If you’re looking to get involved in sports during your internship there is plenty you can do. Sport is becoming increasingly popular amongst locals and with some beautiful trail runs available across the Vietnamese countryside – running is the sport that is taking up fans rapidly. Not only that, but with the large foreign community flocking to Vietnam there are lots of other international sports making their mark here through clubs.
At first sight you may think Saigon isn’t so well suited for running, with motorbikes everywhere, quite heavy pollution and not many pavements it does make it a challenge. However, the longer you spend here you start to find some nice quieter spots to get your morning or evening jog in. Some spaces you may enjoy running are: the newly developed area near Sala Stadium, Vinhomes Central Park, Hoa Lu Stadium, along the side of the canals.
Runclub.vn arrange group runs almost every day of the week at different areas in the city. They accommodate all levels and quite frequently are able to get discounts for marathons and trail races across the country. Saigon Hash House Harriers – Hashing exists across the globe and Saigon is no different. Every Sunday this ‘drinking club with a running problem’ head outside of Saigon for a run following a trail of paper or flour before finishing off the evening with a ‘circle’ and ‘on-on’.
If you like training in the pool then there are quite a few options across the city, but it is worth checking opening times as some of them can be quite strange and open for 2 hour chunks throughout the day! This blog has a good variety of different pools for training and relaxing around the city.
Yet Kieu Aquatics Centre is a great 50m & 25m lane pool that is kept clean. It is VND 20,000 / VND 25,000 (on weekends) per go and early in the morning is not too busy. The changing rooms aren’t great, so perhaps be best to head home for a proper shower and change afterwards.
Saigon Swim Squad meets once a week for an hour at AIS in Thao Dien and costs VND 150,000 per session – all profits going towards charity. The class is focused on improving technique and fitness for freestyle so you need to be a pretty competent swimmer, but it is nice to train as a group.
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam – but this is one you do have to get up early for to either avoid the traffic or the heat. Some bike shops such as Trisport and RidePlus may be able to rent out bikes for a couple of hours and they do frequently arrange group rides for the weekends. Trisport also arrange group triathlon practices in Sala a couple of times a month.
Below is a list of different clubs that get together to train in Saigon. They may stop training during the holidays, or reduce sessions, so it might be worth just checking their Facebook groups or pages for up to date information or dropping them a message. Some have membership fees, some have a training cost per session, but it would be possible to discuss with them something that works for both you and the club, so that you are still contributing to training costs.
The Vietnam Swans – Aussie Rules Football Club for both male and female.
Saigon Geckos – Rugby Union Football Club for both male and female. They also arrange weekly touch rugby sessions.
Saigon Gaels GAA – Gaelic Football Club for both male and female. Their season starts again in August as they prepare for the Asian Gaelic Games.
Saigon Shooters – Mixed netball club that has social netball on a Monday night; they run two friendly leagues throughout the year.
Saigon Women’s Football Club
Saigon Australian Cricket Club
These are just a few, but you can find a lot more on Facebook if you search what you are interested in.
Other sports & gyms
If you are wanting to play some badminton or tennis then it is easy enough to book a court at one of the sport centres. There are also options for climbing, ice skating, yoga around the city, so something for everyone.
Gyms are cropping up across the city – the main chain is California Fitness but this is quite expensive. There are smaller options around the city that can easily be found using Google Maps including some that specialise in cross fit, or martial arts.
Hope this information helps you stay fit in Saigon and keep doing the sports that you enjoy!
This is a blog for all you rock climbers out there! If you are heading to Qingdao, then you are in luck! The Shandong province has some of the best boulders in China. The rock in and around Qingdao is a type of granite similar to Yosemite, which means you don’t need to travel far to find good boulders with interesting features. Fushan ‘Qingdao’s back garden’ has many different rocks to climb, from boulders to trad routes.
For those who haven’t get tried bouldering, when in Qingdao you should give it a go! It is a very unique, interesting, and social sport which attracts all sorts of characters! It is also one of those rare sports where men and women have an equal ability! Don’t be afraid if you have never climbed before, unlike the GYM, no one judges! No matter the grade you climb, it is your sweat and determination that is celebrated. Indoor bouldering is a great introduction to the world of climbing as it is the safer way to enjoy this very fun and dynamic sport!
Indoor Bouldering and Climbing
There is a great indoor bouldering in the center of Qingdao. The climber who runs the place is very friendly and takes delight in showing you new moves and positions to improve your balance and strength. When you go, check out his wall of fame, he has even met Shauna Coxey!
Address: 菁英攀岩俱乐部 Jīngyīng pānyán jùlèbù
山东路 136号 壹叁陆城二楼 Shāndōng Lù 136 hào Yīsān Lùchéng Èr Lóu (2F)
Price: 30 Yuan (student) for the whole day and includes shoe rental.
If you fancy higher walls then head to Chengyang, which is north of Qingdao and takes around 45-60mins to get there by public transport. Here you can use a harness and belay.
Price: 100 Yuan for the day and includes shoes and harness.
The official (also the best) time to climb outside is from March to November. Bamboo is a rock climbing legend who can speak a little English, he runs the rock climbing official accounts on WeChat. He and a local group of climber’s head to the rocks most weekend. WeChat ID: QingdaoClimbing
Qingdao Laoshan Mountain 青岛崂山
Laoshan Mountain climbing site has been popular among rock climbers in recent years. There are around 150 climbing routes to meet your needs, Monkey Crag is a popular site.
If you visit Laoshan Mountain in winter, you can try an ice climbing. It is really an interesting and unforgettable journey in the Laoshan Mountain Scenic Area in winter.
Location: Liuqinghe, Laoshan District, Qingdao, Shandong Province
Rock climbing: Pānyán 攀岩
Muscle fever: Jīròu suāntòng 肌肉酸痛
Why does it have to be Basketball?
Did you ever want to do some extraordinary stuff that feels a little bit like being a celebrity without being one? Or to see and go through cool and wonderful situations? Then China is the place to be! Today I am going to speak about one of these activities. We got free tickets for a basketball match between two University Teams. Actually a friend got them, and not only two, he got a lot, so we went there with a bunch of fellow students. I was really happy on one side getting the opportunity to see my first basketball match but on the other hand I would have preferred watching a football match instead. But basketball is much more popular in China.
Why? If you ask a Chinese person this question they also don’t know. Football is also popular in China, and most people know at least one name of a German player, although they will use the Chinese name for him so you might not understand who it is they mean. For example you will have a Chinese guy smiling at you and say. “my favourite players are Kelinsiman or Shiweiyinshitaige!” Ok, so these examples are quite easy, but you will sometimes have a hard time I guarantee it.
Before the Match
But back to business! As a Student of Qingdao University, I was cheering for the Qingdao Team. I cheered so much that I even forgot the name of the other university, but is that information needed? I mean, who wants to know about the loser anyway?
Everything was new for me; first of all they were playing the national anthem before the game. Which is quite strange for a German to see, as we don’t play national anthems that often on sports events. Actually the only occasion on which we would play the German national anthem would be a match between national teams. Then they had two stadium speakers that were giving information about the teams and the game. The were announcing every single player by name.
After the introduction another, for me, strange thing happened. A group of cheerleaders came and performed on the field. Which was strange, because in Germany this is quite a seldom thing to happen too. Actually, I only know about cheerleaders from American movies.
For me the idea of cheerleading is, using diplomatic terms now, quite a strange one. Why would you need a bunch of girls performing expressive dancing, to cheer up a crowd that came to see their team competing against another one anyway? And why are there no male cheerleaders? Or are there some at women’s sport events? And if so, what kind of clothes do they wear? Hot pants, with muscle shirts? What would they swing around?
During the Game
Anyway after the performance and a long time of people running around without any system visible, on and by the sides of the field the actual game begun. We had the best seats directly on the line of the field. The anticipation was killing me already, when the game started.
And I saw from what I can tell about basketball (which is not too much, because I never saw the need to gather knowledge about this game anyway) it was a good game. The players were dedicated and they really played with tactics. During half time, two of my fellow students had to perform a streetball game against two Chinese guys. In the end the Qingdao Team won with smashing 52:38 Points.
After all I was really happy with the whole experience and can strongly recommend this to everyone that gets the opportunity- go and get a grasp of Chinese basketball, with everything belonging to it, including the loud drums Chinese people seem to carry around with them like the vuvuzelas brought to a football match!
Before coming to China I expected Kung Fu (功夫 gōngfu) to be omnipresent. It just seemed so obvious to me, having learned everything I know about China from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle. In retrospect that was probably not the best way to get to know the true Chinese culture. However, upon arriving at my host family my host brother immediately asked me if I played football (足球 zúqiú). I soon realised that football is in fact the most popular sport in China (real football, not the American kind). Nonetheless, I was undeterred and I tried to find a place to do Kung Fu. However, my road to success was made even more difficult by the fact that every time I asked someone where I could find a Kung Fu gym they said just go to one of the football courts and play some football. In the end I found a Kong Fu gym, but I was intrigued by the enormous popularity of football, despite the lack of international success at this sport.
So I researched and what I found surprised me. Not only does FC Barcelona have a training facility in Qingdao, the city I was placed in by InternChina, but a football academy has been set up in a Shaolin temple with the intent of incorporating football into Kung Fu. Yes, you read that correctly Shaolin Soccer is now a real thing. On one hand, the school is trying to increase the reputation of Shaolin Kung Fu on and increase the football skill of the citizens. On the other hand, they are combining the physical prowess the monks gain through rigorous training with the precision required to be a good footballer.
In fact this is all part of an effort to raise the standard of the national sport, because although it is the most popular sport in China, the national team is spectacularly bad. I was forced to witness this when watching international friendlies with my host family at dinner. The women’s national team is comparably good on the other hand, reaching the quarterfinals in the last world cup albeit receiving much less public attention. This success is probably a result of football being introduced into the curriculum from a very young age. Previously, talents did not receive the attention they needed in order to prosper into the potent footballers they could have been due to being occupied with school all day all week up to the age of 16. When this problem became apparent though, football was incorporated into daily school life and many schools now have football grounds.
This national initiative to become better at football, promoted by the eager football fan and president of China Xi Jinping, also consists of an increase in transfer funds in order to secure top players in the Chinese Super League, the top tier football league in China. Much of the money probably comes from wealthy businessmen trying to amass political power and general reputation – corruption is a big problem in Chinese football, too. In the 2016 winter transfer window the Chinese Super League spent more than the Premier League. This is more than the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 leagues combined on transfers last year, to record sum of £194 million.
Not all of the money was spent domestically but big clubs also tried to secure international top players. The striker, Alex Teireira, Liverpool’s top target for this winter’s transfer season, was indeed snatched by Jiangsu for the Asian record fee of £38 million. Among the pantheon of world class players recruited this year are names such as Jackson Martinez (£31 million), Ramires (£21 million) and Brazilian striker Elkeson (£13.9 million). Each of these transfers successively broke the record for the highest transfer fees. Cahill, Demba Ba and Gervinho already call the Middle Kingdom home. Oscar was offered £75 million to join Ramires’ Jiangsu, but decided to stay at Chelsea (with Jiangsu he would at least have a chance of winning a trophy this year). The high salaries also add to the lure of the Chinese Super League. Asamoah Gyah earns £243,000 a week, which made him the 8th highest player at this point in time.
At the moment most top players are South-American mainly due to the millions they are offered in China. As they are chiefly from poor families they do not care much for the prestige of the European league. This is very different in Europe where football players are not only chasing the next pay check but also the glory that is so deeply embedded in the football culture. For this reason European players only tend to leave Europe when they are approaching retirement whereas many South-American talents are going to China early on. South-American players near retirement are more likely to go to China, whereas European ones prefer destinations such as the USA. This is likely change, as Xi Jinping has announced that China would be a major footballing nation by 2025 and Rooney, Fernando Torres and Yaya Touré have all been linked with China.
The interest is bilateral though and top clubs such as FC Barcelona have opened academies in China, trying to turn quantity into quality. Some of the biggest European clubs, such as Atletico Madrid are now partially owned by Chinese billionaires who have gained interest in the European football hype and want to secure some of that footballing glory for themselves. Xi Jinping is reportedly a huge ManU-fan (god knows why).
The biggest competition to the Chinese Super League in terms of emerging football markets is the Major League Soccer in the USA. Both Leagues are relying on and prosper by snatching talent from European top clubs. In order to be more attractive for foreign players there is no wage cap on foreign players, whereas in the US only three designated players are allowed to earn more than the maximum cap. Legislation in China is also ever-changing in order to accommodate foreign players. 10 years ago there could only be 3 foreign players per team, now 5 players are allowed.
Considering all these different factors China has the potential to become a major player in international football. This is not limited to the clubs though, but it also includes the national team that is ever-improving. I guess only time will tell, but definitely look out for China in the next few years! You might have to buy plane tickets to China in the next few years as Xi Jinping has voiced interest in hosting (and winning) a World Cup.
Since my stay in Zhuhai, I’ve already seen more than one person practising Tai Chi on the streets and in the parks. Even back home in my fitness studio they offer to teach Tai Chi. The word describes two different sites (kind of black and white). “Tai Chi,” the first known written reference appeared in the Book of Changes over 3.000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). There it says that “in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.” Concepts such as attracting, softness/rigidity, formlessness/shape – feminine concepts are associated with yin, while concepts such as substance, repulse, rigidity and the male sex are associated with yang.
In the last month InternChina Zhuhai was invited to a TaiChi lecture with Dr. Paul Lam, who is a world leader in the field of Tai Chi for health improvement. He held a lecture himself in Chinese and English. It was fun, as he tried afterwards to answer all his questions in both languages. Even if though he seemed to be more familiar with English, as he used to be a family physician in Sydney; he was understood by the locals.
Tai Chi itself has two different meanings. It philosophical definition means “the origin of being from which everything emerges”. For Sports it means slow exercise and the smooth flow of movement.
All in all it’s a kind of aerobics from ancient China. Its primary purpose is to strengthen the body forces and health. The flowing movements are intended to raise awareness, imagination and breathing, which should be integrated harmoniously in order to exert a positive effect on body functions. Thus, Tai Chi can play an important role in stress management and in the regulation of your hormones. Dr. Lam told his audience that his program is easy to learn, enjoyable and noticeably improves health.
Dr.Lam and the TaiChi group he brought over, showed us after the lecture how to focus on the interchanging use of falling, rebounding and streaming weight as a source for movement energy.
Many people wonder what distinguishes TaiChi from QiGong. I never thought there is was a huge range of differences between the two forms. TaiChi is generally more complex, while in the meantime Qi Gong is focused only on breathing. Without mentioning their differences, Tai Chi has gained more notoriety than QiGong in the Western world.
We had an amazing InternChina activity last weekend! InternChina organized a private Tai Chi teacher. We met him on a Sunday afternoon in a nice park here In Zhuhai for two hours. Unfortunately the teacher didn’t speak any English, but Morgan was able to translate everything for us. As none of us really had any idea what Tai Chi was all about, he started the class with an introduction for us.
Tai Chi (Chinese: 太极, Taiji) is an art of self-defense and is very popular in China. Every morning, you can see Chinese people practicing Tai Chi on the streets and in the parks here. Kids get taught Tai Chi at school at a young age, and even in Western countries you can find a lot of schools for Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is not purely applicable to self-defense, it is also good for maintaining your health. The Yin (negative, feminine, dark, formless, attracting) and Yang (positive, masculine, bright, substantial, repulsing) is the basis of Tai Chi. These two elements are opposites of each other and Tai Chi teaches to unify these two elements to ensure inner balance.
After the introduction we started practising. The characteristics of Tai Chi are slow movements and the teacher showed us how to do it first and then we had to copy him. At first we thought “Oh that’s easy, we just have to copy the teacher!” No, it was not easy at all. Luckily, we were a small group of 8 people so the teacher had a good eye on each of us to correct our positions and movements.
There are a lot of mistakes you can make when practicing Tai Chi. For example: Stance – Try to ensure your feet are shoulder-distance apart, narrow stances mean you have to compensate in other areas to maintain good balance; Over-reaching – Try to resist the temptation to push out with your arms and upper body, consider moving in from the lower body rather than stretching out from the upper body; Posture – Think about keeping a straight line along the spine and these are just a few.
After those 2 hours of practising Tai Chi we were all done for the day, and went to bed early. It seems to be an easy sport but when you do it in the right way, it is quite exhausting. It is impressive to see so many people practising Tai Chi every day in the early morning. Now we know, why the old Chinese people, who do Tai Chi on a daily basis are still active and can move like young people.
It has been awhile since my last blog post and a lot of things have happened since then. Last Sunday, Intern China organized beach volleyball at Shi Lao Ren beach for all the interns and Intern China staff. The weather was good and we all ended up having a great time! After the beach volleyball, me and some other interns went to have dinner at Carnegie’s. I truly recommend Carnegie’s because the food there is really good.
Today, our office manager in Qingdao finally came back from her university tour in Germany. Welcome back Jenny! We’ve missed you! As we have many new interns this week, we thought it would be a great idea to bring all interns together for dinner this Friday night. I will make sure to update information about our coming Friday dinner!
Laser tag Session!!
One of the activities really pleasant in Qingdao you can try is this one. Dressed like a soldier, with captors on all your body, guns (you have the choice between sniper rifles, machine guns and Short range guns) and play in a park.
We went there, 20 people from internchina, 10 from Yechao staff (the best club in Qingdao) and 50 strangers! Saturday, April the 16th, at 8 o’clock AM! (to wake up at 6.30 AM wasn’t a pleasure…) We were mixed in 2 teams: the Chinese army against the Korean army (Korea won 2 battles on 3). The battlefield was the TV Tower’s Park, Robert, Marvin (Chinese army, our monster kills) and Nick (Korean army) were the snipers, Keno (the best gunner I have seen!!) and me where the machine guns for Chinese army and Tommy (the Yechao DJ!!) was the more dangerous machinegun of the Korean Army. You could hear his devil laugh after He had touched you…!!
Dennis, Marian, Tobias were brave soldiers, always going ahead. They used very good strategy. Hanane were the only one who always gets killed by her own teammate (maybe they thought that she was more useful dead than alive…), Stephanie liked to stay always at the top and shoot on poor first line people… So bad girl. Jessica, Marina and Liane were specialized in hiding behind trees and not moving until the end of the game. I think that the snipers should cover up themselves.
Girls has to cover snipers, boys were snipers or first line attack. We had 10 lives for each person. 1 hour of lesson, and 3 hours of play. Really exhausting but so funny! The last round was 2 lines, fighting against each other.
Dominic was the kamikaze, always where he should not… Tim was the “I shoot on you but you can’t see me haha !!” guy, all play long I haven’t seen him. He was surely cooperating with the snipers (always hiding too). And Alex was our translator with Emily, without them, impossible to understand the monitor instructions.
Whatever, with each play during at least 45 minutes, and 30 RMB (around 3€50) for 4 hours of fun, we went home tired, and happy!!