Oh, how we wish we could go back to the life of a nomad! The new experiences, the people, and most of all the food… Do you want to know exactly how to take full advantage of the different food experiences Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) has to offer? Then look no further. In this week’s blog, we’re going to give you a run down of the four (4) most popular types of restaurants that this wonderful food metropolis has to offer.
Street food is an ingrained part of Vietnamese cuisine, which is celebrated worldwide for its convenience, speed of service and its phenomenal flavours! Saigon is teeming with food vendors sprawled throughout the city: from wide open streets to narrow alleyways. There are usually only 1-2 sellers per vendor, but they are kept busy with long queues of hungry locals looking for a cheap and tasty on-the-go meal.
Why not try…
Banh Xeo Nga – This is one of our stops on the food tour, and are famous for their Vietnamese pancakes !
Banh Mi 37 – They do the best Perfect Pork Meatball Sandwich!
Family-owned restaurants typically only offer one type of dish which has been popular with locals over the years and ultimately made the family restaurant a household name. Their speciality could be a specific recipe or technique which the family has perfected and passed down from generation to generation. The true strength of restaurants like these are their affordable yet distinctly delicious dishes.
You can’t miss out…
Bánh Cuốn Tây Hồ – Try their popular fish sauce!
Miến gà Kỳ Đồng – It doesn’t get more traditional than this!
In Vietnamese drinking culture, there are some restaurants where people can both go out drinking to and eat dinner at the same time. Common dishes you can find at these establishments are shellfish, BBQ and hotpot. People tend to drink a lot of beer alongside the food and gather in hoards at weekends.
Join the party at…
The D Saigon – A unique and cozy bar inside the oldest market of Saigon.
Popular with tourists for their cosy atmosphere and English-speaking staff, it’s also the transformative experience that these traditional restaurants offer which attracts potential diners. Dining in one of these restaurants can feel like you have stepped back into 19th century rural Vietnam. These restaurants offer an immersive experience with beautiful decoration, relaxing music and a range of authentic Vietnamese food and drink.
A hidden gem…
Hue House – A rooftop restaurant that you wouldn’t even know is there!
This Christmas, we’re on a mission to find all the ways to stay safe and cozy indoors. We asked the entire Pagoda family to name their favorite Christmas movies or TV episodes and put together our top picks (in no particular order!). Whether you’re at home with your family or quarantining away from home with some friends, we hope you plan to check these out this holiday season.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas, from the Pagoda Projects team!
Home Alone (or Home Alone 2)
You know we had to start this list off with a classic! Home Alone is the highly successful and beloved family comedy, and definitely one of our favorites! Follow eight-year-old troublemaker Kevin McCallister, as he tries to protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.
Watch: Available to stream on Disney+, also available to rent or buy on Youtube and Google Play https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099785/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
In the mood for a good laugh? Elf is a Christmas comedy about a man raised by elves in the North Pole who sets out to find his real family in New York City. Buddy the elf is played by Will Ferrell, of Saturday Night Live fame.
Watch: Available to stream on Elf will be showing on TV this year in the UK – airing on Sky Cinema from 8th December, starting from 12 pm. Also available to stream on Now TV, or rent on Amazon Prime https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319343/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Don’t judge us, we love a cheesy rom-com! Love Actually features nine intertwined stories that examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love.
Watch: Available to stream on Netflix, Now TV, and to buy on Amazon Prime https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0314331/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. If you prefer an action thriller over cozy films this Christmas, you might want to check out Die Hard. But is it a “real Christmas movie”? Decide for yourself!
Watch: Available to stream on Now TV, or rent on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, or Youtube https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095016/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Nightmare Before Christmas
Any Tim Burton fans out here? Whether this is really a Halloween or Christmas movie, Nightmare Before Christmas has made our list. The stop-motion animation tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of “Halloween Town”, who stumbles through a portal to “Christmas Town” and becomes obsessed with celebrating the holiday.
Watch: Available to stream on Disney+, or buy on Amazon https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107688/
Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special
Gavin & Stacey, one of the most beloved British comedies of all time had a one-off Christmas special episode in 2019. There won’t be a new Christmas special of Gavin & Stacey this year – but there will be a rerun of last year’s episode.
Watch: Re-watch the episode again on Christmas Eve (Thursday 24 December) at 8:40PM on BBC One! https://tellymix.co.uk/tv/506585-gavin-stacey-christmas-special-2020-will-the-show-be-back-for-a-new-series.html
The Polar Express
The Polar Express is a Christmas staple, and it definitely captures the Christmas magic every winter. The animation film tells the story of a young boy who, on Christmas Eve, sees a mysterious train bound for the North Pole stop outside his window and is invited aboard by its conductor. The boy joins several other children as they embark on a journey to visit Santa Claus preparing for Christmas.
Watch: Available in the UK to stream on NowTV for the holiday season, or to rent or buy on Youtube and Amazon Prime. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338348/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt
Peep Show: Christmas Special
Peep Show is a British sitcom that follows the lives of Mark Corrigan and Jeremy “Jez” Usborne, two very different, dysfunctional friends who share a flat in Croydon, London. In the Christmas Special, Mark has his family over to the flat for Christmas dinner, as well as Dobby, who he is finally going out with, except he hasn’t told his parents yet.
Watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime and Netflix UK https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1774084/
Jingle All the Way
Jingle All the Way is a 1996 American Christmas family comedy film directed by Brian Levant. It’s a classic plot: Parent forgets to buy a super-popular toy for their kid and must scramble on Christmas Eve to find said toy and prove that his child is, in fact, still loved. It’s silly, adventurous, and a fun one to watch with the family!
Watch: Available to stream on Now TV, or rent on Amazon Prime https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116705/
What’s Christmas without a classic Grinch movie? There are multiple movie adaptations of Dr. Seuss’s most iconic and beloved character, but here’s one you can stream on Netflix: the 2018 adaptation, Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch.
Watch: Available to stream on Netflix in the UK, and rent on Amazon, Google Play, or Youtube https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2709692/
When you travel somewhere new for the first time you can always feel a little bit ‘lost’ as you don’t know where anything is; the gym, the supermarket, the money exchange etc.. Whilst it is quite easy to find most things using the power of Google and Google Maps, sometimes you may be looking for something quite specific or uncommon; like a printing shop or a church.
We hope our ‘Saved Places’ will make it much easier and quicker for you to settle in during your first week in Vietnam!THE ESSENTIALS
– Supermarkets – probably the first question we get asked is “Where is the closest supermarket to my accommodation”. Convenience stores are on every corner but to do I larger grocery shop you may need to head somewhere bigger with more choice. Click here to find a selection across the city.
– Gyms & Fitness Locations – the second question we usually get asked is “Where is the closest gym to my apartment or work”. Have no fear – we have saved a huge variety of work out places on this list for you discover and keep fit whilst you are away.
– Entertainment (Cinemas, Bowling etc.) – for a chilled out social occasion bowling alleys, cinemas, Go Karting, VR Arcade etc.
– Services – need to find a money exchange, printer, passport photo etc. this should help
– Places of Worship – if you are looking to continue religious practice in Vietnam
– Health & Beauty – Spas, nail parlours, hair salons etc.
– Non-chain Coffee Shops – the fun and unique quieter ones that are off the beaten track from the chain shops
– Rooftop Bars – A more expensive drink but with a view of the city above.
– Craft Beer – Saigon has a lot of options for locally brewed craft beer.
If you find something in Vietnam you think we’re missing on here – then let us know!
Are you getting everything ready for your Pagoda Projects programme and counting down the days until you jump on the plane? Are your friends and family asking you loads of questions about your upcoming experience and even you aren’t sure what to expect?
We hope that our watchlist will get you excited to explore the sights and sounds of what is going to be your new home for a months. Why not download a couple of our suggestions to pass the time on your flight out…
Netflix // IMDb
A 10-part documentary series chronicling the Vietnam war featuring the soldiers, protesters, politicians and families who lived it.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An in-depth documentary about on refugee family’s attempts to face its divided past and heal the motional wounds of the Vietnam War.IMDb
Separated at the end of the Vietnam war, an “Americanized” woman and her Vietnamese mother are reunited after 22 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony returns to one of his favourite places on Earth, journeying to the centre of the country, near the coast and to a city he has never been to, Hue.Netflix // IMDb
Snail and broken rice are staples of Ho Chi Minh City’s Outdoorsy street food culture which has been shaped by both history and family memory.YouTube // IMDb
Luke Nguyen, acclaimed owner and chef of the Sydney restaurant ‘The Red Lantern’, returns to the country of his heritage to take a culinary journey through the northern regions of Vietnam.Amazon Prime // IMDb
An old British reporter vies with a young U.S. doctor for the affections of a beautiful Vietnamese woman.IMDb
Two plain clothed U.S. military policemen on duty in war-time Saigon investigating serial killings when their job becomes even harder.Amazon Prime // IMDb
In the mid 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.BBC // IMDb
Sue Perkins embarks on a life-changing, 3,000-mile journey up the Mekong, South East Asia’s greatest river, exploring lives and landscapes on the point of dramatic change.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A vicarious thrill ride as Tony discovers Vietnam from the buzzing streets of Hanoi to the rural beauty of the Montagnards, and the mysterious Island of Mr. Sang. This episode shows exactly why Tony has been completely seduced by Vietnam and its people.
Amazon Prime // IMDb
An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.Netflix // IMDb
A boy and his mother move to California for a new job. He struggles to fit in, as a group of karate students starts to bully him for dating a rich girl from their clique. It’s up to the Japanese landlord, Miyagi, to teach him karate.Netflix // IMDb
Renowned warrior Yu Shu-Lien comes out of retirement to keep the legendary Green Destiny sword away from villainous warlord Hades DaiAmazon Prime // IMDb
Anthony travels to Shanghai. Forget all the antiquated views your might hold about a communist-run, creativity-devoid bunch of state-controlled androids. The modern China is a vibrant, dynamic monument to capitalism. And nowhere is that more glaringly obvious than in Shanghai, a city housing 116,000 billionaires and multimillionaires who modestly call themselves the ‘bao fa hu’ or ‘explosive rich’.Netflix // IMDb
Tofu pudding. Fish head soup. Goat stew. The family-owned street stalls of Chiayi are bastions of Taiwan’s culinary traditions.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Pull up a stool and get your chopsticks ready – A Bite of China is the quintessential TV series on all things Chinese cuisine – from its rich history to the rarest dishes and wildest ingredients. Shot in more than 60 locations and featuring top chefs of the culinary world – it will surprise even the most jaded foodies around.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Channel 4
With unique access to the Forbidden City, this documentary reveals the spectacular history of the world’s largest palace, and the secrets of its astonishing design.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.Amazon Prime // IMDb
The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.Amazon Prime // IMDb
This Oscar-winning biopic traces the life of Pu Yi, the last of the great emperors of China, from his ascent to the throne at the age of three, in 1908, to the time he was imprisoned in the Forbidden City, witnessing decased of cultural and political upheaval.Amazon Prime // IMDb
True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.YouTube
Reggie discovers contemporary China, diving deep into four megacities in search of the new generations transforming their future.BBC // IMDb
A cookery show focusing on Chinese food, with demonstrations of how to make various Chinese dishes.Channel 4 // IMDb
Guy martin’s love of industry and endeavour leads him to china, where he reveals the unseen side of its innovation, technological development and gigantic manufacturing.Netflix // IMDb
In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a factory in an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
Netflix // IMDb
At the forefront of transforming Mexican cuisine, Enrique Olvera champions traditional ingredients under a haute perspective as he delves into the roots of Mexico to create award-winning dishes at his restaurant, Pujol.Netflix // IMDb
A look at the life of notorious drug kingpin, El Chapo, from his early days in the 1980s working for the Guadalajara Cartel, to his rise to power of during the ’90s and his ultimate downfall in 2016.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life’s harsh realities, all in the name of love.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Bourdain travels to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Cuernavaca to commune with local residents who express their passion through food, art, and the struggle for an improved quality of life. Bourdain talks with journalist Anabel Hernández on the impact of the area’s drug trade-related violence and how it affects local quality of life.Amazon Prime // IMDb
A documentary on some of contemporary Mexico’s most iconic artists and performers.IMDb
A documentary feature about the life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tomas is too much for his lone mother so she sends him to live with his older brother Federico, aka Sombra, in Mexico City.BBC // IMDb
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Ade Adepitan go behind the scenes to reveal the hidden systems and armies of people running some of the greatest cities on earth.Netflix // IMDb
A journey through the colorful and varied world of Tacos.BBC // IMDb
In 1968 the young Rick travelled down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Mexican border and beyond. 50 years later he retraces his steps from San Francisco to Mexico enjoying unique dishes and meeting chefs. Amazon Prime // IMDb
Tony heads to Mexico with Carlos,who took over Tony’s old job.IMDb
Two young Mexican attorneys attempt to exonerate a wrongly convicted man by making a documentary. In the process, they expose the contradictions of a judicial system that presumes suspects guilty until proven innocent.
Please refer back to this blog post for regular updates on the effect of Covid-19 on our partners and partcipants, and everything we are doing at Pagoda Projects to continue to bring you extraordinary and safe work experience.
If you’re a student signed up to one of our programmes or are thinking about enrolling and have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0161 818 8824 or send Ali an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, stay safe everyone!
PAGODA NEWS: COVID-19
Monday 19th October
We had a little success story last week as Paul Yeandle, Director of Programmes, made it back into China after nearly 7 months in Vietnam.
A few negative COVID-19 Tests and, 14 days of quarantine in Guangzhou later – Paul was back in Chengdu. Keeping a routine, home exercise, Netflix and, of course, some work and engaging Pagoda team meetings kept boredom at bay!
Paul is now back in Chengdu where he’s linked up again with the Chengdu office and remarked at the way China has gone back to business following tough lockdowns and strict measures on the borders. It’s a price worth paying, according to Paul, to return to his wife, cat, and, an open economy!Thursday 24th September
This week marked the start of our #Funded50 Remote Internship Programme where 50 recent grads or placement students have been given the opportunity to intern remotely with companies in Greater China, Vietnam and Mexico.
Pagoda Projects secured a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop our online internship programme as well as a tech platform here interns can access all aspects of the programme; internship management & support, online events and the cultural mentorship. Throughout the internship, the interns will not only gain valuable international business insight from their day to day roles but also through workshops and events with industry leaders including LinkedIn Learning.Friday 18th September
It is safe to travel to Taipei for our year-long placement programme! Our participant completed his 2-week quarantine and today completed his first day at his company, Winnoz!
Quentin had the following tips for quarantine: proactively do some remote work for your host company, keep active in your room with bodyweight exercises and commit to a couple of series on Netflix!
In Vietnam, the second wave has been well controlled and Danang, the centre of the outbreak, has eased its lockdown. The borders have become to open foreigners, but still focusing on business experts, which is similar to the situation in China. Life goes pretty much as usual in the new normal – with masks and hand sanitiser.Thursday 30th July
Unfortunately after 100 days, Vietnam has recorded it’s first community transmissions of COVID-19 in Danang City. This has come as quite a shock to the community given how successful they had been at controlling the spread. Nevertheless, as usual, the government and people have reacted quickly by implementing social distancing, isolating those who may have been at risk of infection and contact tracing all those with possible connections.
Whilst it is a bit of a damper on the success so far, we remain confident in the measures being taken to effectively tackle this new wave of infections.Wednesday 22nd July
Somehow we are almost at August – where has this year gone? We were delighted a couple of weeks ago to host our first public webinar ‘Failures: The Secret to Success’ in conjunction with our Remote Internship Programme. We were joined with three great panelists from Zhuhai, Taipei and HCMC who shared on the challenges that they have faced to get where they are today.
As remote working / WFH has now become somewhat the norm, we enjoyed hosting a Remote Working Workshop yesterday as part of our Remote Internship Programme. As University of Dundee students come to the end of their internship after 8 great weeks, we are now joined by students from universities across Wales, England and Australia working for organisations all around the world for the next 8!
With August around the corner our UK team are looking forward to potentially heading back into their new office in Manchester. Fingers crossed!Thursday 2nd July
Vietnam has now gone 77 days without any community transmissions of COVID-19. Whilst the borders are still closed except for ‘experts’ working on projects of national significance and repatriated Vietnamese with mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival, business very much goes on as usual within the country (as does the traffic!).
All facilities, shops and services have now reopned, and since many have vacation at this time, domestic tourism is restarting with hotels, resorts and tourist attractions reopening up for business. Temperature checks and face coverings are only required in notably crowded places and there is certainly a sense of ease amogst the population towards the lower threat of the virus.
Vietnam has fantastically recorded no deaths, with the most serious patient making a remarkable recovery from the virus over the last couple of weeks.
Monday 29th June
Taiwan Celebrating NO NEW LOCAL CASES in over 88 days!
Only a few cases have been imported but contained.
Status report on daily life in Taiwan – Face masks are still required to be worn on entering public transport (metro and buses) but masks can be removed on the metro if a safe distance of 1.5 m can be maintained… Which is unlikely during rush hours!
All shops, offices, restaurants, cinemas (showing old western movies and new Taiwanese movies), parks etc are still fully open to the public. Large malls and some restaurants are still performing temperature checks upon entrance with alcohol spray for the hands.
Weather is sunny and hooooot as per usual 🙂Tuesday 2nd June
As lockdowns and restrictions have been eased slightly around Europe we have been very excited to onboard over 70 students onto our first Remote Internship programme. As interns have remotely settled into their new workday and host company throughout the week, we have held an Employability Skills Webinar and Virtual Fireside Chat with Louise Nicol, Founder and Director of Asia Careers Group.
Alongside their internship, interns have been paired with a Cultural Mentor to exchange stories and knowledge about the intern’s home country culture and their Host Company country’s culture. It’s been great to see their cultural journals, hear about their conversations and witness development of intercultural awareness. Even the Pagoda Projects team are learning new things!Thursday 7th May
Vietnam is Back! Of course with cautious optimism, but over the last two weeks shops, restaurants, cafes and sports facilities are back open for business, with care taken to the numbers inside and the ability to safely distance. Schools are slowly going back and as Vietnam celebrated Reunification Day last week; 45 years after the end of the Vietnamese War, the country has supported each other and worked together to keep the virus at bay.
The picture is the view from famous Nguyen Hue towards the Saigon Opera house as people enjoy the cool city evenings. We haven’t been able to see this view for several years because of construction work to the Saigon metro, but this station is now finished!
Friday 24th April
A quick Vlog from our Vietnam Branch manager Vicki Offland today, chatting about the situation in Ho Chi Minh city at the moment regarding Corona Virus as successful government measures have helped keep the virus at bay which is leading to a phased relaxation of social distancing.
Vicki also reveals what Pagoda Projects has been doing to keep morale up 🙂
Tuesday 14th April
A couple of rays of good news from Taipei today!
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced today that there are no new cases of Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) to report for the first time in 36 days!
It appears the CECC’s efforts at quickly identifying, isolating, and tracing confirmed cases have held the virus at bay, for now…
Another trick up Taiwan’s sleeve is their new ‘Mask Vending Machine‘ which is being deployed across the city.
To help alleviate the queues at 7/11’s and pharmacies, the government have set up vending machines which can dispense up to 2000 masks per day! Costing only 45NTD for a pack of 3 ($1.5 / £1).
Thursday 2nd April
Our InternVietnam team are now working on developping our Remote Internship Programme for the University of Dundee from home! They are also planning for the arrival of our scheduled employability programmes in August/September 2020.
Vietnam has entered day two of a 15-day country wide voluntarily lock-down in order to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. Many of the population were already maintaining good social distancing and following government health advice. All non essential business are closed except in cases of delivery which maintain as normal and is making less inconveniences for the population.
As of today 62 out of 222 cases recorded have recovered and many business and organisations are adapting to this new way of working online through online webinar and workshops.
Friday 27th March
We are EXTREMELY excited to announce the imminent launch of a remote internship programme for our partners at the University of Dundee! The University of Dundee programme will be taking place this summer in a slightly different format. Take a look below to find out more. We will be expanding our remote internship opportunities to our other valued partners in the near future. Watch this space for announcements!
Company? – click here to find out more
University? – click here to find out more
Tuesday 31st March
Well, we have entered the second week of lockdown in the UK and seemingly more uncertain times lay ahead. All of us at Pagoda Projects just wanted to share a quick message to all our participants, alumni, partners and everyone going through challenging times.
Look after yourselves, whether that’s with crazy new home workouts, becoming a jigsaw master or learning how to light a Zoom call like a Hollywood film set.
Friday 27th March
Although our InternMexico programmes for June & July 2020 have also sadly been postponed, our InternMexico Branch Manager James is busy planning the launch of our newest initiative from the comfort of his own home in Mexico City.
Friday 27th March
Our InternVietnam team waved goodbye to the final few participants on our Ho Chi Minh City programme this week. They are on their way home to the France, the UK and Germany, hopefully taking lots of fond memories of Vietnam with them.
All InternVietnam programmes for participants due to head out to Vietnam until July 2020 have been postponed but the InternVietnam team are still planning for some arrivals in August and September 2020!
Friday 27th March
Our Taipei team are hard at work and continuing to plan for participants wishing to embark on our Taipei programmes from September 2020 onwards.
Participants on place in Taipei are exercising caution and looking out for themselves. We are supporting these participants in their decision to either continue with their placements or to return home early, dependant on advice from official government channels such as FCO, DFAT, MFAT and GAC.
Our participant insurance policy will continue to cover those hard-working interns who are eager to stay under the current circumstances. However, we will be reassessing the safety of these participants daily in case of further developments and will remain in close contact with our insurance providers as things progress.
If you have any concerns regarding a participant currently on place in Taipei, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Daniel (in Taipei) or Clare (in the UK).
Thursday 26th March
Our InternChina teams are slowly emerging back into the world after a period in lock-down. Our Chengdu Branch Manager Liam is thrilled to be back working in the office again.
Programmes that were due to take place in Mainland China in April or May 2020 have sadly been postponed in light of current travel and visa restrictions.
All of our study tours along with Australian and New Zealand Government and University programmes have already been postponed. Some of the InternChina programmes that are due to take place in June, July and August 2020 on behalf of students studying in the UK may also be postponed. We will stay in close contact with the participants and ongoing applications hoping to take part on these programmes about any changes to over the coming weeks.
This includes those applicants hoping to take part on the GenerationUK Programme this year, your programme dates may be subject to change. Please keep your eyes on your inboxes for an update and thank you very much for your patience and understanding in the meantime.
Thursday 26th March
Just as our participants, alumni and faithful partner universities and companies across the world are striving to endure, adapt and thrive through the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pagoda Projects are doing the same!
From all of us at Pagoda Projects, our thoughts and best wishes are with medical workers and governments who are doing their best to heal and protect.
Get in touch:
An introduction to China
Keen to learn more about China before carrying out your internship? We have picked out some of the best social media accounts and websites for learning about China, its language, culture and travel destinations! We have also chosen a couple of city-specific accounts if you are struggling to choose which city to do an internship in or want to find out more about the destination you have picked.
Looking for fun and easy ways to learn Chinese – take a look at the accounts below!
The Instagram account han_characters makes Chinese characters easier to remember by creating drawings of them. Each post shows a single character as a picture and explains the different words that that character features in with example sentences. Not only does this make learning Chinese easier, especially if you have a picture memory, it also helps you to understand the meaning of single characters which helps in learning multi-character words. Your time on social media can be made productive by learning Chinese just scrolling through Instagram!
Check out their Instagram here
The Chairman’s Bao
The Chairman’s Bao has abridged news articles in Chinese which you can filter according to HSK level. The website and app have a built-in dictionary and keywords and grammar points are listed at the end of every article. You can read sample articles for free, but to access all their language resources you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. However, the blog section is free and offers good tips and advice for learning Chinese, as well as articles about Chinese culture and news.
Travel in China
Want some inspiration of where to travel to China? Follow these accounts to see some incredible photography of China’s gorgeous landscapes, historic sites and cityscapes.
This account collates photos from around China and provides a description of the location, including an explanation about the place’s history and geography.
Check out their Instagram here
Nathan Ackley is a photographer based in Shanghai and Taiwan and the majority of his photos document these two places. He captures the buzzing cosmopolitan life in Shanghai, as well as beautiful temples and traditional buildings.
Check out his Instagram here
The account provides awe-inspiring photographs of life in rural China with short extracts explaining their background. It is summarised by their bio: “you know the city, now get to know the country – see how China’s other half lives”.
Check out their Instagram here
News about China
Sixthtone offers news and investigatory stories about China which you may not find in the mainstream news. The stories are split into five sections, based on the Chinese language’s five tones: rising tones, half tones, deep tones, broad tones and vivid tones. Each offers a different perspective on news and life in contemporary China. Sixthtone’s articles, photography and videos cover a wide scope of issues including social trends, economic development and life in rural areas. The weekly summary of China’s Week in Photos provides an insight into the hugely varied events and developments going on in China.
Follow China Daily if you want to keep up-to-date with national news and understand a Chinese perspective on international news stories.
Scan the QR code below to follow their WeChat account
This Instagram account uses pictures to convey the cultural differences between China and the West which are based on the illustrator’s experience of being a Chinese person living in the West. They may help prepare you for some of the cultural differences you will experience in China and resonate with you if you have spent time in China before!
Check out their Instagram here
Chengdu Expat’s WeChat and Facebook account lists recent news and upcoming events in Chengdu. Look here for all the best business, cultural and nightlife events, as well as some discounts and deals. The Instagram account also features a variety of pictures showcasing life in Chengdu which will give you an idea of what you might see, do and eat while you’re here!
sheleads is an international network for professional females in Chengdu and offers a mentorship programme and listing of events which focus on female empowerment and feature women. In 2019, they organised a Female Week and launched a podcast.
Follow them on Wechat: sheleads
discoverzhuhai showcases the local sites of Zhuhai and the surrounding region.
Check out their Instagram here
This new account started by an InternChina intern shows the vast range of delicious food available in Zhuhai with their locations listed. With zhuhaieater’s help, you will never go hungry in Zhuhai again!
Check out their Instagram here
This account targeted at expats lists upcoming events in Qingdao and information about the city.
Check out their Instagram here or follow them on WeChat: redstarqd
The official tourist account for Qingdao offers snapshots of its scenery throughout the seasons.
Check out their Instagram here
Unfortunately, Dalian is currently lacking any English language accounts but check out InternChina’s blog section about Dalian to learn more about previous interns’ experience here and maybe you will be inspired to start an account during your placement!
Get in touch:
How I ended up in the “City of Ice”
As a student of Business Management and Mandarin, I had to make a choice of city in China for my year abroad. The year abroad, in my case, consists of two components: one year study and a two month internship. I decided early that I wanted to study in one city and do an internship in a different city, for different experiences.
North vs South
Originally, I was very keen on studying in a city in the southern part of China, for many reasons that include: climate, food, proximity to the sea, and much more. As a Portuguese person, I searched for a similar place to go to (and to make the cultural shock a little less noticeable!), However, it went a little different than expected (in a good way!).
I applied and was accepted for a one-year Confucius institute full scholarship in Harbin! The coldest city in China! This peculiar city in northeast China fulfilled my main criteria which was: must have majority Mandarin speakers, who speak in a standard way. My other criteria: I will study in a city where English is remotely spoken, so that I can have the best learning experience. I stuck to these two important criteria and must say, had a great experience learning Mandarin in Harbin.
How I ended up in the “City of romance”
When it came to apply for my internship, Zhuhai was already on my mind. I wanted a place different from Harbin. I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun again, and so I did for two months in the lovely city of Zhuhai. As expected these two cities are extremes in so many categories, that some may ask “Why did you go to Zhuhai/Harbin?”.
Let’s talk about some of those differences:
For those who aren’t familiar with Harbin, it’s a city located in Heilongjiang Province right at the top right corner of China, bordering Russia’s Siberia. So, one can imagine just how cold it is. Harbin’s winter lasts about 6 months reaching minimum’s of – 40 º C. Harbin is, in fact “the City of Ice”, famous for it’s ice buildings and statues and icy festivals. Moreover, it’s important to point out, Russian entrepreneurs who wanted to recreate their motherland, built the Harbin of today. So its buildings are very Russian, in the way they look, but with Chinese banners. It’s this odd combination that makes it such a peculiar city, interesting on the foreign eye.
Zhuhai is the complete opposite. The buildings are tall, and mostly dark grey and white. While it sounds depressing, it goes well with the city’s landscape. Zhuhai is relaxing on the eye, because it is a mixture of human landscape and nature. Wherever you go you’re sure to see trees, bushes, anything that screams Nature.
Beifang’s food (North China) and Nanfang’s food (South China) is completely different. Not only that, but also it varies according to the region.
Harbin’s food is delicious, flavored and mostly fried. But I couldn’t understand why most food was fried. Until a teacher explained that due to the extreme cold weather in Harbin, there was a preference for oil-based food (it will heat your body and help fight coldness). Zhuhai’s food is light, flavored and with a lot more vegetable side dishes. Both are not too spicy, so both Harbin and Zhuhai’s food are very delicious.
That was, for me, the biggest difference between the two. While in Harbin, Chinese people tend to be more amazed whenever they see a foreigner for the first time. Nevertheless they are very welcoming and overall very curious about the countries we come from. They may even ask for a picture.
Zhuhai’s people may also be amazed, but are much more relaxed when meeting foreigners. Overall, I found that a large portion of people in Zhuhai can speak basic english while no one in Harbin could. I imagine the proximity to both Macau and Hong Kong, two ex-colonies and now special administrative regions (SAR) played an important role in this.
Harbin and Zhuhai are two very different cities in so much more aspects other than the one’s I have listed. That is the fun part and makes my first time in China so special. I highly recommend visiting both north and south china and deciding which one provides for the the most enjoyable experience.
Arriving in a totally different country can be confusing more many people, both culturally and professionally. Some difficulties will be there, but after 3 months in China I can say that the first 2 weeks were the richest weeks of discovery and experience!
The difficulties encountered during this period not only allow us to develop our problem-solving skills but also make the experience even more exciting!
Before You Arrive
Of course, to avoid some problems on your arrival, it’s sensible to take some steps before your departure:
- Check the dates of your visa to buy your plane tickets. You must always return to your country at least 2 days before the end of the visa.
- Tell your bank about your departure dates and your destination so that your card does not get blocked once in China, which could be very inconvenient! In addition, do not forget to consult your bank regarding withdrawal limits and payment fees. In China you do not pay with your credit card everywhere, you often have to withdraw. Note: with a Visa card, you can’t withdraw from all bank ATMs China.
- Purchase a VPN. Without this, many Western sites will no longer be accessible and it is difficult to download a VPN in China (without access to Google & Google play!)
- Download Baidu, Baidu Maps and Baidu Translate.
- Check the weather in your chosen city to know what to pack, to avoid suffering from cold/ heat and having to buy clothes once you arrive!
- Tip! If you want to control your expenses, do not hesitate to download a currency converter on your phone.
Your First Two Weeks in China
Remember that any problems or difficulties you encounter in China will always have a solution!
I will now quote some of the “classic” difficulties that you will encounter during your first 2 weeks in China, and explain how to overcome these in a simple way!
Lost on the way to your internship?
- On your first trip to work with one of the InternChina members, take pictures of the bus stop / buildings as a landmark.
- Plan the trip on BaiduMaps. You can find a quick tutorial here!
- Contact InternChina if you are really lost or unsure about your orientation. We are here to help you!
Not sure what to do in the office? Very busy colleagues?
- Do some research on the market, the competition and make a list of the new vocabulary you encounter.
- You can then impress your colleagues and managers with your knowledge and show that you are thirsty to learn and be involved!
- Ask what is expected of you and the tasks you will need perform – the Chinese appreciate and encourage proactivity among their employees
Having problems with the language barrier?
- Explain that you are a little “rusty” in the morning (no coffee yet!).
- Ask them to clearly write their request so that you do not forget.
Do not worry, over time you will learn to understand the different accents of your colleagues!
If English isn’t your first language, are you shy because you are not confident?
- Don’t underestimate your English skills and don’t be discouraged. Your English will gradually improve over time and you will become confident very quickly!
- Remember, youu will not be the only non native-English speaker on the spot!
- Feel free to express your lack of confidence if you want to be reassured.
- Nobody will judge you, on the contrary! People are aware that it is not easy for you to start and that you need time to adapt.
Do you have trouble making yourself understood by taxi drivers?
- Take BaiduMaps (tutorial!) and ask your colleagues a few well-known places in the city.
- Add these places to your BaiduMaps favorites and learn to pronounce them in Chinese!
Believe me, this is a good workout! After 2 or 3 tries, the driver will understand you and you will be on your way to independence!
You do not know where to exchange your foreign currency for RMB?
- Simplest option: do this directly upon your arrival in China (at the airport or port). Currency exchange counters will be present.
- If not, ask one of the members of InternChina, they will know how to answer you for sure.
Some counters offer cheap exchange rates, it is sometimes better to compare before making a choice. For advice, contact our team!
Want to meet new people?
- Whether you live in an apartment or a homestay, don’t hesitate to join our dinners on Thursday evening and our activities or trips on weekends. Find out more about our services in Zhuhai here and Qingdao here.
- The other interns also want to make new friends, so don’t be shy! Add the other IC members on WeChat (Wechat tutorial) and get to know them!
- The outings between trainees are numerous, you’ll have many opportunities!
What to eat at the restaurant?
Going to a restaurant can be intimidating when the local language is unknown to us and we can not read or speak it! Fortunately, there are some useful tips:
- If the menu is written exclusively in Chinese and you can not read it, refer to the images to choose your dish.
- If you want to know what you are eating and are ready to learn some basics, here is a very useful blog on how to read a Chinese menu!
I hope these few tips will help you get a glimpse of what awaits you in China and have reassured you about your potential! With some effort, it’s quite possible to overcome any difficulties you may encounter during your first 2 weeks in China. You will come out of this experience bigger and more independent than ever! And don’t forget, our team is available 24 hours a day to answer any problem!
Ready to embark on the InternChina adventure? Click here!
As you may know, in China food is one of the most important things! Indeed, sharing a meal is a social opportunity that is loved across China. However, reading a Chinese menu can seem intimidating.
At InternChina we love food too – check out this blog in order to know more about how we help you to explore Chinese cuisine. If you have never tried Chinese food before, don’t worry, you’ll definitely experience this soon enough!
And fear not, this article is here to hopefully help you understand a Chinese menu, so you can order yourself and impress your Chinese colleagues and friends!
The Chinese language may appear to be the most difficult language in the world at first, as we are not used to the Chinese characters. But don’t be intimidated! This ancient language is following a certain logic – as soon as you understand the logic, you’ll be able to read a Chinese menu without a doubt!
To avoid giving you a long history lesson, let’s just say that originally all Chinese characters were created using pictures, and were developed into the calligraphic style that we see today through several different steps.
History of Chinese Characters
Let me show you the evolution of the Chinese character for “horse” – if you don’t want to order this kind of dish, just look for it in a Chinese menu!
Now that you can understand how the Chinese characters work, just use your imagination and it will be way easier to read a menu! Let me show you some examples of the main ingredients you’ll find in a Chinese menu.
Meat on the Menu
These are basically the most common kinds of meat you’ll find on a menu in China. While horse meat isn’t that popular, in some places donkey meat is! Therefore, for donkey meat dishes you will have the character for horse, and one other symbol that looks similar to the tall ears of the donkey! So a donkey is a horse with tall ears, easy to remember- right? Can you find two more very similar characters? When you understand that the Chinese language is logic, it seems less and less hard, right?
After most of those characters in a Chinese menu you’ll see “肉-rou” that means “meat”.
Vegetables on the Menu
Obviously, the Chinese language can’t always be explained by pictures, but you can still see the logic behind the characters.
Let’s look at “potato” as an example. “Tu” means “earth“, and “dou” means “bean“. A potato is a bean that comes from the earth – easy!
Another interesting story can be found with “tomato.” Tomatoes weren’t originally found in China, they were imported. So in the Chinese name for tomato we have: “Xi” meaning “West“, “Hong” meaning “Red“, and “Shi” meaning “Persimmons“. Can you guess why? Because a tomato looks like a “red-persimmon imported from the West”! Clever, right?
“Bai” means “white” and “Cai” means vegetable, so the white vegetable is also know as the delicious Chinese cabbage! The easiest way to remember a Chinese character is to make a story from the shape of the character, or ask your Chinese friends to explain the character to you!
These are the main characters you’ll see in the dishes, so you’ll see if you are going to eat soup or some noodles.
Just one thing to remember about rice, restaurants commonly use “米饭” or just “饭” – character FAN– for rice. And a funny tip about “egg”- “dan” means egg, but in Chinese you’ll always call it a “Chicken egg”.
For the soup “tang” can you see the three dots on the left hand-side ? Looks like drops of water, right? Exactly! That’s the way of describing an object or dish with water inside, so now you all know that there is water in the soup now!
Our Favourite Dishes
Now that we’ve showed you the main characters you’ll see in a Chinese menu, let’s give you some more tips and the names of our favourite dishes!
These might take some more imagination to remember, as it won’t be as easy as the characters for various animals which were very close to the actual picture of the animal. However, these cards will be super useful while reading a Chinese menu. And, you can also show them in the restaurants if you can’t find them on the Chinese menu!
Don’t hesitate to choose those dishes if you see them on a Chinese menu, they’re delicious!
You can find the two first ones in every Halal restaurant, also known in Chinese as “Lanzhou Lamian, “and you can recognise these restaurants by the characters on the outside door: ‘兰州拉面‘. And the other dishes are found in any typical Chinese restaurant!
- XiHongshi Chao Jidan: Egg and tomato with rice.
- Jidan Chao Dao Xiao Mian: Fried egg, vegetables and cut noodles (this might be little spicy in some places!)
- Feng Wei Qie Zi : Fried aubergines.
- Tang Cu li Ji: Sweet and sour pork.
- Gan bian Da tou Cai : “Big head vegetable!” This will be some delicious Chinese cabbage and spicy sauce.
- Gong Bao Ji Ding : Chicken, peanuts and veggies, with a sweet and spicy sauce.
Please Don’t Forget!
Here some tips, that may save you one day – who knows!
- If a character has 月 on the left-hand side it is likely to be some sort of guts/intestines/belly/insides, i.e. run in the opposite direction!
- Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Then always avoid meals with this character “肉“, as this is “rou“, which means “meat.”
- Allergic to peanuts? This is the character you need to avoid : “花生“, pronounced “huasheng.”
- If you can’t eat spicy food, avoid this red one! “La” “辣” means spicy.
There is different kind of spicy food that our interns in Chengdu will be pleased to try! When you see those characters : 麻辣 be ready to experience some tingling and numbing sensation.
Don’t hesitate to ask our staff members on place to help you out with the pronunciation, or if you need any help ordering your food!
Did this help to convince you that living in China isn’t that difficult? Well then, you just need to apply now!
As you may know, in China you’ll need a VPN to use your favourite apps via Google. And most of the time the traditional Google Maps isn’t really accurate in China, so it’s better to be able to use Chinese map applications. No worries, when you arrive in China our team on place will give you an orientation and help you discover Baidu Maps. However this application is all in Chinese, so we thought this tutorial would be helpful in case you don’t remember all the information we give you on your first day in China!
Our team will help you download the app, and set up your account when you’ll arrive, so I won’t talk about those steps!
Don’t forget : when you want to use Baidu Maps, turn off you VPN – it will be faster!
Want to know how to save a location as a favourite in Baidu? Follow those steps:
- Type the location name or address. For example, the LPG Bar in Qingdao is “Laofeijiuba”
- Click on the location and it will appear on the map
- To save it for later, just press the star on the left bottom corner – you did it !
How to Find Your Favourite Places
- Click on your profile
- Click on the Star to access your favourites
- To rename it, long press on the location
- Then choose “重命名”
- Use a name that you’ll easily remember, like LPG
- Click on “确定” to save it! Easy right?
Bus and Subway Maps
Want to know the bus or metro route, and the timetable? You just need to use Baidu Maps!
- For subway line: enter the line number + “haoxian”
- For bus line: enter bus number + “lu”
- Choose the 1st choice, or one that looks correct
- Now you can see the entire route, and timetable in both directions
- Click here to find out where is the nearest bus station
- Click here to go there by foot without getting lost!
- 1st stop is indicated by the green pointer, and the last one by the red one.
Let’s say, today is Thursday, and you signed in to join us! Unfortunately you can’t use the location we gave you on our group chat. No worries, we will always give you the location, and the address so you can either follow the location, or search for it on Baidu yourself!
Let’s say tonight we are going to Magic Eggplant in Qingdao: 大尧三路26号 (Dayaosanlu 26hao)
- Copy the adress here
- To see the route, click on the blue button
- Taxi route will appear firstly, you can see how much it might cost you if you chose this option, here 10 RMB
- Click here to chose the public transportation way, and chose the first route for example ( to know more go the bonus pictures)
- How to go there? Follow the foot
- When is the bus coming? It’s one stop away on this case
- Ok we arrived at the bus stop, let’s go to the restaurant – follow the blue foot again!
For those who can’t read or speak Chinese, here is some more information on how to be a pro at Baidu Maps!
- Left part : How many stops in total / Right part : How long will the journey take
- Are you walking somewhere? First you can see how long it will take you, and how far the place is
- To pick the more suitable route, look at the duration, and kilometers to see what’s more convenient. Usually, 1st option is faster, but might have to walk more
I guess you’re now ready to come to China, so why not apply now!