Qingdao is a prosperous port city bordering the Yellow Sea on the East Coast of China, renowned for its beaches, beer and BBQ. We’ve put together a summary of the city for those of you who are thinking of coming here in the near future.
Given that the population is somewhere near 9 million (!), the city manages to retain a relaxed atmosphere as the population is quite spread out. Qingdao’s status as the 7th biggest shipping port in the world brings in plenty of businesses and opens up many internship opportunities here. And the local dialect (青岛话) is not so different from standard Mandarin, making this a great place to learn Chinese.
Here’s a rundown of what you should know and why you’re making the right choice to choose Qingdao!
The city has been through a tumultuous history, here’s a quick breakdown for you:
1891 – The Qing Government start developing and fortifying the ‘Jiao’ao Area (胶州湾)’ as Qingdao was then known. No longer a sleepy fishing village Qingdao is on its way to becoming a city.
1897 – The Germans colonise the city calling it the “Kiautschou Bay Concession” and build many of the buildings you can still see in Old Town today. Until the outbreak of WWI.
1914 – The ‘Siege of Tsingtao’ starts the Japanese occupation of Qingdao during the war.
1919 – The post-war Versailles Peace Treaty grants Japan control of Qingdao, sparking outrage in China and leading to the May Fourth Movement (五四青年节活动). The famous red statue in Qingdao’s May Fourth Square (五四广场) commemorates this movement.
1949 – After being passed between Chinese and Japanese control, Chairman Mao Zedong and the Red Army firmly reclaim Qingdao.
1984 – Implementation of the “open door” policy encourages foreign trade to Qingdao and it quickly develops into the port city you see today.
So, in other words the city has been influenced from all directions and fought over for many years, but don’t worry it’s still managed to retain its essential spirit! There is traditional Chinese culture and charm to be found even while the city is modernising and expanding at a rapid rate.
Qingdao is pretty much bang in between Beijing and Shanghai on a map, but it couldn’t have a more different feel from either of those cities. From the winding, hilly streets of Old Town, to the bustling market life of Taidong (台东), on to the international hub of the Central Business District, then on east to the newly built avenues and glass skyscrapers of Laoshan District, Qingdao has a pretty unique feel. The “red tiles, green trees, blue sky and blue sea” of the Old Town and Badaguan (八大关) area are a legacy from the German era.
Fun fact: The German Governor who actually built them was actually fired by the Kaiser for spending outrageous amounts building his personal residence.
Nearby, Laoshan mountain range (崂山) that curves around the east of the city is credited as one of the birthplaces of the religion Taoism. It is home to hundreds of hidden paths, temples and waterfalls. There’s also a smaller mountain in the heart of the city, Mount Fu (浮山), which boasts wonderful views of the city, opportunities for bouldering and abseiling as well as multiple tunnels and bunkers that beg to be explored.
The Qingdaonese love nothing better that to treat their friends and family to barbecue skewers, local seafood and a jug of Tsingtao Beer. Especially during the summer months after a day on the beach. Be prepared to shout out “gānbēi” (干杯) and down your glass at least once for every person around the table.
Getting In and Out
Qingdao Liuting International Airport was named the 16th busiest airport in China in 2015, with an insane 18,202,085 passengers passing through that year. The Port of Qingdao is the one of the top 10 busiest ports in the world, handling millions of tons of cargo every year.
There are direct international flights to nearby Korea and Japan (less than 3 hours away!) as well as airlines that heard to Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Vancouver and San Francisco. Not to mention regular domestic flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou that make Qingdao extremely accessible. The InternChina staff will pick you up from Qingdao Liuting Airport which is about 30KM from the city centre.
Fast trains from Beijing (4 ½ hours) and Shanghai (7 hours), as well as night trains to many other parts of China offer plenty of travel opportunities within China too. Most trains leave from the old station located in the Old Town but newly built Qingdao North Station also runs a few passenger trains every day.
It is even possible to catch the boat to nearby Incheon, Korea or even Japan if you a fan of sea travel.
N.B. Please do not attempt leaving China during your programme unless you have a multiple entry visa for China, otherwise you will not be allowed back in!
Public transport in the heart of Qingdao consists mainly of buses and taxis. There are 260 bus routes in the city that cost about 1 or 2 yuan a journey, and 4 taxi companies that will set you back about 9 to 20 yuan a ride (depending on the distance). Remember to look out for the red light to catch an available taxis, and avoid the yellowy green light that means that taxi has already been booked.
The Qingdao Metro is also on its way to being ready for public use! Line 3 already has 6 working stops in the north of the city and a section of Line 2 should be open in 2017. Soon to be followed by other lines in the coming years.
The four seasons of Qingdao are comparatively mild where China is concerned, with no extreme weather conditions, but strong winds often blow in from the sea especially late at night. It hardly ever rains but you do occasionally find clouds of sea fog drifting in to engulf the skyscrapers. Top temperatures are usually hover around a glorious 25°C (77°F) in July and August (ideal beach weather) and dip to an average -2°C (28°F) in winter.
For more details about the climate in Qingdao, see here.
Qingdao is best known for an array of seafood specialities and Shandong ‘JiaoDong’ style of cooking, also known as ‘LuCai’ (鲁菜) – characterised by its light aroma and fresh taste. People are often glad to hear that the food in Qingdao isn’t incredibly spicy but is still wonderfully flavourful.
Some of the most famous dishes in Qingdao include sautéed clams, caramelised sweet potato, fish dumplings, special ‘fengwei’ aubergine, mysterious sea cucumbers and all kinds of seafood. The city is also well known for its amazing street barbeque.
If seafood isn’t your favourite thing to eat, there are plenty of other options. Halal noodle dishes and sumptuous vegetable options can also be found, along with plenty of places to try cuisine from all over China including amazing DongBei, Xi’an, Sichuan and Yunnan restaurants. And of course, there is an abundance of foreign restaurants too, including Japanese and Korean food influenced by Qingdao’s proximity to South Korea.
As for what to drink while you’re in Qingdao, there is Laoshan’s famous green tea grown just outside the city, and if you are interested in something stronger, Qingdao is the home of Tsingtao beer. Not only can you buy several varieties freshly distilled in the city by the bottle, but in some places you can even get your beer in a plastic bag!
There are many reasons people fall in love with Qingdao, in fact it’s frequently been voted one of China’s top-most livable cities. A big part is the clement weather and fresh air, many people escape the piercing heat of China’s inter-cities to the cooler shores of Qingdao in summer. Shandong people also have a reputation for being extremely friendly and welcoming, which is an obvious bonus when visiting any city!
Qingdao is also strategically important as an industrial centre, seaport and naval base. The city now has several manufacturing centres and development zones to the north in ChengYang district and west in HuangDao district. All of which makes it an exciting place to do an internship, in an atmosphere of constant development, growth and competition among both huge international companies and small local businesses.
If you still aren’t sold, here’s what some of our interns have to say about Qingdao…
“Qingdao seemed like a decent size but not too big like Shanghai, so I thought it looked like a nice in-between size city to visit. There are also lots of places to go to in the city centre, as well as loads of beaches which makes it popular for tourists.” – Olivia, UK
“Qingdao has a long beautiful beach where you can walk in the summer but it’s also beautiful in winter. There’s also lots of rocks along the beach which are easy to walk on or climb on, and the view is awesome! But the main thing is that you have to go out in Qingdao, you have to get in touch with friendly people, see and visit lots of great restaurants, bars and clubs and lots of other places which you’ll soon love.” – Sarah, UK
“Qingdao has loads of really friendly people- not only IC and the locals but the expat community as well.” – Balti, Germany
“Qingdao is easy to get around, and my internship is close and easy to get to by bus.” – Tom, UK
“Qingdao isn’t one of the biggest cities in China, and for your first time doing an internship here I think that’s better. There is a mix of large and small companies here with plenty of interesting work – and they are always interested in having an intern.” –Timon, Germany
“Sea, mountains and great people, Qingdao has it all!” – Zuzana, Czechia
Before arriving in Zhuhai there are a few things you may want to know but may not have the chance to find out, or may not know where to look to find the relevant information to answer your many, many questions. Moving to a new country can be hard, challenging and exciting, as you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few things that may help answer some of the questions running through your mind.
Zhuhai is a beautiful city in the Pearl River Delta, located on the southern coast of Guangdong province in China. Zhuhai was one of the original Special Economic Zones established in the 1980s. Zhuhai is also one of China’s premier tourist destinations, being called the Chinese Riviera. The city’s population (1.6 million) is made up of mostly Mandarin speaking migrants.
Being one of China’s first Special Economic Zones, Zhuhai is home to many industries (such as electronics, computer software, biotechnology, machinery and equipment, etc.) as well as the Hengqin Free Trade Zone, making the city very popular to international businesses.
Zhuhai has been voted the most ‘livable’ city in China and because of this it is a very popular tourist destination. Due to its size, Zhuhai has everything a big city can offer without being overwhelmingly huge. With many green spaces, 690 km of coastline and over 100 islands, it is easy to get away of the hustle and bustle of city life.
With Macau directly to the South, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to the North-East, and Hong Kong just over an hour ferry ride away you’re never far away from some of the most famous cities in Asia. In both Macau and Hong Kong you can enjoy the familiarity of the Western Culture whilst they still offer their own personality.
Keep in mind though, that entering Hong Kong or Macau classifies as an ‘exit’ from China. So for those of you who only receive a one-entry visa, be sure to plan some time before or after your trip to visit these beautiful cities!
Getting in and out
With Zhuhai’s proximity to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau it is easily accessible by air and gives you several options for buying flights when you are planning your trip to Zhuhai.
Hong Kong: We recommend that you research flights to Hong Kong first. Hong Kong International Airport is one the largest travel hubs in the world, so flying into here should be no problem from any part of the world! From Hong Kong airport you can take a direct ferry to Zhuhai Jiuzhou Port. Once you have disembarked your plane follow signs for ‘Ferries to Macau & Mainland’ here you will be able to buy your tickets and ensure that your baggage is put onto the ferry by a member of their staff. The ferry will take approximately 70 mins and will cost about HKD260, the schedule can be found here.
If you plan on staying in Hong Kong for a few days before travelling onto Zhuhai, there are also two ports within in the city from where you can take the ferry.
Macau: Macau airport is not quite the international hub of Hong Kong, but if you can find reasonably priced flights here you may wish to consider it. Macau is on the border with Zhuhai and therefore it’s very convenient to enter the city if arriving here.
Guangzhou: You can also book flights to Guangzhou. From Guangzhou airport we would recommend that you take the bus to Zhuhai, you can find the schedule here.
Zhuhai: If you’re flying from somewhere else within China to Zhuhai it might be easier to book flights to Zhuhai airport. If you are arriving into Zhuhai ‘Jinwan’ airport, there will be representative there to meet you.
Zhuhai does not have a subway system, but has an extensive bus system that can get you anywhere you want to go (buses cost 2-3RMB per ride). Taxis are abundant and quite cheap as well (starting at 10RMB). When you arrive, InternChina will provide you with a bus card as well as detailed instructions as to how to get to your company and to the InternChina office.
In Zhuhai the weather is awesome! You’ll often see the locals walking around shading themselves from the summer rays with their umbrellas, yet in the colder months the temperatures are pleasant and never really low enough for you to need your woolly jumpers, hats and gloves!
Since Zhuhai has a subtropical climate, on the whole it is hot and humid, but it can also rain a lot. The winter is short, dry and mild (12°C -18°C) and a jumper will keep you warm during the day and cooler evenings. Summer sets in from late March/early April and in July and August temperatures can reach 36°C. The sea breeze can be a welcome relief from the summer heat. So if you enjoy the sun, sand and sea bring plenty of sunscreen and swimming costumes for weekends relaxing on the beach, but remember your umbrella for those unexpected mid-afternoon downpours!
Eating out is cheap and convenient and there are always new dishes and cuisines to discover. There is an abundance of styles of cooking unique to various Chinese provinces, each more delicious than the last. If you’re a foodie and especially if you are open minded to trying new things you will be in your element!
Almost every meal is a social occasion. A particular benefit of being in Zhuhai or Guangdong province is the ‘morning tea’ or ‘dimsum‘ style of cooking native to this province. You can easily find beautiful pork filled steamed buns, soup dumplings, durian fritters, rice porridge and so much more.
Mealtimes are a social experience with communal dishes presented on a rotating disk in the middle of the table (we know this as a ‘lazy Susan’ back in the UK), giving you the opportunity to try a bit of anything. Meals tend not to be as sophisticated as back in the West and dishes come out as they are ready and eager chopsticks dive in often as soon as the plate hits the table. Restaurants are lively and full of energy although you may have to get over the sound of someone slurping their noodles or someone casually lighting up a cigarette next to you after their meal.
All InternChina apartments have a kitchen, so it is no problem if you would rather cook yourself. There is a wide variety of places to shop for fresh produce.
If you don’t speak Chinese, when you first arrive in Zhuhai the language barrier may be kind of intimidating as there are relatively few English speakers. However, the locals in Zhuhai are incredibly helpful and if you are confused or need help, they will be more than willing to assist you in every way possible, even if you do need to play a game of charades in order to talk to each other. Over time you may start to pick up some basics of the language, and once you know how to say hello, thank you, and your address, you will be on your way. InternChina can offer language classes via our partner school, if you ever feel like the language barrier is too much. Zhuhai is just like any other city in an unfamiliar country, a bit scary when you first arrive, but will feel just like home after a few weeks.
Zhuhai is an amazing city to live and work in. It’s very pleasant and relaxed but still has a lot to offer. Everyone is incredibly friendly, and the city itself is very nice and clean. You can sit on the beach on a warm day drinking out of a coconut or try your way through the different beer brands offered in the bars. While there is an abundance of industry, the entire atmosphere of the city is slow-paced, unlike Beijing, New York or London where everyone is in a rush to get everywhere. This gives you the opportunity to really enjoy China.
For all of the shopaholics, there is an underground market in 拱北 (Gongbei) where you can get all your branded designer wear for suspiciously cheap prices, as well as a handful of more western companies (H&M, Vera Moda, Only, etc.) in the shopping malls. There are also quite a few gyms located around the city, so if you’re a gym goer, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to train. Zhuhai has western cinemas, showing films in English, as well as bowling alleys, a bar street, go-karting and paint balling… so weekends will never be boring. It also has a few beautiful parks, where you can go and see Chinese people flying kites and playing live music.
Zhuhai also hosts many interesting cultural and sporting events throughout the year. At the end of 2015 the Hengqin International Tennis Centre opened and is host to the World Tennis Association (WTA) Elite Trophy and the ATP Tennis World Tour Finals. Races can be seen at the Zhuhai International Circuit on many weekends of the year and sailing events are held in Zhuhai as well. The Airshow China, the largest aviation and aerospace exhibition in China is held bi-annually. Zhuhai is also home to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, one of the world’s largest aquariums.
The nightlife in Zhuhai is incredibly varied, there are plenty of western bars where you can meet other people who have moved to Zhuhai, or you can get incredibly cheap drinks in Chinese run bars, and then move onto the clubs. Drink prices can vary from 15RMB a pint of beer to 40RMB a pint of beer, depending where you go out and what type you get (local beer is obviously cheaper) the dress code on nights out is very casual, so there is no need to have to worry about dressing up and getting ready unless you want to of course! There is a bar street which is home to many different bars and clubs and across the city you can find many different places to suit every taste – from Irish pubs to Chinese discos.
If you come to Zhuhai with InternChina you will have the opportunity to go on a lot of trips that are organized specially for our interns. Whether it’s a visit to a bustling metropolis such as Guangzhou or the peaceful countryside in Yangshuo, China has something to offer for everyone!
InternChina also offers a variety of cultural activities in Zhuhai itself. From calligraphy workshops and tea ceremonies to tai chi lessons, cooking classes and karaoke, everyone is sure to find something new to try.
You can also check out some of our albums on Facebook to see some examples:
Cultural Classes, factory visits and trip to Yangshuo
Xiqiao Mountain / Trip to Guanzhou / Trip to Xiamen / Trip to Wai Ling Ding Island
“My internship is definitely going to make me more employable. It has gotten me more experience in my profession and experience in a different culture with a different language.” (Ross)
“It is a nice, livable city. I think the cuisine here is quite lovely and I’ll definitely miss some of the dishes when I go back home.” (Michael)
“InternChina helped me find my feet in China so I could concentrate on producing good work for my host company. I would recommend InternChina to anyone looking to experience an exciting new culture and experience an international business environment. They provided great support and friendly hands-on service.” (Benjamin)
“China is weird, it’s wacky, it’s so different, but it’s great. InternChina has been absolutely amazing. They are there, no matter what. And they come out with us and they organize the dinners. They felt more like friends than IC staff and they are amazing.” (Chloe)
“I would 100% recommend doing an internship in China. Not only because the business culture here is so different, but the culture itself is just amazing and I don’t think you get to experience that unless you’re here and you really immerse yourself in it. And if I work in China in the future I’ll be able to use the skills that I’ve learned here.” (Coral)
“As part of my work organized by InternChina, I worked in a law firm in Zhuhai under a lawyer specified in giving advice to foreign enterprises. I got to experience first-hand lots of high-profile cases, from going to court for a criminal defense case, to the liquidation process of a company with more than a hundred employees with whom we negotiated compensation. I highly valued such amazing opportunities very few law students get to experience before they even graduate!” (Wei Wei)
READY TO BOOK YOUR PROGRAMME IN ZHUHAI? HIT THE BUTTON BELOW!
Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda, mouthwateringly spicy cuisine, and the World’s largest building is a cultural, economic and social hub of Western China. As the capital of Sichuan province, it is emerging as one of China’s breakout cities with immense investment in infrastructure, real estate projects and high tech manufacturing and IT services. Over 100 of the world’s top 500 largest corporations have a presence here, including Intel, Sony, Toyota, Motorola, IBM and Nokia.
Located in West China, Chengdu is the starting point for many wonderful excursions into Western Sichuan and The Tibetan Plateau. With direct flights to France, Germany (Frankfurt), UK (Heathrow) and U.S. (San Francisco) it is everyday becoming a more and more influential place, drawing attention away from the East coast cities, seen by the recent G20 financial summit held here in July 2016.
This famous saying is surely due to the relaxed, outdoor and sociable lifestyle that Chengdu is famed for across China. Despite being a huge metropolis with almost 15 million inhabitants it maintains a charm from previous years that up-and-coming cities do not, shown in it being voted China’s most livable city (China Daily, 2014).
Chengdu lies to the East side of Sichuan province in South-Western China. It is located at the western edge of the Sichuan Basin and sits on the Chengdu Plain. The city is flanked by the steep Longmen Mountain and in the west by the Qionglai Mountains, which exceed 3,000 m, as you move towards Tibet. Its’ varied climate and topography is partially what attracts so many visitors, as one moment you can be sweating buckets in Chengdu, and almost the same day find yourself shivering on windswept mountains.
Sichuan offers beautiful and fascinating day and weekend trips from Chengdu. Of these, the stunning Jiuzhaighou national park is surely the most famous, where Jet Li’s 2002 epic Hero was filmed. Closer to Chengdu you have the Leshan Giant Buddha and the sacred peak of Emeishan. Further to the West you have the opportunity to gain an insight into Tibetan Sichuan with areas such as Kangding and Tagong real highlights. In fact as you move towards Tibet you quickly become aware of the differences between the two cultures, and in some way you feel as if you are entering a world completely different from the rest of China. The huge city of Chongqing, to the East of Chengdu and home to the spiciest hotpot in China, is also well worth a trip, and can be reached in under 2 hours by high-speed rail.
Getting in and out
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is around 20km outside of the city-centre and recently became one of the top five busiest airports in China. From here there are 2 main buses into Chengdu city, the #1 and #2 buses both costing ¥10. Taxis can also be taken from here and generally cost around ¥45, however you can arrange for an InternChina colleague to pick you up for free.
Chengdu is connected by train to most major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming in Yunnan, Chongqing and Xi’an. The Chengdu railway station is the main stop for getting in or out of Chengdu long distance, although there are also many trains running to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Changsha, Nanning etc. at the East Railway station also. Lastly, the recently opened South Railway station runs many high-speed trains including the Mianyang – Leshan line. Here you can pick up trains mainly to other parts of Sichuan or close, but you can also get to major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing from here.
Although it’s not always sunny in Chengdu, the city enjoys a pleasant sub-tropical environment for most of the year. A short, cold and dry Winter is followed by a warmer, more comfortable Spring, a sweaty, humid summer with the occasional thunderstorm, before a cooler and pleasant autumn lasts well beyond the October national holiday.
The annual average temperature in Chengdu is about 16 C (61 F), influenced by the subtropical monsoon climate of the Sichuan Basin. The hottest months have to be July and August, with highs reaching 37 C (99 F). The coldest temperatures are in January, sometimes even dropping to around -6 C (21 F).
Chengdu is one of the four famous cuisines of china, and remains a Chinese culinary capital and foodie heaven. Dishes tend to be pungent and spicy due to great use of garlic and chili as well as the Sichuan peppercorn, which is málà (“numbing and spicy”).
Some common dishes:
Kung Pao Chicken
Gong Bao Ji Ding (Spicy diced chicken with peanuts):
a Sichuanese speciality, diced chicken, peanuts and a little chili pepper, although this dish is not particularly spicy.
Ma Po doufu
(Tofu in a Bean curd sauce with mince and chili oil): one of Sichuan’s most iconic dishes, served at most big restaurants. It consists of tofu placed in a spicy chili and bean-based sauce, and often accompanied minced meat, usually beef or pork.
Dan dan mian
Noodles set in a spicy chili oil sauce with Sichuan pepper, pork mince, scallions and peanuts. Spice level can vary.
When people think of Chengdu, its’ famous hot-pot (huo-guo) usually comes to mind. Introduced from Chongqing, Chengdu hotpot has its own unique style ranging from numbingly spicy to more milder and aromatic, using three or four different types of spices, as well as a fish head hotpot, amongst many others. Eating hotpot is a great social event for many locals, and a must do while you’re in Chengdu.
Eating Sichuanese staples is often your best bet in Chengdu, since you can pick up a delicious bowl of niu rou mian (beef and noodles) for under 12 kuai almost everywhere, however other delicious Asian cuisines as well as good western food can be found here easily.
Chengdu’s history runs very deep. It is the earliest settlement in all Southwestern China and has a recorded history of more than 2,300 years, although there is even evidence of humans living there over 4,000 years ago. The city’s name has always remained unchanged and since its foundation it has been the capital of Sichuan. Its’ geographical location in the fertile Chengdu Plain has proven extremely beneficial to people throughout history, hence its’ title as a ‘land of abundance’.
For more ideas on what to do in Chengdu, check out our ’48 Hours in Chengdu’ blog.
About 40 kilometers northeast of Chengdu, Sanxingdui remains a wonderful Archaeological Site and has artifacts dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. It is the largest museum in southwest China, with a large number of rare pieces. The exhibitions in this vast museum date back to the Bronze Age, covering a wide range of items, such as jade articles, gold objects and stunning bronze masks. Also displayed amongst the treasures is the world’s oldest, in tact, life-size standing human statue, which is 260 centimeters tall and weighs around 180 kilograms, a great sight in itself. Best way to get there: direct bus from Xinnanmen (New South Gate) to Sanxingdui Museum at 09:30. Price: CNY 50.
Wuhou memorial Temple
Found in Chengdu’s Southern suburb, this temple is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, of the Kingdom of Shu in the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220 – 280). The temple is one of Chengdu’s major tourist attractions and contains some flawless statues to Emperor Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang and other officials of the Shu Kingdom, complete with famous Chinese tablets and ancient inscriptions. The surrounding area is also worth a visit; near the exit of the temple is Jinli Ancient Street which is a hive of activity and much delicious street food, and opposite is the Chengdu Tibetan quarter with many authentic Tibetan businesses and shops. Best way to get there: easy to get to from within Chengdu, just take buses: 14, 26, 53, 57, 213 or 214. Price: CNY 60.
Chengdu Panda Base
Essential to Sichuan and Chinese culture as a whole are pandas, a national treasure. The panda base is located on Futoushan Mountain in the northern suburbs of Chengdu, around 10 km from the city-centre, and can be reached by taxi in about 35 minutes. There is a museum displaying panda habitats, there are also scientific displays that give visitors a good idea of their characteristics and distribution in the wild, as well as some info on conservation and breeding efforts. The pandas themselves are a brilliant site but should always be visited in the morning between 8:30-10 am, during feeding time, since during the heat of the day they will often sleep. Best way to get there: take the newly opened metro line 3 to panda avenue!
While you may also hear more standard Mandarin spoken in Chengdu, especially amongst the younger generation, many people’s native tongue is the local dialect – Sichuan hua. This dialect evolved due to a great wave of immigration during the Ming dynasty: many immigrants, mainly from Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Guangdong, flooded into Sichuan and brought their languages with them creating a melting pot. Sichuan hua is spoken by over 100 million people, and so if counted as a national language rather than a dialect, would rank 10th among world languages by number of speakers. Many disagree over exactly how different this dialect is from standard mandarin, however it seems for most learning mandarin to be reasonably distinct. For example the words for “four” and “ten” are often confusing, as Sichuanhua for “four” is often impossible to distinguish from Mandarin for “ten,” and vice versa. Nonetheless, standard mandarin in Chengdu is of cause understood by almost everyone you will meet and after a little time acclimatizing to the city, local accents can be understood.
Sichuanese is one of the most uniform dialects in all of Inner China. However, it is possible to divide Sichuanese into four sub-dialects according to slight differences in tones.
Sichuan hua examples:
• 我是成都的: Mandarin – Wǒ shì chéngdū rén Sichuan hua – Ngó si Céngdu dēi. –I am from Chengdu.
• 你是哪个国家的？ Mandarin – Nǐ shì nǎge guójiā de Sichuan hua – Lí si lágou guíjia dei? –Which country are you from?
• 瓜娃子！ Sichuan hua – Guá wā zi (lit. stupid melon head) – stupid person!
So, overall do not underestimate the usefulness of standard mandarin, which will still be understood by almost everyone, and even being able to say a few words make your life much easier in Chengdu. Language classes can be arranged through the InternChina office.
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Qingdao is not only famous for its Tsingtao Beer but also for its tasteful Seafood. Trepang, abalone, sea snails, clams, oysters, squid, shrimp, crab dishes…to only name a few. Due to its fresh taste and unique flavors, the Qingdao Seafood is very popular amongst locals and visitors alike.
The Qingdao Seafood calendar
January -March Octopus 八带
February -March Mussel 海虹
March-April Winkle 香螺
March- May & September Crab 螃蟹
April- May Chinese mackerel 鲅鱼
April – June flat lobster 琵琶虾 Scallop 扇贝
May Clam 蛤蜊
June-August Corvine 黄花鱼
July-October Squid 鱿鱼
August- September Shrimp 虾
December- March Oyster 海蛎子 牡蛎
Where to eat
To see (and taste!) what the Qingdao Cuisine has to offer I suggest that you go to one of the little seafood restaurants along the shore or around Laiyang Road.
If you are willing to spend a little more you can also go to Yunxiao Road Gourmet Street, Minjiang Road Gourmet Street , Maidao Seafood Street, or Jiaozhou road BBQ street. The restaurant there are all slightly more expensive but the quality of the seafood is much better.
On the menus, you will find a wide variety of seafood – from spicy Sichuan style to sweet and heavy Shanghai style.
Locals prefer to simply cook their seafood to preserve the original flavor. If you want to eat your seafood the “Qingdaonese” way, just pick up your favorite seafood at a local market and bring it to one of the small restaurants around your neighborhood. Then ask them to cook it for you.
Go ahead and try辣炒蛤蜊 (la chao ga la ) with some draft beer this weekend!
How to order
To order seafood you can say 我想吃海鲜 (wǒ xiǎng chī hǎi xian).
Then go ahead and tell the chef how you want him to prepare your seafood :
白灼baí zhuó （scald）
清蒸qīng zheng （steamed）
辣炒là chǎo (fried & spicy)
Also, tell him how spicy you want your food (in response to the question: 能吃辣吗 néng chī là ma):
微辣 wēi là (a little spicy)
中辣 zhōng là (medium)
If you are not keen on seafood, you may be relieved to hear that you can find food from other regions of China or even foreign countries in Qingdao, too. There is a selection of German, Italian, American, Japanese and Korean restaurants in the city. Prices vary from place to place, of course, but eating out is generally quite inexpensive in China.
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