Happy Valentine’s Day! Sending lots of Toupai sweetness from my side of the world to yours. 🙂 Valentine’s was such a significant day for Toupai and Sheng Sheng’s relationship, so now that it’s V-Day in real life, our couple should celebrate, right? And what’s a better way to celebrate than taking a trip? ❤ ❤
Chapter 47 – “Splendid” Rice with Pickled Vegetables and Pork (6)
“Come a little closer…” Gu Sheng used her eyes to indicate to him to move closer to herself.
Mo Qingcheng lowered his head.
She was struck with a brilliant idea and suddenly asked, “That dish, splendid rice with pickled vegetables and pork that you mentioned last time, how do you make it?”
“Splendid rice with pickled vegetables and pork?” Mo Qingcheng seemed to see through her intention but he was in no hurry to call her out on it. “That dish is a little complicated. You take pork belly with the rind still on it and cook it until it’s medium well. Then you wipe away the moisture on the rind and while it’s still hot, brush some soy sauce onto it. Afterwards, you pour some oil into the pan to heat, then take the pork belly and place it rind down on the pan. Let it fry in the oil until it turns a deep red color before you remove it and let it rest and air. After, place it rind down again on a cutting board and cut it into slices that are about five millimetres thick.”
She absentmindedly gave an “mm.”
What should I do? What excuse can I use?…
What can I do so that I can still go travel and have fun without having to meet the parents?
Mo Qingcheng seemed to be amused and continued to observe her face, which looked as if her spirit was out roaming somewhere beyond the skies, while carrying on without really focusing on what he was saying. “Then you take some lotus seeds that have been presoaked already, roll them up into the pork slices, and stand up all the rolls neatly in a bowl. Chop some pickled vegetables up finely, add to them chicken bouillon, sugar, soy sauce, and some cooked glutinous rice, and then mix them all together while the rice is still hot.”
“And then?” Gu Sheng pretended to ask interestedly.
Keep talking a bit more…
I haven’t come up with a plan yet, ah…
“And then? You take the pickled vegetables mixed with rice and spread it evenly over the rolled meat. Put everything into the steamer and steam for about thirty minutes, until the meat is extremely soft and tender, before taking it out. Then, you flip the whole bowl with the rice inside it upside down over a plate so that the meat rolled with lotus seeds inside is now on top.”
Gu Sheng was not paying attention in the least.
“The steps are complicated so it is easy to mess up.” Mo Qingcheng observed her for a little while before chuckling, “Have you thought of a plan yet?”
Seeing that she had been found out, she finally gave in meekly and looked up pitiably at him. “Let me think a little bit more, okay?”
In that moment, he was suddenly reminded of how he had felt the very first time he heard her humming. Such a familiar feeling.
In fact, right at the beginning, when he entered the entertainment circle and heard for the first time his own voice that he had recorded into his computer, he did not think there was anything special about it and even thought it was a little weird. At the time, he had only felt that it did not sound like his voice, and as for whether it sounded nice or not, he had no real concept. How could anyone have any feelings for their own voice?
And then, he heard her voice.
A little languid-sounding, a little husky.
So wondrously exquisite it soon caused his heart to soften.
“Okay.” For the first time, Mo Qingcheng gave in, but what followed was an even more tenderly and intimately spoken murmur. “Hurry and decide so I can make arrangements.”
As a result…
Ten days later, their vacation line-up evolved into this: Jue Mei, Geng Xiaoxing, Feng Ya Song, Dou Dou Dou Bing, Fei Shao and his wife, Wwwwk and his girlfriend, Mo Bai, Mu Mu… and even a pair from completely outside the entertainment circle, Cousin and Dong Yiru. The last two’s addition to the group was purely a condition that Gu Sheng had to agree to in order to set her parents’ minds at ease and let her go.
Originally, she had simply thought, if she said this was a graduation trip with classmates, that would solve everything, right?
So, she had turned to Geng Xiaoxing for help.
Geng Xiaoxing was very much the trusty friend and agreed to it. Then, she and Jue Mei did some planning for a few days and decided that this vacation would also be their first “out of the 2-D world and into the 3-D world” meeting. So brave. First time meeting in person and they would be going on vacation together? In comparison, her and Toupai’s recording studio meet-up was really too conservative …
Jue Mei knew about it, so then everyone else knew about it.
Before she knew it, the line-up of people going had become several times larger than what she had originally planned T.T……
In particular, the exhilaration Dong Yiru had displayed when she first met Toupai truly put Gu Sheng, who prided herself on being a Toupai fan, to shame.
The excitement was the type that was demonstrated by standing at the main entrance of the airport with hands covering her face and tears filling her eyes but not daring to take a step forward… Overcome with emotion for a long while, she finally wiped away at the tears that were streaming down her face and said in a trembling voice, “Toupai DaRen, I’ve fangirled you for a full nine years. I’ve finally, finally seen you. Really, really emotional. Sorry, so sorry. Just ignore me. I’m just a fan who’s seen her idol and is too emotional…”
Even Mo Qingcheng did not know what to say.
She reckoned this was truly his first time seeing someone that was purely a fan and not a person who had some form of working relationship with him or an employee of some sort, like the type that worked at the recording studio.
Fortunately, Dong Yiru’s heart had been completely vanquished by Cousin already, so she only got emotional but did not really think about doing anything else…
The entire tour group consisted of only twenty-odd people or so, and their group accounted for half of the numbers. When the guide discovered that they were a bunch of people who were all acquainted, he thought that this actually made things easier. At least, when it was time for an activity, he did not need to notify people one by one. Once he found and told one person, it was like finding everyone.
“You should all know, lately, this particular country has had a bad relationship with ours, so the best would be to always stay with me and not do any activities on your own. Also, absolutely do not quarrel or argue with any of the local people. You’d rather suffer some losses…” The guide put his sunglasses on top of his head and continued his blah, blah, blah-ing extremely enthusiastically. His face beaming with a smile of exultation, he described that country as if it was as dangerous as the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone.
Dou Dou Dou Bing had already been apprehensive about going to that country, and now, the more she listened, the more her heart started beating nervously like a drum. Clutching onto Jue Mei, she asked, “Why do we have to go to such a dangerous place? It’s a vacation, not a thrill-seeking adventure…”
Jue Mei Sha Yi, on the other hand, felt the guide was overexaggerating. Pointing at Toupai, he replied, “Mo Qingcheng said, because the relation between the countries is so bad, we have to go at least once, in case we don’t get the opportunity again to go there in the future.”
Okay, this explanation of Jue Mei’s was even more frightening.
Geng Xiaoxing very docilely stood beside him, still absorbed in the nervousness of her first face-to-face meet-up and trying to show her best side. About to die from laughter as she watched, Gu Sheng made a face at her: Hey girl, serves you right! Karma!
The guide was continuing to scare them, probably because he was worried that this group had so many men in it that they would possibly cause trouble with the locals. Even after they had passed through customs, he still earnestly reminded them, “Remember, when the plane lands, don’t call me ‘Guide’, call me ‘Team Leader’ please, everyone, so people will not think we are a tour group.”
In the end, even Mu Mu could not help grumbling in a low voice, “Hey Guide, are you going to hand out guns to us for self-defense?”
“Guns? You can buy them any time when you’re there.” The guide pulled the sunglasses on the top of his head back down. “When we land, you’ll understand. The people standing in front of the Starbucks all have submachine guns.”
All the girls silently moved closer to the man beside her.
Dou Dou Dou Bing had originally been standing by herself. Looking around, she suddenly locked her eyes on Mu Mu, and silently, she walked over beside him. Mu Mu glanced suspiciously at her. “The PRC police exist for the people. Remember when the time comes to protect me,” Dou Bing explained very simply.
As a result, the guide’s intimidation tactics brought about a remarkable effect.
Those men who had brought their girlfriend immediately appeared tall and strong for there was now a place for their abilities. =。=
Their flight was a late night one, so once they arrived the next day, there would already be an afternoon activity arranged by the travel agency. Therefore, many people took advantage of this time to sleep. Gu Sheng was also sitting next to Toupai with her eyes closed. Then, she opened them again, then closed them, then opened them to look at him… He was still holding a book and reading. She could not help asking him softly, “Aren’t you sleepy?”
“I’m okay,” he smiled. “I’m used to going to sleep late or mixing up my days and nights.”
She exhaled quietly. “I get my inspiration at night to do stuff, too, so I’m wide awake right now. But if I don’t sleep, I’ll be really tired when we arrive tomorrow morning…”
“If you’re tired, you can sleep.” Mo Qingcheng’s voice got lower. “It’s a holiday and time for rest anyway. If you’re tired, sleep. When you wake up, we can go play for a bit. We don’t need to follow the guide’s plans.”
She gave an “mm.”
All of a sudden, from behind them, Feng Ya Song’s voice was heard. “Something’s not right, eh. You two were the ones who arranged this holiday. You’re not really going to stay inside your room the whole time to sleep when you’re tired and ‘play’ when you’re awake… and ignore us, are you?”
It was the same thing that they had just said, but how come when Feng Ya Song repeated it, it sounded so… discreetly suggestive?
Sure enough, any words embellished by the voice of a professional would immediately be changed…
“Do you want to play with us?” Toupai’s voice shifted, and he tossed the question back to him.
“…… No, not at all…” Feng Ya Song continued wearing his sleep mask… and slept…
Such ordinary words, but how come when the two of them spoke them… they became so suggestive?
Sure enough, any words embellished by the voice of professionals would immediately be changed…
Gu Sheng continued to close her eyes.
She could not sleep so she could only close her eyes to rest up.
Once in a while, she could feel him shift or turn a page of the book.
Not long after, he turned off the overhead light above her. She felt a weight on her. He had covered her with a blanket the flight attendant had brought over.
And so, she suffered like this all the way to the island hotel. Gu Sheng and Geng Xiaoxing were staying together, and Toupai and Jue Mei naturally were also sharing a room. With an expression on their faces that said, “You guys are obviously ‘covering your ears while stealing a bell‘ [a futile cover-up for an action that is plainly obvious],” everyone went into their own rooms, planning to make up some sleep with an afternoon nap and then head out together to the beach for a walk.
Gu Sheng and Geng Xiaoxing’s room was next door to Toupai’s. The hotel they were staying in was right on the white sand beach, and only that stretch of fine white sand and a row of bars separated the hotel’s front entrance and the ocean.
Just seeing the ocean so close caused the tiredness from the late-night flight that had been several hours long and the exhaustion from the two-hour long brutal trip from the airport to the hotel to completely disappear.
Toupai had booked all ocean-view rooms.
Their rooms on the fourth and fifth floors all shared an open balcony, perfect for people travelling on vacation together.
Once they stepped into their room, Geng Xiaoxing drew the curtains shut and immediately began changing from her winter clothes into summer ones. “I brought two sets of bathing suits. One is a bikini while the other one is more reserved… Which should I wear? …”
Gu Sheng only changed into a dress. “…… Two sets?”
“Yeah. I didn’t know what everyone else was going to wear… This won’t do. I’ve been covered in sweat since we got off the plane. I’m going to go bathe first.” Geng Xiaoxing hugged her clothes and anxiously dashed into the washroom.
Gu Sheng had just pulled up the zipper on the side of her dress when there was a knock on the balcony door.
She pulled open the curtain. Toupai was standing there on the other side of the glass door wearing a black pair of beach shorts and a dark blue short-sleeved shirt. His outline nearly obscured the entire background scenery of turquoise ocean waters and blue sky. He was wearing a blue baseball cap, and in the faint shadow cast by the cap, his eyes seemed even more beautiful.
She was about to open her mouth to speak when she saw him bend over and, from underneath the glass door, stuff her a note.
Puzzled, she picked it up.
On the paper was a drawing of a girl wearing a big, straw sunhat. A simple, quick sketch but very cute.
On the bottom was a row of words: Very hot out. The less you wear, the better. But your straw sunhat is a must.
The less you wear, the better…
When she looked up again, Mo Qingcheng was already motioning for her to stay quiet and then his two fingers made a “let’s go” gesture.
Slip out quietly?
Gu Sheng was somewhat perplexed but still very cooperatively picked up her room card and huge straw hat and, amid the sound of water coming from Geng Xiaoxing’s shower, snuck quietly out of the room. Even when she had slipped into the elevator and then stepped out of the hotel, she still felt as if she was sneaking out to have a romantic rendezvous.
It happened to be raining heavily outside.
“We didn’t bring an umbrella. What should we do?” Gu Sheng gazed at the rain somewhat hesitantly.
“No worries. These types of islands can rain several times a day. The sun will soon be out.”
The two of them, each carrying their own sandals, walked barefoot past an outdoor bar… Sure enough, less than five minutes later, the rain turned into scorching sunshine so that even the sand dried out quickly and, beneath the blazing sun, became soft and scalding hot.
She treaded unevenly on the sand for a little while, happy from just doing this.
She nodded. “Very, very.”
The burning hot sand warmed the soles of her feet. An extremely comfortable feeling.
Sunshine, beach, and Toupai beside her… She used her foot to step lightly on the top of his foot. He stopped. Holding down her straw hat with one hand, she tilted her face upwards, and in that moment where he lowered his head to look at her, she gave him a quick kiss on the corner of his lips.
He gazed down at her, a smile spreading across his face.
Hastily, she used her straw hat to block the view of her face and then pointed at the ocean in the distance. “The guide said we’ll be going out on the water to fish soon.”
Toupai replied with a quiet “mm.” It was very gentle and easily went into the depths of her heart…
Whew! “Eating tofu” [hitting on someone] in broad daylight does indeed require an extremely strong heart……
All around them, there were people coming and going. How come, just now, she hadn’t noticed there were so many people?! …
掩耳盗铃. A Chinese idiom that means that you are not able to deceive anyone else and can only deceive yourself with your actions, like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Everyone is implying that they “know” the room arrangements with Gu Sheng/Geng Xiaoxing and Toupai/Jue Mei are just a cover-up for the fact that the occupants of the two rooms are likely going to do a little switcheroo later.
吃豆腐 ‘chi dou fu.’ Taking advantage or liberties with someone by touching, kissing, etc, usually without their explicit permission.
Like my attempt at Toupai’s cute, little sketch?
Why is this particular dish so “splendid”? 梅菜扣肉饭 ‘mei cai kou ruo fan’ rice with pickled vegetables and pork is actually a very common dish, something that can be made in any home kitchen. The pork is just sliced or chopped up into the rice. My dad tells me he ate it so much when he was a kid that he became sick of it and as a result, I only ate it a handful of times when I was growing up. This home kitchen rice dish is different from Toupai’s in that there are no little intricate rolls of meat with lotus seed in there. Those rolls are labour intensive. In fact, the little meat rolls are a specialty dish, called 莲子扣肉卷 rolled lotus seed in sliced pork, in itself, found usually only in large restaurants. (To be honest, I know it’s supposed to look cool, but every picture that I saw of the rolls reminded me of a brain or some brain coral that I saw when I was diving… not appetizing…) So, what Toupai is doing here is switching up a very common rice dish that many Chinese homes would make and combining it with a restaurant dish. Here’s a picture of what the common version of the dish would probably look like when served up at home. What a difference, eh?
BTW, hoju does not cook at home. You would not want to eat my cooking. :p All this blabbing is from my research in order to translate this chapter. See how much I have learned from our Toupai DaRen?