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Qingdao Blogs, Qingdao Eating Out Guide, Things To Do in Qingdao

Tips and Tricks for Qingdao Street Food

While eating street food here, you might think that eating the street food in China is a bad idea and say, “Never will I eat that!” However, I can tell you that soon you’ll be saying “Daily!”

Spit it Out, This Isn’t Food!

At least that is what the small Western voice in your head is saying, annoying you while you are chewing on things that you never would have dreamed of eating before coming to China.

Sadly, you won’t see me eating a scorpion on a stick. If I dared to eat that, I would be grinning in the camera saying “yes, I am a badass!”

I also don’t want to tell you about what you should or shouldn’t try, but I will give advice to help prepare you for the wonders of Chinese street food- especially in Qingdao.

Jian Bing being prepared by a street food vendor in Qingdao

One of the best “pancakes” (jiānbǐng) in Qingdao in process

First Things First

If you want a nice tidy kitchen, then you better stay at home where you will not have to look at messy street food stalls- but you also will miss some of the best food out there. I had my first encounter with street food on the street right behind the University.

Variety of Food

The difference between Chinese and Western street food, that I have seen, is obviously the variety and amount of food offered.

On one stand you will find a type of  pancake, “jiānbǐng” (煎饼), which can be filled with vegetables, crispy wonton or meat.

The always grinning guy from the other stand will give you some spicy chicken meat in a tasty sauce on potatoes, and with an even broader grin he will ask if you want an egg with it.

Ro jia mo is prepared for me
Propably the best “ro jie mo” in Qingdao

You will also find the so called Chinese hamburger, or “rou jia mo” (肉夹馍), so called because they both have meat and bread! You will find a guy using a scraper, normally used for plaster, to create flatbread. You will see another guy, with his mouth covered by a mask, mixing the cold ingredients you choose by yourself, such as peanuts, noodles, peppers, ginger, salad, tofu, seaweed and so on, in a bowl, and he will then give you your food directly in a plastic bag.

Street food stalls behind Qingdao University
Normal group of street food stalls (not crowded)

You will have the agile couple trying to break a record in preparing your meal as fast as possible. Him, hammering around like a lunatic on his iron hot plate, her, throwing the ingredients for fried noodles directly in front of his constantly moving spatula. You will find a competing couple selling chicken kebab with rice. Their arms and hands, heads, legs, knees and toes will be covered, to prevent them getting brown skin from the sun, while you will stand there, wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, sweating.

But If you are hungry after a long day of travelling or sightseeing, no need to worry. Qingdao can help you out with BBQ on the streets, so search for what you want, sit down and wait for your meal to be prepared over charcoal fire.

Long story short, it is crazy the variety you have with street food, and you can go every day and eat something different. And the best thing is, as far as I got to know, it is the same everywhere! The people and ingredients may vary but the system is the same.

One of the best things to add, street food is there for you night and day!

BBQ grilled over charcoal
Different examples of street BBQ

 

What Street Food to Eat

So, what should you pay attention to?

First, you should apply one rule to all the food you eat, if you eat it and it tastes bad or unusual in a way, then follow your inner voice- spit it out! This may sound hard but believe me, if you don’t want to know what “la duzi” is, follow this advice! You wouldn’t eat bad food at home, so don’t do it in China.

Don’t hesitate to push your way to the front- “active-queuing” is a very popular sport in China! Be prepared to stand your ground and be firm, or you may lose your spot to an old lady who took advantage of the space you left.

When you find yourself standing in front of a vendor, you’ll be asked, “What? How much? Spicy?” You will have a hard time answering in English, but if you have an index-finger attached to your arm you will get what you want with pointing. Nodding and shaking your head is also optional!

Last but not least, for your own health follow some simple rules; go to the stalls that have people queuing up, and to those who are there every day. You can be sure their food is good!

 

Comparisons, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs, Things To Do in Qingdao

Basketball in China

Why does it have to be Basketball?

Did you ever want to do some extraordinary stuff that feels a little bit like being a celebrity without being one?  Or to see and go through cool and wonderful situations? Then China is the place to be! Today I am going to speak about one of these activities. We got free tickets for a basketball match between two University Teams. Actually a friend got them, and not only two, he got a lot, so we went there with a bunch of fellow students. I was really happy on one side getting the opportunity to see my first basketball match but on the other hand I would have preferred watching a football match instead. But basketball is much more popular in China.

Basketball match at Qingdao University

Why? If you ask a Chinese person this question they also don’t know. Football is also popular in China, and most people know at least one name of a German player, although they will use the Chinese name for him so you might not understand who it is they mean. For example you will have a Chinese guy smiling at you and say. “my favourite players are Kelinsiman or Shiweiyinshitaige!” Ok, so these examples are quite easy, but you will sometimes have a hard time I guarantee it.

Before the Match

But back to business! As a Student of Qingdao University, I was cheering for the Qingdao Team. I cheered so much that I even forgot the name of the other university, but is that information needed? I mean, who wants to know about the loser anyway?

Everything was new for me; first of all they were playing the national anthem before the game. Which is quite strange for a German to see, as we don’t play national anthems that often on sports events. Actually the only occasion on which we would play the German national anthem would be a match between national teams. Then they had two stadium speakers that were giving information about the teams and the game. The were announcing every single player by name.

After the introduction another, for me, strange thing happened. A group of cheerleaders came and performed on the field. Which was strange, because in Germany this is quite a seldom thing to happen too.  Actually, I only know about cheerleaders from American movies.

For me the idea of cheerleading is, using diplomatic terms now, quite a strange one. Why would you need a bunch of girls performing expressive dancing, to cheer up a crowd that came to see their team competing against another one anyway? And why are there no male cheerleaders? Or are there some at women’s sport events? And if so, what kind of clothes do they wear? Hot pants, with muscle shirts? What would they swing around?

During the Game

Anyway after the performance and a long time of people running around without any system visible, on and by the sides of the field the actual game begun. We had the best seats directly on the line of the field. The anticipation was killing me already, when the game started.

And I saw from what I can tell about basketball (which is not too much, because I never saw the need to gather knowledge about this game anyway) it was a good game. The players were dedicated and they really played with tactics. During half time, two of my fellow students had to perform a streetball game against two Chinese guys. In the end the Qingdao Team won with smashing 52:38 Points.

After all I was really happy with the whole experience and can strongly recommend this to everyone that gets the opportunity- go and get a grasp of Chinese basketball, with everything belonging to it, including the loud drums Chinese people seem to carry around with them like the vuvuzelas brought to a football match!

My friends and I at the Qingdao University basketball game

 

Uncategorised

When it’s time to move on…

When I arrived in January, I wrote my first blog in French. It may have been easier to write my farewells in my mother tongue but I’m happily taking the risk to use my English skills to reach most of you.
The more I’m growing up, the more I find time hard to capture. I still remember the first day I entered the office, my first impressions, my first time using Mandarin or the first noodles I tasted, but I would have never imagined that I will be sitting here, trying to do a recap of the past 6 months I lived.

6 months is a long time but still, it passed in a blink of an eye. I have seen a lot of people leave, and now my turn has come!

The view from our balcony

To cut a long story short, my experience can be split with the seasons: Winter and Summer.

Winter in Chengdu was cold, with only a few interns in the city: a small group with big hearts, we all quickly became friends, fighting the coldness of the streets by getting to know each other in the warm and smoky bars of Chengdu. When they left, winter left with them, and was replaced by a fiery Spring/Summer, along with more than 50 interns. Now we are fighting the heat and humidity, and because there are so many people, it’s harder to develop true bounds, even though their hearts are as big.

Spending 6 months working for InternChina was a professional experience far more than enriching: I’ve learned how to adapt to so many different situations that I feel I’m able to move mountains if I want to. We like to call our company a family, and it is! Even though I haven’t met most of my colleagues (spread in China or in Europe), we’re all connected and we can all count on each other.

I was lucky enough to have such an amazing team in Chengdu (Paul, Cassie, Lucy, Tamara, Henry, Joe, Miya and Rainie), a hard-working team always happy to go beyond what is expected of them. I have learned a lot from their undying energy.

InternChina offers to every participant an incredible social network, composed of very different individuals who would probably have never known each other, even if some are from the same countries. A great cultural melting-pot of open-minded people trying to learn as much as they can from Chinese culture.

I have struggled myself, I’m still struggling when I try to use the little mandarin I know, and most of the time my mind is blown away by the contrasts of this country. I love how China can be such a huge mess that works so well. I love how I got to know my Chinese friends and other foreign friends better and how I could learn from their perspective, their vision. I love how I improved myself by getting so much from other people, and give back as much as I could.

I needed to go to China by hook or by crook to see with my own eyes how this great country is moving forward, I’m happy to say that I found more than what I was looking for.

It is still hard to believe that my time here is over, but there is no place for sadness or sorrow, as I’m moving forward with great memories and a lot of stories to tell and to remember. InternChina gave me the push I needed to feel more confident with my own strength: ‘move forward’, ‘get out of your comfort zone’, ‘challenge yourself’!

I truly hope it would be the same for you.

Start your adventure, apply now!

 

Dalian Blogs, Nature, Travel, Weekend Trips

Camping in the Baogutu Desert, Inner Mongolia

Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in North China- to the north it borders with Mongolia and the north east tip borders with Russia. The region is a home to the most scorching dry deserts in China, but also (ironically) to the most beautiful lush grassland sceneries.  Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is popular among tourists for grassland tours. Another popular place is Xiangshawan, or “singing sands gorge” which is located in the Gobi Desert. It was a region I did not hear a lot about before I came to China, but I came across a local advertisement about a trip to Baogutu Desert in Inner Mongolia.
When I heard that a travel company named Local Ren organises a trip to Baogutu desert (宝古图沙漠), which is the biggest desert in Northeast China, I signed up immediately with my fellow colleague from InternChina. The Local Ren travel agency is actually a student start-up. Although they were not always professional, they seemed very easy-going and were making jokes all the time! In the end, 80 people signed up, who were for the most part international students from all over the world.

On our first date, we left Dalian, Liaoning province and travelled to Fuxin, a town located on the border between Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia. The more we approached the town, the more the scenery changed to endless rice fields. Also, the temperature kept on rising, reaching 32 degrees! Quite a difference from what I was used to in the UK. After six hours of travelling, our local Chinese guide told us that we had reached Fuxin, a rather small town of just 2 million! What I noticed while I was passing through was that there were lots of Mongolian BBQ restaurants, whose signs were written both in Mandarin Chinese and Mongolian. Apparently, both languages co-exist in the region, however Inner Mongolia uses the traditional Mongolian script for their alphabet, whereas the Republic of Mongolia uses the Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet, which they adopted due to Soviet influence.

When we arrived in Fuxin, the receptionist had to take a photo of our passport front page and visa. This is a standard procedure in China, that’s why a foreigner must carry their passport all the time when visiting new places. After that, we found a Mongolian hot pot with lamb meat. As the locals were not used to see foreigners, they were buying us more things to try and the servers were very kind and sweet.

On the next day we left for Baogutu desert. On the way, I saw that there were many tree plantations. The guide told me that the government is trying to claim back the land from the spreading desert. There were many trees planted and workers watering them. It would be interesting to see in a decade if their plan is successful.

The road to the desert was narrow and the condition of the road was bad. When we arrived at the tourist centre everything seemed under construction. There were several skeletons of hotels, but there were public bathrooms with plumbing and 3G! The organisers gave us our tents and other students showed us how to build one. In one hour, 50 tents were laid out proudly over a vacant field. After we secured them, we were divided into teams. The travel agency gave us ankle protectors and masks and we set off into the desert.

Setting up camp in the desert isn’t always easy!

In the beginning of our hiking, I was not impressed. There were newly planted trees everywhere and I thought it did not look like a real desert. The camel guides saw us and approached us- each of them showing off their animals. They had dressed them in traditional Mongolian colours and were following us along the way like shadows.

A very happy camel

The deeper we went into the desert, the more the heat was becoming unbearable. After 30 minutes, a landscape of endless sand dunes spread in front of our eyes. The white sands stretched out over the horizon unevenly and lazily.  There were spots where the wind was unsettling the dunes, but did not impede our breathing.

As we were the only tourists there we had plenty of camels to choose from. It cost only 30 RMB for a camel ride. Also, we could sand board if we wanted to, but most of us were taking photos with the camels which were idly laying in the sand and were not scared by being touched.

In three hours’ time, we head back to our camping site. Due to the strong wind, we couldn’t have had a bonfire, so we had only a BBQ. The meat was halal and there were plenty of vegetables. The BBQ was like an organised chaos- although no one assigned jobs, everyone just picked what they are good at and stuck with the task. But as the night advanced, the wind grew stronger. Eventually, the organisers asked us to return to our tents as the wind was blowing them away and they were literally people chasing them after. As a result, we returned to our tents, but found a unique way to continue to have fun. A group of Thai people played the guitar and sang from their tent. We connected a microphone to a big portable speaker so everyone could enjoy the music. At the same time, people were sharing what food and drink they had left, despite the hordes of sand that the wind was blowing against us. It was a night to remember!

In the morning, most of us woke up to see the sunrise after the sandstorm. We all helped each other to pack up the tents and travelled 12 hours by bus back to Dalian. Overall, this experience was worth every penny and every minute. If you are looking for an adventure – Inner Mongolia is the place for it!

To have the chance to embark on a similar adventure with InternChina, apply now!

 

Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Food, Learn about China, Qingdao Blogs, Understanding Chinese culture

HAISHEN – A PORTRAIT OF QINGDAO’S MOST TREASURED SEA CREATURE

Hello hello!
So one thing that has caught my attention in the two weeks I have been living in the beautiful city of Qingdao are the large numbers of shops selling 海参 haishen – or sea cucumbers. Their English name is somewhat misleading, since sea cucumbers are certainly not cucumbers, let alone plants! In fact, they are animals that live in the Deep Seas and spend most of their day making their way slowly across the sea floor. So why are they so sought after here, and why would anyone pay up to 400RMB (around 60 Euros) for one single haishen?

Filled with curiosity, I recently ventured into one of the many shops specialised in selling haishen and was fortunate enough to meet Ms Qin, a sea cucumber expert who works at a store called “Di Yi Ming” (帝一铭). She was so kind as to enlighten me on several fascinating facts regarding haishen and also gave me the permission to take photos of the store and its products.

“Di Yi Ming” – which cleverly sounds like the expression for “number one” in Chinese, but is written with different characters – is located on Ningxia Lu in the southern part of Qingdao. Beautifully furnished with carved wooden shelves and a large Chinese style tea table in the middle of the room, it altogether feels more like a jewellery boutique than a shop selling sea cucumbers. But that is because here in Qingdao, sea cucumbers are regarded as treasures, with prices starting from 1800RMB (around 250 Euros) per jin (1 Chinese jin equals 500g) for the least expensive, and up to 11’800RMB (around 1600 Euros) for 1 jin of the most costly haishen.

Put differently, for the crème-de-la-crème, the price for one single haishen can go up to 400RMB (around 60 Euros). However, it is possible to get ones starting from a mere 10RMB per haishen. The price depends on which type of species the haishen in question is, and whether it was caught in the ocean or came from a farm.

The high wooden shelves are all filled with large glass jars – which in turn are all filled to the brim with dried haishen, waiting to be sold. Their appearance is somewhat underwhelming, at first sight it may be rather hard to understand why these small, dry, dark little knobbly sausages are in such high demand around here. However, after learning about the wide range of benefits that eating haishen can bring, I realized that they are not to be scoffed at. In fact, the medical benefits of haishen are mentioned in the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国药典), an official compendium of drugs that covers Traditional Chinese and western medicines, as well as in the Chinese Journal of Marine Drugs (中国海洋药物).

 

Here is just a small selection of the health benefits that eating haishen can provide:

  1. Enhances immunity, prevent colds, helps staying in good shape and not become tired easily
  2. Helps heal wounds quickly
  3. Helps with all kinds of stomach problems
  4. Helps lower high blood pressure
  5. Is good for the skin, as it helps keep it smooth and prevents wrinkles
  6. Enables better sleep
  7. Relieves back problems
  8. Keeps brain cells active and enhances faculty of memory

 

Ms Qin told me that she recommends her customers to eat one haishen per day and that on average, customers buy 1-2 jin (500g-1kg) of haishen per purchase. I asked her whether the store sells live sea cucumbers, but she told me that all haishen sold here are dried, because this way, their nutrition value is fully preserved, and they can be kept for a much longer time than if they were not dried. In fact, according to Ms Qin, in this dried state, the haishen can be kept for 3-5 years! A dry sea cucumber is approximately the size of your thumb, but before it is caught, it is actually rather large, about the size of your hand. When buying dried sea cucumbers, one needs to first let them soak in water for about 3-5 days before preparing them for eating.

 

Finally, I asked Ms Qin for her favourite haishen-recipes.

  • Sea cucumber porridge (海参粥)
    Sea cucumber porridge is a very nutritious breakfast. First, boil the rice until it is cooked, then add chopped sea cucumber into the porridge. According to your personal taste add a small amount of salt and sugar, also add a little ginger, then boil for 5 minutes. This way, the nutrition of the sea cucumber is retained, and the porridge is easy to digest.
  • Honey sea cucumber (蜂蜜海参)
    Sea cucumber dipped in honey is a very popular recipe because it is very easy, and best of all, the sea cucumbers nutritional value is very well preserved. Simply steam the sea cucumber and dip it into honey.

 

So, in case you want to experience the taste and health benefits of haishen for yourself, you now know how!

 

PS. Check out “Di Yi Ming” online: www.chinadiyiming.com (totally worth it!)

 

Cultural, Internship Experience, Travel, Understanding Chinese culture

Returning Home: Culture Shock Again?

Let’s paint the picture. You arrived in China, it was all a bit overwhelming at first, but once you’d had chance to settle in, you had the time of your life! Two, three months on, it’s time to pack your bags and head back home, but you’re not ready, and you suddenly hit a low back in your home country.
InternChina - Reverse culture shock

Sometimes, heading back to your home country after several months overseas can be just as difficult, or possibly more difficult than initially moving away from home.  After the initial excitement of seeing your friends and family, eating all your home comforts, and going in your favourite shops, it can wear off and you can find yourself pining after China, feeling quite lonely and bored and not feeling like you are ‘home’ as such. You may not expect to experience reverse culture shock, you might not have even heard of it, so when it hits it could be very unexpected. Like all things you will find a way through it, but it’s good to know what to expect and how possibly to deal with it.

china-map
InternChina – Returning Home

“When In China…”

You will no doubt come back from China wanting to tell every man and their dog about your amazing experiences on the other side of the world; you will probably find yourself saying “In China, it’s like this” or “When I was in China…..…..happened”. People might listen to begin with, but you may never be able to fully get your point across, or even start to feel like no one wants to listen. I’ve always found it difficult to get across to friends and family what China really is like; that it’s not like how the media portrays it, and that it is one of the most beautiful and welcoming places I’ve been.

Record your memories: There will be people out there eager to hear about your adventures. Perhaps start up a blog, write articles about what you saw, ate, heard, did. Try make mini projects for yourself related to your trip. Choose your favourite pictures to put up in your room, put together a scrapbook of your trip try or just try jot down your memories in one way or another, rather than keeping them in your head to slowly fade away.

travellogkandco
InternChina – Travel Blog

Keeping it local: Another possibility is to try find some Chinese friends back home; they’d love to hear about your time exploring their country. Go to your local Chinese restaurant, try find some of the new dishes you tried whilst you were away, practice your newly acquired Chinese with the staff; they will probably be super impressed! Keep in touch with your new-found friends on the other side of the world, and try keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the city, news wise or if there are any new developments.

bigstock-chinese-takeaway-food-793143
InternChina – Chinese Takeaway

Pass on your knowledge: Perhaps join a city-related forum so that you can give advice and help to other foreigners who might be heading to that part of the world. I always love sharing advice about places I’ve been with other people; giving them tips on places go, recommending restaurants that are a good hit, or even telling them about what are local hidden secrets that you probably wouldn’t know about if it wasn’t for word-of-mouth.

help-key
InternChina – Advice Forums

Just like culture shock; reverse culture shock also falls in a U-Shape. You start high at the excitement of returning home, hit a low when you experience the ‘home sickness’ of your past home, and then you push through to the other side and create many positives out of reverse culture shock. I’ve spent so much time in Asia in the past five or six years, Asia has definitely become my home from home – I experienced reverse culture shock hard for the first time this year, but by finding ways to treasure my memories and use my knowledge to help out others, the experience has moved from a ‘low point’ to very much a ‘high point’.

 

Comparisons, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China

Shock Horror! New Culture

One of the biggest challenges you may face when travelling overseas aside from a language barrier is culture shock. It may be your first time out of Europe, first time away from American shores or first time encountering an oriental culture, and to begin with, being so far out of your comfort zone, it may come as a bit of a shock.

culture-shock
InternChina – Culture Shock

THE STARING:

Growing up your parents may have always said “Don’t stare, it’s rude!”. In China, be prepared for people staring at you, pointing out the lǎowài (老外) and following this up with a two-minute conversation about you (yep they probably won’t hide the fact they are talking about you).

This could be the first time a lot of these people have seen a foreigner, and they will be intrigued as to why you’ve come half way across the world to China. Daily you will get told how tall you are (hào gāo 好高) or how pretty or handsome you are (hěn piàoliang 很漂亮 / hǎo shuài 好帅). Don’t be surprised if they pluck up the courage to ask for a picture with you either.

TIPS: try not to feel self-conscious by the staring; embrace it, remember that you are a foreigner in a country that was once quite closed off from the West. Soon the staring that initially seems quite odd will become a daily normality.

InternChina - Pcitures with foreigners
InternChina – Pictures with foreigners

FOOD:

Chinese food in China is not 100% like your Chinese takeaway back home. Whilst you can get your sweet and sour pork and black pepper beef, these aren’t daily dishes here.  Don’t be surprised to see every part of the animal on the table (including head and chicken feet). Chinese cuisine, from all different parts of the country, really is delicious, and I find, tastes a lot better than it looks. There is a reason why everyone comes to China and puts weight on!

TIPS: If you don’t like spicy food, have an allergy, or are a vegetarian, make this the first Chinese phrase you learn! Being a vegetarian or halal eater is quite easy if you know what to say (or have it written down). If you try something that you like, try get a name for it or a picture, then this can always be a ‘go to dish’. Finally try not be afraid to give everything a go, if there are a lot of Chinese punters at a restaurant, then you know it’ll be a good’un.

soy-sauce-chicken
InternChina – Soy Sauce Chicken

PERSONAL SPACE & QUEUEING:

Personal space is a lot smaller and somewhat inexistent in China. On the bus, people may barge past you without an “excuse me”, be packed in so tightly that you feel quite uncomfortable (there always seems to be space for an extra person!) or they may not move out of the way to let you on or off.

TIPS: Hold your own, be assertive and stand by the back door the bus (always more spacious!). Queueing has improved dramatically over the years and you will see locals standing up to those people trying to push in!

goldenweek-busing
InternChina – Public Bus in Golden Week

INTERNET:

China isn’t the fastest country when it comes to internet speed. What’s more, a lot the websites that me and you are used to using on a daily basis (Facebook, Google, Instagram) are blocked by the Great Chinese Firewall so you need a VPN to access them. Sometimes the internet can be a bit hit and miss and it may take twice as a long as normal to download something.

TIPS: Download and install a reliable VPN BEFORE you arrive in China (once you’re in China, you’ll need a VPN to download a VPN!). Patience is a virtue when using the internet!

InternChina - Great Firewall of China
InternChina – Great Firewall of China

These are just a few pointers of what to expect in the initial days after landing in China for the first time; initially it can be a bit overwhelming and you can feel a bit like a cat in headlights. But within days you will have found your feet, met some fantastic people and started to make the most of the incredible country and culture that you’ve just landed in! Before long you will no doubt be saying you don’t want to go home!

culture-shock

Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Nature, Travel, Weekend Trips

Facettenreiches China- ein Ausflug nach Jiuzhaigou

In ganz China und sogar über die Grenzen der Volksrepublik hinaus, ist das UNESCO Weltkulturerbe Jiuzhaigou bekannt. Besondes zur Herbstzeit pilgern täglich mehrere Tausend Chinesen in das von Chengdu 9 Fahrtstunden entfernte Naturschutzgebiet. Aus diesem Grund hat sich auch InternChina entschlossen die Reise dorthin anzutreten. 24 Interns ließen sich weder von der langen Fahrt noch von den dortigen Temperaturen abschrecken.
Die Fahrt war trotz der 9 Stunden alles andere als langweilig! Nach ungefähr 2 Stunden ließen wir die graue Hochhäuser Metropole Chengdu hinter uns und fuhren ins Gebirge. Der Weg führte uns durch Täler mit riesigen Seen, vorbei an kleinen Dörfern und durch Kilometerlange Tunnel. Wir folgten einer Serpentinenstraße bis wir am Abend das Friendship Hostel erreichten.

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Am nächsten Morgen sind wir bereits früh morgens, im dicken Zwiebelook zum Park aufgebrochen. Die Eintrittstickets hatten wir bereits am Abend zuvor im Hostel erstanden, weswegen wir uns eine Wartezeit an den Ticketschaltern ersparen konnten. Um möglichst viel von der Schönheit des Parks zu sehen, entschieden wir uns die Hälfte des 72.000 Hektar großen Parks zu Fuß zu erkunden. Vor uns lagen rund 20km entlang eines kleines Pfades bis zur Touristeninformation von wo wir die Erkundungstour mit dem Bus fortführen wollten. Die 5 Stunden lange Wanderung bei frischen 9°C war jede Minute wert, da waren sich alle einig! Wir wurden mit atemberaubenden Naturbildern belohnt! Riesige Wasserfälle, kristallblaue Seen, imposante Berge mit schneebedeckten Gipfeln und Wälder in herbstlichen Farben.

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Das wohl Beste an dieser Art der Parkbesichtigung war wohl, dass wir nur vereinzelt auf andere Touristen getroffen sind und uns nicht in vollbepackte Busse drängen mussten.

Nachdem wir die Touristeninformation erreicht hatten, entschied sich eine Hälfte der Gruppe dafür die mehreren, kleineren Seen zu besichtigen, währen die andere Hälfte die wenigen großen bevorzugte. Für beides hatten wir leider keine Zeit. Ich schloss mich der Gruppe an, welche zu den kleineren Seen aufbrechen wollte. Was soll ich sagen? Enttäuscht wurde keiner! Besonders der 5-Flower-Lake war von atemberaubender Schönheit! So schön, dass auch mehrere Brautpaare dort ihre Hochzeitsfotos machen ließen.

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Noch nie habe ich einen See von dieser Farbe gesehen! Das einzigartige Blau des Sees in dem sich die Gebirgsketten spiegelten war ein Anblick den ich wohl mein Leben nicht vergessen werde. Das Farbenspiel ist wirklich einmalig und die Szenerie die sich einem bietet unglaublich.

Gegen 18Uhr sammelte sich die Gruppe erschöpft, aber überglücklich, wieder im Hostel um den eindrucksreichen Tag mit Tibetischen Essen und bei dem ein oder anderen Tsingtao ausklingen zu lassen.

Insgesamt hatten wir 9 Stunden in dem Park verbracht, waren umgerechnet 72 Stockwerke erklommen und haben über 20km zu Fuß zurückgelegt.

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Würde ich nochmal so lange mit dem Bus fahren und einen derartig lange Fußmarsch auf mich nehmen um Jiuzhaigou zu besichtigen? Auf jeden Fall!!!Ich kann nur jedem, der bereits von Jiuzhaigou gehört und mit dem Gedanken gespielt hat, einmal dorthin zu reisen, aufs wärmste ermutigen dies zu tun-besonders im Herbst!

Featured Internships, Internship Experience, Qingdao Blogs

Featured Internship – REDSTAR magazine in Qingdao

Not many people from the West have heard of Qingdao, but to Chinese people and westerners living in China, Qingdao is one of the most sought after living destinations in the whole country. The mix of clean air, pristine beaches, a moderate climate, active expat community and its close proximity to Beijing and Shanghai make Qingdao a dream location for ‘foreigners’ living in China. Qingdao is a city with over eight million inhabitants, about 2.5 million of which live in the downtown area, and boasts the third busiest shipping port in Asia. To read more about Qingdao – click here 

InternChina - Qingdao
InternChina – Qingdao

This month’s featured internship is with a Qingdao expat magazine company called REDSTAR. This magazine company is the number one seller in the City. They are cool, edgy and always the people to turn to to find out what is happening in Qingdao. The English magazine and WeChat account serve as Qingdao’s Official Guide. In addition, they also offer comprehensive contract publishing services (print and web), event services, translation and sourcing. Their office is open plan and they often have live bands playing in the evenings. It is the perfect place for creative people to thrive. This is a great platform for interns to publish and showcase their own writing skills and build up a strong portfolio of professional work. Find out more about REDSTAR from their website.

We have been talking to Sophie Comber about her experience of interning at REDSTAR.

InternChina - Sophie at the Great Wall
InternChina – Sophie at the Great Wall

IC team: What is your role at REDSTAR?

Sophie: My roles at the REDSTAR magazine’s open plan office have so far included journalist, social media operator, website operator, and English grammar and style editor.

IC team: What are your main tasks?

Sophie: I have used my journalistic skills for research, carrying out interviews, and writing engaging stories for an expat family audience on timely and relevant matters. My writing has so far taken the forms of feature stories, current world events, upcoming event promotions, restaurant reviews, music promotions, and film reviews.

When the magazine is a few days from completion, I read over its entire content to check the grammar and style. A few weeks ago, I also decided upon a system for how the magazine should refer to Chinese words in regards to pinyin, characters, and tones.

IC team: What have you learnt from your internship?

Sophie: As is usual for China, REDSTAR puts a great deal of emphasis on the Chinese social media app WeChat, which was not an app I had used much before. I have gained skills in the area of social media and online layouts, producing WeChat posts about a great number of topics. Previously, I had little experience in lifestyle writing, my experience mostly being in the area of hard news and current affairs, so I welcomed this widening of my skill set.

IC team: What do you like best about REDSTAR?

Sophie: REDSTAR has an informal, friendly atmosphere with cheerful co-workers. We are all always willing to be supportive and lend a hand to each other—one of my favourite rituals of the day is going out together to buy lunch from one of the many delicious local eateries!

 

Chinese Festivals, Cultural, Understanding Chinese culture

Halloween in China

On the eve of 31 October, many Western countries come alight with the glow of countless jack-o’-lanterns that signify the arrival of Halloween.  In China, Halloween celebrations among the younger generation are gradually becoming more and more popular. Kids’ Halloween parties and pumpkin-carving is becoming a favourite with less conservative parents in big cities. Nonetheless, apart from a few expat-oriented bars and pubs, the practice of dressing-up is nowhere near as widespread as in the West.

InternChina - Halloween
InternChina – Halloween

There is, however, no shortage of traditional festivals dedicated to the dead in Chinese culture. In fact, the majority of festivals contain an element of sacrificing offerings in the form of money, food and wine to deceased ancestors. Qing Ming Festival, Ghost Festival and Spring Festival are among the better-known ones.

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost festival, falls on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. It stems from Taoist and Buddhist belief that on this day the gate that separates the world of the dead from the world of the living opens, and ghosts are believed to visit the living in their homes. To appease the hungry ghosts, their living descendants prepare elaborate feasts and burn joss paper. In many ways, the Hungry Ghost festival is similar to Halloween in the West.

The Qing Ming Festival is celebrated 108 days after the winter solstice. During the Qing Ming Festival, unlike during the hungry Ghost festival, the living visit the dead at their graves and bring offerings in the form of food, wine and chopsticks. They sweep the graves and burn joss money and firecrackers.

The Spring Festival, the most well-known among all Chinese festivals, is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar. Traditionally, the Spring festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. During the Spring festival, the whole family gathers from different cities and provinces for a reunion. Offerings to ancestors play a big part in the proceedings. The lunar calendar is consulted about the specificities of which way to face when bowing and making offerings. Traditionally, dumplings (jiaozi) are offered to the ancestors to invite them to join in the festivities.

InternChina - Ancestor worship

InternChina - Qing Ming Festival

There is a distinctive difference between Chinese and Western cultures in the way they interact with ghosts. While in Western culture Halloween is the height of human-ghost interaction, in Chinese culture deceased ancestors play a much larger part throughout the year. The interaction between the dead and the living is not limited to a few select days in the year. People commonly burn joss paper and offer wine at street corners. Although strict guidelines that guide the process of interaction are put in place in the cities, people that live in the countryside have a much closer relationship with their dead ancestors. We only need to look at how graves form a natural part of the architectural landscape in the countryside to see that the divide between dead and living is nowhere near as defined as it is in the West. For the Chinese, it is not just during Halloween that the worlds of the living and the dead come together.

 

 

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