China’s 8 percent

On July 12, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

China, inhabited by over 1 billion people, is often considered a homogeneous country population-wise – 92% is Han Chinese. However  there are 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. Many argue that with its distinct language, indigenous homeland within the boundaries of China, distinctive customs and strong sense of identity, the minorities create the most unique ethnic spectrum in the world. […]

China, inhabited by over 1 billion people, is often considered a homogeneous country population-wise – 92% is Han Chinese. However  there are 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. Many argue that with its distinct language, indigenous homeland within the boundaries of China, distinctive customs and strong sense of identity, the minorities create the most unique ethnic spectrum in the world. They are mainly encountered in the West, South and North of the country and 25 of them are recognized in Yunnan alone! Chinese government has created 5 autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Guangxi, Ningxia and Tibet) and numerous autonomous townships and counties in order to provide the minorities with self-rule. Check China Tours and China Flights for tours to tribal areas


Zhuang

With population of over 18 milion, residing mainly in Guangxi Zhuang Autononmous Region, Zhuang is China’s largest minority. It has its own Zhuang language, which used to have its Chinese written form. However, nowadays it’s based on Latin alphabet. Zhuang people believe in inanimate nature (e.g. sun, water, earth, trees), totem and their ancestors. They are famous for their handicrafts, especially their distinct Zhuang brocade. Zhuang frescos carved on steep cliffs are proof for over 2000 years of existence of Zhuang minority.

 

Manchu (Man)

Man minority exerted a significant impact on Chinese history. Having originated almost 1,400 years ago, it established Jin and Qing dynasties. Today, it consists of over 10m people, concentrated in northern China, in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces. Manchu people used to have their distinct Mongolian-based language, but overtime they adopted language of Han Chinese. Believing in Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism, they made a great contribution to Chinese arts and culture over centuries.

 

Hui

With an estimated population of 10 million, Hui is the biggest Muslim minority in China. It is located mainly in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In general, it has similar culture to Han Chinese, with strong influences of Islamic way of life. Hui people are the descendants of Silk Road travellers from Central Asia, Arabia and Persia. They have rise to a unique Chinese Islamic cuisine and distinct Muslim Chinese martial arts.


Miao (Hmong)

Having originated in South East Asia, Miao minority consists nowadays of nearly 9m people. Miao people inhabit mainly Guizhou, Yunnan, Hubei and Hainan provinces in. It is an extremely diverse minority, divided into many branches. It has its own Miao language, divided into 3 main dialects. The language gained its written form only in 20th century. Miao people believe that everything in nature has a spirit. The minority is well-known for its detailed Miao embroidery.

 

Tujia

This minority of 8 million inhabits the provinces of Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Guizhou. It has over 2000 years of history. Its indigenous Tujia language, originating from Tibetan, has no written form, hence Chinese is widely used. Tujia people believe in power of ancestors and gods. They are famous for a folk Nuo drama, combining drama, poetry, music and dance, as well as for the Baishou dance – a 500 year old collective dance which uses 70 ritual gestures to represent war, farming, hunting, courtship and other aspects of traditional life.


Zang (Tibetan)

Zang minority has a population of over 5m, and inhabits Tibetan Autonomous Region. The Tibetan language has many dialects and its distinct alphabet. Historical records of Tibetans in China date back to Han Dynasty (206BC – 220AD). They developed a distinctive form of Tibetan Buddhism – Lamaism. Tibetan crafts and textiles are known all over the world. Less famous but equally precious is masked Tibetan opera.

 

Uyghur

With over 2 thousand year history, it’s one of the most recognizable minorities in China. It has over 8mln people, located mainly in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It has its own language and alphabet, originating from Turkish. The religion of Uyghur people is Islam and the name of the minority means ‘alliance’. Influenced by Sufism, Uyghurs are famous for their folk dance and Muqam – traditional music style.

Each of the 55 minorities is a hub of unique customs, history and way of life. Find out with Tibet Tours how to get to the most remote areas in Western China.

 

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25 things you didn’t know about China

On July 11, 2011, in China Travel Gossip, by Jack Li

Thanks to China Tours and China Flights you already know everything about the attractions in China and how to reach them. Now, time for some geeky facts about China you won’t find in any guidebook! 1. Beibei the fish, Jingjing the panda, Huanhuan the Olympic flame, Yingying the Tibetan antelope, and Nini the swallow are the official Mascot of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If the […]

Thanks to China Tours and China Flights you already know everything about the attractions in China and how to reach them. Now, time for some geeky facts about China you won’t find in any guidebook!

1. Beibei the fish, Jingjing the panda, Huanhuan the Olympic flame, Yingying the Tibetan antelope, and Nini the swallow are the official Mascot of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If the first syllables of their names were removed, it would become “BeiJing HuanYing Ni”, meaning: “Beijing Welcomes You”.

2. Flights between Hong Kong and mainland China are classified as international flights

3. With over 870 million speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the world’s most spoken language.

4. 34 children are born every minute in China.

5. 20% of China’s plants are used in medicine.

6. Despite its size, all of China is in only one time zone.

7. In Ancient China, people believed that swinging your arms could cure a headache.

8. Rice flour was used to strengthen many bricks during the construction of the Great Wall.

9. China is the second largest fast food market in the world.

10. Ice cream was invented in China around 2000BC. The first ice cream was soft milk and rice mixture packed in the snow.

11. Silk making was a closely guarded secret, discovered over 2 thousand years ago. Anyone who gave the secret away could be killed. According to a Chinese legend, silk was discovered by Lady Xi Ling Sui, wife of the Emperor Huang Di. When a silk worm cocoon accidentally dropped into her hot tea, fine threads from the cocoon unravelled in the hot water.

12. Paper was first invented in China in 105 AD. Kept as a closely guarded secret, it didn’t reach Europe until the 8th century.

13. Fingerprinting was used in China as early as 700 A.D.

14. Ketchup originated in China as a pickled fish sauce called ke-tsiap.

15. Many historians believe football originated in China around 1000 BC.

16. Chopsticks originated in China almost 4,000 years ago. It is believed that using chopsticks instead of knives increased respect for the scholar over the warrior in Chinese society.

17. By the fourth century BC., natural gas was drilled and used as a heat source in China, preceding Western natural gas drilling by about 2,300 years

18. By the second century B.C., the Chinese discovered that blood circulated throughout the body and that the heart pumped the blood. In Europe, circulation wasn’t discovered until the early seventeenth century by William Harvey (1578-1657).

19. There are about 40000 characters in Chinese language. On average, an adult knows only around 5000 of them.

20. Tian’anmen Square is the largest public plaza in the world.

21. The modern word “China” most likely derives from the name of the Qin (pronounced “chin”) dynasty. First Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty first unified China in 221 B.C., beginning an Imperial period lasting until A.D. 1912.

22. China is considered the longest continuous civilization, having originated in 6000 B.C. It also has the world’s longest continuously used written language.

23. Fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom – they were invented in 1920 by a worker in a noodle factory in San Francisco.

24. Giant Pandas date back two to three million years. The early Chinese emperors kept pandas as a protection from evil spirits and natural disasters. Pandas also were considered symbols of might and bravery.

25. In the Tang dynasty, every educated person was expected to greet as well as say goodbye to another person in poetic verse composed on the spot.

If you’re looking for accommodation, check China Hotels.

 

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Teas of China

On July 11, 2011, in Featured China Stories, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s calming, it’s rejuvenating… it’s tea! Taste the wonderful properties of Chinese tea for yourself today and book a flight to China. Better yet, ask your expert tour guide on China Tours for his or her suggestions on where to find this elixir of Asia. History Legend holds that tea was […]

It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s calming, it’s rejuvenating… it’s tea! Taste the wonderful properties of Chinese tea for yourself today and book a flight to China. Better yet, ask your expert tour guide on China Tours for his or her suggestions on where to find this elixir of Asia.

History

Legend holds that tea was discovered by Emperor Shennong in 2737 BCE. When a servant was boiling the emperor’s drinking water, a dried leaf from a tea bush fell into the water. The emperor drank the leaf-infused water and found it refreshing, marking the invention of tea, known as chá in Chinese.

According to Tang Dynasty writer Lu Yu’s Cha Jing, around CE 760, tea drinking was already widespread. The process of tea preparation at this time was very different from current methods. Tea leaves were pressed into cake form (brick tea) and ground in stone mortar. The powdered teacake was then either boiled in a kettle or added to hot water to be consumed.

In the mid-13th century, tea leaves began to be roasted rather than steamed, marking the origin of today’s loose teas and the practice of brewed tea.

Health

Tea has long been touted as a remedy for all sorts of bodily ailments, but is there any science behind these claims? Yes!

Tea has been shown to have positive effects in many areas. The following is a small sample: anti-cancer, mental alertness, bad breath, bacterial and fungal infections, stroke, cardiovascular health, weight loss, stress hormone levels, and HIV.

Studies have shown that adding milk may block some of the normal, healthful effects of tea. However, plant-based milks, such as soy milk, do not seem to have these effects on tea. Citrus, on the other hand, has been found to increase some healthful effects of tea.

Chinese Pu'er tea with a certificate verifying its age and region of origin

Kinds

Categories of Chinese tea include white, green, oolong, and black. Within these categories, the variety of individual beverages numbers up to 1,000.

One type of tea unique to China is Pu’er tea, a variety of post-fermented tea produced in Yunnan province. After leaves are dried and rolled, they undergo a microbial fermentation process. Certain selections from both the raw and ripened versions of Pu’er tea can be matured – that is why some are labeled with year and region of production.

Try it!

Tea-loving travelers to China should visit a tea house during their stay to experience this fundamental piece of Chinese culture. Here is one tea house in the Beijing area:

Dr. Tea

No.1, Min Zu Yuan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

Phone number: +86 (010) 82083648

Don’t miss out on this fantastic cultural experience! Come to China with China Travels today!

 

 

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Music to My Ears

On July 8, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

From the trills of opera to the shrieking guitars of rock stars, the Chinese music industry has it all. But the Chinese music scene hasn’t always been so diverse. The New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s planted the country’s first seeds of interest in Western music. Today, lyrics and performances that were once […]

From the trills of opera to the shrieking guitars of rock stars, the Chinese music industry has it all. But the Chinese music scene hasn’t always been so diverse. The New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s planted the country’s first seeds of interest in Western music. Today, lyrics and performances that were once labeled rebellious are generally accepted. If simply reading about this evolution of Oriental music culture isn’t enough for you, don’t hesitate to hop on a flight to China and book a China hotel to experience it for yourself!

Traditional

Music, or yīnyuè in Chinese, was long considered one of the four fundamental societal functions. Every feudal state, dynasty, and republic throughout Chinese history established an official music organization to pay homage to this idea. In fact, China is home to the earliest musical scale in recorded history! Artists have historically organized their music around the distinctive minor third interval. The aesthetics of traditional Chinese music have proven astoundingly resistant to the ravages of time.

The Age of Confucius saw the greatest realization of these musical aesthetics. As major principalities competed to attract artists, scholars, diplomats, engineers, and musicians to their courts, human capital was increasingly invested in creative endeavors. Advancements in the science of acoustics furthered the art of music-making.

Below are examples of traditional Chinese instruments:

Dizi, bamboo flute

 

 

 

 

 

Guqin, seven-stringed zither, “Instrument of the Sages”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erhu, spike fiddle

 

 

 

 

 

Paigu, tuned wooden drums

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese opera, especially the Beijing opera, has been popular throughout the centuries. Opera music is performed with high-pitched vocals and accompanied by various traditional instruments.

Modern

The transition from traditional to modern music was a rocky ordeal spanning multiple decades. The founding of the New China in 1912 marked initial, tenuous contact with Western music. At various high points during the revolutionary age, musical composition and performance were severely restricted or manipulated by the government to promote pro-Communist ideology.

The 1970s saw the rise of cantopop in Hong Kong and mandopop in Taiwan, but mainland China denounced this Western influenced music as “rebellious.” Even into the 1990s, Anita Mui was banned from the mainland concert stage for performing a dance choreography based on the style of Madonna. Only recently have Chinese youth become consumers in the popular music market. China is still not considered a major production or consumption hub for popular music.

Since the end of the 20th century, pop music in mainland China has been gaining popularity. Many mainland Chinese artists begin with commercial success in Hong Kong or Taiwan and attempt to re-introduce themselves into mainland China.

Below are examples of modern day Chinese artists:

Cui Jian, “The Father of Chinese Rock” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faye Wong, “Best Selling Cantopop Female” (Guinness Book of World Records)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S.H.E., Taiwanese girl group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fahrenheit, Taiwanese boy band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, popular Chinese musical genres include not only pop music, but also hip hop and rap, rock and heavy metal, and various alternative genres.

What are you waiting for? Travel to Beijing and hear the famous Beijing Opera for yourself! If nothing else, just slip on a pair of headphones and rock out to some modern day C-pop — your ears will thank you.

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Top 10 most stunning landscapes in China

On July 7, 2011, in Cool Places, Guilin, Tibet, by Jack Li

China can boast not only the ancient temples, palaces and constructions like the Great Wall. It goes beyond the cutting-edge cities of Shanghai and Beijing. Geography is China’s greatest treasure – read and discover the most breathtaking places in the country! Check China Tours for organised trips and China Flights on how to get to […]

China can boast not only the ancient temples, palaces and constructions like the Great Wall. It goes beyond the cutting-edge cities of Shanghai and Beijing. Geography is China’s greatest treasure – read and discover the most breathtaking places in the country! Check China Tours for organised trips and China Flights on how to get to the most remote places.

1. Li River in Guilin

The most beautiful part of the Li River is near Guilin, in Guangxi province. The landscape is famous for the karst (limestone and gypsum) hills of the most unusual shapes. To admire the scenery, take a cruise down the Li River and see such wonders of nature as the Elephant Hill and Folded Brocade Hill. Trivia: Guilin was used as a film location for the Star Wars: Episode III movie!

 

2. Danxia Landform

Known as ‘China Red Stone Park’,  Danxia hills in Guangdong province burst with colours. Danxia Mountain is the landform’s most famous scenic wonder and various other incredible forms – e.g. natural bridges, cliffs, caves – are encountered there. Several ‘Danxia forms’ were inscribed as the World Heritage Site last year, so if you’re visiting Yunnan – Danxia is a must-see!

 

3. Huangshan Mountains

Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. Located in Anhui province, it’s best known for its sunsets and granite peaks. It was described in many texts and pictured in many paintings of the past. Recently, it was used as a filming location for the Oscar-winning ‘Avatar’.  Waterfalls, sea of clouds and uniquely shaped pines and rockes coined a saying:  ‘No need to see any other mountains after Huangshan!’.

 

4. Luoping

Located in Yunnan Province, the Luoping County is particularly beautiful in spring. The peculiar black mountains are surrounded by the golden sea of blooming canola (rapeseed flower). Luoping is around 240km from Kunming, from where regular bus services are running. Allow at least 2 days to explore the area – a beautiful Jiulong Pubu waterfall is just an hour drive from the town.

 

5. Leye Tiankengs

Guangxi Province can boast the largest area of clustered tiankengs (rare karst caves) on Earth.  Besides China, tiankengs are encountered in only 3 other places in the world! Two new species of animals were discovered at the bottom of the largest tiankeng here. They say that with white clouds just above your head, looking down the steep cliffs will make you feel like flying in the sky!

 

6. Heavenly Pool in Changbai Mountains

Changbai Mountain range spreads over a few provinces. It is considered a birthplace of the founders of the Qing dynasty and it’s the largest settlement of the Manchurian tiger – species on the brink of extinction. The majestic Heavenly Pool is located in the Jilin Province and it’s the deepest crater lake in China. Enclosed by 16 peaks, it is a famous spot for ‘winter swimming’ – even in summer water temperature doesn’t exceed 7 degrees Celsius!

 

7. Namtso Lake

At an altitude of almost 5,000m, Namtso Lake is China’s tallest saltwater lake. It is a sacred place for Tibetans, being a destination of Tibetan pilgrims for centuries. It spreads over an area of nearly 2,000 sq km. Namtso Lake area is also known for its insidious weather, so take extra care if you decide to explore this beautiful site!

 

8. Baishui Terrace

Covering an area of 3 sq km, Baishui Terrace in Yunnan Province is the largest karst wonder in China. The best way to explore the area is hiking the Haba Snow Mountain – the white waters of the Terrace contrast with the wild mountain greenery, making it one of the most unique landscapes in the region.

 

9. Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon

Located in Tibet, it’s one of the largest and deepest canyons in the world. It’s even longer than the Grand Canyon in USA!  The Yarlung Zagbo River flowing through the Canyon was named ‘The Everest of the rivers’ because of its harsh conditions for the kayakers.

 

 

10. East Hulun Buir Grassland

Finally, probably the most relaxing landscape in China. Endless green fields and green mountains cut with silver rivers of this part of Inner Mongolia will be a perfect ending to you trip to China. The best way to explore the steppe is horseback riding.

Before you visit each of these places, make sure to find accommodation with China Hotels.

 

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For the Penny Pincher

On July 7, 2011, in Shopping, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

College students and starving artists, rejoice! You’ve just saved money by flying with China Flights, and it seems like everywhere you turn, this or that is less expensive than it would be in your hometown. A 3-kilometer taxi ride that’s only 10 yuan (about $1.50 USD)? Or a foot-long Subway sandwich for 22 yuan (about […]

College students and starving artists, rejoice! You’ve just saved money by flying with China Flights, and it seems like everywhere you turn, this or that is less expensive than it would be in your hometown. A 3-kilometer taxi ride that’s only 10 yuan (about $1.50 USD)? Or a foot-long Subway sandwich for 22 yuan (about $3.40 USD)? But before you go out and buy truckloads of flat screen TVs to sell back home, let’s go through a quick review of price points in the Chinese market so you won’t be squandering money during your tour of China.

Clothing

Hot: Finding great sales at small shops or bargaining like a master at markets.
Not so hot: Buying items from Western shops or backing down during a heated bargaining debate.

Western shops often stock imported goods, resulting in relatively sky-high prices even when there’s a big sale. If you can bargain a T-shirt down to 25 yuan at the Silk Market, why pay 100 yuan for a similar one that’s on sale at Zara? Hold this mentality when bargaining: “if I can buy this for the same price at home, I shouldn’t buy it in China.”

Food

Hot: Buying fresh fruit and various grilled items from street vendors or trying out local restaurants.
Not so hot: Sitting down at the first restaurant you see without asking to see the menu or consistently buying goods at a Western supermarket.

Food in China is amazingly inexpensive. Even at upscale restaurants, your bill will likely be half of what it might be in your hometown. That said, compare relative prices. This goes for both restaurant food and supermarket groceries. Keep an eye out for tourist traps and accompanying high prices. Any establishment with Western roots or influence tends to attract relatively wealthy foreigners, giving the institution the capacity to charge more.

Transportation

Hot: Making use of public transportation or walking.
Not so hot: Flagging down a taxi to go everywhere or joining multiple tour groups.

Although any form of public transportation in China is crowded, subways are efficient and inexpensive. Or, if you’d prefer to take the bus, you’re in luck – it’s even less expensive than the subway. In Beijing, one subway ticket costs 2 yuan (about $0.31 USD). With a metro pass (usable for both the subway and bus systems) you will receive a 60% discount on bus fare. Although a ride in a taxi here is less expensive than the same ride in New York City, remember, everything is relative. Furthermore, if you are traveling on your own, opt against joining multiple daytime tour groups – invest in a good map and carve your own path!

Electronics

Hot: Not much.
Not so hot: Inflated prices and counterfeit goods.

The iPhone on the right is fake.

China is notoriously well-known for its wide array of counterfeit goods. But this doesn’t stop at Louis Vuitton handbags and Coach shoes – it extends even to electronics. Sony, Nikon, Canon, Apple – it all looks so legitimate, but quality is unreliable. Beware of purchasing electronics at markets where you can bargain down the price. If you must buy an electronic good in China, do so at a retail store, but do some research online first. Authentic electronics in China are much more expensive than they are in foreign countries.

Now, combine these tips with a great deal on accommodations through China Hotels, and you’re in the perfect position to save money during your trip to China!

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Mastering the Underground

On July 7, 2011, in Getting Around, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

With a growing population of 1.3 billion people, by far the world’s largest, what’s a country to do in terms of transportation? Develop the urban underground! As of now, 11 major cities in China boast subway systems: Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Taipei, Wuhan, Shenyang, Tianjin, Nanjing, and Chongqing. 20 additional cities have applied for […]

With a growing population of 1.3 billion people, by far the world’s largest, what’s a country to do in terms of transportation? Develop the urban underground! As of now, 11 major cities in China boast subway systems: Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Taipei, Wuhan, Shenyang, Tianjin, Nanjing, and Chongqing. 20 additional cities have applied for permits to begin construction of their own subway lines, known as dìtiě in Chinese. If you’ve landed in China with China Flights and this is your first time traveling to a city that has a subway system, never fear! China Travels is here with a step-by-step guide to help you master the underground!

Things you will need:

  • Money
  • Current map of your city
  1. Walk to the nearest subway station. Subway stations are uniformly marked and easily recognizable. For example, in Beijing, look for a large D on a blue sign.
  2. Put your baggage through the security scanner. (Note: Security scanners are not at every station.)
  3. Use either the automated machine or the ticket window to purchase a ticket. Depending on the city, prices will range between 2-5 yuan. Some cities set a fixed price (e.g. Beijing) while others use distance traveled to determine the price (e.g. Tianjin).
  4. Wave your ticket over the turnstile sensor to enter the station.
  5. Using your own map or the maps posted in the subway station, locate your destination and see which subway line(s) will take you there. Head to the appropriate subway line.
  6. Check the signs and maps to make sure you are lining up on the side of the platform with a train traveling in your desired direction. For example, if Line 2 runs north-south, the platform will have two different trains that stop on either side, one going north and one going south.
  7. Line up at the yellow lines on the edge of the platform.
  8. Follow the crowd and squeeze onto the subway!
  9. Keep an eye on the map located above the subway doors and listen to the announcements to make sure you don’t miss your stop.
  10. Before your exit, nudge your way to the front of the doors for a smooth exit. Otherwise, if the subways are crowded, you might get stuck at the back of the car and be unable to get off because people are pushing to come on board.
  11. Step off the subway!
  12. Follow the signs to either A) transfer to the appropriate subway line, or B) see which terminal you should exit through to put you closest to your destination.
  13. To exit the station: if your ticket is one-time use only, stick it into the turnstile slot located below the sensor; if it is a Metro Pass, wave it over the turnstile sensor.

Things you may want to know:

  • If you plan to use the subway often, consider purchasing a Metro Pass (called an IC card). With a 20 yuan refundable deposit, you can load as much money onto it as you’d like, eliminating the need to buy an individual ticket each time you use the subway.
  • If you take the wrong exit, the only inconvenience will be an extra few minutes of walking.
  • Subway stations are full of signs in both Chinese and English.

Best of luck! If you’d like some more advice on mastering the underground during your trip to China, consider joining a tour group and hearing the expert advice of a tour guide!

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Chinese Martial Arts

On July 6, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Must-sees, by Jack Li

China Travel can open your eyes to this wonderful culture, and allow you to gain an understanding of historic martial arts. The Chinese have been practising these rituals for centuries. Travel to Beijing to see traditional martial arts being practised in its original setting.     This unique sport is often referred to as ‘Wushu’ or […]

China Travel can open your eyes to this wonderful culture, and allow you to gain an understanding of historic martial arts. The Chinese have been practising these rituals for centuries. Travel to Beijing to see traditional martial arts being practised in its original setting.

   

This unique sport is often referred to as ‘Wushu’ or ‘Kung Fu.’ The traits of this activity have been passed on for generations, through Chinese families or Martial Art schools. The exercises have been inspired by the country’s philosophies, various religions and legends.

This Chinese cultural activity was thought to have orginated from the Xia Dynasty, over 4000 years ago. It was developed for self defense, for hunting and to train Chinese militants. Wushu can take a physical or weaponary form of defense and was taught to ancient soldiers so that they could defend their country during wars.

Today, it is a pastime that many Chinese people practise to keep fit and relieve stress. Martial arts can improve muscular and cardiovascular fitness and has become popular throughout the world. However undoubtedly the best place to see it is in the traditional parks and tranquil locations throughout China. For example, in Beijing elderly people often practise Tai Chi in the parks. Feel free to join in and discover how enjoyable it is. If you want to  experience this fascinating leisure persuit ask local artists nbso online casino reviews if you can get involved.

When visiting Beijing the best place to see or practise martial arts is in the gardens surrounding the Temple of Heaven, in the southern part of the city. It is recommended to go there at sunrise. This is because most Chinese martial artists perform at this time, as part of their daily ritual.

The most convenient and cheapest way to get to the Temple of Heaven is via the subway. It only costs 2 Yuan per trip (about 20 British pence.) To get there you must get on the number 2 (blue line) to Chongwenmen station. The subway begins operating at 6 in the morning and is open until 11 at night.

Martial art styles vary between provinces and cities throughout China. Therefore the way in which Beijingers perform this art is different to the ‘Shanghainese’ interpretation.

China Tours are the perfect way to gain a detailed insight into Chinese culture, including the martial art rituals.

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Tips on Using ATMs in China

On March 4, 2011, in China Travel Gossip, Cultural Experience, by Jack Li

While traveling gives you fun, it means spending money. So before you go on your China Tours, get to know how to withdraw money in China. Take Beijing for instance; you’ll find many banks with many ATMs around every corner of the city when you Travel to Beijing. However, only about 60% of these accept […]

While traveling gives you fun, it means spending money. So before you go on your China Tours, get to know how to withdraw money in China. Take Beijing for instance; you’ll find many banks with many ATMs around every corner of the city when you Travel to Beijing. However, only about 60% of these accept foreign cards.  

The main foreign friendly ATMs are controlled by the Bank of China. Bank of China ATMs work in both Chinese and English, use the latest equipment, and are pretty easy to find. But the connection to the overseas banking network tends to have a high down time.

If you are told by a Bank of China machine that your transaction has been declined and to contact your bank, do not panic. This often just means that the International network is unavailable. You should try the other two banks mentioned or return the next day.

If the Bank of China ATMs are not working for you, the next best bet is a Merchants Bank outlet. Their network seems to be a bit more stable, and seem to run out of cash less. The problem is that Merchants Bank branches are few and not as easy to find as Bank of China.

Another bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has recently opened up most of its ATMs to the international network, allowing VISA or Mastercard transactions. ICBC is a very common bank in Beijing and seems to have branches almost everywhere. These banks are very popular however, and you may end up waiting in line to use one of these ATMs.

Using the ATMs

When you put your foreign bank card into a Beijing ATM it should give you the option to display English, or display both Chinese and English. There are various different methods the banks employ to let you select language. The Bank of China ATMs give the password screen in both languages, then on the select account screen, the options are given in two languages, English to the left, and Chinese to the right. 

On the select account screen it is essential that you use the left buttons to select your account as this is what determines the language you will be using from that point on. If you mistakenly press the buttons on the right, you will be in Chinese from that point onwards.

Transaction Limits

Other banks, like ICBC, have a separate screen near the beginning of the process which lets you select your desired language. At the end of some ATM transactions you will be given the option to continue or take your card. This is because the transaction limits on most bank accounts is set pretty low. The maximum you will be able to withdraw in one request is about 2500 RMB usually. You can press the continue button and try to get more cash out up to the ATMs daily limit. Most USA banks allow you about 5500 RMB per day, but this is controlled by your own bank.

There are a couple of other banks which may accept foreign cards around Beijing, namely HSBC and Citibank.  These ATMs are extremely rare however. Other internal Chinese banks almost certainly will not process your overseas transaction.

Commission and Transaction Charges

The ATMs mentioned here dispense Chinese RMB currency. The money will be taken from your foreign bank account. It will be converted to your home currency at a quite reasonable rate usually. The commission and transaction charges will be dependent upon your own bank’s policies.  If you are using an ATM/Debit card, usually the charges are comparable to drawing money in your own country. If you are using a Credit Card, you are usually talking about a “cash advance” which can be extremely expensive depending on your bank and how long you take to pay back the money. Hope this is helpful if you’re now already in the middle of packing up for your China Tours.

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The Most Famous Beach in China

On November 10, 2010, in Adventure Trip, Beaches, Must-sees, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

If you are planning your China Tours and would like to spend your vacation on the beautiful beach of China, then you have many choices. The top three famous beaches in China is as follows. Plan your china travel beforehand and enjoy a nice journey in China. 1. Beihai Silver Beach Beihai Silver Beach is […]

If you are planning your China Tours and would like to spend your vacation on the beautiful beach of China, then you have many choices. The top three famous beaches in China is as follows. Plan your china travel beforehand and enjoy a nice journey in China.

1. Beihai Silver Beach

Beihai Silver Beach is located at the southeast side of Beihai City, about 10 kilometers from the urban area. It is honored as the ‘Oriental Hawaii’ with a total area of 38 square kilometers. It got its name from its fine, soft and silvery quartz sand which shines like silver under the sun. Overall, Beihai Silver Beach stretches 24 kilometers and varies in width from 30 to 300 meters.

Because of its natural advantages, the beach is regarded as the most ideal resort for beach bathing and sports in the southern region of China. Besides the blue sea, the silver beach and the sunshine, there is a Beihai Silver Beach Park with comes complete with all the tourist facilities. There are many interesting activities that you can do here in Beihai Silver Beach,such as playing beach volleyball, driving a beach kart, taking a boat out and diving under the sea. If you are looking for something more extreme, you can also try parachute jumping.

2. The Sanya Yalong Bay Beach

The Sanya Yalong Bay Beach is located in the southern most provinces, Hainan Province in China. It is 25 kilometers east of the tropical seaside tourist city, Sanya. With the extend of 7 km, the Sanya Yalong Bay Beach covers an area of 18.6 square kilometers and it is one of the most famous scenic spots in Hainan Province with the honor” the No. 1 Bay in China”.

The climate in Yalong Bay is temperate with the average temperature of 25.5 C all year-round. Sanya. The scenery of Yalong Beach is amazing with endless rolling hills, serene gulfs, clear blue sea and silvery sand beaches. You can fully relax with the tropical fish swimming around and the clear water reflecting the blue sky and the white clouds. There are many shops, restaurants, and hotels near by. With the perfection of facilities, thousands of travelers are attracted by its resorts, seaside parks, deluxe villas and golf courses. What is more, it becomes a good place for people who conduct matches. For example, the new Silk Road model show of China, the top level model contests is said to be hold there.

By the way, you must feel regret if you miss the unique seafood in Yalong Beach. The

crystal and pearl ornaments there are quite tasty. And there is a Museum of Sea Shell and a butterfly valley where you can appreciate all kinds of shells and butterflies.

3. Bathing beaches in Qingdao

The bathing beaches in Qingdao Province also the one with good reputation. It is one of the nine famous beaches in Qingdao for it is the largest one in Qingdao with 580 meters in length and 40 meters in breadth.

Wave in the bay is just suitable enough for entertainment at sea. The swimming bath facilities make it quite convenient for you to swim in the sea. The beach is free of charge. With the cooling down of the weather, it needs some courage to go swimming in the open air for it is in north China. But it is quite enjoyable to swim in the sea at dusk of summer.

With more and more tourists choose China as their destination, it is better to book your China Hotels in advance. Hope you enjoy your vacation in China.

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