from customers. He has never seen a real airplane before, but plans to close shop and retire next year. Then he will take his first flight to Shanghai and visit Mr. Tafel. [11] (5/8/13)

Erkuai (饵块). It's similar to a Chinese burrito, although I think this description makes erkuai seem inferior to burritos. Well, they're not. There are also two shops that I have eaten at. They are both located on the eastern-most street (市上街) of Sifang Jie Square. One, nearer to the main square, offers erkuai in different kinds of rice: white rice, purple rice, and corn. White rice costs 2 RMB; all the others cost 2.5 RMB. I have only tried the white rice, non-spicy kind. The cook, a Muslim lady, cooks the round, thick white dough on a grill-type cooker. Then she spreads sesame and peanut butter (you know, peanut butter, sesame butter?) and a kind of sweet sauce on it and rolls it up. It tastes like peanut butter. The other shop is family-owned. The time that I went, a middle-aged man was cooking the erkuai. He only uses one kind of dough: the one made of rice. He pours a little oil onto the pan and spreads it around. I asked him for a non-spicy erkuai. He repeatedly assured me that it was not spicy. After cooking the dough, he spread the sweet sauce on it, added potato slices (土豆丝), and a powder (I think it's 胡椒粉). It was spicy. His dough was thinner and more wheat-like. More like a burrito skin. My opinion: his dough and her filling. Unfortunately, that it not possible. [11]

Muslim Erkuai place (I will have to check out what the name is later). Their sauces include: peanut and sesame butter, chili sauce, spicy mushroom, baked tofu, sweet sauce, and spicy sauce. The different kinds of erkuai dough are white rice, purple rice, corn, and "bitter buckwheat" (苦荞). Apparently the "bitter buckwheat" is quite bitter, and the ladies do not recommend eating it. They bring their erkuai in from Xia Guan. The family is Hui Muslim, and the main chef is a lady whom wears a pink scarf over her head. [11]

There is one more erkuai shop. It is on the right side of ShiShang Street, in between the other two erkuai shops. It is run-down, made of sticks and wood, and crawled over with vines. I have only seen it open twice. The owner is an elderly lady. She also put spicy potato slices into my erkuai. [11]

When asking for non-spicy erkuai, most places will give you the sweet sauce, sesame butter, and spicy potato slices. My conclusion is that these are the more local version of erkuai. Only the Muslim shop does not have the potato slices. Their shop is more shop-like, more plastic-y. It's hard to describe. The other erkuai places are more homey and have an air of "family-owned". [11]

Don't forget the popsicles! There are the company-made, distributed-all-over-China popsicles. There are the international brand ice creams. And there are the yak milk popsicles. Yak milk is not weird. In fact, it's downright yummy. Get one with an awkwardly tilted stick for 2 RMB at the west corner. Or you can go to the east street's homemade ice cream shop (清凉风屋). They offer popsicles in 5 flavors: milk (牦牛奶), milk with egg (牦牛奶加鸡蛋), milk with egg and peanuts and black sesame (牦牛奶加鸡蛋加花生加黑芝麻), milk with ice cream (牦牛奶和冰淇淋雪糕), and chocolate (巧克力). All of them cost 1.5 RMB, except for milk with ice cream, which is 2 RMB. People will literally just buy bags and bags at a time.That's how good they are. [11]

The ice cream shop owner is an elderly lady who has been making popsicles for 32 years She only opens 4 or 5 months a year, during the hottest times. Basically, the shop depends on her whim; opening time is when the popsicles are ready, and closing time is depends on the number of customers. Each day, she goes to get fresh milk for the daily 400 popsicles. [11] {5/8/13)

Favorite food in Xizhou is Old Town Snacks' fried rice: Aakshi, Natalie

Favorite food in Xizhou is the Tafel fried rice: Mr. Tafel, Alisa, Ms. Mai

Favorite food in Xizhou is sweet baba: Jillian

Favorite food in Xizhou is salty baba without meat: Miranda 

Favorite food in Xizhou is salty baba with a lot of meat: Colton, Jorge, Lucas, Ying Yang, Aidan

Favorite food in Xizhou is wonton soup: Grace, Hannah, Erin, Katie

Favorite food is unspecified (all the food is so good!): Ivy, Vincent

Favorite food is erkuai: Ms. Mai

Mr. Zhao's favorite food is the minority culture's raw meat and baba (not specified which one, he likes both). [14]

Information from 3-to-5's:

Many of the "tourist attractions" are actually not the best places to go. [9] [10]

Tourism often influences the culture of the places. Tourists expect to see something, so when they don't see that, they don't think it's interesting enough to come back. So what the people trying to attract tourists do is try and change the culture to fit their expectations. It's not authentic anymore; instead, it's like a show. Yes, it is based on real culture, but now it is not what the tourists should see, just what they expect to see. It becomes a huge circle of tourism where each side is trying to please the other and themselves, but deceiving themselves at the same time. Kind of strange. Then there is the difference between what they expect to see and what they want to see. Many of them actually do want to have an authentic, cultural experience, it's just that they do not know how to get that experience.   Anthony Paglino, who used to work at the Linden Centre, started an iPad travel guide series based on the ideal of experiential cultural traveling. It's called iCurious Travel. (personally, I think this is a wonderful idea.) [10]

Butterfly Spring is not a good place to go. [12]

Background Information (from Phase 1, step 4):

Lonely Planet Travel Guides usually include:

  • overall impression of the area
  • highlights
  • places to eat, go, and stay at based on region
  • practical information (including currency, language, transportation methods, and other miscellaneous info)
  • (all this came from source 8)

iCurious Travel is a non-traditional iBook travel guide. It aims not to tell you where to go, but rather how to get there and other practical information. [15]

Cultural experience means connecting with people. It's not about where, but who. [15]

Travel guides should be compasses, not maps. They should show you the direction, but not tell you exactly where to go. [15]

Answers to Previous Questions (Phase 1, step 5):

Who are some of the people we will encounter (introductions/mini-biography)?

You will encounter with the local farmer( The Bai ), also the fisherman. [6]


What is the weather like?

The average temperature is between12.2--18.9℃. It is not hot nor cold, like the spring all the time. For the raining season is from May to October,and the rest of the year is dry. [6]

It's neither hot nor cold, so you can wear a T-shirt every single day. In the mornings and evenings, however, it may get a little cold, so wear a jacket as well. The sun is usually very strong around midday. [11]


What are some of the best ways to exercise?

You can help the local people to do the farming. You can also go cycling or experience to take a carriage. For some of the girls, you can also visit the local people and learn to do embroidery. [6]

Mainly, it's just running around. You can also bicycle around Xizhou or take a trail that goes to Erhai and back. At YZR, we also have volleyball, badminton, Hacky Sack, and random exercises. [11]


Where are the best landscapes?

A place called Haishe near Erhai Lake. [6] [11]


When are the best times to do _____?

Xizhou is suitable to visit every season. [6]

Skype is only after 7. Laundry is during Pitching In, from 10:45 to 12:00. [11]


What are some important parts of local culture?

Xizhou has the best preserved Bai people’s dwelling house. It keeps the original architectural style of the Bai minority very well. It is also a section of the Tea-Horse Caravan Road.(The most daunting trade route in the world, passing through the mightiest mountain range on Earth, the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road linked the fertile emerald teas of Yunnan and Sichuan to the arid landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau, serving as a vital route for isolated tribes who referred to it as the “Eternal Road.” Horse caravans carried tea, sugar and salt from Sichuan and Yunnan to Tibet and brought back colorful local mountain goods. The Chinese over the ages often bought warhorses from Tibetan and other ethnic groups of Southwest China. This road also function as a channel for cultural communication among the ethnic groups in western China; beyond this, it was a bridge for international cultural and economic exchange between China and India. ) [6]

Another thing is Xizhou Overseas. Some of  Xizhou local people went to Southeast Asia to do business, later when they came back, they built many characteristic houses in Xizhou . During WWII, the local Xizhou People also tried their best to help the Flying Tiger Team. [6]


Where are the best places to eat (Microcampus students and the locals' opinions)?

There are many local restaurants for you to enjoy the local flavor. [6]

Sifang Jie. There is Old Town Snacks, the Golden Flower, Xizhou Baba, yak milk popsicles, mango popsicles, and a homemade ice cream shop. [11]


Where would you go to buy something?

There are many minority souvenir shops and local markets in Xizhou.[6]


What are some things that you definitely need to do in Xizhou?

 First is Xizhou Morning market: Explore the local fishermen's daily life. Each morning, the villagers nearby come to the market to exchange their crops. [6]

Second one is to visit the Bai's Traditional Folk House. You can also find lot of well preserved local buildings in Xizhou. [6]

Third is the Erhai Lake sightseeing.(The Erhai Lake is located in the Dali Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province. Since it has a shape of an ear, it gets the name Erhai (Ear Lake). It stretches 42 kilometers from north to south and 3.9 kilometers from east to west. The lake covers an area of more than 250 square kilometers and is 21.5 meters at the deepest. It is ranked the second place in Yunnan Province and the seventh freshwater lake in the nation by area and water storage.) [6]

Then, you can also visit the visit the local family and learn to do embroidery. [6]


What are some of the main tourist attractions?

 Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple [6]

 Dali Ancient Town [6]

 Butterfly Spring Park [6]

 Osprey Fishing Show [6]

 Yan Family’s Country Yard [6]

 Three- Course Tea [6]

 Xizhou Morning Market [6]


How do locals react to foreigners?

Local people there are very friendly to foreigners. [6]

You can literally walk straight into someone's house and they won't mind. Everyone will say hi back to you, and waving your hand prompts a smile. However, also be aware that the basic manners still apply here. [11]


New questions~!


  1. Where are the most restaurants located? Mostly near Sifang Jie, if not in Sifang Jie. There is also a noodle shop on the street to SiFang Jie.
  2. What is the food generally like (lots of food, a little, cheap, expensive, bitter, sweet, etc.)?The local food is generally spicy.
  3. When are the restaurants open?
  4. Who makes the food? 
  5. Where are the best places to eat, according to other people?
  6. How is the food made (different for different shops)? 
  7. Where can I go to eat ______?
  8. Who generally eats where (do older people favor a type of food, and younger students go for a different shop)?
  9. Is the food related to the crops that are grown around here? I think they are, because many of the restaurants just buy the vegetables fresh and display all of them. So if the crop is not in season, there will be no food to eat.
  10. Are the restaurants mainly family-owned, or do they employ "outsiders" as well?

I will know when to move onto Phase 4 when I have gathered all the information that I need. It may not be organized, but I should have all the things I need to know. Right now, I am not at that step. I have already written down what I want to know about the different restaurants.



  6. Tour-Yunnan (
  8. Lonely Planet's Cambodia Travel Guide, 8th Edition,by Greg Bloom and Nick Ray
  9. Mr. Wang from the Linden Center front desk
  10. Mr. Tafel
  11. My own observations
  12. Xiao Tang
  13. Mr. Ma, 70 years old, possible SL partner
  14. Mr. Zhao, the guard at YZR
  15. Anthony Paglino, author of iCurious Travel (


Great Work!

Hey! This Alex your Microcampus buddy :) It looks great so far. I know our topics weren't the same, however I am really interested in your topic. That sounds so cool to do a lonely planet style tour guide of Xizhou. You get to find the best places and things to do in Xizhou. It could be a great adventure or a bust. Have you read many Lonely planet books? Any other guides? I think you should read multiple guides to see the difference between them. You can get more ideas from multiple sources. Try Rough guide, Fodors, Frommers, etc. The more sources the better. Well, best of luck to you. Please feel free to contact me if you need anything. Keep you the great work!

Hey Ivy,

Hey Ivy,
This is Sabrina from the Alpha Pilot Group! I think that your project is a really amazing idea :) I can't offer much help in terms of resources/guides, but I know there is a really famous tourist sight for the Dali Three Course Tea in Xizhou. You can ask Yanzi from the Linden Center to take you, they have a performance of Bai music/dancing+ three course tea very often. It's also housed in one of the largest family courtyards in Xizhou. I hope everything goes well!

I'm 14, from Palo Alto, California. My fat cat's name is Socrates, after the Greek philosopher. I'm doing a dining visitor's guide, so I guess I'll be tasting a little bit of everything. I'm back in Shanghai and already Xizhou-sick on the first night. This has been an amazing experience and it has changed my life forever. You all are so semi-proahhh!