traditional chinese

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Cultural, Travel

Phoenix Ancient Town

Chinese Legends say that in ancient time, two phoenixes flew over the town and found the surroundings so beautiful that they hovered above it, and were so taken by the beauty that they did not want to leave. This town then got the name Phoenix Ancient Town.
After our amazing 2-day trip to Zhangjiajie, in which we hiked up and down the mountains and saw the picturesque view, we continued on our journey to Phoenix Ancient Town (Feng Huang), a mere 6-hour drive away in Hunan Province. The town can be traced back to Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BC). By the time we were nearing the city, everyone was so exhausted from having spent over 23 hours in the bus in the span of three days, and were pretty grumpy and ready to get off the bus. When we passed by the river in which the town is situated however, everyone quickly got very excited at what they saw – a beautiful lit up city reflecting over the river.

The city is inhabited by the local Miao people, and is famous for its beauty and specialty – the houses are on stilts over the river. The scene looked like something that could have come from a movie, the glowing Chinese architecture reflecting in the still river, red lanterns hanging from every roof. It was beautiful. The town runs along the river, and is home to many stores, restaurants, bars and markets. Night life was bustling, so after we checked into the hotel and left our bags in our rooms we all split up into little groups to explore the city.

There must be beautiful gardens surrounding the city, because every couple of meters on the river’s edge were old ladies, sitting together and stringing together flowers to make beautiful head wreaths. At 5 RMB (0.62 €) a piece, who could resist?

Having been on the road for so long, we practically lived off gas-station food and candy, so we were all excited for the dinner that Naima (our tour guide) had planned for us. Located in the new part of the city, we were taken to a restaurant that had a wonderful and authentic Chinese feel to it. Delicious food was made for us, including cooked shredded bamboo, a variety of cooked vegetables, shredded potatoes, steamed pork and cooked beef dishes, chicken soup cooking over a fire on the table, and of course lots of rice. Not only was the food delicious, but we got to try some of Naima’s home-made rice wine. Although pretty strong, it is very sweet and a great complement to the food.

The next morning was really special because we were finally seeing what Phoenix Town looked like during the day! The town has the beautiful backdrop of mountains. The sun was shining and as we walked around we got to really appreciate the constructions of the houses. There were lots of men on little boats, trying to get from point A to B, and women sitting on the river’s edge cleaning their laundry.

We had until 1 pm to walk around the city, grab some local street food, take some pictures and enjoy the sunshine before having to head back to the bus for the 16 hour ride home. Everyone was sad to leave the city, and although there wasn’t too much to do there, it was just one of those places where you could spend a couple days just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery around you. We could definitely have used another night there. But as it is, it’s nice to have left with the great memory of our one night in Phoenix Ancient Town.

Would you like to travel to beautiful and exotic places in China? Apply now for an internship or send us an email for more information!


Traditional Chinese Healing Massages

On Monday evening, the interns got a special tour of the Traditional Chinese  healing methods at a local hospital in Zhuhai.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a wide range of ancient practices that have been used in China for more than 2000 years and this includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and various massage techniques.

At first we were introduced to the Medicine Center where patients can get their prescription medicine. In China, most medicines are made up of different herbs that are measured and mixed to diagnose a certain symptom or sickness, and are taken as tea.

From there we were taken upstairs where we got a tour of the area where Acupuncture, Cupping and Fire Massages are done. In fact, as we were walking around there were real patients getting the procedures done that we basically stood around and watched!

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a procedure in which needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points (known as meridians) in one’s body that creates therapeutic effect, and this can be done via manual stimulation or electrical stimulation. Acupuncture is said to be one of the oldest healing practices in the world, and it is said to help with anxiety, problems with sleep and depression.

What is Cupping Therapy?
The Cupping Therapy is an ancient Chinese form of medicine in which fire is placed inside of a cup and placed on the patient’s skin to create suction. Traditional doctors believe that this creates a flow of blood which results in healing and they use it to treat the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis. Cupping Therapy can be done on the back, neck and shoulders. Afterwards one is left with round red bruised bubbles where the cup had been.

We were then all able to get a sample of each procedure. They were very quick and did not tell us where we were getting our procedures done – Philippe sat down and the doctor quickly stuck some acupuncture needles in his head – this is to activate the brain cells and make you smarter. I decided to go next, thinking I was getting an opportunity to get smarter also, but very quickly, before I could react, the doctor stuck a few needles in my arms instead – this is supposed to create a sense of calmness and control anger. I wonder if she knew we both needed these specific cures… Raury (one of the Zhuhai interns) sat down next and got to experience the cupping on his neck.

Afterwards we all had the option to choose a procedure and have it done, for which we had to pay the small amount of 11.5 RMB (1.50€) for the Cupping and 20 (2.50€) RMB for the Fire Massage!

I tried the Cupping therapy, which I was told would not hurt. To clarify, I wouldn’t say it hurts, but it definitely does not feel pleasant! Once it comes into contact with your back, it sticks on your skin as a small vacuum has been created within the cup by the cooling of the hot air and gasses, and then has to stay there for ten minutes. For the duration of the ten minutes you can feel an intense sucking/tickling sensation. This didn’t feel great, but what did it for me was the thought of my blood being sucked to the surface of my skin and after that I was pretty freaked out. Afterwards we were all left with funny red circles on our backs – the more red and bubbly the spots, the more unhealthy you are said to be.

When all procedures were finished, we took some group photos with the Chinese doctors, since they so graciously gave us a free tour of the facility and a lesson on the Traditional Chinese Healing Massages. To top off the evening, we went out for ice cream afterwards.

Would you like to experience Traditional Chinese Healing Massages? Apply now for an internship or send us an email for more information!