Hot pot, one of China’s signature dishes, has been a mainstay of Sichuan province for centuries, the dish style having over a thousand years of history behind it. In China, one of the most famous styles is Chongqing’s má là (麻辣), a mix of numbing flavours and hot spices. The sensations bring about an eating experience unfamiliar to most traditional western dishes, the cooling numbing flavour of the Hua jaio (花椒) balanced by the fiery hotness of the chili peppers. Inherently social, hot pot is rarely eaten alone, generally involving family and friends waiting in eager anticipation for the spice soaked pieces to be cooked in the communal pot.
With Chengdu having its own native style, we decided to try chuanchuan hot pot. Different from the more common Chongqing variety, chuanchuan can be identified through the use of skewers to cook the meat, the skewers resting along the edge of the pot as the meats and vegetables soak in the broth. For a couple of students, this was their first time eating hot pot. A few tepid skewers in to the meal, the pace picked up leaving a mound of wood in our wake, filling out hungry stomachs with an assortment of pork ribs, shrimps, tofu wraps, and a wide variety of vegetables. Eaten with a couple of cool beers, it was the perfect way to cap off a warm Chengdu evening!
Last week InternChina Chengdu organised a little cultural trip to the archeological site of Sanxingdui (三星堆) about 1,5 hrs outside of Chengdu. We met for lunch at a dumpling restaurant after everybody finished their morning language classes and afterwards set off to take the bus to Guanghan (广汉) a city northwest of Chengdu where the site is located.
In 1986, several Bronze Age artifacts, made out of gold, bronze, jade and pottery, were unearthed at Sanxingdui and eventually it became clear that this is the site of an ancient city of the kingdom of the Shu (蜀) dating back to the 12th century BCE. The re-discovery of this ancient civilization was a big surprise at the time, since it caused Chinese historians to question the traditional narrative of the origin of the Chinese civilization being in the central plain of the Yangtze (长江) river. Nowadays it’s said that there have been multiple centres of ancient cultures in China which build the foundation what is commonly known as the Chinese civilization.
They built a really nice museum with multiple exhibition halls in a beautiful park setting next to the site to display the artifacts and educate people about the history of the Shu culture. We arrived there in the late afternoon and started our journey back in time marveling at the various masks, figures, tools and relics on show. Looking at these 3000 year old skillfully handcrafted artifacts made a deep impression on us.
Later on we spent some time hanging out in the park and made the obligatory group photo in front of a replica of one the most famous figures unearthed at this site. After we came back to Chengdu in the evening we decided to wind down with a beer and dinner at one of Chengdu’s favorite Western restaurants Peter’s Tex Mex.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, summer is up and running now, temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and images of beaches and tan people in bathing suits flood the advertising spaces everywhere. If you are a student, school is probably over for the semester or you are wrapping up exams and project deadlines.
It’s likely that you’ve already made plans for the summer (after all, you’ve been thinking about it since spring break was over). But if you still don’t know what you’re going to do for the next three months – or if you like to plan so far ahead that you’re already thinking about next summer – let me tell you why an internship in China is the best thing you can do with your summer.
You might be thinking: “Working? During my summer holiday? Why on Earth would I want to do that?” Yes, of course, everybody’s idea of summer is chilling in the sun by day and partying with piña coladas by night. But the truth is, you will most likely go on vacation for one or two weeks, and then spend the rest of the summer playing Xbox with your friends, hanging out at the mall or running errands for your mom.
What I’m saying is: do something more meaningful with your summer! These days, in the competitive business world that we live in, work experience is highly valued and if you graduate university without any at all, chances are you will have a very hard time finding a job that satisfies your career goals and rewards all the hard work you put into your studies (check out Penelope Trunk’s great blog about the importance of doing a summer internship). Of course, you can do an internship in your home town or even try to find a summer job but, now that you’re already thinking about it, why not do an internship in China?
Having work experience in China gives a great boost to your CV. It is not only the fact that China is increasingly gaining importance in the worlds of business and industry, which will definitely help you stand out to recruiters. But they will also see that you are not afraid to take on a challenge, given that you are willing to travel halfway across the world to live and work in a country with a completely different culture and way of life. How you adapted and handled the language and cultural barriers – this will be a great topic to mention in future job interviews.
But coming to China for an internship during the summer is not only great to improve your career prospects. It is also an opportunity to learn about a new culture and have fun while doing it. Qingdao, Zhuhai and Chengdu are great cities to do this: great weather, not as busy or expensive as Beijing or Shanghai, but still close enough that you can visit them and big enough that there are plenty of places to go to keep your evenings and weekends occupied with fun activities.
Just to mention a few examples: in Qingdao you can spend a day playing beach volleyball, sailing and jet skiing; or go climbing Laoshan Mountain if you’re a bit sportier. At night, you can sit outside drinking beer and eating street BBQ. In Zhuhai, you can go swimming in the sea or a pool, take a trip to one of the 146 islands around the city and even hop over to Macau or Hong Kong for the day, do some sightseeing and eat a delicious meal. Chengdu is a great place to go cycling for both pros and amateurs, given the fact that the landscape is mostly flat so you can go far without wearing yourself out too much. You can also have a relaxing afternoon at a tea house and of course, go see the pandas!
As you can see, doing an internship in China gives you the ultimate summer experience: working, learning and having fun! Conclusion: what are you waiting for?
Would you like to spend your summer doing an internship in China? Apply now on our website or send us an email for more information.
Last Sunday, the Sustainability Working Group of the British Chamber of Commerce organized their 2013 Earth Day Bike Ride. My colleague Leo and I joined in to escape the city for a day and explore Chengdu’s green surroundings.
The weather was perfect! We met with the other participants in the morning and got on the bus to the Lohas Green Way, a bicycle track in a green and more rural area in the Southwest of the city. The group was a good mix of Chinese and expat bike enthusiasts along with their families. It was a good opportunity to meet new people, exchange tips on where to go and what to do in Chengdu as well as do a bit of networking.
At the entrance of the park we rented bikes for the day and set off. It was really a relaxed ride through beautiful scenery with lakes and swamplands. After about three hours we arrived in a village and stopped in a local restaurant for a delicious lunch made from fresh vegetables and meat from the local farmers.
In the afternoon the group split up to explore the flower markets of the area. Leo and I had a look through the alternative neighborhoods with little restaurants, cafes and bars. Eventually we ended up on a music festival featuring Chinese bands and later in the night a DJ played his sets. All in all a wonderful day and a good getaway from the city!
Two weeks ago a friend and me made a two day trip to beautiful Mount Emei (峨眉山 – E Mei Shan) ca. 150km / 2,5 h bus ride south of Chengdu to do a little bit of hiking.
With its peak at 3,099 m Mount Emei is the highest of the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China and since 1996 also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are more than one hundred monasteries and temples doted along the slopes and peaks of the mountain.
First we arrived at the village at Bao Guo Temple (报国寺) which is the entry gate to Emei Shan National Park and equipped us with food, drinks and –following the advice of the locals – a walking stick to protect ourselves. From there you can either cheat and take a bus straight up to the cable car at 2,500m or go to one of the hiking tracks at the foot of the mountain – of course we opted for the strenuous hike!
After we walked past the various food and souvenir stalls around the bus station we made our way up the mountain through the ‘Natural Ecology Monkey Zone’ where we soon realized what the stick was meant for. The Tibetan macaque monkeys in this area are stealing snacks, drinks, cameras or anything else within their reach of careless tourists walking by. This can be quite fun as long as you are not the one being looted by them! 😉
We finally managed to pass the monkeys without losing anything of value and went on a 5 hour hike up to the Yu Xian Monastery (遇仙寺) which would be our home for the night. On our way up we were literally the only ones on the track, which, since you are actually never alone in China, can be a very relaxing feeling. This gave us the chance to really enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
When we woke up the next day the whole mountain was covered in a thick layer of clouds which made the giant statues on the Golden Peak Summit (金顶) look a bit surreal, but I managed to snap a photo when the sun came out for a few seconds.
Chengdu is a dynamic city – some people say it is the fastest growing city in the world! Skyscrapers and shopping centers are being built up quickly everywhere in the city. However, there are still some peaceful places left, where you can rest your stressed soul.
One of them I visited last weekend: Qingyang Temple – the place where Laozi is to be said that he spoke the Tao Te King (also: Dao De Jing 道德经) to one of his disciples, which is one of the main books (besides the famous I Ching/Yi Jing 易经) of Daoism.
If you are a little familiar with Chinese culture, you might know, that Daoism is a deep-rooted concept in Chinese history and Chinese daily life. Even if you haven’t heard of Daoism yet, you might have seen the black and white yin yang symbol before, or have heard about Taiji, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or feng shui.
As these concepts are becoming more popular in the West now as well, a lot of people are living a part of the Chinese culture in their daily lifes already. Now, where is this all originating from?
Chengdu is the center of the West of modern China. However, in ancient times it was part of a kingdom during the Warring State Period. There was a wise man (some say he is more a mystical figure, but it seems like there is prove that he actually lived): called Laozi (老子). He was said to have lived at the same time as Confucius (or Kongzi 孔子), who is well-known in the East and West for his quotes about state-philosophy and the relationship of family members. Laotse was a follower of the way of Dao and formulated the 81 core principles of Daoism. The book has inspired hundreds and thousands of commentators and has been translated and interpreted in many languages. In honour to the place where he was said to have read these principles to one of his disciples, a temple was built. Today, it is called Qingyang Gong (The Green Goat Temple 青羊宫).
The temple has been built during the Chunqiu Period and has been revived under the Tang Dynasty. Parts of the temple have been renovated during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century. It has been one of the few Daoist temples which was allowed by the Chinese government to open its doors again in the 1980’ies.
Today, it is a centre of peace and relaxation. A teahouse on one side forms a place for socialization of local people, whereas within one of the yards you can watch young disciples training Wushu and older disciples training Taiji. Everywhere you can see Daoist nuns and monks, who stroll around in the park and help keeping the incense stick holders clean.
In several places, you can find references to the Daoist astrology, namely the 12 animal zodiac signs (mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse. Goat, monkey, chicken, dog, pig): May it be engravings on the floor or little sculptures on stone walls. Also look out for the big yin-yang symbol which is engraved in the stone floor in one of the yards. The symbol looks simple, but is highly complex, therefore I just want to give a brief summary: The yin is represented by the black part which is carrying the white seed, the yang energy, and the other way around. Yin energy is often anticipated with the female, the moon and the earth, whereas yang energy is often anticipated with the male, the sun and the heaven. In combination and interaction they are creating life or also called the ‘Qi’. Qi is everything which moves, wherever is movement, there’s life. Where ever movement stops, there’s no life anymore. The ideal balance of yin and yang always creates life.
Many people I know, say, that if you have seen one Chinese temple, you know them all.
I have to refuse since I know Qingyang Gong. Buddhist temples in China, that might be, often end up as tourist attractions selling lots of souvenirs, snacks and drinks. I even found a Starbucks once in a temple area. Buddhism in China has sold itself out, maybe. I am glad to say, that if you are looking for a true place for spiritualism, you can come to Chengdu and visit Qingyang temple. Pay the 10 RMB entrance fee, get some incense sticks to send prayers to your ancestors, family and friends and enjoy a happy and relaxed day by get your yin and yang in balance!
There are more aspects than Chinese modern business culture, that you are interested in? Our team in Chengdu is happily arranging visits to temples or organizes other cultural activities to help you understanding the Chinese culture better.
Apply now for an internship and become part of the Intern China experience!
During Chinese New Year I moved from Qingdao to Chengdu and took with me: my cat Paula (big thanks to my colleagues who helped me through all the paperwork to take her on an airplane!) and my Chinese colleague Leo (also well-known as MacGyver amongst the InternChina community!).
Both arrived safely and helped me to feel like at home from the first day on. Our mission is to set up a new office for InternChina and to welcome as many students from all over the world as soon as possible. Chengdu is a fascinating city and offers plenty of opportunities for career seekers or those who just want to get a first idea of this enormously growing country and their economy. Also for those, who are culturally interested in China, Chengdu has a lot to offer: Daoist and Buddhist temples in and around Chengdu, religious mountains and multiple Chinese ethnicities living in the city make the exploration of Chengdu a big adventure.
Even though the last weeks were busy with finding a good office location and settling down, I tried to stroll around the city and discover places for you which might be interesting when you come to Chengdu the first time in your life.
So, I started my tour with strolling around in Jing Li Ancient Street. This is a place where you can find traditional Chinese architecture blending in with the modern world of consumption. A fascinating place where you can buy Chinese souvenirs for your friends and family at home or try different exotic Chinese snacks. Right next to this street, there is the more than 300 years old Wu Hou Temple, which is a huge area including a bonsai tree garden and the perfect place to escape the bustling city life. Entrance fee is 60 RMB, but worth to pay, if you like to hang out in a peaceful place and discover the beauty of Zen gardens. Not far from the temple you can find the Tibetan streets, where you can see typical restaurants and shops for all religious equipment (like incense sticks, incense vessels and holders as well as praying pillows) can be found. People are friendly here and speak English, so you can easily purchase some Buddhist goods or clothes.
After my tour through Wuhou district, I felt really hungry and as I love to cook at home, I wanted to try another supermarket than Carrefour to buy groceries. So, I went to Raffles City, which is a very new Shopping Center in Chengdu (see picture), where you can easily get lost within all the shops and even in the supermarket, which turned out to be a labyrinth. However, they offer very good fresh meat and fresh sea fish, which usually is not possible in a city so far away from the sea. Also, one of the 36 Starbucks in Chengdu can be found here, so if you are thirsty for a good coffee in Chengdu, there is always a place to go.
Finally, I also tried a few Western and Chinese restaurants in Chengdu and I easily can say you can get food from all over the world here: I already had potato salad as my grandma used to make it, original Spanish Tapas along with a cheesecake cream dessert, Tex-Mex and Indian food, as well as fried goose from Hongkong, steamed shrimps dumplings (Cantonese) and of course all different kinds of hotpots!
As you can see, Chengdu is a city which is easy to explore and of course, if you come here for an internship you could discover the city with our InternChina team together!