It’s now time for me to leave the InternChina team after a 6 month internship in the Qingdao office. It seemed like thanking the team for the amazing time I had will be a nice topic for my “goodbye blog”. However I’ll try to show you that you should definitely consider doing your internship there as well!
First of all, are you passionate about China and want to learn more about how to do business there? Also, the internship of your dreams is one where you’ll have plenty of responsibilities and support? Finally, are you ready to learn more about yourself and your abilities? Well, if yes you should definitely keep reading! But first, enjoy a few pictures of the Qingdao team!
Business in China
When I first arrived in the InternChina team I was asked to choose what I wanted to focus on during my internship. As I wanted to learn more about business and marketing I became a Business Development and Marketing Intern. Indeed. as part of our job here we need to find new partner companies who are seeking foreign interns. First of all, you’ll need to learn and understand to concept of face and guanxi. Then you definitely will always address companies as you should in China. As a result I was even able to assist a meeting with a company all in Chinese and understand it! Thanks to my 8 years of Chinese studies I could understand the language and process of a meeting with a Chinese partner company. Also, it’s definitely a nice way to develop your own network and make connections for the future.
Funny thing about talking to companies here in China: you use WeChat! Emojis and video calls are both easy ways to communicate, and are the keys to a successful and professional relationship! Business in China is full of surprises! Regarding the marketing part of my internship our aim was to promote our services. For example I add to posts on social medias about our activities and internship offers. I even wrote an article about it, check it out! I discovered that Photoshop wasn’t that hard to use and that we could do amazing things with it!
Responsibilities and Support from the InternChina Team
Being a little too shy to use my Chinese and actually go meet companies, I reconsidered my position and wanted to look into another aspect of the company, the one that we call “booking”. It’s basically the process between InternChina and a student who wants to find an internship in China and uses our services to do it. As I am French, I was dealing with French students. They were all dreaming of coming to China and from step 1 to the final details, I helped more than 10 students in a few weeks. By talking to future interns and helping them find the suitable company and internship for them you really feel so useful and talented when you finally succeed! As part of the Qingdao office you’ll be rewarded with a delicious Tsingtao beer!
During the whole process I was never alone. One thing you should know about InternChina when you join the team, is that you’re joining a big family. We are all connected to each other via Skype even if we are all located in different countries. One of the most important part of our services is to offer support to our participants, well within InternChina you couldn’t find a more supportive team. Even if I was probably annoying at some point – by asking too much – I was always given an answer to my questions and never felt left alone. Let’s meet some of them now!
Learn about yourself
Keep in mind that doing an internship with InternChina is the opportunity of developing the skills you wish for. By that I mean that the diversity of tasks you’ll be given will depends on your own abilities and most of all interests! That’s also a way to push yourself into tasks you wouldn’t imagine to be able to do. I didn’t believe 6 months ago that I would be able to understand and take part in a Chinese meeting. Or to enjoy watching the statistics on our Facebook page and try to find ways improving them! I really enjoyed working in the office – and if you’re not an office person well be aware that you’ll have plenty of occasion to work outside the office as well.
You’ll work within an international team, and that’s one of the best way to learn about communication and culture. With the Chinese staff members I was able to learn more about Chinese culture and develop my interest of it. With my British colleagues I learned a lot of new expressions thanks to our weekly “Quiz” – have you ever heard of Hobnobs before? As between offices we are all using Skype to communicate I developed some communication skills that I didn’t know I had before. Moreover you will also learn how to be more organized and how to prioritize your work – that’s super helpful and not only for your time at InternChina! Let me introduce you to the team you’ll have the opportunity to work with:
Even if the fact to answer the question “what’s your internship like” by saying “my internship is basically to help people find internships” is awesome – doing it is even better! Interested of doing that awesome internship, or come to China with our programmes, apply now !
This weekend in Chengdu our interns took a visit to the famous Wenshu Monastery. Upon arrival, the beauty of the buildings stunned us. From the towering peace pagoda to the stunning halls, the architecture amazed us all.
Upon entering the monastery, you notice its layout in the traditional Chinese style. Wenshu is made of 5 south facing halls in a row leading up to the stunning main hall at the far end from the entrance. In classic Chinese style there was maintenance underway including this man precariously perched atop scaffolding on wheels using a jet wash to clean the beams.
Having toured the grounds of the monastery we headed outside to an antiques market. Here we found old communist memorabilia, including the famous little red book, and Mao-ist propaganda amongst other treasures. One vendor was sat outside his shop playing his guitar as his dog kept an eye on the passers by.
After looking around the monastery and the antiques market we headed back towards the temple grounds in search of some food.
The surrounding area to the monastery is home to some of the most famous food in Sichuan. Not ones to miss the opportunity to eat, we jumped in the line of a famous restaurant. The restaurant was packed full with no space to sit. Upon ordering our TianShuiMian (this restaurants famous dish) we managed to find a spot to sit and dug into to this amazing delicacy. Our interns loved the sweet and spicy contrast to these amazing hand made noodles!
After sampling this delight we wanted more and headed to another famous spot near the metro station. As is the case with all well-known eateries in China, this place also had a queue out the front. This time we were queuing for Guo Kui. The menu offered Beef, Pork, Pig’s Snout, Pigs Ear, Noodles and other delights to fill this delightful pastry pocket. I personally chose the pig’s snout, which didn’t disappoint.
Having filled our stomachs with great food and our eyes with fantastic scenery we all headed off. On the way back we stopped by Tianfu Square, right in the middle of the city to snap some pictures and take in our surroundings. All in all a great day out!
Interested in visiting Wenshu Monastery and trying some Sichuan cuisine? Apply now!
Written by Claire Sadler
From the most isolated city in the world to one of the largest cities in China
Coming from the remote city of Perth, Australia I thought interning in Chengdu would be the perfect opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.
Although when I first arrived, the difference between my coastal life and bustling Chengdu definitely gave me culture shock, this soon subsided with the excitement of being exposed to such an amazing place.
I have only been here for a month but in that time I have already made enough friends to freeload on almost every continent, eaten my weight in Sichuan cuisine and explored many parts of this beautiful city!
In an attempt to explore as much as possible during my stay, I have seen so much of what Chengdu has to offer. Some of the highlights have been the infamous pandas, Dongmen Bridge, the Leshan Giant Buddha and People’s Park.
One funny experience of my trip though was how excited the locals at Sanxingdui Museum were when they saw Dominique and I. A crowd of at least 20 people asked for pictures because they had never seen a foreigner there before! All I could think about was how they would have shown everyone the pictures of us.
During my stay in Chengdu I’m situated in Gaoshengqiao, known for the Tibetan culture. It is crazy how even doing day to day tasks I am exposed to this culture, as I even see monks shopping in Walmart!
In terms of my placement I am completing a marketing internship with Inspiration Tech. It has been an amazing opportunity to learn new marketing skills, specifically how to effectively promote a product and create advertisements. I have also gotten the opportunity to write articles and conduct interviews, which has boosted my experience in journalism.
The whole trip has been eye opening, inspiring and rewarding in so many ways. Interning in Chengdu was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!
Do you want to experience Chengdu for yourself? Then apply now!
This weekend our interns got the chance to attend a basketball game here in Chengdu, and experience the CBA firsthand! The Sichuan Blue Whales took on the Tianjin Gold Lions in what ended up a close fought game. In the end, the local Sichuan Blue Whales emerged victorious.
In China, basketball is some what of a religion with hundreds of thousands of fans rushing to any event that an NBA star will attend. This hasn’t gone unnoticed in the US, with teams including multiple stops in China during their pre-season schedule.
About the CBA
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) comprises of 20 teams from all over mainland China. From Xinjiang in the far North West, to Shenzhen in the South East. Each team is allowed a maximum of 2 non-Asian players in their squad, unless they finished in the bottom 5 the previous season, in which case they are allowed a third.
To add further confusion to the rules regarding non- Asian players, teams are only allowed to play non- Asian players for a total of 6 quarters, and only one non- Asian player at a time in the 4th quarter. This means that if a player checks in at all in a quarter that counts as 1 quarter of playing time. Whilst these rules can get confusing, it means that the Chinese players are not crowded out of the league!
Some notable players in the CBA at the minute include BYU sensation and super hot shooter Jimmer Fredette who plays for the Shanghai Sharks. Former Milwaukee Bucks point guard, Brandon Jennings who plays for Shanxi. Argentinian big man, Luis Scola who also plays for Shanxi. Stephon Marbury who has become somewhat of a star here in China, playing for Beijing Ducks. Marbury has even received the keys to the city in Beijing and is the only foreigner to hold a green card.
There is no shortage of talent here in China! When looking at the contracts these players have signed its clear to see why. The minimum salary for a rookie in the NBA is $582,180 and in the CBA is $815,615. Therefore, it may be a sensible choice for lower pick draft players to make the leap to China to work on their craft.
The CBA is growing in popularity here in China. Games tend to attract crowds of 5,000 fans with much more attending the 7 game finals series. Furthermore all games are streamed live online on Tencent attracting a national audience on a nightly basis. Overall the influx of foreign talent alongside the developing national talent makes for a great spectacle. If you get the chance whilst in China be sure to take in a game!
Inspired to come to China? Apply for one of our fantastic internships now!
Written by Sylvia Liu
It’s been a bit over a month now since I first began my internship experience in Chengdu with InternChina, and I can easily say that this experience is definitely one that will be remembered!
Having travelled to many other Chinese cities before, Chengdu is a breath of fresh air; not literally however, but rather in the sense of its pace of life.
Chengdu meanders peacefully through each day; while other cities rush and are filled with spontaneity. That’s not to say Chengdu is less developed economically, quite the contrary! Just as its numerous shopping centres, nightlife and still expanding public transport systems like to prove.
Personally I have found the pace of life charming. I have enjoyed spending my Sundays temple-seeing, sipping tea at monasteries, and nibbling on sunflower seeds while listening to the indistinct chatter of Sichuanese.
Food has also held a prominent role in my time here! You will be hard pressed to find a restaurant who won’t serve at least a bowl of chilli with the famous Sichuan Peppercorns along with your meal.
The old streets of Chengdu, the majority located in the inner South West of the city, are a delight to walk through. There is plenty of opportunity to snack on the delicious street food, while being surrounded by traditional architecture permeating with historical significance.
I believe that there is knowledge that can only be learned from doing an internship in China. In particular cultural proficiency, which is always a handy skill to have even if one does not pursue a career in international business.
Some of the more interesting tasks I’ve done at the company have included researching the potential of incorporating blockchain technology with gaming, as well as game testing for current beta projects.
The employees at the company are all very inclusive, and it is interesting to gain insight into general Chinese organisational culture. The food options available at lunch are an additional highlight of the workday. The local 7-Eleven is frequented often for its lunchtime pick-and-mix boxes!
The people I have met in Chengdu have been the best part of my internship yet. Being able to meet people from all over the world through my internship in Chengdu is something I’m grateful for. I always look forward to spending time with the other interns or going to events organised by InternChina, such as Thursday Dinner, or even weekend activities outside the city.
I can say with no doubt that it is the people I have met here that make this trip the enjoyable experience it has been!
Interested in seeing everything that Sylvia has during her time in Chengdu? Then apply now!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of WeChat and have managed to set up your account. However, for many of you, it may have ended there. Finally, after years of feeling left out of the loop, us “Wai Guo Ren” (foreigners) can saunter up to a till point and nonchalantly wave our phones at the cashier. Has anything been more thrilling than this?!
The Chinese company Tencent announced today that it will be accepting international bank cards as payment through WeChat wallet, meaning you no longer have to go through the hassle of opening a Chinese Bank account. This guide will help you to achieve your dreams of scanning and paying!
A Step By Step Guide to add your Bank Card to WeChat Wallet:
Select the “Me” icon from the bottom menu in WeChat and then select the “Wallet” option.
Select “Cards” from the top menu.
This screen may be different for some of you but essentially you want to select “Add a new card.”
With this being China, you can either snap a quick pic of your card or manually enter your card number.
After this select your bank card. If your bank doesn’t appear go ahead and select Visa or Mastercard (whichever one is applicable) and then credit card (even if it’s a debit.)
You will then be asked to enter all you personal details in the following menu.
Good to know:
If your region is not shown, enter your closest city, and for your phone number it’s up to you whether you use your international or Chinese number!
After entering these details your card should be connected to your WeChat!
In some cases this doesn’t allow you to transfer money from your bank account to WeChat or pay with you bank card. However it does allow you to receive money from others, so I’m sure you can ask your Chinese friends to help out if you give them some cash! Then they can transfer you the equivalent value so it’s available for you to use on WeChat!
For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can see on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here.
As you may know, in China food is one of the most important things! Indeed, sharing a meal is a social opportunity that is loved across China. However, reading a Chinese menu can seem intimidating.
At InternChina we love food too – check out this blog in order to know more about how we help you to explore Chinese cuisine. If you have never tried Chinese food before, don’t worry, you’ll definitely experience this soon enough!
And fear not, this article is here to hopefully help you understand a Chinese menu, so you can order yourself and impress your Chinese colleagues and friends!
The Chinese language may appear to be the most difficult language in the world at first, as we are not used to the Chinese characters. But don’t be intimidated! This ancient language is following a certain logic – as soon as you understand the logic, you’ll be able to read a Chinese menu without a doubt!
To avoid giving you a long history lesson, let’s just say that originally all Chinese characters were created using pictures, and were developed into the calligraphic style that we see today through several different steps.
History of Chinese Characters
Let me show you the evolution of the Chinese character for “horse” – if you don’t want to order this kind of dish, just look for it in a Chinese menu!
Now that you can understand how the Chinese characters work, just use your imagination and it will be way easier to read a menu! Let me show you some examples of the main ingredients you’ll find in a Chinese menu.
Meat on the Menu
These are basically the most common kinds of meat you’ll find on a menu in China. While horse meat isn’t that popular, in some places donkey meat is! Therefore, for donkey meat dishes you will have the character for horse, and one other symbol that looks similar to the tall ears of the donkey! So a donkey is a horse with tall ears, easy to remember- right? Can you find two more very similar characters? When you understand that the Chinese language is logic, it seems less and less hard, right?
After most of those characters in a Chinese menu you’ll see “肉-rou” that means “meat”.
Vegetables on the Menu
Obviously, the Chinese language can’t always be explained by pictures, but you can still see the logic behind the characters.
Let’s look at “potato” as an example. “Tu” means “earth“, and “dou” means “bean“. A potato is a bean that comes from the earth – easy!
Another interesting story can be found with “tomato.” Tomatoes weren’t originally found in China, they were imported. So in the Chinese name for tomato we have: “Xi” meaning “West“, “Hong” meaning “Red“, and “Shi” meaning “Persimmons“. Can you guess why? Because a tomato looks like a “red-persimmon imported from the West”! Clever, right?
“Bai” means “white” and “Cai” means vegetable, so the white vegetable is also know as the delicious Chinese cabbage! The easiest way to remember a Chinese character is to make a story from the shape of the character, or ask your Chinese friends to explain the character to you!
These are the main characters you’ll see in the dishes, so you’ll see if you are going to eat soup or some noodles.
Just one thing to remember about rice, restaurants commonly use “米饭” or just “饭” – character FAN– for rice. And a funny tip about “egg”- “dan” means egg, but in Chinese you’ll always call it a “Chicken egg”.
For the soup “tang” can you see the three dots on the left hand-side ? Looks like drops of water, right? Exactly! That’s the way of describing an object or dish with water inside, so now you all know that there is water in the soup now!
Our Favourite Dishes
Now that we’ve showed you the main characters you’ll see in a Chinese menu, let’s give you some more tips and the names of our favourite dishes!
These might take some more imagination to remember, as it won’t be as easy as the characters for various animals which were very close to the actual picture of the animal. However, these cards will be super useful while reading a Chinese menu. And, you can also show them in the restaurants if you can’t find them on the Chinese menu!
Don’t hesitate to choose those dishes if you see them on a Chinese menu, they’re delicious!
You can find the two first ones in every Halal restaurant, also known in Chinese as “Lanzhou Lamian, “and you can recognise these restaurants by the characters on the outside door: ‘兰州拉面‘. And the other dishes are found in any typical Chinese restaurant!
- XiHongshi Chao Jidan: Egg and tomato with rice.
- Jidan Chao Dao Xiao Mian: Fried egg, vegetables and cut noodles (this might be little spicy in some places!)
- Feng Wei Qie Zi : Fried aubergines.
- Tang Cu li Ji: Sweet and sour pork.
- Gan bian Da tou Cai : “Big head vegetable!” This will be some delicious Chinese cabbage and spicy sauce.
- Gong Bao Ji Ding : Chicken, peanuts and veggies, with a sweet and spicy sauce.
Please Don’t Forget!
Here some tips, that may save you one day – who knows!
- If a character has 月 on the left-hand side it is likely to be some sort of guts/intestines/belly/insides, i.e. run in the opposite direction!
- Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Then always avoid meals with this character “肉“, as this is “rou“, which means “meat.”
- Allergic to peanuts? This is the character you need to avoid : “花生“, pronounced “huasheng.”
- If you can’t eat spicy food, avoid this red one! “La” “辣” means spicy.
There is different kind of spicy food that our interns in Chengdu will be pleased to try! When you see those characters : 麻辣 be ready to experience some tingling and numbing sensation.
Don’t hesitate to ask our staff members on place to help you out with the pronunciation, or if you need any help ordering your food!
Did this help to convince you that living in China isn’t that difficult? Well then, you just need to apply now!
by Nick Goldstein
Two Week PMSA Language and Culture Programme
I’m not a very good writer, but when asked to write a piece on my first two weeks in Zhuhai as part of the PMSA Programme I volunteered. Not only because I want to get better, but because coming here under InternChina’s culture and internship program taught me the value of doing things you are scared of. That’s why I ended up here writing about InternChina’s program, having already wasted the first 60 words.
The first two weeks were packed! My personal highlights were tea making, calligraphy and Tai Chi classes. Although lots of fun, I also learned a lot. Much like learning about the history of your country helps you understand it today, learning about the details of Chinese culture helped me understand the big picture (it’s a really big picture!)
During this time, we visited two companies operating in the free trade zone. In the same way as our cultural activities, learning about the companies taught me not only about the company itself, its processes and operations, but also the way western firms interact with Chinese. I saw two models, although on the surface very similar, in practice very different, and I felt the difference. If I were to set up an operation in China, I know what I would do differently.
Part of the program was two weeks of intensive language classes. 3 hours a day in a room with other kiwis trying to learn Chinese was invaluable, and although my Chinese is not comprehensive, it is enough to make a contribution to the language gap. In China, at least where I am, the effort is more appreciated than required.
The third part of the program was the homestay experience. Make no mistake this was an experience, living with my own family was difficult enough, someone else’s is downright terrifying. Despite this, however, the most valuable aspect of the course was the homestay. Visiting companies and learning about culture is useful, but you only learn so much by teaching. Living in a homestay opened me up to the culture, exposing me to the intricacies.
Examples of what I have learnt are 1. That, at least in my family, no matter how loud your child’s friend is screaming, you don’t tell them off and 2. People really don’t like it when you wear shoes in the house, like REALLY don’t like it!
What I’ve Learnt
Jokes aside, I learned about the details of the culture, and I have made friends that I will take back to New Zealand. Reflecting on the past fortnight I think the most valuable thing I have learnt are soft skills. Cultural appreciation, empathy, an understanding of the Chinese approach, and an ability to work in Chinese culture, as well as, I believe, an improved ability to work with any culture. I think the friends, contacts and memories I have made are all important. Overwhelmingly, however, participating in this program has been mostly beneficial to my appreciation of different cultures, expanding my mindset.
InternChina – More than just an internship!
But what does this really mean in Qingdao? It means weekly dinners, activities and 24/7 support!
I’ve been an office intern for about 3 months now, so I hope I can explain this for you!
During your programme, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to do an internship in China, but that’s not the only think you’ll experience during your time in Qingdao! The InternChina team will organise lots of dinners and activities for you. This is so we can get to know you better, make you feel comfortable in this new country, and give you a chance to meet amazing people! And if you love travelling, there are plenty of great destinations we can help you visit that aren’t too far from Qingdao!
As a Qingdao office intern, I have the opportunity to organise the dinners and trips for our participants. I’ll tell you more about it, so you’ll have an idea of the amazing things you may get the chance to do, and you can discover more about Qingdao.
If you have anything you want to do around Qingdao, just let a member of InternChina know and we can try our best to organise this for you!
Every week we organise one of our famous “Thursday Dinners.”
This is a social event, to share a group meal, discover new Asian cuisine and talk about our week! We understand that you are students, so don’t worry- we try to make these dinners affordable! Usually, we try to avoid expensive restaurants, but they are always tasty. We usually stick to a budget of 50RMB per person, and sometimes this is even less.
How do we organise these dinners? Usually we make a post on our official Qingdao InternChina WeChat account, or we post in our IC Qingdao group chat.
We’ll give you some more details about the restaurant, the cuisine, the food, the time and the location of the dinner. If you’re interested in coming along, then simply join the dinner group by scanning the QR code we’ll provide! This helps us know how many people want to come along, so we can book a table. During the summer, we can have more than 30 people for dinner!
But it’s our job to organise this- all you need to do is scan the QR code and join! How easy is that?
After a week of working hard during your internship, we’re sure you’ll look forward to exploring Qingdao at the weekend! There is so much to do and discover in Qingdao, and we understand that you want to get out there, so we organise lots of activities and trips for you!
We try to organise a new activity every weekend, and just like the dinners, we try to make sure these activities are all affordable so you can take part in as much as you can.
What can Qingdao offer you? There are lots of fun tourist activities,such as the Tsingtao Beer Museum, the TV Tower, the zoo, the aquarium, the Huadong Vineyard. However, we also want to make sure you see the natural beauty in Qingdao! Outdoor activities such as hiking Fushan or Laoshan with our guide Green Tea, bouldering, archery, go karting are always popular, especially during the summer.
We also want you to learn about the Chinese culture while you are here, so we organise cultural activities such as calligraphy classes, Chinese cooking lessons, tea ceremonies, or even Kung Fu lessons!
There are different things to do during different seasons, so you may also get to attend the German Christmas Market, or some opening ceremonies!
You will definitely never be bored, with plenty of activities available for you to explore the city, have fun, and network!
We also try to organise some weekend trips for you to discover other cities in China.
Recently, we organised a weekend trip to Beijing- after all, it would be a shame to come to China and not visit the Great Wall! In the past we have also organised trips to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Qufu… the possibilities are endless!
For any weekend trips we organise, we will provide you with a detailed schedule so you can make the most of your time in each city! We will also let you know how much each trip will cost, and this will include your transport, accommodation and activities for the weekend. It will cost more than a regular Saturday Event, but it is definitely worth going and exploring more of China!
The InternChina team offer you 24/7 support while you are on place, and we are also here for you before and after your time in China!
When you arrive, we will pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your accommodation, whether is an apartment or a homestay. We’ll also give you an orientation to help you understand Chinese culture, and give you some advice about living in Qingdao.
You will receive a welcome pack, which includes a SIM card, travel card, map of the city, and address card and some InternChina goodies!
We are here for you whenever you need us!
Moreover, our team on place is also always here to support you! When you arrive we will give you an orientation, in order to make you understand Chinese culture, and give you lots of advice! If you feel sick, we will come with you to the hospital! If you have any other issues, we are here to help if we can!
InternChina’s Favourite Places
When you are new to Qingdao, and don’t know where to go or what to see, we’re here to tell you where to go! Below is a list of my favourite places- you can even impress your colleagues with your Qingdao knowledge and invite them along!
Magic Eggplant – or the best Chinese restaurant ever! 美达尔大尧三路店 – Dayao San Road
ChunChuan Iron Plate – best Korean restaurant! 青岛市崂山区苗岭路 瑞纳花园内 Miao Ling Road
Huadong Winery – a beautiful vineyard, where you can visit the museum,the caves and try some wine at the end! 南龙口崂山Nanlong Kou, Lao Shan
ZhongShan Park – an amazing park where you can easily walk around for hours! The zoo is right next to it if you want to see a panda! 市南区文登路28号 Wen Deng Road
I hope these details and pictures convinced you that InternChina has so much more than just an internship to offer you! You’ll never feel alone, and this experience will be unforgettable!
The easiest way to join us is to apply now!
by Kim Whitwell
For the first weekend in December, 19 InternChina staff and interns travelled overland to the rural area of Kaiping, China to experience the rural offerings of historic diaolou country.
Setting off from Zhuhai, we all made our introductions and settled into getting to know each other. It was the first group trip the PMSA Kiwi students were involved in since landing a week earlier, so friendships were formed pretty early on.
Met by our tour guide Peter, and newly opened hostel owner Rocky in Tangkou, the group arrived just in time for a cooked lunch made with local produce from the area. Bellies full, and smiles on our faces for the blue skies and green scenery Kaiping was providing for us, we jumped on our bikes and followed Peter for the first of our diaolou tours.
Diaolous are fortified watchtowers built by the overseas Chinese in order to protect their rural home towns. To ensure their families were safe during mass emigration in the 20th century, overseas Chinese sent money back from afar to build them.
Displayed to the public, the presence of dialous are a marker of Chinese history and heritage. It reflects the rich culture and influences from both immigration (styles of décor in the diaolous show western influence) and emigration.
We wove in and out of rice fields all at the many different stages of cropping. Peter provided the knowledge and the various rural communities provided the photo opportunities. We all soaked in the authentic appearance and operations of the locals who went about their daily business with little more than a “ni hao!” in response to ours. We saw drying bok choy, rice husking, traditional instrument playing and oxen all within an hour.
On return to the hostel, we settled into the night on the roof top area watching the last of the sunlight fade. The hostel kitchen provided another extremely delicious meal, which some interns helped prepare. After, Peter captivated us with more of his extensive and passionate knowledge of diaolou country.
More chat, more beers and more laughter followed well into the night with a great time had by all . The immaculate hostel providing the most comfortable place to lay our heads for the night.
Day two arose with breakfast (a personal highlight) of both Chinese and Western cuisine (peanut butter on toast)! Then onto the bus we hopped to travel to some unique UNESCO sites in the local areas.
Bamboo forests and a local wedding greeted us at our first stop. Peter continued his extensive commentary on the history and significance of diaolous, mansions and operations in the local villages. Stop number two provided the Instagram opportunities! Lunch back at the hostel concluded our weekend in Kaiping. Bellies full once more, smiles a plenty and memories made, we filed back onto the bus and travelled a fairly sleepy and quiet journey home.
Kaiping is an authentic display of Chinese rural life that draws you into a time machine back 30 years. The attractions aren’t crowded or over commercialised so the experiences you have are very much genuine. Peter’s knowledge of the area and history behind it was captivating. He helped bring to life a part of the world not well known or considered in the tourism industry. Rocky has created an accommodation space that also feels genuine and homely. Utilising the infrastructure provided by history within the area the place is quirky and unique. If you are looking for a relaxing, yet interesting, time out from city life, this trip is for you.