Jun19_Dragon_Boat2 Jun19_Dragon_Boat

This week­end it’s the Dragon Boat fes­ti­val in China. It’s a three-day pub­lic hol­i­day, cel­e­brated by rac­ing dragon boats and eat­ing sticky rice treats called “zongzi”. These are tri­an­gu­lar parcels of sticky rice, mixed with other ingre­di­ents (like beans, chicken, pork, etc) all wrapped up in a bam­boo leaf. They are sim­ple to cook, just boil or steam and they taste pretty good and are very sticky.

(Blog posted by Ray on June 19, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Jiankou section

Zhengbeilou Tower and Ox Horn Edge

Great Wall at JianKou from mbgriffi on Vimeo.

Red Dinosaurs in Cages

john  —  February 20, 2015
At first glance I knew it wasn’t just any old sculp­ture. Sal­vador Dali’s Ele­fante Cosmico.

At first glance I knew it wasn’t just any old sculp­ture. Sal­vador Dali’s Ele­fante Cosmico.

It’s been a while since we went to the 798 Art Dis­trict in Bei­jing. It’s one of my favourite places to walk around in sum­mer, but wasn’t so good today with tem­per­a­ture around freez­ing. We decided not to stay too long, but a must see for Tanya is always the red dinosaurs in cages. Many of the gal­leries were chang­ing exhi­bi­tions so there wasn’t too much inter­est­ing to see. But I did dis­cover a 1974 sculp­ture by Sal­vador Dali, called Ele­fante Cos­mico, which I had never seen before.

(Blog posted by Ray on January 17, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Chinese New Year of the Sheep

john  —  February 20, 2015
Guo Mao Three’s Chi­nese New Year of the Sheep display.

Guo Mao Three’s Chi­nese New Year of the Sheep display.

羊年大吉 – Yáng nián dàjí The year of the Horse is now over. 2015 is a year of the “Goat” according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac.

羊年大吉 – Yáng nián dàjí
The year of the Horse is now over. 2015 is a year of the “Goat” according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac.

Chi­nese New Year starts in a few weeks and the horse will make way for the Year of the Sheep. Down the road from our apart­ment is Guo Mao Three, which always has some of the best hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions. For the New Year they have this illu­mi­nated dis­play, por­tray­ing sheep in a tra­di­tional Chi­nese style. It looks pretty good in the day­time but even more impres­sive at night.

(Blog posted by Ray on February 3, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

DSC04700-300x199

photoed by hereisbeijing.com

About 100 kilometers west of Beijing, in Huailai County, are pieces of the ancient Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as well as the country’s largest ancient post station.

With fewer visitors and a less commercialized feel, this area offers traces of the past without the crowds that constantly remind you that you’re stuck in the present.

Yangbian Great Wall as model

Xiaonan Xinbu Town, located in the southeast of Huailai County, Hebei Province, is about 120 kilometers from Beijing. The ancient town is near Guanting Lake in the north and connects to Dingdu Mountain in the south. It has many historical sites. The most magnificent is Yangbian Great Wall.

Located in the mountain near Miaogang Village, it’s also called the Miaogang Great Wall. The high peaks and deep valleys made this an important defensive stronghold in ancient times. The old wall zigzags through the mountain.

Locals are very proud of the Yangbian Great Wall. “If it was closer to Beijing, it’d definitely surpass Badaling’s fame,” a villager said.

Compared to the Great Wall around Beijing, Yangbian is comparatively “wild.” It was built using stones and rocks in irregular shapes from the mountainside. The wall itself, however, is sturdy. The tops are paved with large slabs of stone. Ochre moss grows on the stones form different patterns.

The wall, with renovations, stretches for more than 10 kilometers. The original Yangbian section accounts for 2.5 kilometers.

It is said that Xu Da, a Ming general, constructed part of the wall here as a model for the Juyongguan Pass. The model had a working beacon tower that made the wall look impregnable.

Legend has it that an inspector shot arrows at the wall as part of the test.

After hundreds of years though, some parts of the Wall are broken, by both the weather and people who needed stones to build houses.

Another place to see in the area is Lijinggou Village in Xiaonan Xinbu Town, which features dozens of ancient cave dwellings.

The small village is built on a unique landform. With a large loess base, villagers live in large caves. They sleep on adobe kang beds that also serve as a stove top. Some homes are decorated with black-and-white photos that hint at how life was lived many years ago.

The caves are cool during the summer and warm in the winter. Many elders who have grown up there prefer living in caves over furnished apartments.

Several caves have been renovated to receive tourists. Villagers plan to open tea houses and bars in the caves, letting urban dwellers experience a different type of lifestyle.

(From: Beijing Today, By Zhang Dongya)

Related article: The Dread Cliffs of Dayingpan

Mar22_Baby_car_seatChina has one of the high­est and most dan­ger­ous traf­fic acci­dent records in the world. When­ever I am dri­ving, road safety is always on my mind, espe­cially when trav­el­ing with two young chil­dren. We always make sure Tanya and Ali­cya are securely strapped into their car seats, but this is not com­mon in China. In fact only 1% of Chi­nese fam­i­lies with cars use child seats. It’s a fright­en­ing sta­tis­tic, which results in 185,000 deaths a year in China of chil­dren under 14. It is more com­mon to see par­ents hold­ing their chil­dren in the back seat or even in the front seat with­out either wear­ing a seat belt. The prob­lem is due to a lack of cul­ture towards safety, insuf­fi­cient knowl­edge about the dan­gers and weak laws, which if they exist are not rig­or­ously enforced. Also many chil­dren don’t like to use car seats at first, so many par­ents give up when their child is cry­ing and scream­ing to get out. We went though this sit­u­a­tion with Tanya, so it was painful and dif­fi­cult period for every­one, but I insisted she had to use it. Now she is pretty good and enjoys being in her own seat, which gives us all the peace of mind when dri­ving on the roads in China.

(Blog posted by Ray on March 22, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

The first sign reads ‘Long live the People’s Repub­lic of China’ and the sec­ond reads ‘Long live the great unity of the peo­ples of the world’.

The first sign reads ‘Long live the People’s Repub­lic of China’ and the sec­ond reads ‘Long live the great unity of the peo­ples of the world’.

Flags on top of gov­ern­ment build­ings on Chang An Street

Flags on top of gov­ern­ment build­ings on Chang An Street

It’s been over a year since I have dri­ven past the For­bid­den City at Tianan­men Square. One thing I noticed was that all the gov­ern­ment build­ings along Chang An Street were fly­ing the Chi­nese flags from their rooftops. This was to coin­cide with the National People’s Con­gress meet­ing that has been held in the city since last week. The meet­ing is the most impor­tant for the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment as almost 3,000 del­e­gate from across China come to vote on dis­cuss and vote on poli­cies for the com­ing year. On the main gate of the For­bid­den City are two sets of Chi­nese char­ac­ters, which I felt pleased I could just aboit read. The first one 中华人民共和国万岁 (Zhōnghuá rén­mín gònghéguó wàn­suì) trans­lates into “Long live the People’s Repub­lic of China”. And the sec­ond 世界人民大团结万岁 (Shìjiè rén­mín dà tuán­jié wàn­suì) trans­lates into “Long live the great unity of the peo­ples of the world”.

(Blog posted by Ray on March 13, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Mar16_Chinese_chestnutsMar16_Chinese_chestnuts2

One of Canthy’s friends came over to visit and brought a bag of fresh-roasted chest­nuts. They are one of the most pop­u­lar sea­sonal snacks in Bei­jing espe­cially eaten dur­ing the win­ter months. I was sur­prised to still see them, as it must be almost the end of sea­son for this nut. They can be found across the world, but they always remind me of the UK at Christ­mas. I dis­cov­ered later that China is the num­ber one pro­ducer of chest­nuts in the world. That may be true, but it still makes think of home and Nat King Cole’s The Christ­mas Songwith the first line “Chest­nuts roast­ing on an open fire…”

(Blog posted by Ray on March 16, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Phoenix TV Media Centre

john  —  April 27, 2014

Mar28_Phoenix_TV_headquarters

Can­thy moved into her new office at Phoenix TV’s new inter­na­tional media cen­tre in Bei­jing at the end of last year. The office looks cool from the out­side and appar­ently part of the build­ing is open to the pub­lic. It located near Chaoyang Park, which is quiet res­i­den­tial area, so it doesn’t have much going on around it. Pre­vi­ously Can­thy worked near Wang­fu­jing, a shop­ping and eat­ing mecca, so there was always some­thing to do at mid­day. She now spends most lunchtimes in the office, but at least its closer to home so she can get home early to play with the kids.

(Blog posted by Ray on April 2, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Apr2_Apple_Wangfujing_store

My Man­darin school is very close to Wang­fu­jing Street, the most famous shop­ping street in China. Most lunchtimes I will go there to have lunch and prac­tice my Man­darin in the shops. The street has the biggest Apple store in Asia, a huge three-story glass and steel cathe­dral of cool. Recently there have been many rumours about the new iPhone 6, so I went in to ask the Apple staff about it. Obvi­ously they couldn’t tell me any­thing and I didn’t expect them to. I just wanted to prac­tice my Chi­nese and see how long I could keep the con­ver­sa­tion going. I asked ques­tions like; when it would come out?, how big was the screen?, what was the price?, etc, etc. I did pretty well but I need to improve my tech­nol­ogy vocab­u­lary, as some of the terms were hard for me to under­stand in Chi­nese. I plan to go back again in a few weeks and prac­tice again with the staff, as I can’t wait for the new iPhone 6 to come out.

(Blog posted by Ray on April 2, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

Apr1_Simplified_Chinese

One of hard­est parts of learn­ing Man­darin (apart from speak­ing the cor­rect tones) is being able to read and write Chi­nese char­ac­ters. It’s a slow and painful progress, with no real short cuts. (Although I am hop­ing read­ing Remem­ber­ing Sim­pli­fied Hanzi will help, but you still need to study hard to learn this way). How­ever, every time I feel myself get­ting frus­trated with my progress I remind myself that at least I am learn­ing sim­pli­fied Chi­nese. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese is the orig­i­nal ver­sion, which is still using in Hong Kong, Macau and Tai­wan. Sim­pli­fied Chi­nese was devel­oped dur­ing the 1950s to make char­ac­ters eas­ier to read and write and to increase lit­er­acy across China. You can see from the high­lighted exam­ple just how sim­pli­fied many of the char­ac­ters are from their orig­i­nal tra­di­tional form. The word ‘to know’ (rèn­shi) looks like this 认识 in sim­pli­fied Chi­nese and like this 認識 in tra­di­tional Chi­nese. So hooray for Sim­pli­fied hanzi and thank good­ness I don’t need to learn tra­di­tional Chi­nese characters.

(Blog posted by Ray on April 1, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to rayallychina.com)

huanghuacheng-2

The view from a beacon tower on February 9, 2014 shows the Huanghuacheng Great Wall shimmering in the morning light.The Ming Dynasty Huanghuacheng Great Wall is located in Beijing’s Huairou district,approximately 70 km from downtown Beijing. The recent snowfall has added to the scenery’s serenity and purity.[Photo/Xinhua]

Photo taken from a beacon tower on Huanghuacheng Great Wall on February 9,2014 shows the star-filled sky before sunrise.The Ming Dynasty Huanghuacheng Great Wall is located in Beijing's Huairou district,approximately 70 km from downtown Beijing. The recent snowfall has added to the scenery's serenity and purity.[Photo/Xinhua]

Photo taken from a beacon tower on Huanghuacheng Great Wall on February 9,2014 shows the star-filled sky before sunrise.The Ming Dynasty Huanghuacheng Great Wall is located in Beijing’s Huairou district,approximately 70 km from downtown Beijing. The recent snowfall has added to the scenery’s serenity and purity.[Photo/Xinhua]

The view from a beacon tower on February 9, 2014 shows the Huanghuacheng Great Wall before sunrise.The Ming Dynasty Huanghuacheng Great Wall is located in Beijing's Huairou district,approximately 70 km from downtown Beijing. The recent snowfall has added to the scenery's serenity and purity.[Photo/Xinhua]

The view from a beacon tower on February 9, 2014 shows the Huanghuacheng Great Wall before sunrise.The Ming Dynasty Huanghuacheng Great Wall is located in Beijing’s Huairou district,approximately 70 km from downtown Beijing. The recent snowfall has added to the scenery’s serenity and purity.[Photo/Xinhua]