torch road, better known as huojù lù

Wednesday, October 1:  Outside the main gate of the university is a street my students translate as Torch Road; in Pinyin Huǒjù lù.  I usually park my bike inside the campus gates, in the bicycle “parking lot.”  Then I go out the front gate and make a sharp left.

Where I park my bike when I go to Torch Street

Where I park my bike when I go to Torch Street

On Torch Road are a variety of restaurants, lingerie and shoe stores, spas, a bakery and fruit juice stands.  It’s a colorful street that beckons those of us who want to escape the campus and have a bit of city life.

typical restaurant along the street

typical restaurant along the street


commerce Chinese style

Clothing & shoe store

Clothing & shoe store

This week, I visit this street a number of times.  I go in search of some practical non-slippery Chinese shoes.  I brought sandals with me from Virginia, but most of them have slippery soles.  When it rains around here, the granite sidewalks become like sheets of ice. I’ve witnessed people falling, and I’ve almost lost it myself a couple of times.

I have success in my search.  I buy a pair of sandals, a pair of purple tennis shoes, some colorful footies, a lime drink sort of like a Slurpee (lemon ice), and some candles.

shoes Chinese style

Chinese style shoes at Exull

Friendly salespeople at Exull

Friendly salespeople at Exull

more practical than stylish :-)

my purchases: more practical than stylish 🙂

colorful nail polish

colorful nail polish

a residence building along the street

a residence building along the street

candy-colored lingerie

candy-colored lingerie

Fruity fun.

Fruity fun.

cake at the bakery

cake at the bakery

drinks in the bakery

drinks in the bakery



At the lemon ice shop, I’m enticed by the green drink on the next to the last panel on the right.  It takes quite a while to make it, and when it’s done it’s like a huge lime Slurpee.  It takes me all of one afternoon and the next day to drink it all because I keep getting brain freeze.

lemon ice

lemon ice



As I walk down the road today, a young lady falls in beside me and starts chatting.  She’s struggling with her English, but I’m proud of her for trying.  She introduces herself as Chen Pingfang and she wants to exchange phone numbers because she “wants to be my friend.”  I ask if she would mind going into the hair salon with me to help translate.  I have a photo of an Asian girl with a haircut I like.  After much talking back and forth between Chen Pingfang and the hairstylist, he tells her the cost will be between 100-300 yuan.  That’s quite a range!  I start to go because I want a set price before I sit down.  Finally the stylist, Han Lu Jao, agrees to charge me 148 yuan (~ $24) which Chen Pingfang relays to me.  She then says her goodbyes and leaves.

Han Lu Jao sits me down in the chair and studies my photo.  He pulls out a book with little samples of hair in dark colors and asks which color I want.  I motion that no, I don’t want color, just a cut, and I use my fingers to make a scissors motion.  Finally he understands that I only want a cut.  I guess he figures if I have a picture of an Asian girl, I want to have my hair exactly like hers, color and all.

at the hair salon: I guess I'm an anomaly :-)

at the hair salon: I guess I’m an anomaly 🙂

This demonstrates the peril of having someone translate for you when you don’t really know the level of their English ability and whether they really understand what you want! 🙂

Han Lu Jao

My hairstylist, Han Lu Jao

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting up at the crack of dawn to head to the train station, and on to Guilin and Yangshuo!  Happy National Holiday!


Categories: Asia, China, Chinese language, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Language barrier, Nanning, Pinyin, Translation | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “torch road, better known as huojù lù

  1. So much color all around you! Although I probably have that much color around me too, if I look. I like the sandles, and the tennis shoes – are tennis shoes, which are made for function and comfort, I think. Picture of hair cut? Does each successful venture seem like a victory? I think it would to me.


    • Carol, each successful venture does seem like a victory. It’s like I’m a new child in a new world, having to discover how to do the simplest things. Once I’ve discovered something, I add it to my bank of knowledge and then I become that much more familiar with this strange world. That’s one of the things I love about living abroad in a new culture. Even the most mundane things seem like an adventure. Eventually, even life here will become mundane though.

      As far as the haircut, it looks nothing like the Asian haircut picture I brought in. It looks just like my hair always looks, really no different at all. I guess my hair will always be my hair, as much as I dream otherwise. 🙂


  2. That’s cheating- showing a photo of your hairdresser! Where’s the haircut? 🙂 🙂


    • Haha, Jo. Here’s the answer I gave to Carol about my haircut:

      As far as the haircut, it looks nothing like the Asian haircut picture I brought in. It looks just like my hair always looks, really no different at all. I guess my hair will always be my hair, as much as I dream otherwise. 🙂


  3. Yes! We want to see the haircut!


    • Maybe you’ll see it if I can get someone to take a picture of me when I’m in Yangshuo, Jude. See my answer to Jo and Carol about the cut. 🙂


      • OK. So maybe you need to go for the colour next time? 😉


      • I gave up color years ago, Jude. My hair is so white that within 3 weeks, I see a white skunk-like stripe and have to color again. I can’t keep up with it! 🙂


  4. Wow, I don’t much like the lingerie but your shoes are ok. Fascinating shops too 🙂


  5. Everything in the shops is so bright! Oh, the joys of brain freeze – that made me laugh – not that you have brain freeze, but that it took you until the next day to be able to finish the drink. 🙂


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