This weekend at Intern China Chengdu our team went to Dufu Cottage followed by a relaxing afternoon of Mahjong and Tea drinking.
Dufu is a very famous Chinese poet born in the 7th century. He resided in Chengdu for 4 years during the AnShan Revolution which led to him fleeing from his home town of LuoYang in Henan province. During his time in Chengdu he lived in a modest thatched cottage by the flower rinsing shores of the river in the west of Chengdu.
It is here he is said to have been most prolific in terms of his output of poetry, writing over 240 poems. Taking in the scenery in this beautiful area of Chengdu it is easy to see where he got his influence and motivation for writing such an great number of poems.
In the grounds of Dufu’s Cottage you can see a wide variety of blossoming plants as well as a wide range of classic architecture and buildings. Including the famous hut by the river where Dufu would spend his days gazing over the river watching the wildlife.
After walking the grounds at the cottage and getting some fantastic Sichuan food for lunch we headed to a Mahjong house near to WenShu Monastery.
When arriving at the Mahjong house we chose a room with a view over the street, in hindsight this probably wasn’t the greatest idea. This being my first time playing I was amazed by the table at which we were playing. It had an in built shuffling device, contained two sets of tiles and also an under table heater to keep our feet warm.
After being taught the rules by the rest of the IC Chengdu team we began to play. Let’s just say it didn’t go too well for myself but we were having fun.
During our time playing the passing locals seemed shocked and amazed at the foreigners playing Mahjong. Asking if we knew how to play, taking photos. One gentleman even took it upon himself to stand by our table for 20mins offering instructions. Including getting animated if any of us were to do one thing even slightly wrong.
All in all it was a great day out, relaxing enjoying 3 hours of Mahjong and the serenity and tranquility of Dufu’s cottage made for a great Saturday in Chengdu.
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Almost every business decision starts with a cup of tea here in China. Tea is a very important part of the Chinese culture and Chinese people drink it anytime and anywhere. Every restaurant will serve tea, almost every Chinese household owes a tea set, a small one or a huge tea table. Even in business meetings, usually the businessmen and women will sit around a tea table to discuss important business topics.
Around 90% tea output is produced by Asian countries. The origin of all the tea trees in other countries is directly or indirectly in China.
When it is warm tea brings on an instant cool, together with relaxation as it seems that it dispels the heat. Tea is good for your health as it is a stimulant for the nerve centre and even for smokers, it helps to discharge the nicotine out of their system.
Here in China there are a lot of tea houses and gardens where people can have enjoy a good cup of tea while chatting with friends and family. A day will never pass where the Chinese won’t have at least one cup of tea.
Chinese tea can be classified in many different ways: quality, method of preparation or place of production. Fermentation, drying, heating and adding other ingredients like flowers herb and fruits are the main processing methods. All teas are originally from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.
Types of tea:
Green tea – is the most popular tea in China. China is the world’s largest exporter of green tea. This type of tea can help to reduce the risk of cancer and slow down the ageing process.
Red tea (Black tea) – This tea is very popular in Europe and in South Asia. This tea is good for the heart and the vessels.
Oolong tea – This tea is a speciality of Guangdong Province, where Zhuhai is located. This tea has the characteristics of green and black tea. It helps to break down protein, and supports the body in losing weight.
Post-fermented tea (Pu´er tea) – Post-fermented tea can be aged to improve the flavour. It is a valuable tea and usually compressed into different shapes. It helps to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and reinforce the immune system.
Scented tea – this tea is made by mixing a base tea, usually green tea, with the addition of flowers, fruits or herbs. The most popular scented tea is Jasmine tea.
If you want to try some great tea then apply now for an internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai. You can then visit the plantations and tea houses in your freetime.
On Monday, Sunny, our Customer Relations Manager in Zhuhai, asked me if I would like to come with her and visit a new homestay family. My Chinese is still very basic and I was afraid that not being able to communicate with them would make things awkward, but of course I was excited to meet a family that could potentially become one of our interns’ host family!
After a few minutes of asking around to find the right building, we arrived at the apartment. They opened up and quickly welcomed us inside. First we met the host dad, host mum and their 11-year-old son. They were very nice and accommodating, even though I could understand very little of what they said.
Then they gave us a tour of the apartment. It was a very nice, clean and cozy home, with a few bedrooms and even a studio full of books! In the son’s bedroom we met the grandparents, who were also really friendly and sweet. We went back into the living room and there Sunny began talking to the mum and dad about Intern China and the students that come do internships and live in homestays. Meanwhile, I had a very pleasant chat with their son, who was very keen on practising his English and I was more than happy to help! As it turns out, he loves basketball and is an avid drummer.
Even though we were only planning a short visit, they invited us for dinner and the food smelled so yummy we couldn’t refuse. It was a very nice meal with lots of vegetables, rice and some lamb. I was reminded of my own childhood when the host mum gave her son a small plate with ketchup on it, so that he would eat all his food!
After dinner we went back to the living room for some tea, chatted for a few more minutes and then took our leave. With lots of smiles and “thank yous”, we said our goodbyes and left. It was a great experience for me, to be welcomed so warmly into someone’s home, by a family who is very excited about the prospect of providing a home away from home to one of our future interns.
Having an expat dad living in the same country as you has its perks: you get to tag along on his travels! I must admit, after witnessing all the preparations in the weeks before Chinese New Year, I was a little bummed out that I wouldn’t get to see the actual celebrations. But when the opportunity arises to travel to an exotic island in Southeast Asia, you just can’t say no!
I spent all of 8 days in Sri Lanka, and I have to say, it’s nothing like any country I’d been to before. For instance, around 70% of the population is Buddhist, meaning: lots and lots of temples! My dad is sort of a Buddhism aficionado, and it seems to be his personal mission to visit as many temples and shrines as possible. Sri Lanka definitely gave him a lot of material, including the stupas in the ancient city of Anuradhapura (where the oldest tree in recorded history has remained guarded for over 2000 years), the tiny temple where Buddha’s teachings were put in writing for the very first time, and of course, the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple in Kandy, which houses Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic.
One consequence of visiting all these temples is you have to do a lot of climbing, since monks have the tendency to choose high grounds for their meditation duties. I am not a very sporty person and at the beginning I was a little mortified to have to climb all those steps, but I have to say the outcome is very much worth it. Especially at Sigiriya, the ancient fortress built on a flat rock nearly 400 metres high, where I literally felt like I was on top of the world.
Other awesome highlights of my trip were the visit to a spice garden, where I learned all about Sri Lankan medicinal herbs and got to buy a whole bag of goodies, the tea factory where I found out how my favourite cuppa (English Breakfast) gets made, and the gem factory, where I had to beg my dad for an elephant pendant with a tiny incrusted topaz. And let’s not forget about the food: with so many practising Buddhists, Sri Lankan cuisine relies a lot on vegetarian dishes, and most of the meat dishes are either chicken or seafood. But their amazing variety of spices and tropical ingredients all come together to create some of the most fresh, flavourful and – on top of it all – healthiest food I’ve ever had.
But my personal favourite was the chance to be in close contact with animals: as an animal lover, Sri Lanka is as close as paradise as I’ve ever been. Buddhism teaches to be kind to all living creatures, and you can really see that here. There are dogs and monkeys everywhere, and as dirty or skinny as they can be, people don’t mistreat them and they happily coexist. I also got to go on a safari at Yala National Park, and see all kind of birds, buffalos and even a short glimpse of a leopard. The cherry on top of the cake was the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Being mere metres away from dozens of elephants, watching them bathe and play and feed their babies – plus touching them and feeding them myself – was an experience I’ll never forget.
Coming to the other side of the world for an internship wasn’t just about work experience or even learning Chinese – it’s about having the opportunity to visit places you’ve only ever read about and never in your wildest dreams thought you’d see.
Want to explore Southeast Asia like Daniela? Come to Zhuhai for an internship and go on lots of adventures! Apply now via email or directly on our website!