Asia | China | Sichuan Province | Xiba – The best tofu in China
Xiba, a small old town across the Dadu and Min Rivers from downtown Lesha, claims to have the best tofu in the country because of its special underground water. I had visited the town six years ago and remember a busy market and small dark tofu shops that exuded the warm and inviting aroma of freshly boiled soy milk. The ferry docked at a different port this time, and we were greeted by a crowd of motorcycle taxi dirvers. No competition here though. Those who didn’t get a customer waited patiently while chatting amonst themselves. Xiba has pretty much remained an old town with small houses and quiet streets. Old ladies fanned themselves in front of the doorsteps, and younger kids played with a bike in the middle of the street. Rows of bamboo chairs in video houses were still empty in the afternoon, but would no doubt be filled after dinner time.
Xiba has its own share of tourism with the growing reputation of a fern forest remaining from the dinosaur ages. My aunt told me that it was still a quiet hideout for a few locals when she went last winter, but from the abundant motortaxis on the newly paved wide road, that no longer seemed to be the case. Plastic dinosaurs stared at us from the sides of the trails, looking as stupid as the dim-witted park developers who placed them there.
Fortunately, the development project was only half completed, and the ancient ferns and waterfalls trickling down the cliffs were left undisturbed in the deeper part of the forest. An old man living in the park, a veteran from the Korean War, kindly took us on a 3 hour hike in the back hills and showed us the best scenery.
We sat at a teahouse by the river to rest our sore legs, and watched on a shady balcony hovering over the water the boats gliding seamlessly and the farmers working in the faraway fields. A piece of er hu music played in my head, and I realized that even my walking pace had slowed down since I came to Leshan.