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Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Travel, Understanding Chinese culture, Weekend Trips

Family visit – Part 1 Beijing

An Internship in China can give you so many opportunities in business experience and in travel. For those who are staying long term like me – it is very nice when you have the opportunity for family and friends to visit; You can take a break and just enjoy China as a tourist and view it from different eyes. I arrived in early April and was warmly welcomed by the InternChina team. My parents really supported my decision to do a marketing internship in Qingdao and promised they would pop by and visit me in the summer holidays. Once I was settled and confirmed to my mum the ‘no everything is fine, and yes my apartment is livable’ speech, it was just left to them to book their tickets…
Last Thursday I took the train to Beijing, arrived in the afternoon and settled in the hotel. Picking up my parents from Beijing airport the next day was surprisingly easy – Beijing has the second largest airport in the world, but as long as you know what terminal you want to go, the signs are easy to spot. Seeing my parents at the airport was pretty magical, after almost five months they were very happy to see me. With the heavy sense of jet lag and slight initial culture shock, I showed my parents around a busy shopping street and let them explore. For dinner we had a delicious Beijing duck with pancakes, sauce and spring onions – then it was time to rest for the day ahead.

InternChina - Dumplings
InternChina – Dumplings

The main activity we did this weekend was of course the Great Wall of China. We took a day trip from the hotel which took us to the sacred way of the Ming tombs. Our next stop was a Jade Museum which was beautiful and many members of staff showed us around the factory explaining how Jade is carved, testing the quality. I found a fantastic ring that I tried on but with the 5,000RMB price tag, I had to leave it behind. *Cry Cry

InternChina - Jade Ring
InternChina – Jade Ring

The main attraction for the day was obviously the great wall; Mutyianu is one of the most beautiful parts of the wall. However, at 35 degrees, I was more than sweating up the stairs but managed to take some beautiful photos and also read a bit about the history. On our way back we also went to a silk museum where again they showed us the production of the silk thread and all the beautiful products.

InternChina - Great Wall
InternChina – Great Wall

On the Saturday we also went to summer palace. This is one of the most beautiful touristic parks in Beijing – famous dating back to hundred of years ago. A little bit of advice for anyone coming to Summer palace or generally anywhere with many tourists, avoid going there on a weekend as there are thousands of people and it can get very crowded and hot. I managed to barter my way into wearing some traditional garments for 20 RMB and my dad quickly took some snaps.

InternChina - Empress
InternChina – Empress

For dinner, we chose to complete a Chinese cooking class in a Hutong area near Lama Temple. If you want to know- it’s called Mama’s Lunch. Joyce our teacher gave us some beautiful green tea and slowly explained the ancient culture of dumpling making. Unfortunately my dough was way too doughy but hey – it still created tasty dumplings! We were also taught how to make traditional pulled noodles which was created from similar dough as the dumplings. After the hours of rolling, pulling and making, we were allowed to sit back with a bear and enjoy our delicious creations.

InternChina - Cooking class
InternChina – Cooking class

After only a mere three days in Beijing it was time to go home and enjoy the next part of our trip – Shanghai….(See part 2 this week)
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Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Internship Experience, Learn about China, Things To Do in Zhuhai, Travel, Weekend Trips

“See you!”

My dear followers,
Six months passed by SO fast! I still can’t believe that my time here in Zhuhai will soon come to an end. So I think now is the time to think back about what good and bad things happened to me during my stay here in China.

I never in my life travelled as much as I did this last semester. I have been to Beijing, Harbin, Guangzhou, Sakura Valley and Xinfeng, Shenzhen, Guilin, Zhongshan, Chengdu, Shanghai, Seoul, Macao (yes, both not China :P), Hohhot, Wailingding Island, Inner Mongolia’s Grasslands and Desert, Xi’an and Xiamen. All this would not have been possible without my parents’ support and InternChina giving me the possibility to organize some of these trips for our interns. Cheers for that!

InternChina - Travel group in Sakura Valley
InternChina – Travel group in Sakura Valley

All of these places have their charm. In the following I will shortly summarize what’s special about them:

Beijing – A modern city with a big core of history, full of places to visit where you should spend at least a week to see most of this amazing city – the Hutongs, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and much more. But most important: The Great Wall!

InternChina - The Great Wall
InternChina – The Great Wall

Harbin – The best time to visit Harbin is in winter. I was there in the beginning of February and we had -30°C. But this cold makes Harbin’s world known ‘Ice Festival’ possible. You can find ice and snow sculptures all over the city and then there is the huge ice world where you can see fantastic duplicates of some of the world’s most famous buildings made of ice and illuminated from the inside.

InternChina - Harbin's Ice Festival
InternChina – Harbin’s Ice Festival

Guangzhou – China’s third biggest city. It is very modern and surprisingly calm for its size. You will not find too many tourists here as this city doesn’t invite too much for sightseeing. From Zhuhai it only takes 1 hour by train to get there and costs 70RMB. I love to go shopping and partying there. Also they have a Mr. X about which you might have read in my blog about Shanghai.

InternChina - Mr. X in Guangzhou
InternChina – Mr. X in Guangzhou

Sakura Valley – Sakura Valley actually only consists of many different kinds of cherry trees. It’s important that you go there when they are in bloom.

InternChina - Sakura Valley
InternChina – Sakura Valley

Xinfeng – The nature around Xinfeng is great. So many mountains to climb!

Shenzhen – Most electrical devices come from this city. Bordering Hong Kong, this is the best place to purchase such products. I bought myself a tablet there for example. They have a nice mangrove forest and a very nice harbor with a Korean Restaurant which is definitely worth a visit.

Guilin – The 20RMB-mountains. In Guilin you meet many tourists for one particular reason:  its breathtaking nature and scenic views! A must do here is bamboo rafting.

InternChina - Guilin's 20 RMB mountains
InternChina – Guilin’s 20 RMB mountains

Zhongshan – 40 minutes by train from Zhuhai. We went there to visit two Chinese friends. As it is just a normal small city there is not too much to see here but they have a nice pagoda, a ferries wheel and a restaurant which is slowly turning.

Chengdu – Sichuan’s capital with the spiciest food in China and amazing nature and very old temples in the area around it.

Shanghai – China’s most international city. Being here doesn’t make you feel foreign at all. Apart from the old town some must sees are the Bund and the Skylines from both sides of the river (to see the new side go to ‘Bar Rouge’!). There is not much history in this city but a lot of fancy places to visit.

InternChina - The view on Shanghai's Skyline from Bar Rouge
InternChina – The view on Shanghai’s Skyline from Bar Rouge

Seoul – South Korea’s capital and the home of my heart. If you have a double entry Visa and you need a place to visit outside of China I recommend Seoul. Free Wifi everywhere with the fastest internet in the world, very good world known cosmetics, huge (underground) shopping malls with the latest fashion, awesome food and beautiful and kind people.

InternChina - Korea
InternChina – Korea

Macau – Gamblers look out. This city overtook Las Vegas with their turnover! From Zhuhai you can just walk across the border within 20 minutes. It was a Portuguese colony once which you can recognize when you see the black and white mosaic on the walk paths and the colorful tiles on the houses. The emblem of this city, which by the way doesn’t belong to China, is a church. After a fire only the front is left over.

InternChina - The front of the burned church
InternChina – The front of the burned church

Hohhot – Inner Mongolia’s capital. You can find a number of mosques here and it is a good base to travel to the grasslands and desert from.

InternChina - Hohhot
InternChina – Hohhot

Wailingding Island – One of the 146 islands surrounding Zhuhai with a romantic charm.

InternChina - Wailingding
InternChina – Wailingding

Xi’an – A city you should visit when you are in China! A lot of history is here and still there were not too many tourists when I was there. The terracotta warriors are a 2 hour bus ride away and Mount Huashan, the father of the Chinese mountains, is waiting 1 hour away. I would recommend visiting it! Probably my favorite holiday-city in China.

InternChina - Xi'an's belltower
InternChina – Xi’an’s belltower

Xiamen – Ranked China’s most livable city in 2002 and I totally agree!  This city has some interesting place; long white beaches, an island, good food and it is very new and clean. Maybe I’ll get the chance to return there and stay for a year or two…

InternChina - At the beach with Sunny
InternChina – At the beach with Sunny

Next to those journeys I learned a lot about Chinese culture, studied the language enough to order food ‘without meat’ and met many new people from all over the world. Unfortunately I already had to say goodbye to many of them but like a wise man once said: “It’s not ‘goodbye’, it’s ‘see you’!”.

There is one person who came into my life in an early stage of my time here in Zhuhai and I think without him I wouldn’t have made it  through some problems that crossed by path so easily. This ‘Thank you!’ goes to you, Anton!

InternChina - Anton and me in Guilin
InternChina – Anton and me in Guilin

Luckily he is a person to whom I don’t have to say goodbye. Rumor has it I am returning to Zhuhai in September… 😉

 

So as a wise man once said, it’s not ‘goodbye’, it’s

‘See you’,

Gianna aka Gini aka 吉娜

InternChina - One last group picture
InternChina – One last group picture

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Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Internship Experience, Learn about China, Understanding Chinese culture

Chinese White spirit –白酒 [bái jiǔ]

Drinking the clear Chinese liquor baijiu (白酒 [bái jiǔ]) is a rite of passage for any expat in China. That fruity smell, the burn in your throat and the look of admiration from the Chinese people you are drinking with are all a part of the baijiu experience for most expats in China.

InternChina -  Baijiu Culture in China
InternChina – Baijiu Culture in China

Literally, baijiu means ‘white spirit’. It is the Chinese word for all traditional liquors and refers to a category of drinks rather than one specific drink. ‘In general, bajiu is characterized by a slightly sweet, citrusy taste that can sometimes be at odds with the fiery sear of its high-alcohol content.’  However, the taste can vary quite dramatically from one type of baijiu to another and  tends to be a bit smoother at the mid-to-high range.

Those who have been less kindly opinionated have described baijiu as tasting like hydraulic fluid and a number of other unsavoury things. This is probably due to the high levels of fusel oil and esters, which give it a taste unfamiliar to most foreign people.

InternChina - Baijiu 贵州茅台 [máo tái]
InternChina – Baijiu 贵州茅台 [máo tái]
From what I have been told, though many expats have reached a point where they do enjoy the taste of certain brands of baijiu  (e.g. 贵州茅台 [máo tái] and 二锅头[èr guō tóu]), they prefer the experience of drinking baijiu in its traditional context more than just the drink itself. Baijiu is always consumed over dinner with friends, family and colleagues. In last few years, it is especially  consumed over business contracts. Furthermore, baijiu is always consumed in a ritualized fashion. Learning the rules,the historical origins and symbolic meaning of  the drink has allowed for people to better appreciate it’s greater context.

Moreover, most fall in love with baijiu because it tends to break down the culture barrier that exists between Chinese and foreigners. It allows people to bond and exchange stories. While Chinese culture doesn’t encourage people to let their guard down easily, when you are downing shots of baijiu things change! It helps to relax, open up to others and have fun.  Ganbei to this!

InternChina - White Spirit
InternChina – White Spirit

Both lunch and dinner are appropriate times to drink baijiu. Chinese food is so varied that there isn’t one particular dish or ingredient that is considered more appropriate for pairing. Personally, I prefer to drink baijiu with spicy Sichuan food (e.g. spicy peanuts), braised food or when watching movies with friends.

Eastern Sichuan is the region where the baijiu production is highest than anywhere else in the country. Western Guizhou and Chengdu are well-known cities for this. Together they produce almost seventy percent of all the baijiu consumed in China. Astonishing!

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