Video: ‘No Kitchen Required’ In New Zealand, ‘When Maori Attack’

Here at Gadling, we’ve been keeping tabs on the new BBC America reality show “No Kitchen Required,” which is taking cooking competitions to new highs (and lows). Battling for fame and glory are award-winning chef Michael Psilakis of New York’s Fish Tag and Kefi; private executive chef Kayne Raymond; and former “Chopped” champ Madison Cowan.

The chefs hunt and gather ingredients to prepare regional cuisine in various locations, including Dominica, Belize, Fiji, Thailand, South Africa, Hawaii, New Mexico and Louisiana. The show is a cross between “Survivor” and “Top Chef,” with a dash of over-the-top, Bear Grylls-style drama thrown in, but it’s all in good fun and provides a fascinating cultural and culinary tour of little known destinations and cuisines.

Here, we have a teaser clip from New Zealand that features the chefs watching a haka, or traditional Maori warrior dance, prior to having the local community judge their respective meals. Here’s hoping they didn’t give anyone food poisoning.

China’s “red tourism” commemorates 90th anniversary of Communism

Come up with a wacky tourism concept, and they will come. For the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding on July first, enterprising operators throughout China are creating a new crop of cultural and commemorative “red” tours.

On the idyllic island province of Hainan, visitors young and old alike travel to rural Qionghai, to visit Pan Xianying. At approximately 95 (Hainan isn’t so great at archiving old birth records), Pan is one of three remaining members of a famed, all-female Chinese Communist army unit. As such, she’s a living attraction on a “red” tour of Hainan, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Pan was about 15 when she joined the unit in 1931; the battalion was formed by a Hainanese Communist to promote gender equality. The unit was disbanded after several years, when Nationalist forces drove local Communists underground. In 1949, the women gained national attention after Chairman Mao overtook China. The battalion is now the subject of several films and a song.

Enterprising authorities in Qionhai are now offering tours of the unit’s former training ground and meeting spots, and offering hikes, during which one can experience the thrill of following a difficult route once used by Red Army soldiers. Adding a further note of authenticity: guides wear era-appropriate green hats adorned with red stars (also available as souvenirs), and hikers willing to cough up an extra 100 yuan can even slog in full soldier regalia. The hikes are said to foster “army-style camaraderie.” Does that mean dysentery is included?

Not surprisingly, there has been official encouragement behind revolutionary tours, although red tourism isn’t new. Mao’s home city of Shaoshan in Hunan province, as well as the Communist base of Yan’an in Shaanxi province attract tourists, and authorities in places like Chongqing encourage the learning of “red songs” printed in local newspapers or on websites.

Chen Doushu, head of the agency organizing the Hainan tours, says red tourism reflects a desire by many to look back fondly on the past, after more than 30 years of focus on the future during China’s rapid recent modernization. “Chinese people cannot forget their history, and the best way to do that is to go and remember it, to study it. That’s where red tourism comes from.”

Apparently, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

[Photo credit: Flickr user xiaming]

Video of super DIY Chinese street-sweeper

One of the coolest things about China is this street sweeper. Fashioned from dried plants or perhaps straw of some kind, it is the sort of thing that is conceived in the pockets of China where rural life and modernity intermingle to create interesting contraptions with a foot in each century. With the functionality of its modern counterparts and the charm of peasant ingenuity, the device appears to be plucked from Mao’s cultural revolution but remixed considerably to serve its purpose in the 21st century.

Photo of the Day – Chairman Mao Portrait

History is all around us, particularly in a country like China. Whether you’re walking along the magnificent Great Wall or gazing in awe at the Forbidden City in Beijing. Today’s photo, taken by Flickr user Trent Strohm, offers us yet another unique glimpse of China’s remarkable history: Chairman Mao, leader of the Chinese Revolution. Trent’s inclusion of the soldier in front of Mao’s portrait adds an interesting visual story to the photograph. It seems to be telling us the ghosts of China’s past are ever-present, asserting their watchful gaze over the present day.

Have any great photos from your own travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

I see dead people

I have succumbed to the fascination in viewing dead people. I’m not talking about funerals, but about viewing dead people who have been dead awhile, as in years and years. The recent public viewing of Padre Pio, a Catholic saint, in San Giovani Rotondo, Italy has brought back memories.

Ho Chi Minh was my first preserved body tourist attraction. Mao Zedong was the second one. I wasn’t really comparing which of the two looked better when I went back for a second gander at Ho Chi Minh, but preservation has treated him better, in my opinion. Neither of these former leaders looked real, though–more like odd wax dolls.

Of all the interesting sites one can see in Beijing and Hanoi, the draw to their mausoleums is impressive. Tourists line up in the midst of people who come for patriotic, reverent reasons. The pomp of such attractions interests me as much as the attractions do themselves. Each place has rules to follow. For example, line up single file and check your umbrella. There are no umbrellas allowed Ho Chih Minh’s masouleum from what I recall. I have a memory of chekcing mine.

The changing of the guards and the hushed tones as people file past the glass sarcophagus, perhaps thinking how similar the glass case reminds one of the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, also add to the mood. But, there will be no waking up here. There is no lingering, no stepping back for a second glance. When one walks past Mao and Minh, it’s in single file at a steady slow pace and then, whoosh, you’re out the door.

In San Giovani Rotondo, it looks like people have some time to linger for a decent look at Padre Pio–even snap a photo. Padre Pio, was a mystic monk who is said to have had stigmata, bleeding on his hands and feet, similar to where Jesus’ wounds would have been. Death seems to have taken the stigmata away. There aren’t even traces.

The picture I saw of Padre Pio startled me at first. “Wow! he looks great,” I thought, but then read that the face is covered by a silicon mask made to look like his face. Evidently, his actual face isn’t quite as pristine. It’s not clear how long the saint will be on view before he’s buried again.

One of these days, I may head to see Lenin. His is the first body to have been preserved for generations to come. There are rumors that perhaps all of his body parts aren’t real anymore, even though these bodies go through special cleanings to keep them in shape for onlookers and admirers.

The photo by steepways is tagged as Lenin’s death mask. If I’m feeling ambitious, there’s Kim Il-sung, the former North Korean leader. He’s in Pyongyang. Neil has been there as chronicled in his series “Infiltrating North Korea.” Here’s a post on Kim to get you in the mood.