The four Great Classical Novels.

On August 9, 2012, in Cultural Experience, Ethnic Group Flavors, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

If you want to know more about China before your trip to China the best (And most enjoyable) way to do it is reading some books. But if you really want to have a deep plunge in the Chinese culture the best challenge is to read all the Four Great Classical Novels before your China […]

If you want to know more about China before your trip to China the best (And most enjoyable) way to do it is reading some books. But if you really want to have a deep plunge in the Chinese culture the best challenge is to read all the Four Great Classical Novels before your China trip.

The four Great Classical Novels are four novels that have influenced all the ancient (and modern) Chinese literature, the first one dates from the 13th century and the last from the 18th.

They are among the world’s oldest and longest novels and have influenced lots of plays, games and movies throughout Asia.

This article don’t plan to explain all their glory but just to have a glimpse of their plot and story.

The first novel is called “Water Margin” it was written in the 13th Century and it is basically about a group of outlaws first leaded by Wang Jin but in the end leaded by Song Jiang they fight aganist some evil generals, first Gao Qiu and then Cai Jing, this novel also tells how they lived in that era so it’s an interesting reading.

The second novel it’s called “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and it was written a century later, this is the most complex of the fourn novels because it follows all the story of three kingdoms how they lived separatly they unificate and they separate again. It’s a historical novel.

The third novel is the most famous one “A Journey to the West” , written in the 16th century this novels narrates the adventures of Son Goku (or Sun Wokung) a monkey, and his companions, a pig (Zhu Baije) a river ogre (Sha Wujing) and a dragon (the third son of theDragon of the West Sea) in their way to a peregrination to India where they recieve the scriptures from Buddha.

The fourth is more actual, it’s written on the 18th Century and it’s called “dream of the red chamber” and it’s about a young man born with a magical stone of jade in his mouth that is in love with his cousin but he has to marry another cousin who he doesn’t love.

There is also said that a fifth novel sould be added, the Plum in the Golden Vase, but it’s told to be too erotic for it’s inclusion.

If you like books and you want to read something traditional before your China Trip try these novels!

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Being a senior in China

In my first China travel, several years ago, I went to Southern China, near Guangzhou. I didn’t imagine that I would meet that many elderly people hanging out in the streets. Since I’ve never been to Northern China, I thought that it was something typical from the South, since weather is quite warm and because […]

In my first China travel, several years ago, I went to Southern China, near Guangzhou. I didn’t imagine that I would meet that many elderly people hanging out in the streets. Since I’ve never been to Northern China, I thought that it was something typical from the South, since weather is quite warm and because it wasn’t a very big city, so seniors could enjoy the tranquility of the city with their friends. But when I came back in China few months ago, taking a flight to Beijing more precisely was quite surprised to notice the same phenomena here. Seniors are especially active in China; I think that there is a huge gap between seniors in western countries and eastern ones.

In France (where I come from), the Elderly are quite alone, I mean they spend their day at home, reading the newspaper, watching TV, going out sometimes to shop at the supermarket or at the market, and see their family members once a week. They have plenty of time but don’t have the opportunity to meet other a lot of people, or do some regular activities. I think that seniors in China are much happier than in France, they are surprisingly active. Furthermore, most of the times they live in the same place than their children with the whole family or just at the house/apartment next door, they are never very far from their children and grandchildren.

Here is a typical day of a senior in China:
They wake up quite early in the morning drink a cup of tea, have a breakfast and read the newspaper. As they’re up before the whole family they prepare the breakfast for everyone and have it together. Then, while the weather is still fresh, they go to some parks, in the streets, or just down the building to have a walk, gather with the old people in the neighborhood, do some exercise with some punchy music and dance. At midday they go back home to have lunch with the grandchildren they took at school, and then they take a nap because the weather is too hot to go out. And when they wake up they usually spend the rest of the afternoon with their friends chatting outside or play games like mahjong or cards.

Indeed when I go to the parks or when I walk out from my building I like to chat with the Elderly. They are very nice, funny and are happy to speak and meet with a foreigner. They might invite you for a cup of tea in the afternoon and eat some fruits if they like you. Or better, you can spend the afternoon playing with them at Chinese chess, mahjong or cards. I still don’t know how to play Chinese chess, but they already taught me how to play mahjong and cards. First, the rules of mahjong were quite difficult to assimilate, but after few games, I felt like I’ve been playing this game my whole life! I must confess that this is now my favorite game; it requires skill, strategy, calculation and involves a certain degree of chance. Now I can easily “Pung, Kong, Chi” with the 136 tiles.

No surprise that Chinese people are known to have the longest life in the world if they are as happy. I wish I could live like them when I grow old and spend my day taking things easy. So, next time you will see a group of seniors in a park or in the street, don’t hesitate to discuss with them even if they can’t speak English, I’m sure that you will spend a great time and live an amazing human experience. What make your China tour different from others would be the people you met and the experience you’ve shared not only the place you’ve visited.

The Republic of Singing People

I know that maybe you won’t have the chance to be really interested in Chinese songs on your China tour, but I’m sure that you have already heard some songs even if you didn’t pay attention to it. People who have never travelled to China may think that Chinese songs are like Japanese or Korean […]

I know that maybe you won’t have the chance to be really interested in Chinese songs on your China tour, but I’m sure that you have already heard some songs even if you didn’t pay attention to it. People who have never travelled to China may think that Chinese songs are like Japanese or Korean Pop, or like Beijing’s opera songs. Yet, even if they have traditional songs, they listen to all kind of music, but it’s true that they prefer ballads to rap or hard rock music. You will notice that techno music is widely displayed at the hair dresser’s, shops, malls, arcade game centers or to promote something.

Music is very present into their lives, but I think that they rather like singing than listening to songs. Yes, Chinese people like to sing songs. In my life I’ve never seen as many advertisements where people are singing on it to promote random products. Moreover all their shows have a musical part; a dance, a song, or an instrument. It’s common to hear people singing in the subway. They are not afraid or ashamed to show their vocal talents in front of a crowd with their headphones on their ears. And if you go to some parks, you will see that elderly people gather everyday together to practise taichi, play cards/majong, discuss, dance and sing. Karaoke is the symbol of their passion for singing. You can be sure that on every city of China you will be, you will find at least 1 KTV. In these last past years, Arcade game centers started to put karaoke cabins on service too.

Chinese National Anthem Jìnxíngqǔ

Qǐlái! Búyuàn zuò núlì de rénmen!
Bǎ wǒmen de xuèròu,
zhùchéng wǒmen xīn de chángchéng!
Zhōnghuá mínzú dàoliǎo zuì wēixiǎn de shíhòu.
Měi ge rén bèipòzhe fāchū zuìhòu de hǒushēng.
Qǐlái! Qǐlái! Qǐlái!
Wǒmen wànzhòngyìxīn,
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Màozhe dírén de pàohuǒ, qiánjìn!
Qiánjìn! Qiánjìn! Jìn!

最炫民族风 zuì xuàn mín zú fēng

This is a very popular song in China, like the most trendy since a lot of videos on youkou and youtube are made with this cover. This song is the buzz of the year 2010, I’ve listened it few times, and now I keep singing this song in my head everyday. You can find it on copy the name of the song in chinese and watch funny videos and corporate flash mobs about this song.

cāng máng de tiān yá shì wǒ de ài
mián mián de qīng shān jiǎo xià huā zhèng kāi
shí me yàng de jié zòu shì zuì yā zuì yáo bǎi
shí me yàng de gē shēng cái shì zuì kāi huái

wān wān de hé shuǐ cóng tiān shàng lái
líu xiàng nà wàn zǐ qiān hóng yī piàn hǎi
huǒ là là de gē yáo shì wǒ men de qī dài
yī lù biān zǒu biān chàng cái shì zuì zì zài
wǒ men yào chàng jìu yào chàng dé zuì tòng kuài

Chorus:
nǐ shì wǒ tiān biān zuì měi de yún cǎi
ràng wǒ yòng xīn bǎ nǐ líu xià lái ( líu xià lái )
yōu yōu de chàng zhe zuì xuàn de mín zú fēng
ràng ài juàn zǒu suǒ yǒu de chén āi( wǒ zhī dào )
nǐ shì wǒ xīn zhōng zuì měi de yún cǎi
zhēn mǎn měi jǐu ràng nǐ líu xià lái ( líu xià lái )
yǒng yuǎn dōu chàng zhe zuì xuàn de mín zú fēng
shì zhěng piàn tiān kōng zuì měi de zī tài ( líu xià lái )

( yo lā lā hē lā bài )
( yī lā suo lā hē lā bài yā )
wǒ tīng jiàn nǐ xīn zhōng dòng rén de tiān lài
dēng shàng tiān wài yún xiāo de wǔ tái

cāng máng de tiān yá shì wǒ de ài
mián mián de qīng shān jiǎo xià huā zhèng kāi
shí me yàng de jié zòu shì zuì yā zuì yáo bǎi
shí me yàng de gē shēng cái shì zuì kāi huái

wān wān de hé shuǐ cóng tiān shàng lái
líu xiàng nà wàn zǐ qiān hóng yī piàn hǎi
huǒ là là de gē yáo shì wǒ men de qī dài
yī lù biān zǒu biān chàng cái shì zuì zì zài
wǒ men yào chàng jìu yào chàng dé zuì tòng kuài

Chorus x2

Songs are also a good way to create links and connect people. I’m sure that it would be easier to break the ice with Chinese people that you’ll meet during your trip. Here are some famous songs in pinyin to practice at home before flying to China.

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Chinese tea.

On August 8, 2012, in China Travel Gossip, by Jack Li

When you travel to China you will see that everybody carry a little (or not so little) hard-plastic bottle and that normally it’s filled with tea, in fact if your Chinese Trip is quite long maybe it’s a good idea to buy one. Because one of the major influences from the Chinese culture to the […]

When you travel to China you will see that everybody carry a little (or not so little) hard-plastic bottle and that normally it’s filled with tea, in fact if your Chinese Trip is quite long maybe it’s a good idea to buy one.

Because one of the major influences from the Chinese culture to the world is tea.

Tea is just an aromatic beverage consistent in pouring hot water in some leaves of a plant called “Camelia sinensis” and it’s the second most drank beverage in the world after water.

This plant is original from China, in fact, there are sources that say that the first records of tea drinking are found in China the 10th century B.C, and it was a very common drink in the 3rd century B.C in China, during the Qin dynasty, during the following centuries it was expanded to Japan and Korea and it to Europe by the 16th century A.C.

Although there are some kinds of tea they are originally the same plant in different stages of different processes, sometimes with a touch of another plant but the base is always “Camelia sinensis”

The processes take part on the leaves, depending on them the tea can be;

–          White (wilted and unoxidized, not allowed to dry)

–          Yellow (the same as white but allowed to dry for a bit)

–          Green (unwilted and unoxidized, that is the healthiest tea variety)

–          Oolong (Wilted, bruised, and partially oxidized)

–          Black tea (Wilted, sometimes crushed, and fully oxidized)

–          Fermented teas (Green tea that has been allowed to ferment/compost)

Considering all this tea varieties it’s obvious that in China, as the place of they originated, has the largest traditions and culture around the tea, so it’s always worthy to get a little bit of information and try to find a traditional tea ceremony that will allow you to know the way the tea was intended to be drank in the beginning of its cultivation.

In China tea was considered one of the seven necessities, alongside with; rice, fire, soy sauce, oil, salt and vinegar.

It’s also used for different things, depending on how you serve it such as; a sign of respect, for a family gathering, to apologize, to express thanks to your elders on your wedding day, to connect large families in celebrations and lots of other little acts that have tea as an important part of it.

During your China Trip try to learn more about the tea culture and don’t hesitate to try the different teas that you’ll be able to find around. Hot water is also surprisingly easy to find and you can always ask it in your hotel, they will give you hot water even in the restaurants so if you wish you can bring your own tea leaves and make your own beverage there.

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Chinese mythology: How Heaven and Earth were created.

China travel’s guide books can’t provide you all the information you need about Chinese culture, beliefs, history and myths. But fully understanding its inhabitants needs going further on the culture. Western people have their own version of how the Earth was created according to the Bible, but did you know that even Chinese people are not religious […]

China travel’s guide books can’t provide you all the information you need about Chinese culture, beliefs, history and myths. But fully understanding its inhabitants needs going further on the culture. Western people have their own version of how the Earth was created according to the Bible, but did you know that even Chinese people are not religious in general, have their own myth about that? Creation of Heaven and Earth by Pangu is the creative myth that was spread in the Orient in ancient times. More than a myth, it is even written on Chinese history books to explain who the Chinese ancestors were. But don’t get me wrong, they know that it’s a legend. The point is that wherever you go on your China tours every local would know that story, and if the topic comes out in a conversation be sure that they’ll be surprised that you know that kind of legend.

A very long time ago, Heaven and Earth were a chaotic gathering of air masses, just like an egg, with Pangu slept inside. He slept for about 18000 years and then awoke. He found that he was in the dark, so he expanded his huge hands and cut into the darkness. At that moment an explosion happened: Heaven and Earth started to split. Standing right in between the Heaven and the Earth, hands holding out the sky, feet stamping on the ground, he grew taller and taller, hence the sky became higher and higher while the ground became lower and lower. Because he was afraid that the sky and the earth could come together again he stood there for 18.000 years. As a result, the Heaven and the Earth were finally driven away from each other of 90.000 kilometers. Pangu gradually weakened after he separated the heaven and the earth. After he died, his body turned into all the things in the universe. After his death, his eyes became the Sun and the Moon, his four limbs, the mountains, blood, rivers, lakes and seas, his sinews, the field, his arteries, the roads and ways, his hair and moustache, the stars in the sky, his skin and body hair, flowers, grass, and woods, his teeth and bones, rocks, glittering pearls and precious stones. His breath became the wind and cloud, his shout became the thunderbolt, and the sweat turned out to be the rain. A lot of insects on his body were blown by wind into living human beings.

This myth has been passed from generations to generations until now among Chinese families. Moreover some ethnic minorities still sing songs about Pangu. This is one of the numerous myths in China, if you appreciated that story you could also read about Fuxi and Nüwa who are considered as ancestors of Chinese people before taking your China flight.

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Do You Know How To Use Chopsticks?

On May 4, 2012, in China Travel Gossip, Restaurants & Food, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

In many countries in Southeast Asia chopsticks are the most common utensil to eat food. For this reason most Asian restaurants in western countries offer their guests both chopsticks and silverware. So if you’re planning your China Tours and you can’t handle chopsticks yet it is about time that you learn how to use them. […]

In many countries in Southeast Asia chopsticks are the most common utensil to eat food. For this reason most Asian restaurants in western countries offer their guests both chopsticks and silverware. So if you’re planning your China Tours and you can’t handle chopsticks yet it is about time that you learn how to use them. So get yourself a pair of chopsticks and start preparing for your china travel adventure!

First of all it’s not always easy to get western silverware in Chinese restaurants and not having to look for a knife and a fork will save you time and energy. And more than that, with a history of several thousand years chopsticks are an important part of Asian eating culture, so you should try your best to adapt to this way of eating food. You can show that you’re open to the Chinese culture and win the local’s respect by using chopsticks like a pro.

Chopsticks are not only an eating utensil but are also used to prepare food, to pick it up, turn it in the pan, stir etc. Considering their long history it’s only natural that they come in all different materials and designs. The most common materials are wood, bamboo, plastic or metal. The more expensive materials such as silver, gold, bones, jade or ivory were more common among wealthy families in earlier times but they are still used until today.

How to hold your chopsticks

Pick up the first chopstick and place the broad end where your thumb and index finger connect. The narrow end should loosely rest between your ring and middle finger. This chopstick is the steady part. Then take the second chopstick and place the broad end above the first one and hold the narrow side with your thumb and index finger. The upper stick is the one you move towards the lower one. Try to hold both of them rather loose and make sure you don’t cross the ends. Once you got this right you can just start picking up the food, it will need some practice though.

 

What to avoid when using chopsticks

In western countries it is considered bad manners to play with the silverware, to point at people or objects, make noises, tab bowls and plates or dig in the food and these rules are just the same when you use chopsticks in China. Apart from that you should avoid in any case sticking them into a bowl of rice. This reminds of the ritual of incense-burning which are offerings to deceased family members. Moreover, try to avoid pointing the sticks towards other people sitting at the table when you put them down.

Also, try to avoid spearing your food with the chopsticks. Anything that is too difficult to be picked up this way is usually eaten with a spoon, e. g. small slippery foods or those with a round shape such as cherry tomatoes or fish balls. And please don’t hack your food into smaller pieces, just take several bites instead if the piece is too big.

Noodles which are usually served in a soup might come as a challenge. Even though they are long and slippery don’t roll them up with your chopsticks like spaghetti, just bring them to your mouth and then slurp them in. That’s how Chinese people do it and slurping is not considered to be bad manners at all. But don’t worry, there is also a lot of street food which you can eat without using chopsticks like skewered meat and seafood and lots of other tasty snacks. Have you already booked your China Flights? Then why don’t you go to your favorite Chinese restaurant to get ready for your trip?

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Shanghai’s Venice

On May 2, 2012, in Ancient Houses & Courtyards, Cultural Experience, Shanghai, by Jack Li

Dated over 17,000 years, the ancient town of Zhujiajiao is a must-see attraction for those who travel to Shanghai. Known as ‘Shanghai’s Venice’ due to its waterways, the town serves as a top place to experience old China. For those wishing to go to the town, you can catch a bus from Puanlu Station (close […]

Dated over 17,000 years, the ancient town of Zhujiajiao is a must-see attraction for those who travel to Shanghai. Known as ‘Shanghai’s Venice’ due to its waterways, the town serves as a top place to experience old China. For those wishing to go to the town, you can catch a bus from Puanlu Station (close to People’s Square, Shanghai) with the hour-long journey generally costing about 12RMB. Moreover, Zhujiajiao’s great location means that you can experience a large portion of the day in the town and then have the advantage of staying in Shanghai hotels.

Actual entrance to the town is free, but if you want to experience the town from the water this, of course, costs. For cruises, prices range from 80RMB for nine scenic spots; 60RMB for eight, and 30RMB for four. The motion of the boats may be off-putting to some, but viewing the town from the water enhances the authenticity of the experience. With all this in mind, it is still enjoyable to watch the boats from the town’s spectacular kilometre-long North Street. Indeed, it is absolutely memorizing to see how the oarsmen ferry people between the tightest of spaces, navigate under bridges and skilfully meander around corners.

If you decide to purchase the complete admission package, then you can expect to visit; City God Temple, Imperial Academy Stele Museum, Kezhi Garden, Qing Dynasty Post Office, Shanghai Handwork Exhibition Hall, Tongtianhe Medicine Shop, Shanghai Quanhua Art Hall, Yanyi Hall and Yuanjin Meditation Room. Hence after reading this list, you can be assured that you will not get bored in Zhujiajiao. As a piece of advice, it might be best to arrive at the town in the morning to ensure you see everything you want especially as the crowds can pick-up later
in the afternoon.

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai have ancient buildings, but many are often regenerated or render a distinct purpose (such as a temple or palace). What makes Zhujiajiao especially alluring is the fact that it is a reflection of ancient daily life. Tourism is essential to the town’s income, however we should acknowledge that this is a place where people live and it is not merely an attraction for our amusement. Therefore, it is imperative that, as visitors, we remain respectful to the residents and only take photos where appropriate, for instance. The residents of Zhujiajiao are equally very friendly and welcome tourists to buy their goods such as pungent-smelling tofu, sweet bamboo juice and countless handicrafts.

Without doubt, it is wonderful to see the old working life being preserved with the sight of fish being caught and prepared by locals. The traditional architecture of the town is pleasant on the eye with much of the town’s style deriving from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In particular, the five-storey ‘Moon View Pavilion’ in the KeZhi Garden and the Fangsheng Bridge constructed in 1571 are worth viewing. After seeing its waters glisten from a distance, it is understandable that Zhujiajiao is also fondly named the ‘Pearl Stream’ with the ancient town definately being a superb attraction on any Shanghai tours route.

Fitness Fans

On April 10, 2012, in Activities, Cultural Experience, Parks & Gardens, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing it won’t be long until you come across an outdoor gym. You can find them in parks, streets, along the rivers and in many other public places. It’s probably not even far away from many Beijing hotels. At certain times of the day they are well frequented, with many older residents […]

When you travel to Beijing it won’t be long until you come across an outdoor gym. You can find them in parks, streets, along the rivers and in many other public places. It’s probably not even far away from many Beijing hotels. At certain times of the day they are well frequented, with many older residents enjoying using these opportunities.

While many of us only know playgrounds for children China and other Asian countries offer a lot more than that. The outdoor fitness facilities seem a little like an adult version of those and even have a kind of similar purpose. They don’t only offer an opportunity to exercise; they are at the same time places for social activities, where neighbors, friends or just strangers meet.

These gyms are comparable to private indoor gyms, but they are in the open air and there is no entrance fee. There are different types of fitness machines, some for stretching and others to build up strength. Moreover, these places generally don’t need maintenance and the equipment uses the bodyweight of the user to create resistance instead of electricity. So it’s friendly to the environment as well as to the user. It is a great opportunity for everybody who doesn’t have access to a fitness club or can’t afford it and contributes to an active lifestyle and improves the physical condition.

Some of these outdoor gyms were built as part of a nationwide fitness campaign that started in 1998. The main purpose was to animate people to engage in more physical exercise by making these facilities enjoyable and easily accessible to the public across the country. Following this nationwide campaign the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 offered a great opportunity to launch another citywide campaign. About 4,000 outdoor gyms were built in the Beijing area and sport has become more popular than ever with the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The result of these campaigns is definitely convincing, especially in the Beijing area where now about two thirds of all residents indicate to participate in some kind of physical exercise compared to the nationwide average of one third. Following Beijing’s example London has now also launched a similar campaign in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Of course, with this topic there’s always an economic aspect to it. Staying fit and healthy reduces the risk for many diseases and helps to keep a healthy weight. That way, medical costs can be reduced considerably on the long run.

Beijing is probably the best example but if you travel to Shanghai or another big city you might not find as many of these outdoor gyms as in Beijing but you’ll definitely find them. So try them out, it’s a nice relaxation or strengthening for the muscles, whatever you prefer, and suitable of all ages.

Kung Hei Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year

On January 5, 2012, in Featured China Stories, Festivals, by Jack Li

The Chinese has one of the richest and colorful traditions in the world and one of their most anticipated celebrations is the Chinese New Year.When is it Celebrated? Spring festival, or what is more known as the Chinese New Year, is considered one of the most important events in China. The celebration is based on […]

The Chinese has one of the richest and colorful traditions in the world and one of their most anticipated celebrations is the Chinese New Year.When is it Celebrated?

Spring festival, or what is more known as the Chinese New Year, is considered one of the most important events in China. The celebration is based on the lunar calendar, so that the first day of the lunar year marks the Chinese New Year. Thus, the event falls between late January to early February. The celebration begins on the eve of the lunar new year and continues on until the fifth day of the lunar calendar’s first month. Next will come the lantern festival. This year Chinese New Year falls on February 3; the Year of the Rabbit.

How is it Celebrated?

Generally, the Chinese people prepares for this holiday by making sure everything in their life is in order, or at least under control. By this I mean the house should be clean, rifts or problems should be resolved, clothes worn should be clean or new, etc. At midnight there are fireworks and firecrackers to greet the coming of the new year. The belief behind this is that the noise created by the firecrackers will drive away evil spirits.

What’s in the Menu?

After the festivities, the family will sit down to a feast. A sticky rice pudding called nian gao (or “tikoy”) as well as dumplings is usually present in these feasts. Nian gao is also given to family and friends; the belief behind this is that the stickiness of the nian gao will hold or bind the family together. Also, because of its round shape and sweet taste, it is said to bring good fortune and sweetness to one’s life. In my home, we usually cut the nian gao into lengthwise pieces, roll it into beaten eggs and fried. It’s delicious!

Other Aspects of the Chinese New Year

Houses are decorated with lights and lanterns. Red is a popular color to wear when ushering in the Chinese New Year. Also, hongbao, or red envelopes that contain money, are given to family and friends (especially the youngsters) as a symbol of luck and wealth. There are also lots of musical performances and parades; the most famous of which is the dragon and lion dance. In the Chinese culture, the dragon is the deity of water ensuring that no drought will come. The lion, on the other hand, helps ward off evil spirits since it symbolizes power and courage.

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Dealing with Culture Shock in China: Part 1

China travel adventures can seem to many as an exotic cultural mix of opposites to what they are used to at home. From all the new varieties of food to the unusual language and the hustle and bustle of the big cities, there is a range of new experiences to conjure up thoughts of excitement […]

China travel adventures can seem to many as an exotic cultural mix of opposites to what they are used to at home. From all the new varieties of food to the unusual language and the hustle and bustle of the big cities, there is a range of new experiences to conjure up thoughts of excitement and adventure. However many first time visitors are unaware of the culture shock they will face when their China flight touches down at the airport.

This post will discuss a few factors to be aware of before you arrive, so things don’t come as such a surprise when you exit the airport feeling jet lagged and nervous.

 

One of the first things, and something that is impossible not to notice or find difficult to adjust to (unless you already know Mandarin) is the language. Signs, sounds and everyday objects which were once commonplace become replaced by complex looking characters, hard to decipher sounds and items you can’t tell the function or contents of.

An essential item for making this easier is a Mandarin Phrasebook. Ensure you have one that displays words in both Pinyin and Chinese characters and it will make adjusting to China much easier.

 

Another factor to consider is the local food. Chinese food is far different from the dishes available in western countries which have been adapted to suit the western palette. There is a huge choice available and it varies dependant on the cuisine or province the food originates from. For example Sichuan food tends to use a lot of spice and chilli, whereas Beijing food tends to feature noodles and heavy buns due to the harsh climate in winter.

Although in the large cities there is western food available, it is often ‘Chinese Western’ and not fully authentic. Many staple ingredients back home are difficult to source and overpriced out in China especially Cheese, Wine and Steak. Breakfast is far different as well and often consists of savoury rice porridge and dumplings or something similar.

Often different parts of meat are used which can be difficult to get used to, and it helps to know the Chinese view chicken breasts as the most ‘tasteless’ part of the meat so it is less often used. Chicken feet on the other hand are a delicacy and found in many different varieties, including dried, fried and boiled!

 

Once you have got your head around the new cuisine choices, there is the method of eating it! Generally unless you are in a tourist frequented restaurant or a Western place there will not be a knife and fork available. Your utensils of choice will be chopsticks and occasionally a spoon! Chopsticks aren’t too tricky to use after a few tries, and you gain a sense of satisfaction from finishing a meal using them (it also impresses the Chinese locals).

If the thought of this terrifies you, your China Hotel may well have western restaurants or buffets which will provide cutlery. In addition street food and fast food outlets such as KFC, Mcdonalds and Pizza Hut are everywhere if you wish to avoid utensils completely!

 

 

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