Hey guys today I want to introduce you to – ‘Off the Great Wall’ – it’s a great Youtube channel, made by Mike, Yi, Mia and Mike who are four Americans with Chinese heritage. Their videos are for both foreigners and Chinese nationals such targeting those who grew up in the west and want to learn more about China and Chinese culture in a relatable, entertaining way.
They talk about many different topics ranging from food, Chinese Traditional culture, Chinese/ Cantonese slang, cultural differences, funny news from China, Chinese dinning etiquette etc… .
If it’s your first time coming to China or if you just want to learn more about Chinese culture in a very funny way you definitely have to check out their videos
My favorite videos are:
The complicated Chinese Family Tree – it’s not just Mom, Dad and Hey Bro in China
How to Speak with Numbers in Chinese – everybody knows about Chinese number hand signs, but do you know the meaning behind 0487?
Asian Swag Class – not meant to be taking seriously!
Chinese Vampire and Zombie Apocalypse – They do not glitter in the Chinese version, they hop around.
For more in-depth knowledge will probably gain more by reading a good old book on Chinese culture, but Off the Great Wall is a good start.
Looking at the map of China, most of the city names may not be familiar to you, apart from Beijing of course (I hope…), but there’s one small dot on the map that everyone should have heard of. It’s the port city in the very South of China – Hong Kong. If you’re currently interning in Zhuhai, or will be going there soon, you’ll most likely fly to Hong Kong first and then travel over to Zhuhai by ferry. It’s that close.
So what exactly is Hong Kong? If you’ve been to Hong Kong before, you might be wondering why you don’t need a visa to enter Hong Kong, but you do as soon as you want to go anywhere else in China (except Macao, but that’s another story). It’s full name is actually Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Yes, that’s quite a mouthful. In short, this means that Hong Kong presides under the One China, Two Systems principle, meaning Hong Kong has its own government, legal system, police force, monetary system, official languages etc. To understand how this came to be, we need to go back in time a little… a lot.
Back in 1839-42 China was caught up in the First Opium War with the British Empire. When China was defeated, Hong Kong as well as the Kowloon Peninsula were ceded to the Brits and hence became a British colony. There was a bit of back and forth between the British and the Japanese during the second World War, but essentially the British Empire kept control of Hong Kong until 1984 when the Sino-British Joint Declaration transferred the port city to the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong officially became part of China under the One Country, Two Systems principle in 1997.
So there’s your History Lesson. Let’s move on…
Where to go?
Firstly, a word about transport. Although, it’s more expensive than China, buses, taxis and the MTR (Underground) are still relatively cheap in Hong Kong. It’s a very well connected city, and although it can be daunting at first, the MTR map is easy to navigate. Most people travel by MTR, so I would avoid taking the trains at rush hour. Nevertheless the trains are very frequent and punctual.
Before I came to do my internship in Chengdu last year, and again before I came to Qingdao this year, I visited Hong Kong for a few days. Here’s my 3 favourite places I would include in your holiday planner:
If you go to Hong Kong, you can’t not go to the Peak. If you haven’t been up there, then you haven’t seen Hong Kong. Take the Peak Tram up to the top (this is half the fun!) and once you’re up there, take a deep breath and be amazed. The peak offers you an incredible view of the impressive cityscape and sparkling Victoria Harbour all the way to the New Territories. It is also beautiful at night. One word of advice though, don’t go when it’s foggy or cloudy…
Tsim Sha Tsui or TST
This part of town is right by Victoria Harbour, and the Star Ferry Pier. TST is basically Hong Kong’s shopping area. Hong Kong is already riddled with shopping malls, but here, you can go from mall to mall without ever stepping outside. Apart from shopping though, I would definitely recommend taking a walk along the Avenue of Stars, where various celebrities (including Jackie Chan) have left their handprints, and there’s even a statue of Bruce Lee! As a bonus, you also get a beautiful view of Central on the opposite side, which is especially scenic at night.
This funky place is only three stops away from Tsim Sha Tsui, and it definitely has its own character. You’ll find old and new high-rise buildings, shopping malls and pedestrian areas, street vendors, night clubs, bars and massage parlours. With it’s incredibly high population density Mong Kok has actually made it into the Guinness World Records as the busiest district in the world! What makes Mong Kok famous, however, is its Ladies Market. The street to look for is Tung Choi Street, where you can bargain yourself through over 100 stalls selling everything from suitcases to underwear…
Of course this is not all Hong Kong has to offer. Want to go somewhere quiet and remote? Yes, Hong Kong has that too! Stay tuned for my next blog on some more interesting places to see, and as a special treat, I’ll be talking about food… Dim Sum, anyone?
Night market: https://www.panoramio.com/photo/56498339
Tomorrow is my last day with InternChina. I have been interning in the Chengdu office, in a marketing/business development role for the past two months. Whilst I have been to China before, especially Chengdu, for travel/study and so on. This time round has been a real eye-opening experience for me. I was given the chance to study Chengdu’s unique business environment and in the process I have learned lots useful and transferable skills.
The marketing side of my internship was very interesting. I learned how social media plays an exciting and ever-changing role in reaching out to people, appealing to their interests or simply sparking interesting conversation that leads on to greater things. Thinking of your own ways to deliver content to a wide audience through social media always challenges your creativity and is exciting.
For the business development side of my internship, I have regularly been going out for meetings with or without my colleagues. Some highlights have been a mixer and an annual meeting held by the British Chamber of Commerce as well as several other business-social events held in local venues.
Aside from marketing and business development I was assigned several ad-hoc tasks as well, such as a video editing and blog editing/writing. Its been rewarding learning how to balance one’s time and efforts.
Most importantly, I have enjoyed using my Chinese for business purposes. Even though I am passionate about Mandarin and Cantonese language and culture, before the main purpose of speaking Chinese was to get a degree and to communicate with my Chinese friends. This time round I have used my Chinese in meetings, events and general business tasks. I would say my Chinese is already proficient, but having the chance to learn new professional vocabulary has been a real plus.
I will be coming back to Chengdu to intern with a local company here, which will hopefully turn into full employment after 6 months. I am therefore very grateful to InternChina for providing me a platform from which to develop my prospective career. I was given time to not only learn new things that will help me later on, but also to establish more connections here. Business in China is all about who you know. Good-old guanxi (關係).
If you would like to know more about a short-term interns role in the Chengdu Office, my intern interview will be uploaded shortly to YouTube. For information specific to Chengdu, as in living/nightlife….our blog is packed with useful information and first-hand experience for your reference.
If you are looking to garner some real, professional experience, why not do an internship with InternChina. It may just give your CV that boost you need, helping you stand out for future employers! Apply Now!
A few of our Chinese colleagues across our three offices in China are sharing how they usually spend the most important festival of the year. 🙂
Zhuhai – Sunny Sui
The Spring Festival is approaching and all the people are starting their preparations for the most important festival. I grew up in the North of China and have only been living in Canton for just over 12 years. Although the Spring Festival has the same meaning for all Chinese, the customs are really different. Today, I am going to talk about the Cantonese’s customs for Chinese New Year. For Cantonese, the most important thing to do for Spring Festival is to stroll around at the flower markets. The flower markets open a week before Chinese New Year. During that time the long streets are full of flowers, and sometimes you can even find stadiums filled with them. People believe strolling around flower markets will bring them luck for the new year, for this reason they will also buy some flowers to decorate their houses. The most popular flowers are orchids, orange trees, solanum mammosum, peach blossom trees and narcissus. So, Cantonese are the most romantic Chinese!
I went to the Chinese New Year flower market last Saturday and bought some orchids to decorate my home. For me, this is one of the most important activities for Spring Festival. I like flowers very much and I can’t wait to go to Guangzhou on Wednesday to see some of the biggest flower markets. Last Chinese New Year we spent the Spring Festival in Guangzhou with my family and my sister-in-law’s family. We had lots of dinners together, we went shopping and went for several trips around Guangzhou.
Qingdao – Shona Shi
As tradition, my parents and I would celebrate the Chinese New Year with my grandparents and uncle’s family. In the morning of New Year’s Eve, we would start the busy day with breakfast together, we would usually eat steamed buns called 包子, bāozi. After that we would put the character 福, fú and the couplet on the front door, which represents our hope and wishes for the coming year. For lunch, we would usually have a variety of dishes with rice.
In the afternoon, we would sweep the graves of our ancestors, and burn some fake money to express how much we miss them and “provide” them with money in their afterlife. This is also believed to be a way to invite them back home and celebrate the new year with us, although I do find this concept kind of scary! In the evening, we would have a feast and watch the spring festival gala together. The feast consists of seafood, meat, vegetables and most important dumplings. On the first day of new year, we would greet our relatives and friends and give them our best wishes.
Chengdu – Kenny Qing
Nowadays there are more and more people from outside of Chengdu moving here to work or live, therefore making Chengdu really crowded. But during the Spring Festival the usual crowded transportation and streets will become deserted, you will find only a few people walking on the street as most of these people will go back to their home town and spend the Spring Festival with their family. For the locals, most of them will stay at home or visit their relatives or friends. I’m also a local and since I can remember, during this time my family will prepare lots of different kinds of food for Spring Festival such as sausages, spicy chicken, soup and several small snacks. When the day comes we invite all of our relatives to have lunch together.
After lunch, sometimes we will go to the temple to make a wish to the Buddha. We usual ask for good health for the family for the coming year, but others will also ask for wealth, which I think the Buddha will not agree with. After this, we will return home and my grandma will suggest to the other adults that they play mahjong together, which they will do for the rest of the day. As for the kids, we will all go outside to play and watch the fireworks. Over the years, I have found that the fireworks don’t interest me as much as before, for me I think that the most happy thing about this time is receiving the lucky money, 红包, hóngbāo, from the older relatives. Here, I have to mention one other thing, never believe your mum when she says that she will help you save it in the bank and give it to you later when you grow up!
Come to China and learn more about the Spring Festival! Apply now!
Once you arrive in China one of the first things that troubles you is the language. It sounds very exotic and weird at the beginning. The first impression is that everything just sounds exactly the same. Many people get scared away because the Chinese speaking language is so hard to learn. Admittedly it is quite tough, at least at the beginning.
The fact that there are somewhere between six and twelve regional dialects of Chinese doesn’t make the whole thing easier. Among them you may know Mandarin, Cantonese and Min. Although there are some similarities in terms and common structure between some of them, these different dialects are mostly unique.
The standard Chinese language is Mandarin, the official language of both Mainland China and Taiwan and one of the six languages used at the United Nations. Cantonese is spoken mostly in Hong Kong and Macau. Also many overseas Chinese people speak this dialect, because the first who traveled to the West came from the southern coastal provinces. I traveled to Canada two years ago and the Chinese people there speak Cantonese only, either out of provincial pride or just because they don’t know how to speak Mandarin. In Europe I also met many Chinese students, born and raised in Western countries, but speak their own provincial dialects only.
When you come to China, be prepared that in every province natives do have their own dialects. The good news is that everyone speaks and understands Standard Mandarin. So even though dialects exists in every province just as in any other country, you get along everywhere in China with Mandarin. Our language school offer Standard Chinese courses which allows you to master this exotic language. You can easily combine it with a part-time internship or you can focus on learning Chinese only.
Those living in Zhuhai have the great advantage of being within easy reach of two of great weekend-break spots on the Pearl River Delta: Macau and Hong Kong. A few weeks ago we had a guest post about our neighbour Macau and now the lovely Pearl of the Orient, is due for a bit of a polish.
HOW TO GET THERE
Everyone knows you can take the ferries from Jiu Zhou Port in Zhuhai to either the airport port (provided you have a airticket) or the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal at the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station, Kowloon.
For those low-ballers amongst us, try the Sky Shuttle helicopter option which takes a smooth 15min to Macau at a even cooler $2,900. For those of you sticking around until or returning in 2016 you’ll be able to use the long awaited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (hopefully by 2016 the name will be shorter than the bridge itself).
Take your pick of the labyrinth MTR (subway), double decker trams and buses, pricey taxi’s and when the weather’s not mimicking a sauna, talk a walk. Public transport is made very convenient to use with the Octopus card (see below.)
While VISA is accepted everywhere, in Hong Kong at least, the Octopus card (八達通, Bat Dat Toong in Cantonese) is genuinely testing this notion!
This handy card stores credit for not only all public transport on the island, but extends to paying for goods (McMeals, clothes, books) and services (racecourse bets, car park spaces, movie theaters, photocopies) at various stores and even acts as a school attendance checker and an access control mechanism at some commercial buildings. This ID-less credit token makes life in Hong Kong infinitely easier – especially since some wet markets even accept it!
THE HONG KONG MENU
While the Brits have “tea time”, the Cantonese have “yum cha” (飲茶) which means “drink tea” which ACTUALLY means you’ll be going out to eat “dim sum”.
Possibly the most famous of Hong Kong specialities “dim sum” refers to a style of Cantonese food. It’s traditionally prepared as small bite-sized portions served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.
Dai pai dong refers to the once very popular open air street-food stalls. It literally means “restaurant with a big license plate”, referring to its size of license which is bigger than other licensed street vendors and presently there are all but 28 left in Hong Kong.
Cha chaan teng are found in Hong Kong and some parts of Guangdong. Typicall warm, weak tea is offered upon being seated and sometimes the utensils are washed/rinsed with the tea too. They offer a range of budget meals ranging from western versions of cafe snacks (like the overly sweet version of french toast) to very traditional staples like wonton soup. Both fast food and a la cart menus are available.
RECOMMENDED SOURCES FOR YOUR TRIP
- Not feeling the pull of Honkers yet? Take a look at these very persuasive photos.
- If you couldn’t be bothered to set up an itinerary – try these sample ones
- Ferry times to and from Zhuhai and Macau
- For those going specifically to get a visa extension try our recommended agency
- The MTR website will help you calculate your route and journey time
- Tips on how to shop in Hong Kong like a seasoned pro.
- Must-try foods when you’re in Hong Kong and where to go!
- Survival Cantonese phrases – print them out and take them with!
Hi all, Mandy here. I’m the new design and marketing intern at the Zhuhai office and the project manager for Teach by the Beach. A local of the lovely Cape Town (actually the wine-lands just outside the city), I graduated with a Fine Arts degree majoring in sculpture – meaning, after four years in studio my only employable skill was speaking English. Luckily South Koreas’ English teaching market wasn’t yet saturated and I managed to live and work there for two years.
Today living and working abroad is made immeasurably easier with advances in information exposure. Primarily thanks to the instantaneous access afforded by the Internet. Sure, nothing really prepares you for the staring you may garner by being “other”, the enticing and insulting scents of daily life or any of the other possibly different ways of navigating concepts of time (what constitutes “being on time” anyway?) and physical spaces (product placement in shop aisles, cycling in traffic, occasionally dodging dollops of baby excrement on pavements and dish-water from several storeys above) – but these few sources could prove useful for your day-to-day life:
Pop-up Chinese (podcast)
One of the more entertaining ways of learning Chinese, Pop-up Chinese provides short dialogues with transcripts in Pinyin and characters As well as a guide through the finer details of pronunciation, meaning and often hilarious explanations of contexts by the two hosts – the native Chinese speaker and the second language speaker.
Their podcasts are arranged from absolute beginners to advanced levels – with a few fun categories (such as KTV Wednesdays and Film Fridays) included.
As a regular subscriber (no fee) you get quite a good range of the source material and access to forums for discussion as well as responses to your personal language questions if you email one of the hosts. Paying for a subscription allows more access and quite a bit more in terms of downloadable material.
Also available on site, is the sister-podcast, Pop-up Cantonese. Which could prove somewhat useful for our Zhuhai interns looking for a bit of a language edge or simply to surprize and impress their office staff.
Sinica is a weekly discussion podcast available on the Pop-up Chinese website. Hosted by Kaiser Guo and Jeremy Goldkorn, the show manages to provide highly insightful topics, guests and recommendations without getting stuffy or boring. Everything from political situations to contemporary pop culture is dissected in a fresh and easy manner that allows even complete outsiders easy engagement in the discussions. Highly recommended for staying on top of current events.
Another favourite for current events, ChinaSmack, not only keeps one up to date on the latest Chinese news, but if you are at all interested in the thinking and behaviour of Chinese netizens, this is a quite gem. Netizen reaction to Chinese news stories, behavior and language in discussion forums and the general comment-banter thrown around in such forums, are translated into English. Impress and offend your Chinese friends and co-workers! Amazing!
Raouls’ China Saloon (forum)
This forum site is a quite an effort to apply to as they have some measures in place to make sure only really keen and/or persistent parties join. Once past that wall, it’s really quite a useful go-to source for times you need a quick answer to everything from adjust your TV setting/water heater to accessing inconvenient sites.
The more frequently you post in the forums the higher up you can move (more exclusive forums and posts are made accessible).
Hope this has been useful guys!
Putonghua (also called Mandarin) is the official language of People’s Republic of China. Therefore, if you are or ever will be learning Chinese, the most likely it will be Putonghua. However, Cantonese is also quite widely spoken in certain areas of China. Especially in Guangdong province, where Zhuhai is located. If you are wondering how different these two languages are than I will tell you that they are probably more different than English and German.
So, when I was applying for an internship one of my major concerns was whether I will be able to speak Mandarin in Zhuhai. Wikipedia stated that it was a Cantonese speaking area. However, Zhuhai, its beautiful landscapes, sub-tropical weather and the internships tempted me so much that I couldn’t resist. Thought to myself: I am sure there are plenty of ways of practicing Mandarin as long as you’re in China. It will be all up to me, whether I will look for opportunities or not.
So, here I am in Zhuhai. How’s my Cantonese? I think I’ve heard it in the bus once. Haha. If somebody would ask me, I would say that this is Mandarin speaking area. Wouldn’t even occur to me that I am in Canton. I hear Mandarin everywhere: in the busses, shops, on the radios. Everybody speaks to me in Mandarin. Of course if I would be more attentive maybe I would hear more Cantonese speakers. But only Mandarin catches my attention. And believe me, it’s everywhere. I am not sure how it is in other Guangdong cities, but Zhuhai is very, very Mandarin! So if any of you have concerns about practicing your Putonghua in Zhuhai I can guarantee you that you shouldn’t even think about that. Just enjoy the weather!