My wife and I are going to Nanjing at the end of Sept (she is speaking at a conference) Before/after that we plan on spending 2 weeks in China.
6 years ago we went to Guilin and still treasure sitting at a corner noodle shop on little pre-school sized stools slurping down noodles in delicious broth topped with chopped crispy/fatty pork, peanuts and scallions.
But the best memory of that trip was the following:
We wanted to get outside the city for an authentic meal - someone at the hotel wrote the name of a village on a piece of paper and directed us to the bus station. After a 45 minute bus ride we disembarked - nobody spoke English and as we wandered through the market and town we didn't see anything that looked like a dining establishment. We were getting really hungry when my wide saw a young college-aged man and guessing/hoping he spoke English told him of our predicament. His English wasn't much, but he got the message and we followed him as he led us down to the river.
We got the message that we were going to take a ferry to an island in the middle of the river where we were going to be able to get something to eat. When the ferryman tried to overcharge us for the crossing our new friend decided that he would accompany us.
At the island we walked down a narrow footpath to a small cluster of houses. We entered one where we sat on the floor and a woman brought us tea. Our friend chatted up our hosts and then turned to us and asked if we would like chicken. At this point we would have eaten anything and we nodded vigorously.
Up and out of the house we were back on another footpath. Somehow we came to understand that this island was an agricultural cooperative and that often city folks would come out here to recapture the country lifestyle. We came to another compound where a bunch of chickens were strutting around the yard. Our friend said they wanted us to pick the one we wanted for lunch. I pointed at a likely suspect, a brief chase ensued followed by the beheading and plucking. We adjourned to a room where the 3 of sat on cushions around a low table while 5 or 6 members of the family stood around and watched us.
After a couple of beers the meal arrived - a large pot of delicious chicken soup.
We don't expect (or want) to duplicate that experience, but that is the kind of memories we hope to create on our return to China. What should we do? We want to experience great food, we love big cities, small villages, festivals and natural beauty (but we're not trekkers). We have little desire to visit major tourist destinations.
We have stayed in contact with our friend from the story - he now lives in Shanghai - so we plan to vist him there. From reading the boards that looks like a place where many a food dream can come true.
What else should we consider: Beijing? Yunnan? Wherever we go we want to spend time there - don't want to hop from place to place.
Thanks in advance for any advice.